The Department of the Gaeltacht was established in 1956 and it continued until 1993.  The Department of Tourism and Trade was established in 1993 and continued until 1997.  The Department of Tourism, Fisheries and Forestry established in 1986 and continued until 1987.  The Department of Tourism, Sport and Recreation was established in 1997 and continued until 2002.

The Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht was established in 1993. In 1997 it became the Department of Arts, Heritage, the Gaeltacht and the Islands until 2002.  In 2002 it became the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism.  In 2002 the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht affairs was established.  In 2002 the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht affairs was established and subsisted until 2010.   The Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport was established in 2010.

The Department was re-established in June 2011 as part of the reorganization of the departments by the incoming government.  It brought together functions of the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Environment, Heritage and Local Government and Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht affairs.

The Department is responsible for policy in the areas of conservation, protection, development and presentation of Ireland’s cultural and heritage assets.  It seeks to promote the Irish language and support the Gaeltacht.

The Department’s functions include arts, culture, film, music, oversight of Ireland’s cultural institutions, the built and  natural heritage, the Irish language, as well as North-South cooperation in relation to Waterways Ireland and An Foras Teanga.

Units and Sections

The film section deals with the development, monitoring and evaluation of policy for the sustainable development of the film industry.  It provides support to the Irish Film Board in the development of indigenous films.  It operates in conjunction with the Revenue Commissioners, certain tax-based incentives.

The capital expenditures section supports development in the arts, culture and infrastructure.

The current expenditure section develops and implements arts and culture to enhance access and consolidate the social and economic role of arts, culture and film.  It promotes artistic expression, cultural awareness and participation through appropriate policy, and the legislative and resource framework.

The arts and cultural institutions unit seeks to create an environment enabling Ireland’s national cultural institutions to flourish by providing financial resources and an appropriate policy framework.  It has responsibility for several bodies, including the National Library of Ireland, the Crawford Art Gallery, the Chester Beatty Art Gallery, the National Archives, the National Archives Advisory Council, the National Print Museum and the  National Maritime Museum. It is also responsible for a considerable number of other scholarships, smaller museums and projects.

The cultural institutions unit is responsible for a range of institutions and museums including the National Museum of Ireland, the National Concert Hall, the National Gallery, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, finders fees, certain records, programs as well as a significant number of other smaller museums and galleries.  It provides funding to the relevant bodies.

The commemorations unit is responsible for key, commemorative events in the period 2012 to 2022.  It provides supports and contributions to Oireachtas committees and the expert advisory group on the commemorations.  It liaises with other internal and international agencies in relation to the centenary commemorations.

Support Units

The human resources and training and development unit is responsible for personnel issues, training and development across the Department.

The corporate governance unit deals with corporate governance for the Department.  It deals with freedom of information within the Department.

Internal audit reviews and reports on the adequacy of internal controls and on economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of the Department’s operations, systems and programs.

Finance, accounts, IT and VFM maintain the Department’s financial resources and systems.  They deal with the estimates for the Department’s votes.  It is responsible for managing value for money reviews. It deals with the Department’s IT infrastructure systems and services, its buildings, accommodation and procurement.  It maintains the Department’s asset register.

The office of the minister is a liaison between the Minister and Department officials, the minister and other public representatives and a minister and the public generally.

The office of the Secretary General provides the secretariat to the Secretary General.  It coordinates parliamentary questions and deals with the Department’s legislative programme.

The press and information office provides bilingual information service to the public media and the public in relation to the Department’s work.  It deals with press releases, briefings and media events.  It coordinates and prepares ministerial speeches.

Built Heritage

The built heritage and architectural policy section seek to promote development, implement policies for the protection of the architectural heritage and promote best practice in modern architecture and urban design. It delivers services and schemes including the built heritage capital program supporting the conservation of Ireland’s built heritage.

This includes in particular,

  • conservation works and visitor facility upgrades for key heritage sites and national monuments and
  • providing funding for structures protected under the Planning and Development act.

The architectural heritage advisory unit within the section provides services to planning authorities and others, including advice on architectural conservation. It administers certain aspects of the  National Monuments Act and publishes conservation advice.

It publishes the national inventory of architectural heritage.  It has a role on the government policy on architecture.  It makes determinations under the Taxes Act in relation to expenditure on buildings and gardens of significant architectural, historical, horticultural, scientific or aesthetic interest, where reasonable access is provided by the public.

The development applications unit coordinates response to development applications and plans referred to on built or natural heritage grounds under The Planning and Development act.  The unit provides support to the Heritage Council.


The National Monuments Service seeks to conserve and manage national monuments.  The Service seeks to conserve and manage the physical heritage under the National Monuments Act, the archaeological heritage, and improve public awareness.  It provides general information in relation to the archaeological record and heritage.  It deals with the public on archaeological matters.

The Archaeological Survey of Ireland is an inventory of the archaeological monuments in the State known and predating 1700.  The national monuments conservation unit plays a role in the protection, interpretation and presentation of over 750 monuments under its ownership or control.

Its planning and licensing unit provides important advice in relation to archaeological heritage and planning to other authorities in the context of applications.  The monuments protection unit is responsible for the protection of monuments and enforcement of legislation in relation to the archaeological heritage.

National Parks and Wildlife

The National Parks and Wildlife Service manages the six national parks in the State and 72 nature reserves.  It seeks to maintain international conservation standards and provides access to the public.  It manages the parks on a long-term strategic basis.

The NPWS property management section administers protection for sites proposed for designation, including legal proceedings. It deals with compensation issues due to restrictions, acquisition of lands, and implementation of arbitration.  It deals with the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme.

The NPWS legislation and EU compliance group is responsible for the designation of areas for special protection status under Irish and EU legislation.  It provides the necessary legislative framework and guidance for the protection of the natural heritage.  It is responsible for the dissemination of information on national heritage areas, special areas of conservation and special protection areas.

The NPWS biodiversity unit is responsible for the integration of biodiversity concerns into all relevant sectors through the implementation of the national biodiversity plan.  It is involved in the North-South and British-Irish biodiversity plans and strategies.  Responsibility for implementation lays with various agencies and Departments across the state sector. The unit is responsible for input at EU and international levels in relation to biodiversity issues.


The Gaeltacht and Islands policies and programs seek to implement the 20-year strategy on the Irish language, 2010 to 2030 as it applies to the Gaeltacht. Its function is to develop and implement schemes, initiatives and measures to support the strategy and strengthen the Irish language in the Gaeltacht.  It seeks to develop and implement initiatives that support social cultural and economic development of the islands so that they survive as viable communities.

The Irish policy language unit provides for the implementation of the Official Language Act, and statutory supports for the constitutional status of the Irish language.  It encourages the expansion of the use of Irish and the delivery of state services through  Irish across the country.

It maintains relationships with Government Departments and agencies, to ensure that government policy in relation to the Irish language is addressed in their activities.  It supports the  Commissioner on Languages.

The Udaras division monitors Udaras Na Gaeltachta to ensure compliance with financial and corporate governance requirements.  It coordinates the implementation of the 20-year strategy for the Irish language.

An Foras Teanga unit supports the work of An Foras Teanga, the North-South language body.  It succeeded Bord na Gaeilge.  Foras na Gaeilge was established under the British-Irish Agreement.  The Boord o Ulster-Scotch, the Ulster-Scots Agency is the other agency within An Foras Teanga. It is responsible for promoting Ulster-Scots in Ulster and throughout the island of Ireland.  The division is responsible for policy and funding, while operational matters rest with the agency.

North-South cooperation is responsible for increasing the level of North-South co-operation across a range of activities for which the Department has responsibility.  It seeks to broaden contact with the relevant groups and organizations in Northern Ireland.  It has oversight and funding of Waterways Ireland which is established under the British-Irish Agreement.

Irish Language Bodies

  • The Language Commissioner was established in 2004 under the Official Languages Act 2003
  • An Foras Teanga was established in 1999 and is still active.  It is the North-South language body.  It comprises the Ulster-Scots Agency, An Foras na Gaeilge each of which has its own boards and together constitute the boards of the An Foras Teanga.
  • Bord na Gaeilge was established in 1977 under the Bord na Gaeilge Act and merged into Foras na Gaeilge under the British-Irish Act 1999.
  • Gaeltarra Éireann was established under the Gaeltacht Industries Act in 1958.  It took over the administration of rural industries previously provided by the Gaeltacht services division.  It was replaced by Udaras Na Gaeltachta in 1980 under the Udaras Na Gaeltachta Act 1979.
  • Telífis na Gaeilge was established in 2007 under the Broadcasting Act 2001.  Prior to that it was a subsidiary of RTE.
  • The Boord of Ulster Scotch was established under the British Irish Agreement, 1999.
  • Udaras Na Gaeltachta was established under the Udaras na Gaeltachta Act 1979.
  • An Coiste Téarmaíochta was established by the Minister for Education in 1968 and merged into Foras na Gaeilge in 1999.
  • A committee of Irish language experts was established in 1927 to provide terminology for the education system.  The permanent terminology committee was established in 1968.
  • An Gúm was established in 1926 and merged into Foras na Gaeilge in 1999.
  • Bord na Leabhar Gaeilge was established in 1952 and absorbed into Foras na Gaeliga in 2008.  It operates under the name, Clar na Leabhair Gaeilge.
  • Cola na Gaeilige  was established in 1969 and was succeeded by Bord na Gaeilge in 1978.
  • Instituid Teangeolaiocth na hEireann was established in 1972 and replaced in 2004.
  • The Coimisinéir Teanga monitors compliance by public bodies with the Official Languages Act.

Film and Culture Bodies

  • The National Film Studios of Ireland was purchased by the government in 1973 and run by RTE until 1975.  It was put on a statutory basis in 1980, closed and, went into receivership in 1982.
  • The Advisory Committee on Cultural Relations was established in 1949 and replaced by Culture Ireland in 2005.
  • The Commissioner for Charitable Donations and Bequests in Ireland provides services to trustees of charities.  It can invest in authorized charities to invest in securities outside the range of normal approved trustee securities.  It may appoint new trustees, authorize leases and surrender of leases in respect of certain charities. It has been succeeded by the Charity Regulatory Authority
  • The CRA has a statutory obligation to establish and maintain a public register of all charities operating in Ireland. This is the priority goal for the CRA following its establishment. The initial Register of Charities will be published on the website of the CRA . This will contain the approximately 8,400 charities that held a charitable tax exemption from the Revenue Commissioners at the time of the establishment of the CRA. These charities were automatically deemed to be registered with the CRA. To begin with, the Register will contain only minimal information about these charities. In the weeks and months ahead, the CRA will invite these charities to supply additional information for inclusion in the Register..
  • Waterways Ireland is a statutory North-South body established under the British-Irish Agreement Act 1999.  It has regulatory authority for the  River Shannon, Royal and Grand  Canals and by-law powers in respect of the Shannon Navigation and under the Canals Act.
  • Fáilte Ireland was formerly known as Bord Fáilte.  It was established as the national tourism development authority succeeding  Bord Fáilte.
  • Horse Racing Ireland is a State body established to replace the Irish Horseracing Authority and take over functions of the racing regulatory body.  It was established under the Horse and Greyhound act 2001.
  • The Irish Greyhound Board, Bord na gCon was also established under the horse and greyhound Act 2001.  It was responsible for the management and development of the greyhound industry including regulations under Greyhound Industry Acts.  It licenses tracks and issues permits to officials, trainers, bookkeepers, etc.


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