Big Win for Mayo in Prestigious Italian Awards Céide Fields Heritage Site brings home the International Carlo Scarpa Prize for Gardens

22 May 18


Big Win for Mayo in Prestigious Italian Awards Céide Fields Heritage Site brings home the

International Carlo Scarpa Prize for Gardens

The Office of Public Works (OPW) Heritage Site the Céide Fields has won the prestigious Carlo Scarpa international landscape award for Gardens.  At a ceremony today in the Céide Fields Visitor Centre in Mayo, the Minister for the OPW and Flood Relief Kevin “Boxer” Moran T.D., in the presence of Michael Ring, T.D., Minister for Rural and Community Development welcomed the bringing home of the Award which will now be proudly on display in the Visitor Centre.

Every year the Italian Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche awards the International Carlo Scarpa Prize for Gardens – to attract attention to a site which is particularly rich in natural, historical and creative values.   This year the Céide Fields was among many significant sites that were considered by the Foundation for 2018.  Against stiff competition, the Céide Fields was selected as the overall winner of the award for 2018.   

Speaking about the award and the Céide Fields Kevin “Boxer” Moran, Minister for the OPW and Flood Relief said, “The Céide Fields has both a fascinating recent and ancient history and is a great example of sustainable tourism.  Located on the hugely popular Wild Atlantic Way, the Céide Fields attracts some 30,000 visitors to the Centre annually.  It is somewhat of a hidden gem and I’m sure that winning this international award will help to propel this wonderful heritage site, which is older than the pyramids, onto the world stage and bring it to a wider audience to enjoy and cherish for future generations”.   

The Céide Fields is one of the four OPW heritage sites on the Wild Atlantic Way for which funding totalling €4.3 million is being made available from Fáilte Ireland, Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the OPW.   Minister Moran went on to say, “An investment of €1.15 million will be made in the Céide Fields Visitor Centre which will provide a brand new exhibition and interpretation space to showcase new archaeological material and knowledge about the site and the surrounding area.  I am delighted to confirm that the OPW has already been hard at work with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Fáilte Ireland on this proposal preparing the concept design and laying out what the visitor experience of the future will be; and Tenders are now being invited as I speak from designers and contractors to make this vision a reality”.  

His Excellency, Mr. Paolo Serpi, Ambassador of Italy to Ireland, said, “I am delighted that the Carlo Scarpa Prize for Gardens has been awarded to the Céide Fields: another beautiful parallel between Irish and Italian landscapes and historical monuments”.

Minister Michael Ring said, “The Céide Fields is building serious momentum as a top class attraction and this award will help bring more visitors to this most fascinating of places. The Wild Atlantic Way has put Céide Fields on the map and the Government’s National Development Plan includes major improvements to the Céide Fields Visitor Experience. More than 30,000 people already visit the Centre annually. I have no doubt that with this significant Government investment and increasing recognition such as today’s award, the number of visitors will increase significantly. I may be slightly biased but I believe that the north Mayo coast where the Céide Fields is located, is one of the most beautiful parts of Europe. The increasing popularity of this rugged and majestic coastline benefits both the local community and the people lucky enough to visit”.


For further information please contact OPW Client Services and Communications at 046 94 26517 or

Follow us on Twitter @opwireland

Find us on Facebook @opwireland


Notes to Editors:-

The story of Céide Fields, the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world, is truly a fascinating one.  In the 1930s Patrick Caulfield, a local school master in North Mayo noticed lines of stones in the ground when cutting turf and realised that they must pre-date the bog. However it wasn’t until 40 years later his son, Professor Seamus Caulfield an archaeologist began excavating the site with his students to look for evidence of the community that lived there 5,000 years ago.  In 1990, the OPW worked with Seamus and the local community to build the award-winning visitor and exhibition centre. The building is designed around a four and a half thousand year old pine tree. The exhibitions in the Centre are arranged around three main themes-the natural landscape, the human imprint on the landscape and the geology of the stunning North Mayo coast. The real experience of the Céide Fields however, is the walking tour with the Visitor Centre guides who bring the site to life by helping visitors to imagine walking in the steps of our ancestors from 5,000 years ago.

The OPW Visitor Centre designed by Senior OPW Architect Mary McKenna has won several architectural awards including, the Europa Nostra Diploma of Merit Award 1997 and the RIAI (Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland) Gold Medal 1994.

Previous winners of Carlo Scarpa Award include: Jardin de Cactus, Lanzarote (2017), The Wild Apple Forests of the Tien Shan in Central Asia, (2016), Marcedolce-La Faverva, Palermo (2015) Osmače and Brežani, Bosnia (2014).

Tenders are being sought currently through the public eTenders system for Consultants to manage the design and fit out the new Visitor Experience and the permanent exhibition at the Céide Fields Visitor Centre.   This will replace the existing exhibition which has been in place since the Mayo building was first opened in the mid 1990’s.  

The Céide Fields project will take about 18 months to design and build and it is expected that it will be completed in time for the 2020 visitor season.

The project is being 75% funded by Fáílte Ireland, with the balance being provided by the Department of Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht and the OPW.