Congraulations to Gretta and the team at the Céide Fields (OPW), who have been awarded the prestigious Carlo Scarpa international landscape award for Gardens in an announcement made in Milan this week.
The Céide Fields visitors site is located in Ballycastle, North Co. Mayo. Every year the Italian Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche awards the International Carlo Scarpa Prize for Gardens – to attract attention to a site which is particularly rich in natural, historical and creative values. The award will be accompanied by an exhibition in Treviso, a book and a TV documentary which forms part of an awareness raising campaign, a fundamental element of the prize.
The story of Céide Fields is steeped in historical relevance; the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world, it is truly a fascinating one. In the 1930s Mr Patrick Caulfield, a local school master in Mayo North noticed lines of stones in the ground when cutting turf and realised that they must pre-date the bog. However it wasn’t until 40 years later his son, Professor Seamus Caulfield an archaeologist began excavating the site with his students to look for evidence of the community that lived there 5,000 years ago.
In 1990, the OPW worked with Seamus and the local community to build the award-winning visitor and exhibition centre. The building is designed around a four and a half thousand year old pine tree. The exhibitions in the Centre are arranged around three main themes – the natural landscape, the human imprint on the landscape and the geology of the stunning Mayo North coast. The real experience of the Céide Fields however, is the walking tour with the Visitor Centre guides who bring the site to life by helping visitors to imagine walking in the steps of our ancestors from 5,000 years ago.
Speaking about the Carlo Scarpa award and the Céide Fields Kevin Boxer Moran TD, Minister for the OPW and Flood Relief said, “The Céide Fields has both a fascinating recent and ancient history and is a great example of sustainable tourism. Consistently ninety percent of the 30,000 plus annual visitors to the Centre are independent travellers so although it has been designated a Discovery Point on the hugely popular Wild Atlantic Way, it still remains somewhat of a hidden gem. This award will propel this wonderful heritage site, which is older than the pyramids, onto the world stage and bring it to a wider audience to enjoy and cherish for future generations”.
We in Mayo North are excited about what this award means to us as a county and what it’s going to bring to the people of Mayo and those involved in all that is Céide Fields.
For more information
July 2021: Please note that the Visitor Centre is currently closed to the public due to ongoing renovations, but the outdoor site is still open, with tour guides on hand to show you around.
Opening hours: March 28th – May 31st 10am to 5pm | June 1st – 30th September: 10am – 6pm | October: 10am – 5pm | Open all year round by appointment.