The top ten sites of the Celtic Tiger

Many people will be aware of the handful of contentious Irish sites that made international headlines during the heady years of the Celtic Tiger for all the wrong reasons – Carrickmines Castle, Woodstown, and Lismullin on the Tara M3. These sites gained notoriety for either holding up the progress of a developing nation or being bulldozed to line the pockets of the profiteering political elite, and the archaeological story was often lost in the cross fire.

Stepping away from the controversy, I’d like to hear about some of the multitude of other sites excavated prior to development that have revolutionised understanding of Irish archaeology.

I have been commissioned by Current Archaeology Magazine to write a series of articles detailing the best 10 of these sites, and over the coming months I will be posting more details on to

What makes a top ten site?

I’m not yet sure, but I’m hoping to get as many opinions on likely candidates as possible from anyone and everyone involved – site assistant to director and beyond. If you have any ideas yourself, it’s time the world got to know:

What’s your top choice for the best site excavated during the Celtic Tiger and why?


  1. Soggy Sites Rock says:

    Second the Windy Miller from the May posting. Kilbegly is pure sex-archaeology.
    Do you have definitive Celtic Tiger chronological parameters? Is Lisheen too early?

  2. Thanks Soggy Sites, methinks you’re a wood lover, no?

    The roots of the Celtic Tiger boom are probably debatable, but most commentators would put the start date somewhere in the mid nineties.This stimulated the construction sector, which had a knock-on effect for development-led archaeology.

    Probably more important for archaeology was the introduction of the NRA code of practice in 2001, which brought a structure and monitoring framework to the table.

    I’d like to hear about sites from the early years, when the Tiger was but a purring puddy cat, to the final bite of the recession. They don’t have to be roads sites, but I imagine that many of them will be.

    And yes, Lisheen would qualify – but on what grounds?

  3. Dizzy frog says:

    My suggestion would be the Ballyhanna site excavated in Ballyshannon. It has featured heavily in NRA publications and the osteological and applied science work done on the skeletal material is unparalleled in Ireland, not to mention the complex stratigraphic work that was needed to address all the intercutting graves.

    It has provided the basis of at least 2 Phd’s that I am aware of and the emerging data is of worldwide archaeological interest. Its simply has to be a dead cert for a top 10 place.Keep up the good work Brendon.

  4. Thanks Dizzy Frog,

    Ballyhanna’s not a bad one… but alas, I’ve selecte all the top tens now, so it will unfortunately fall into the also-ran pile.

    I’ve now written three of the series of four articles I was commissioned to write (covering 7 of the top ten sites). Check out article two – from ancient waterways to modern highways – posting up here in the next couple of days.

    All the best Dizzy Frog, and glad you’re enjoying the site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *