Metal Detecting: Is It Legal In Ireland?

Metal detecting has become a favourite hobby for many people around the globe. The harmless hobby involves searching for treasure buried long ago in the ground. If you want to get started, you’ll need to decide whether or not metal detecting is legal where you live.

Metal detecting is a great way to explore the history and discover Archaeological monuments. In Ireland, it was once illegal to dig up archaeological sites without formal consent from the government. However, random searches digging up old coins, precious metal and other items is considered legal.

There are certain places where metal detecting is prohibited. For example, some areas are protected because they contain ancient burial grounds or historical artefacts.

Other areas are off-limits because they contain valuable oil or gas deposits. Before starting your search, check with local authorities if you’re unsure of where you can go.

The National Museum of Ireland is home to an extensive collection of antiquities, including bronze and iron age artefacts, gold and silver jewellery, and even Viking Age weapons. You can view these treasures on free tours at the museum.

If you’re looking for a more active pastime than just viewing the exhibits, why not try your hand at some archaeological knowledge?

Archaeological excavation allows you to participate in real-life digs. This means you don’t have to be a professional archaeologist. Just join a group and help out. Many archaeological museums offer this service.

If you’d like to learn more about Irish Archaeological Heritage, consider joining one of several organizations dedicated to preserving our heritage. These groups often host lectures and organize field trips to archaeological sites.

If you plan on using metal detectors, make sure that you have all the necessary permits and consent in writing. You may also need to register your device with the police station.

If you find something, don’t keep it! It is a criminal offence to take anything out of an archaeological site without permission from the owner.

10 Basic Metal Detecting Law in Ireland:

1) Digging for treasure is allowed only with written permission from the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Irish Department of Culture).

2) No digging shall be undertaken within 100 meters of any public road.

3) All finds must be reported to the nearest Garda station within 24 hours.

4) Finds cannot be removed from the place where found.

5) Any person who takes away or destroys a find will face fines of €500.00 and risk of prosecution.

6) A permit is required for anyone wishing to use a metal detector on private land. Permits cost €10.00 each and are available from the nearest Garda Station.

7) Metal detectorists who wish to detect treasure on private land must obtain permission from the landowners. If the landowner refuses, then detection is prohibited.

8) A permit is required to detect treasure on national parks, state forests or state-owned lands. Permits cost €25.00 each and are issued by the National Parks & Wildlife Service.

9) The detection of treasure on State Forests is prohibited unless additional permission has been obtained from the Forestry Commission. Unlicensed users will face an offence concerning this.

10) Detection of treasure on State-Owned Lands is prohibited unless permission has first been obtained from the Land Commissioner.

Where to go detecting in Ireland?

Ireland is home to many historic sites like castles, ruins, and old churches. Some of these historical locations are open to the public, while others require special permission. Here are some of the best spots to detect at:

  • Castle Island – This island sits in Dublin Bay. There are plenty of medieval buildings here, such as the castle itself and St Mary’s Abbey.
  • Blarney Castle – A popular tourist attraction, this castle is known for its giant stone staircase.
  • Newgrange – Located near the village of Knowth, this site consists of a passage tomb used for over 3,000 years.
  • Glendalough Monastery – Also known as “The Valley of the Two Lakes,” this monastery is located about 30 miles outside Dublin. It contains many old structures, including a refectory, dormitory, church, and more.
  • Carrowkeel Megalithic Cemetery – This cemetery dates back to 3500 BC and features a variety of megaliths such as dolmens, wedge tombs, portal stones, and menhirs.

Can I use a metal detector in Ireland without a licence?

In general, metal detecting is allowed throughout most of Ireland. However, there are certain areas where you cannot use a metal detector.

These include national parks, military bases, airports, and quarries. Possession of metal detectors without a licence is illegal and can result in heavy fines.

If you plan to visit one of these restricted areas, it is recommended that you contact the local Garda station before bringing your detection devices. They may know which areas are permitted to use metal detection devices.

If you do not want to get caught with a detector, it is suggested that you only search privately owned land or ask authorities for permission.

Licenses vary depending on what type of activity you want to carry out. For example, you might need to pay between €25 and €75 to detect in a quarry or national park.

You can also purchase licences online. 

Users of metal detectors are encouraged to visit the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs (DARRA), which includes details on how to get a permit.

What other things should I know before going detecting?

Before you head out into the field, be aware of the following for a responsible metal detecting:

  • Always respect private property. If someone tells you not to enter their land, then don’t.
  • Don’t disturb ancient monuments. Many people consider them sacred places.
  • Be careful when using metal detectors. They’re loud and can damage artefacts.
  • Make sure you have everything you need before heading out. You never know if you’ll encounter bad weather.
  • Keep all your finds. It could mean the difference between getting fined and keeping your hobby.
  • Never leave anything behind. Take pictures of any essential items you find.
  • Remember that Ireland has strict laws regarding antiquities trafficking. If you see something suspicious, report it right away so that the relevant authorities can investigate.

How should you handle an archaeological find?

If you found an object by chance that looks old interesting, like treasure items or Archeological objects, make sure you document it. Please take a picture, write down where you found it, and call the local archaeologist.

You may also want to contact your nearest museum. Museums often have databases of historical items and unique treasures that they would be interested in acquiring.

Furthermore, it would be best always to try to return things to their original location. This helps preserve the past and protects future discoveries.

Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to give all the information about your discovery to the government. They might ask you questions, but they won’t take things away from you unless you’re caught breaking the law.

Therefore, if you encounter something special, act responsibly and enjoy your adventure.

Final thoughts:

Remember, metal detecting is just one way to explore history. You could also visit museums, attend events, or participate in digs. The possibilities are endless! Happy Hunting!

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