Our history

Writing in the fiftieth anniversary issue of An Taisce's journal, Living Heritage, Professor Frank Mitchell, founder member and later President of An Taisce, described the organisation's beginnings:

"As World War II drew to a close in the forties, many individuals and organisations concerned about the environment realised that peace would be followed by very large development both of cities and the countryside. The need in the south of Ireland for a body such as the National Trust for England and Wales which would monitor such developments was acute, and the interested parties came together in the premises of the Royal Irish Academy to found a holding body, the Association for the Preservation of Places of Interest or Beauty in Ireland, a foundation which later grew into An Taisce - The National Trust for Ireland.

The arrangements for the founding meeting were discussed at length. The Royal Irish Academy, which had given great support to the concept of a national trust, had a meeting room which would have been commodious enough, but it was felt that the connotations of the word Royal might not be helpful. The Round Room of the Mansion House next door, which had been the setting for many important Irish meetings, was chosen instead.

Where was the main speaker to come from? The British National Trust would have seemed to be the obvious choice, but again there were connotations. It had been found that the constitution of the National Trust for Scotland was well suited to conditions in Ireland, and so attention turned north. Frank Fraser Darling, the author of the popular 'The Highlands and Islands of Scotland', a man very sympathetic to conservation in all its forms, seemed to be a most appropriate main speaker. He accepted the invitation, and gave a most stimulating address.

....Following the public meeting in September, 1946, the legal status of the trust as a company was established by a Memorandum and Articles of Association, which were approved by the Registrar of Companies and the Department of Industry and Commerce. The first official General Meeting took place on September 23rd, 1948."

Dr. Robert Lloyd Praeger (1865-1953), botanist and writer, was elected as An Taisce's first President at this September 1948 meeting, and in an address broadcast by Radio Éireann in October that year, he identified the new organisation's aims and ideals. Praeger believed that the protection of Ireland's heritage was a responsibility shared by all of the country's inhabitants. He also understood that an independent non-governmental body was required to join the people of Ireland in conserving and protecting Ireland’s heritage. Fulfilling and promoting this joint engagement is the fundamental ethos of An Taisce. To this end we engage in a range of activities and initiatives aimed at protecting and conserving our environment. We also focus on inspiring and educating current and new generations to care for our planet's environment and heritage. As with all National Trusts, An Taisce therefore has three primary areas of focus: Advocacy, Education and Properties.

"It will be seen," said Praeger, in his 1948 radio address, "that the possible activities of our new National Trust are spread over a very wide range of subjects. I take it that we are at the beginning of a very long and also delicate piece of work, calling for patience, tact, judgement and industry, as well as enthusiasm; but our goal is a noble one, and once it is fully appreciated there is very little reason that anyone's hand should be turned against us. Of necessity we begin in a very modest way, but by degrees the movement will gain adherence and influence and become an important factor in our national life."