Florence Convention


  The Irish Experience 

Theme: Landscapes for urban, suburban and peri-urban areas

                                                                Paddle Steamer Entering Cork Harbour

                                                              by George Mounsey Wheatley Atkinson (1806-1884)

City Hall, Cork , Ireland

16 June 2005

Hosted by a partnership of the Department of Environment, Heritage & Local Government, Cork City Council, Cork County Council, The Heritage Council, The South West Regional Authority and Landscape Alliance Ireland .

Organised with the financial support of the Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forests and Landscape.




Councillor Sean Martin, Lord Mayor of Cork 

"Historically from the prospective of Cork the landscape has been shaped over our history.  In the early days there were Monastic settlements and then we had the Vikings coming here for a number of centuries to be followed by the Normans who came also bringing their culture with them, setting up settlements even further afield than the Vikings"

Councillor P.J. Sheehan, County Mayor of Cork 

"Cork County Council is delighted to be one of the host partners for this event which is intended for all those involved in the field of landscape and sustainable spatial development.

It is an opportune time to visit the southern capitol following the wonderful regeneration of Cork   City’s main thoroughfare, Patrick Street and I hope that during your stay, you will have time to visit some of the award winning towns and villages around the country."

Mr. Batt O' Keeffe T.D. Minister of State,  Department of Environment, Heritage & Local Government.

"With such a wide representation here from all around Europe I am particularly glad that you will have the opportunity to sample the many aesthetic and cultural delights that this magnificent city has to offer.

You are all here with common purpose, a very important one.  The protection, management and planning of European landscapes, and to foster co-operation on common issues.  Because Europe is so large, diverse and disparate, I believe it’s hugely important that people come together to discuss these issues.  There is only so much that can be achieved at distance, whether it be by e mail or telephone.  People being people, we can be much more productive when interacting face-to-face, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a politician!"

The implementation of the European Landscape Convention in Ireland animated by Mr. Terry O' Regan, Landscape Alliance Ireland 

"In the distant past we may have had reason to fear the landscape - a theme explored so thoroughly by Simon Schama in ‘Landscape and Memory’. He spoke of travellers returning from the early and very wooded landscape of Germany to Rome in the time of Caesar telling stories of flat-antlered elks that used the valonia oaks as their “couch”; hairy aurochs with red-black eyes and fearsome curving horns and, according to Pliny, strange birds whose plumage shone like fire in the depth of the night." 

Mr. Bruce McCormack, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government 

"Ireland has a significant diversity of landscapes and seascapes, many of which are of great character and of noteworthy quality.  Many landscapes are under pressure as the Irish economy grows at rates which significantly exceed the European average.  The planning system is the main means through which the undoubted public interest  in landscapes is articulated

Mr. John McAleer, South West Regional Authority 

"Good Afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen, I welcome you to the South West Region of Ireland and compliment Terry and his committee on securing this conference for Cork .

I am the Director of the South West Regional Authority.  The Regional Authority is the next administrative layer under government in relation to the planning system.

The southwest region covers the counties of Cork and Kerry as well as Cork City involving a total area of just over 12,000 square kilometres and accounting for about 20% of the landmass of the Irish State , with a population of some 600,000 people."

Mr. Paul Murphy, Cork County Council 

"My name is Paul Murphy. I'm a Senior Planner with Cork County Council and what I am going to do as briefly as I can is to go through what we have been doing on landscape and landscape character assessment in Cork County Council in the last while. I work in the policy section of Cork County Council, the Planning Policy Unit. 

Cork County, it seems you have some of the statistics already.  The population is 324,000 and the area is 7,464 square kilometres.  The largest council in Ireland but I think you had some of this from the Mayor already this morning so I won't delay with the facts as it were on the size of County Cork."

Ms. Ann Bogan, Cork City Council 

"Cork City is located on the estuary of the river Lee at the inner point of a deep natural harbour. The city centre is in a bowl surrounded by ridges which rise steeply to the north. To the south of the city, ridges rise to form a southern boundary at the edge of the city. These natural features, reinforced by a number of smaller river valleys, form the setting for a city which has developed over the last millennium."

Mr. Michale Starrett, The Heritage Council. 

"The Heritage Council in many of its activities has been to the fore in promoting Irish action on the specific and general measures contained in the European Landscape Convention. These have included a policy proposal to government  in 2002, promotion of awareness of landscape as part of our natural heritage and working with primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education to secure the place of landscape in the curriculum. Council’s policy proposal, and its promotion of landscape characterisation in particular, was seen to have application in both the urban and rural landscapes. Some progress has of course been made in terms of changes to the planning acts since 2000 particularly as they relate to urban and suburban environments.  Local authorities are however having to deal with increasing pressure due to population growth and economic development. As regards dealing with landscape issues the tools at their disposal are very blunt and currently less than effective."