Over seven thousand sites examined in the most detailed archaeological survey ever undertaken in County Galway.

The survey cost over half a million pounds and took five years to complete. Some of the sites date back more than five thousand years. These sites are to be protected under the new National Monuments Act

The survey is part of a national programme to highlight the importance of these sites. Commissioned by the Office of Public Works, the study was carried out by the University College Galway (UCG) Archaeology Department.

Archaeologist Paul Gosling describes the importance of the work in protecting Galway's ring forts of which there were originally approximately four thousand. However, about 1,300 of these ring forts have already been removed from the landscape. In Ireland as a whole, there were originally around 60,000 ring forts.

Mr Gosling also points out that since Ireland joined the EEC, the farm improvement schemes have taken their toll on the landscape and our archaeological monuments. He stresses the importance of preserving specific sites around Galway. 

We're more interested in fact, not in the objects but where they're found. The humble bronze pin that fastened the cloak, the fragment of a broken pot, the remains of a furnace are what inspires archaeology and what really brings back to us the life of people all those centuries ago.

Archaeologist Kathy De hOra provides a history of one ring fort and argues the case for why these sites are worth preserving. 

The report of the survey was submitted to Minister of State at the Department of Finance Mr Noel Treacy, who comments on legislation under the new National Monuments Act to protect national monuments. 

The 500 page, 7,000 entry survey lists everything in County Galway from battlefields to bee-keeping places, and from megalithic tombs to monastic settlements.

Similar surveys have now been carried out in eight counties in the Republic of Ireland. The remaining counties will be investigated over the next five to ten years.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 21 October 1987. The reporter is Jim Fahy.