The foundation of the Discovery Programme was announced on 11 May 1991 by the then Taoiseach Charles J. Haughey, who had developed the idea with George Eogan (Professor of Archaeology in University College Dublin), Anthony Cronin (Haughey’s cultural advisor), and Lord Killanin (chair of the newly established Heritage Council).
The Discovery Programme began work on five projects in the early years of its existence; Western Stone Forts, Ballyhoura Hills, North Munster, Tara and a shorter project on the palaeoecology of north Louth. When these projects were completed a new series of projects began: the Lake Settlement Project and the Medieval Rural Settlement Project. These were followed by the Late Iron Age and Roman Ireland (LIARI) project and an increasing involvement in EU projects such as 3D Icons, Ariadne, and Europeana.
Work at the Hill of Tara continued throughout the history of the Discovery Programme. A new monograph will soon be added to our many publications, including a guide book to this iconic site.
From 1996 the Discovery Programme became an independent body and an autonomous Company – the Discovery Programme Ltd – which is funded through the Heritage Council. In addition to our main grant from the Heritage Council, we receive EU funds through our work on collaborative projects and funds from state bodies to whom we provide survey and technology support on heritage projects.