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Built heritage


County Clare possesses a wealth of built heritage in the form of historical and archaeological remains, including some of the best examples of early human settlements in Europe. The built environment of today will form the built heritage of tomorrow, in the same way as the building styles of the past have given an identity to the towns and villages in the county. Architecture is a dynamic entity, which may need to adjust to meet the needs of the current and future generations. Buildings have a practical role in shaping a positive future for County Clare and should be viewed as one of the many assets that make the county an attractive place in which to live, work and visit.

Further information is available from the Built Heritage and Architectural Policy website.

Information on the Record of Protected Structures (RPS) and Architectural Conservation Areas (ACA) in County Clare can be downloaded below:


There are many notable examples of field monuments from the Bronze Age and early Christian period, showing long habitation to the late medieval period. The ecclesiastical sites range from early stone enclosures to monastic settlements, on which many of our towns were founded. The turbulent times of the late medieval period led to the building of over two hundred tower houses throughout the county. From the eighteenth century, the building of fine country houses and associated buildings and bridges, churches and military barracks took place. The nineteenth century saw the development of planned towns and villages with handsome town houses, market and court houses and well laid-out demesnes, country houses, cottages, coastal fortifications, churches, Georgian-style terraces and industrial buildings.

There are approximately 7,500 known archaeological sites and many more yet undiscovered. A recorded monument is regarded as a national monument, the preservation of which is a matter of national importance by reason of historic, archaeological tradition, artistic or architectural interest.

County Clare is recognised nationally for its archaeological significance, with many large and well-recognised sites. Some areas of the Burren remain unchanged since the presence of the first farmer and are regarded as prehistoric landscapes fossilised in time i.e. Parknabinna. The vast number of archaeological sites alone in the Burren make it of international importance, with 300 recorded "Fulacht Fiadh - Ancient Cooking Place", 450 ring forts and the densest concentration known of wedge tombs in Ireland. Many more sites have yet to be located and recorded. The discovery programme revealed a wealth of archaeology in the mud flats at the Shannon Estuary. The western stone ring forts including Cahercommaun were nominated for world heritage status.

Given the wealth of archaeological heritage in County Clare, there is a clear need to enhance its protection, increase awareness of its value and make it accessible to the public. The preservation and protection of archaeology is paramount, as is the awareness of the value of archaeology. The communication of the education message to all the stakeholders and information to landowners and future generations is highlighted. The Burrenbeo Trust operate the field monument programme - this scheme allows for an archaeologist to visit landowners and advice them about the monuments on their lands. 

A guided tour of ecclesiastical treasures in County Clare

A guided tour of ecclesiastical treasures in County Clare is a heritage information booklet which has been converted into a free downloadable iPhone / iPad application for visitors to 33 early Christian, medieval and celtic ecclesiastical buildings in County Clare. It is the first initiative of its kind to be launched in the county and features 33 church heritage sites across four trails throughout County Clare which are supported by text and photographs. These sites highlight the historical background to clare's rich ecclesiastical heritage. The trails offers a rich variety of interest to all visitors.

The iPhone / iPad application is available to download from the iPhone App Store below:


There are 42 monuments in state care in County Clare. The archaeology inventory of County Clare is continually being updated. For further information on recorded monuments see National Monuments Services website.


There are approximately 170 graveyards in the ownership of Clare County Council and many more throughout the county including Killeen's or children's burial grounds.

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

The functions of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht encapsulate the following areas:

  • Built and natural heritage
  • Arts
  • Film
  • Music
  • Cultural Institutions as well as Irish language, Gaeltacht schemes 
  • Offshore islands

Contact details for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht:

  • 23 Kildare Street, Dublin 2. (01) 631 3800 / LoCall 1890 383 000
  • Custom House, Dublin 1. (01) 888 2000 / LoCall 1890 202021
  • New Road, Killarney, Co. Kerry. (064) 662 7300 / LoCall 1890 273 000
  • Press & Information Office. (01) 631 3807 / 631 3838
  • Newtown Road, Wexford. (053) 911 7500 / LoCall 1890 202021
  • Na Forbacha, Co. Galway. (091) 592 555 / 503 700/ LoCall 1890 201 401
  • National Parks and Wildlife Service, 7 Ely Place Dublin 2. (01) 888 3242 / LoCall 1890 20 20 21  

For further information of the services of National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) please visit their website.

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