National Monuments Service of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in partnership with the Heritage Council

Minister Noonan announces a further €1.2 million INSTAR+ archaeological research funding

In 2008, the Heritage Council and the then Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht launched the Irish National Strategic Archaeological Research (INSTAR) Programme. This was in response to a need identified for the state to support a competitive and collaborative archaeological research programme that would bring about transformative change in the quality of archaeological research.


To read about the projects funded in 2008 and 2009, please click here.


In 2021, the National Monuments Service (NMS) of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage launched a revitalised INSTAR programme, INSTAR+, in partnership with the Heritage Council (HC) and administered by the Irish Research Council under the COALESCE Research Fund, for 24-month collaborative projects.


The objective of these INSTAR+ awards is to fully realise the potential of Ireland’s archaeological record, transforming our understanding of how Ireland’s society has evolved. The main objective of INSTAR+ is to ensure that the large amounts of archaeological work, previously undertaken in the context of development-led excavations, is translated into knowledge about Ireland’s past.


Objectives of INSTAR+ 2021:


Aligning with the policy objectives of the NMS and the HC, INSTAR+ seeks to:


  • contribute to a better understanding of Ireland’s archaeological heritage by tackling key questions about our past.
  • support the development of a better understanding of past societies in Ireland.
  • ensure that the highest standards in archaeological research are achieved and are disseminated to a wide audience.
  • encourage interdisciplinarity between archaeologists and practitioners from other disciplines to address crucial research questions and grow partnerships that could make an important contribution to understanding our past.
  • attract researchers from other disciplines: for example, science and environmental research.
  • encourage the creation of strategic partnerships and alliances in Irish archaeological research through increased cross-sectoral national and international collaboration.
  • elicit proposals from researchers with a proven research track record in Irish research institutions working with at least one archaeological consultancy/SME. Partnerships with community groups, other state bodies and/or international partners will also be welcomed
  • a key difference in INSTAR+2021 and previous iterations of this programme was the need to involve community groups in project proposals, so as to increase public understanding of place and the significance of collections.
  • cultivate and to grow high-quality archaeological research in Ireland.
  • support projects that require short- to medium-term funding.

INSTAR+ is based around the following themes:

1 Cultural Identity, Territories and Boundaries
2 Resources, Technology and Craft
3 Exchange and Trade
4 Religion and Ritual
5 Environment and Climate Change
6 Landscapes and Settlement
7 Archaeology and Contemporary Society


Proposals were to be directly related to one or more of the themes outlined above


Explanations of these themes are articulated in the HC’s 2007 Research Needs in Irish Archaeology document.


The INSTAR+ awards have been designed to facilitate the clustering of archaeologists to carry out joint research activities in areas of strategic importance, while also giving the time and resources to attract and to cultivate strong sectoral and interdisciplinary partnerships between academic and private-sector archaeological stakeholders and local communities that can inform and enhance research programmes and wider knowledge.


Collaborative Applications


Applicants were expected to reference research partnerships, from the following groups: the archaeological consultancy/SME sector, academic institutions on the island of Ireland, international academic and research bodies, State bodies and local community groups.






Please see the below table for the list of awards made under COALESCE 2021 or click on the awardee’s name to view their social media or webpage

Dr Benjamin Gearey

Associate Professor Helen Lewis

Professor Joanna Bruck

Dr Katharina Becker

Associate Professor Meriel McClatchie

Dr Tomás Ó Carragáin

AwardeeProject TitleHigher Education InstituteProject PartnersAward ValueOutputs and Impact
Dr Benjamin GeareyIrish Peatland Archaeology Across Time
University College CorkChair: Dr Roy van Beek (Wageningen University, Netherlands) Representative of Community Wetlands Forum
Prof Aidan O’ Sullivan (UCD)
Conor Mc Dermott (UCD)
Dr Steve Davies (UCD)
Dr Charles Mount (Bord na Mona Project Archaeologist)
Representative (Bord na Mona)
Dr Catherine Farrell (TCD)
Tim Coughlan (IAC) Representative (NMI)
€219,436Database design and population, with analyses has commenced. Discussions are continuing with relevant stakeholders (public bodies and international policy networks) and a successful Heritage Week event was held at Cavan County Museum.

Associate Professor Helen LewisDeveloping the resource of museum collections of Ireland's ancient
animal bones: climate change, ecosystem reconstruction, and indicators of Pleistocene human presence from past excavation archives,643323,en.html
University College DublinDr Ruth Carden (Research Scientist)
Speleological Union of Ireland
Pontus Skoglund & Anders Bergström (Francis Crick Institute)
Mike Buckley (University of Manchester)
Richard Jennings (Liverpool John Moores University)
Dr Rui Martiniano (Liverpoool John Moores University)
Dr Laura Buck (Liverpool John Moores University)
€218,502Fieldwork and analysis is ongoing and data for the first publication is complete.
Professor Joanna BruckArchaeology of the Irish Revolution
University College DublinAbarta Heritage Ltd.
Brenda Malone, Curator of Military History, National Museum of Ireland
Dr Matthew Potter, Curator, Limerick Museum
Thomas Toomey, John Flannery and Seán Hogan, local historians of the War of Independence and Civil War in the north Munster region
Pat Reid, Project Manager, Heritage Maps, Heritage Council
€219,626Cataloguing and mapping of data and archival research is continuing according to schedule with planned interviews with local informants undergoing. Preparations for the proposed exhibition underway.
Archaeology of the Irish Revolution in East Limerick (
Dr Katharina BeckerNew Pastures. Livestock and lifeways of the Irish Iron Age

University College CorkDr Kerri Cleary and Mr Donald Murphy, Archaeological Consultancy Services Unit (ACSU)
Ms Trish Long
Ms Carmelita Troy, Rubicon Heritage
Professor Derek Hamilton, Scottish Universities Environment Research Centre (SUERC), University of Glasgow
Professor Dan Bradley, Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin
Professor Ludovic Orlando, Centre for Anthropobiology & Genomics of Toulouse, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse
Professor Pam Crabtree, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University
Professor Susan Johnston, Department of Anthropology, George Washington University, Washington
Dr Zenobie S. Garrett, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Oklahoma
Ms Erin Crowley-Champoux, PhD candidate in Zooarchaeology, University of Minnesota
Ms Bridget McLoughlin, Heritage Officer, Kildare County Council
€218,060Site surveys carried out and further dating needs identified. Assemblages have been compiled and will be integrated with datasets. Two successful events were held during Heritage Week. The project study region has been expanded to include an additional county to ensure adequate site representation.
Associate Professor Meriel McClatchieFOODSEC: Food security in Bronze Age Ireland
University College DublinDr Kerri Cleary, Editor and Research Manager, Archaeological Consultancy Services Unit (ACSU)
Clodagh Doyle, Keeper of the Irish Folklife Division at the National Museum of Ireland
Assoc. Prof. Amy Styring, School of Archaeology, University of Oxford
Dr Liam Ryan, Consultant food scientist
Farmers Dominic Gryson at Cornstown House, Co. Meath and Michael Miklis at Piltown, Co. Kilkenny
€219,781Data collection and entry has progressed and data collation and analysis is progressing . A comprehensive literature review has been completed and scientific analysis of models has been completed.
Dr Tomás Ó CarragáinDigital Atlas of Early Irish Carved Stone (DAEICS)
University College CorkJohn Sheehan, Senior Lecturer, Archaeology Department, UCC
Dr Griffin Murray, Lecturer, Archaeology Department, UCC
Nick Hogan, Senior Technical Officer, Archaeology Department, UCC
Dr Pat Meere, Head of Geology, UCC.
Dr Patrick Gleeson, Senior Lecturer, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queens University Belfast.
Dr Kate Colbert, IRC Post-Doctoral Research Fellow (2021-2023), School of Geography, Archaeology and Irish Studies, University of Galway.
Munster Archaeology Ltd
Digital Heritage Age.
Local authority archaeologists, heritage officers, and curators (Cork, Navan).
Clonmacnoise Hinterland Study Amanda Pedlow, Heritage Officer, Offaly Council
Melanie McQuade, Heritage Officer, Westmeath County Council
Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society Westmeath Archaeological and Historical Society Old Athlone Society Glasson Lough Ree Heritage Group Iveragh Study Michael Connolly,
Kerry County Archaeologist South Kerry Camera Club Heritage Iveragh Éigse na Brídeoige
Armagh Study Navan Centre (Armagh District Council)
Navan Fort and Area Heritage and Community Group Armagh and District History Group Ulster Archaeological Society Cork Public Museum Exhibition and Heritage Week Event Dan Breen, Curator
€217,841Completion of the project database, to include an expanded remit of the data of further relevant monuments. Fieldwork is progressing and the target for digitising monuments has been exceeded.

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