Gort Research Project

This research project originally came out of an opportunity to collaborate with some international students from the Historic Preservation Program at the University of Pennsylvania that were coming to Galway to take part in a hands-on experience of heritage conservation. That group was led by Donovan Rypkema, adjunct professor at the Department of Historic Preservation at UPenn, and also a member of ICOMOS. At Stage 1 of our project, we worked alongside the UPenn students, who did mapping exercises and additional surveying. The results of their work can be downloaded below.

Stage 1

The first two stages of the project used the town of Gort, Co. Galway as a case study. At Stage 1 we tried out some pilot surveying techniques in order to record and categorise information on some of the buildings and streets of the town.

The survey template that was used can be downloaded below. An accompanying sheet with guidance on assessing the condition of structures and building elements can also be downloaded below.

In this case, the survey template was quite detailed, as we were interested in capturing various types of data, and we were investigating which types of information could be usefully recorded and analysed. However, more simple templates can also be prepared, which would make for quicker and more focused surveys (see sample templates in My HomeTown).

Stage 2

For Stage 2 we held a workshop in Gort Public Library during Heritage Week at which members of the public took part in a mental mapping exercise which was designed to encourage the participants to observe the town with fresh eyes and to record their observations. This was followed by a very interesting discussion, during which various aspects of the town were debated. The information poster that we prepared for the event can be downloaded below.

A base map was prepared using maps downloaded from myplan.ie, from which website both historical and current maps are available (for more information on mapping and other useful resources see My HomeTown). This allowed us to assess the extents of the historic core of the town, which then formed the area for the base map. It is a very useful and interesting exercise to compare the historic maps with the contemporary maps, and to trace the development of a town or village over time. Very often the characteristic quirks of a town in its own particular building or street layouts can be identified and explained, deepening our understanding of a place. A report of the workshop process and outcomes can be downloaded below.

Heart of Gort Festival 2018/2019

Gort was initially the focus of a study by US students  in 2017, initiated under the Sustainable Development Goals.

In 2018, Public meetings were held together with Entopia to identify plans for the town and an application for support for a community festival was made to Galway2020. Multiple community groups and organisations came together over the course of the next 12 months, culminating in the Heart of Gort Festival on 17,18 May 2019 ( https://www.facebook.com/heartofgortfestival/) which was curated by Baile ( an ICOMOS committee focusing on issues affecting small towns and villages ) and supported by Galway2020, Galway County Council and the local community, including Burren Lowlands.

Gort Energy Webinar Workshop 2020

Gort Energy Webinar Workshop took place in a COVID-compliant format, on-line and in Sullivan’s Royal Hotel in Gort on 2 December.

Since the inception in 2017, of a collaboration between Galway County Council, Baile (ICOMOS Ireland’s Small Towns and Villages NSC) and Burren Lowlands with other groups in Gort has worked to acknowledge, celebrate and promote the uniqueness of the town and to display and conserve the history written in its streets and buildings, by focusing on the issues affecting the fortunes of the town.

The Gort Energy Webinar Workshop was an extension to this collaboration. Originally intended as a series of demonstration projects, the on-line webinar was adapted to:

  • explore the issues faced by the owners and occupiers of the traditional and historic buildings in Gort,  – with a view to providing technical assistance and demonstrations in the future.
  • identify ways of improving the quality of the accommodation, so that it is fit for purpose in the 21st century.
  • is sustainable – meets the challenges laid down by our Green Energy commitments to help address climate change.
  • protects the historic fabric that contributes to Gort’s special sense of place;
  • highlight the opportunity provided by the SEAI Sustainable Communities (SEC) Project, and encourage a collaborative funding application for an SEAI funded Energy Masterplan and Energy Enhancement project in Gort


Four speakers introduced the town and some of the issues of energy performance faced by buildings most small Irish towns, the SEAI Sustainable Energy Community initiative, a case study of an exemplary energy upgrade of a public building and options and issues to be addressed in the future; these were followed by an open discussion amongst the 26 attendees.

The workshop was followed by the LAUNCH of a video: Gort – a connected town, funded by Creative Ireland and available to download here and on www.irishtownsandvillages.ie


UPenn_International Framework in an Irish Context

UPenn_Gort A Study of Development Potential

Gort_survey template

Gort_survey_condition assessment

Gort workshop poster

Gort workshop_report