The Farming Rathcroghan project has been awarded almost €1m in funding by the Department of Agriculture under the European Innovation Partnership (EIP-Agri).

The project will formulate, test and develop “a suite of innovative management solutions designed to sustain a viable and vibrant rural farming community in the context of a culturally and ecologically sensitive landscape”.

It will operate as a locally led partnership and aims to promote the proactive role farmers play in caring for and maintaining landscapes and their cultural heritage and ecological assets.

Capital of Connacht

Rathcroghan was the site of the ancient capital of Connacht and has been of interest to researchers from the discipline of archaeology at NUI Galway for the past 40 years.

The Rathcroghan Resource Community, headed up by Joe Fenwick and Dr Kiernan O’Conor of NUIG and project co-coordinator Daniel Curley, will now implement the project over the next five years.

Speaking about the project, Joe Fenwick, said: “The Farming Rathcroghan project is an exciting new initiative with enormous potential for the future.

“Its objectives are to manage, care for and conserve this important archaeological landscape by implementing a programme of economically sustainable and ecologically sound farming practices, while also facilitating visitor access to the area.”

Flagship project

The ultimate aim of the project will be to act as a flagship project for others to follow in the future.

It is hoped that some of the practises tried and tested will be applied to other culturally sensitive landscapes throughout Ireland and Europe.

A conjectural reconstruction of the ceremonial centre of Rathcroghan, by artist JG O’Donoghue in collaboration with Joe Fenwick, as it may have looked during a significant ceremonial event in the late iron age. Rathcroghan mound, the northern enclosure, the eastern-facing funnel-shaped avenues, and the encircling 360m enclosure are depicted from an elevated vantage point to the northeast. \ JG O’Donoghue/Roscommon County Council/Rathcroghan Visitor Centre