Forestry Focus

Built Heritage

Apart from archaeological sites, there are many old structures (built heritage) in Irish forests. These date from 1700 AD which is regarded as the end of Medieval Ireland and the start of the early Modern Period.

Old field wall in forest (cropped) by A Pfeifer

Old field walls are also part of our built heritage (photo A. Pfeifer)

Buildings of note later than 1700 AD tend to be protected under the Planning and Development Act 2000  as “Protected Structures” (formerly “listed buildings”).  A protected structure is a structure that a planning authority considers to be of special interest from an architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical point of view.  They tend to occur mostly in urban areas but, in a forestry context, can be found where old landed estates became part of the Coillte estate – or indeed where such old estates continue to exist independently. Typical protected structures might include the “Big House” itself or its ruins or any feature within its curtilage – walled gardens, bridges, ice-houses, follies, gazebos etc. Examples include old manor houses such as MoorePark in Co Mayo and Curraghchase House in Co. Limerick.

In addition to the protected structures in forests there are many lesser examples of our past that are also part of our built heritage e.g. remains of famine villages, old mills, farm cottages with outbuildings and dry stone walls of former field systems. These structures are not given legal protection from unauthorised interference or damage under the National Monuments Acts and Amendments 1930-1994  or the Planning and Development Act 2000 – Protected Structures  but are required to be protected under the Forestry and Archaeology Guidelines and also under forest certification compliance.