Public Archaeology Seminar and Launch of the Leo Swan Aerial Photographic Archive

A symposium on Public Archaeology was hosted by the Discovery Programme to mark the 25th anniversary of the day of our initiation. The symposium included papers by from Dr Stuart Jeffrey (Glasgow School of Art), Prof Sian Jones (Professor of Environmental History and Heritage, University of Stirling) and Robert Shaw (The Discovery Programme). The Symposium was followed by the launch of the Leo Swan Aerial Photographic Archive by Raghnall Ó Floinn, Director of the National Museum of Ireland. 

Leo_Swan_N

Speech on the 25th anniversary of the establishment of The Discovery Programme, 11 May 2016

Edel Bhreathnach

Fáilte róimh a cháirde go dtí an tráthnóna ceiliúrtha seo! Creid nó ná creid tá cúig bliain is fiche curtha dínn againn agus muid fós ar an bhfód. A bhuíochas sinn do a lán daoine a d’oibrigh go crua sa tréimhse sinn – ag plé, ag eagrú, ag tathaint, ag tochailt, ag tástáil agus ag machnamh. Tá móran díbh anseo tráthnóna, tá teachtaireachtaí faighte againn óna thuille i bhfad agus i gcéin agus le himeacht ama tá cáirde eile imithe ar shlí na fírinne. Ach maireann an Clár Fionnachtana agus táimid ag glacadh mar chúram orainn féin an fionnachtan a threisiú agus a sheachadadh go glún nua.

I welcome all of you to our marking the 25th anniversary of The Discovery Programme, the first of many events that will take place around the country this year. The DP has much to celebrate not least the enormous effort of so many people over the years not only in creating and persevering with projects but also in ensuring that the DP has survived and will survive well into the future. Indeed it is a testament to the Irish archaeological fraternity that they have continued to support the DP and that it has established itself as a distinct entity in the archaeological and multi-disciplinary research infrastructure of sciences in Ireland. By its nature from the very beginning it has been an organization that is in constant transformation, taking stock of new ideas and new methods, at times prepared to take unusual directions, open to collaboration with colleagues in many disciplines and institution.

Leo_Swan_A

Leo_Swan_B.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leafing through the early papers relating to the DP’s foundation, one can see certain individuals coming to the fore immediately. Clearly Prof George Eogan was the central figure in promoting the idea and more significantly in pressing politicians and administrators to ensure that it happened – never an easy task! We are delighted that Prof Eogan is with us this evening – he gave huge service to the DP over the years as Chair, mentor and ‘lobbyist’ (a lost metier of his indeed!). In these early days other names crop up, among them Anthony Cronin, Lord Killanin, Paschal Scanlan and just to show that nothing ever changes and that the issues of today surrounding archaeology, culture and heritage were the same in 1990 let me read you a brief communication from Lord Killanin as Chair of the Heritage Council to the then Taoiseach Charles J Haughey (dated 14 August 1990):

Letter to Charles Haughey

 

And Charles Haughey did respond, viewing the project as one of personal interest to himself. On the launch day 11 May 1991 he was quoted as saying that the DP would combine a scientific and professional archaeological approach with a popular dimension and would involve all the great institutes of learning around the world and would be incorporated into the curriculum in our schools. George Eogan predicted spin-offs in job creation and tourism. All of these aspirations are as relevant as they were in 1991, and possibly even more relevant.

Before I move to the present and the future, I wish to acknowledge the contributions of those who served as Directors and Council members of the Discovery Programme, representing all facets of Irish archaeology, and to especially mention the Chairs, George Eogan, Michael Ryan and Terry Barry and our newly-appointed Chair, Finbar McCormick; and also my own predecessors, Ann Lynch (who was absolutely instrumental with the late Noel Lynch in the practical setting up of the organization), Rónán O’Flaherty and Brian Lacey.

Leo Swan C

Leo Swan D

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I said the DP has always been prepared to rise to challenges and to take different directions, and we continue to do so. Yes, we'll continue to excavate either in pursuing well-developed research questions of our own or collaboratively with colleagues. We'll continue to experiment in technology, ever broadening our application of new methods and equipment to archaeology, and in doing so inevitably extending the definition of archaeology in Ireland both from chronological and material perspectives. As has been outlined in our current strategic plan, our aim is to employ as many graduates as we can to work in a multi-disciplinary team to give them skills in critical and lateral thinking and prepare them for a range of career options.

Now I come to the public remit. If we are learning any lesson from the 1916-2016 commemorations it is that the public - and I use that word in its widest sense of 'everybody' - is interested in what we do and how we help in presenting their past to them. In times when we despair as to how to convey to politicians and policy-makers what an enormous untapped resource our arts, culture and heritage are, not just economically but as an essential cornerstone of nurturing an ever diverse society in Ireland, the people are giving a clear message - in the numbers visiting exhibitions, participating in events, participating in all our projects. It is our role to act as vocal representatives on their behalf, difficult as that might be.

Leo Swan I

Leo Swan G

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I come to the public remit. If we are learning any lesson from the 1916-2016 commemorations it is that the public - and I use that word in its widest sense of 'everybody' - is interested in what we do and how we help in presenting their past to them. In times when we despair as to how to convey to politicians and policy-makers what an enormous untapped resource our arts, culture and heritage are, not just economically but as an essential cornerstone of nurturing an ever diverse society in Ireland, the people are giving a clear message - in the numbers visiting exhibitions, participating in events, participating in all our projects. It is our role to act as vocal representatives on their behalf, difficult as that might be.

Leo Swan F

 

The writings of P.H. Pearse are not the most popular in the eyes of many but there were times when he did reflect deeply on the construction of a nation as in his essay ‘The Spiritual Nation’ in which he commented:

Pearse ‘The Spiritual Nation’

Independence one must understand to include spiritual and intellectual independence as well as political independence; or rather, true political independence requires spiritual and intellectual independence as its basis, or it tends to become unstable, a thing resting merely on interests which change with time and circumstance.

Go raibh maith agaibh!

When preparing for this year we decided to hold our 25th anniversary events through the country in communities where the DP has been active and also bearing our all-island remit in mind – Enniscorthy, the Ballyhouras in Cork, the Dingle Peninsula, Tara, Derry/Inishowen, Glendalough. And it in recognition of the growing importance of public archaeology, and also of our increasingly close collaboration with colleagues in Scotland, that we decided to begin the year’s events on the theme of public archaeology.

Leo Swan K

Leo Swan H

 

Leo Swan P

Leo Swan M

Leo Swan O

 

 

Company Reg. No.: 243328 (Dublin, Ireland) A Company Limited by Guarantee. Registered Office 63 Merrion Square, Dublin Ireland. Reg. Charity No.: CHY 12549.
Back to top