Vectors of Improvement: The Material Footprint of Nineteenth- Through Twentieth-Century Irish National Policy, Inishark, County Galway, Ireland

  • Ian Kuijt
  • Meagan Conway
  • Katie Shakour
  • Casey McNeill
  • Claire Brown


The concept of Improvement cross cuts moral, cultural and ideological realms, as well as practical aspects of material life, including housing, education, and agricultural technology. Archaeological and historical research on Inishark, County. Galway, Ireland, provides a unique opportunity to identify and track the linkages between Irish National policy and local community actions that created a material footprint of improvement from the 1880s to the 1920s. Drawing upon vernacular architecture and village phasing, detailed historical maps, ownership records, and detailed computer mapping, this study presents a multi-dimensional portrait of improvement within nineteenth- through twentieth-century Irish communities.


Improvement Households Nineteenth-century Ireland Architecture 



The Cultural Landscapes of the Irish Coast project is an interdisciplinary and multi-institution project, including faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students from Ireland and America and representatives from eleven different universities, and most importantly, local Irish community partners. This research program has been generously funded by the John Tynan family. Over the years additional funding has been provided by the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, University of Notre Dame, the Office of Sponsored Research, University of Notre Dame, and Hamilton College. Funding for LiDAR research was provided by the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, University of Notre Dame, and was carried out by Fugro-BKS. Ltd., Coleraine, Northern Ireland, and with data processing by A. Corns, The Discovery Program, Dublin, Ireland. Documenting island life has been made possible by a long list of friends from Inishark, Inishbofin, Letterfrack and Clifden. This includes Simon Murray, Aileen Murray, Marie Coyne, Kieran Concannon, Tommy Burke, Pat Concannon, Stephen Gannon, Tim Warbourt, and Stephanie Brooks. Special thanks are given to Stephen Gannon and Pat Concannon for transporting us on and off Inishark over the years. Our warm thanks also to Chris McClaren and Linda Martellaro who over the years have provided us with outstanding dining, in rain, wind, and shine, that kept the entire project going while we were camping on Inishark. This project would not be possible without the drive and energy of a great field crews in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 that constantly demonstrate a remarkable professionalism and ability to have fun. This paper has developed through the constructive comments and discussions with Patrick Griffin, Audrey Horning, Franc Myles, Charlie Cobb, Sarah Tarlow, Charles Orser, and several anonymous reviewers. The research was conducted under National Monuments of Ireland license 10E0399. Finally, to all the islanders, including Teresa Lacey, Noel Gavin, Leo Murray, Martin Murray, and Peter Corrigan, and all your families, we are deeply thankful for letting us learn about, and sharing in, your history and heritage.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian Kuijt
    • 1
  • Meagan Conway
    • 2
  • Katie Shakour
    • 1
  • Casey McNeill
    • 3
  • Claire Brown
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of TransportationPlanning, Program Development and Grants, City of DetroitDetroitUSA
  4. 4.Department of AnthropologyBinghamton University, State University of New YorkBinghamtonUSA

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