A look at how plantation towns like Derry, New Ross, Portlaoise, Bandon, and Belfast have shaped the landscape of Ireland.

A plantation town is one that was deliberately planned and laid out, in contrast to those towns that have grown haphazardly over the centuries. There are many examples from the 17th century in Ulster - the last province of Ireland to come firmly under British rule. But there are other older examples of plantation towns in many other parts of the country.

Derry was planted between 1610 and 1618 as one of a number of towns within the plantation of Ulster. Aerial views of the 16th century town show the remains of Saint Columbus Monastery founded in the year 546 as well as the crumbling remains of an English garrison of 1600. Today, the old town still survives within the modern city. 

Derry is one of the finest examples of a walled town in Europe.

What makes plantation towns different from other towns is that they are freshly laid out without having to take into account any existing streets or buildings. The towns are usually laid out around a main street or as is the case in Derry in a grid pattern, a pattern which remains today and is best seen from the air.  

New towns of this kind are nearly always characterised by rectangularity.

New Ross in County Wexford was built by the Anglo-Normans at an important point along the River Barrow estuary becoming one of the most important ports of medieval Ireland. 

The greatest of the plantation towns is Belfast, founded by Sir Arthur Chichester at the mouth of the River Lagan valley. Now with a population of around half a million, signs of the plantation town have now been swallowed up in what has become a large industrial city. 

This episode of 'Irish Landscape' was broadcast on 2 January 1969. The presenter is David Timlin. 
'Irish Landscape' is series exploring the many factors contributing to the landscape in which we live.