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Eight years ago we published this, for the attention of Mr John Gormley, then Ireland’s Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. It concerned the building of a Motorway within Irelands greatest monumental landscape, and the pretence it could be justified by refence to newly penned conservation codes. We think it’s something Historic England, English Heritage and The National Trust should be reminded about. If existing irrevocable conservation principles prohibit new damage at Stonehenge new codes or new interpretations of old codes would be blatant breaches of existing irrevocable conservation principles, however presented.


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Come kindly JCBs, roll over Ireland! 

As the man in the pub said: “I wouldn’t ask him to mind my chickens, and Bertie Ahern put him in charge of our heritage and environment. He has no bottle, afraid of the hawks.”

Hey John, stick this at the front of your weasly worded Codes, it was penned by one of your countrymen more than three years ago, before proud important you and your proud important predecessors conspired and blinkered to let it happen without a squeak. It says more about development and heritage than anything in your Codes ever could –

“TARA, here I am. I have come all the way from Kerry to be with you before the vultures, with bulldozers and JCBs, open your lower belly. They are impatient to inflict the wounds.

You are abandoned, forsaken and rejected. All the powers that be – Meath County Council, the Government, NRA, An Bord Pleanála and the High Court – have walked out on you. We pay them to protect you but they betrayed us. We trusted them too much.

Tara, I know you sympathise with the people who are forced to commute to Dublin five days a week. But why are they not angry with Meath County Council for not putting in a bypass at Dunshaughlin and a proper one in Navan 20 years ago? There were so many other options for this road.  But that was a different generation, other times.  This generation prefers soulless symbols – motorways, shopping malls, four-wheel drives, big trucks and, of course, the euro. I expected all the people in Ireland to have run to protect you. It would have been unacceptable, I thought, to run a motorway through the Tara/Skryne Valley, opening up a wound that no plastic surgery can cure. But this generation was not touched, nor incensed. How sad. Will you forgive us?

The day Environment Minister Dick Roche sanctioned the motorway, I was watching the evening news in a pub. One man said, when he saw Mr Roche on TV, “Isn’t he a pity? I wouldn’t ask him to mind my chickens, and Bertie Ahern put him in charge of our heritage and environment. He has no bottle, afraid of the hawks.” Poor Mr Roche. Maybe he has no power. An Bord Pleanála, which is not comprised of elected representatives, makes all the big decisions. Or does it? Who has real power today?

Democracy, the people’s participation in the ordering of their own lives, is now perceived as a meaningless facade that hides the ruthlessness of corporate self-interest. The suspicion that political ideologies and institutions are becoming irrelevant because politics is being reduced to following ‘the laws of the market’ is creating political unease among people and cynicism among the young about voting. Tara, what else can your support groups and friends do now? Are all avenues closed? Has your hour come? Will we call the lone piper to play a dirge?”

Tommy O’Hanlon
Tarbert
Co Kerry

This story, from County Westmeath, is worth publicising far and wide:

Being mulched

“In 2005, a 3,000 year old Bronze Age wooden road was uncovered in Mayne Bog in Coole, Co Westmeath. Described by An Taisce as “a major, timber-built road of European significance”, this was an archaeological find of huge importance. According to John Waddell, Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at NUI Galway, the Mayne road (or “Togher”) is, in terms of size, age, and antiquity “truly of European significance and on a par with those preserved in dedicated heritage centres like Wittemoor in Lower Saxony, Flag Fen in Peterborough (UK), and Corlea in County Longford”.

Mayne Bog is worked by Westland Horticulture, which extracts peat from the site. Despite carbon-dating the find to 1200 to 820 BC, the National Monuments Service – for some reason – did not issue a preservation order or record the road in the Register of Historic Monuments. Apart from two minor excavations, no serious archaeological work has been done on the discovery and – crucially – no legal impediment has been put in place to prevent the destruction of Mayne Togher. For the ten years since the find, Westland Horticulture has – entirely legally – continued to mulch something as old as Newgrange into compost for window boxes. At least 75% of the road is gone now. Dr Pat Wallace – former director of the National Museum of Ireland – has described this as “an international calamity”.

Not sure why your tomatoes won’t grow? Try Gro-Sure® Tomato Food from Westland Horticulture, which simply grows more.

{See also our previous article …. https://heritageaction.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/unique-opportunity-to-grow-your-plants-in-a-genuine-bronze-age-trackway/]

The Grave of the Princesses, a 4,000-year-old protected dolmen in County Wicklow has been badly damaged during land clearance works.

Grave of the Princesses.

The local tourist association commented: Our monuments are not safe… This exposes a disregard and even possible contempt for this part of our ancient heritage and the state body that protects it. Worse still, they pointed out that “At present, landowners can claim accidental damage or they have insufficient assets or have a low income to avoid reinstatement costs.”

Thank goodness people don’t get away with such things in Britain. Unless of course it’s at Priddy where the culprit got a slap on the wrist or Offa’s Dyke where they got nothing or it happens on a World Heritage landscape and you are a statutory guardian and you’ve just made a rule saying that if the Government wants it badly enough then it’s “an important planning justification” so it’s fine!

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barbaric

Yes you heard right, if you live in Ireland, pop along to your local garden centre and if you are lucky they might stock a bag of compost made by Westland Horticulture. These helpful chaps have been systematically destroying a unique bronze age trackway to make compost for the last ten years! Don’t worry about getting into trouble with the authorities, the Irish National Monuments Service haven’t issued a preservation order, or recorded it in the Irish Register of Historic Monuments, despite being notified in 2005. Yes you heard right again, this offer has been running for ten years with full government knowledge and no-one’s stopped it yet!!

Use the trackway to grow hanging baskets like these!

Use the trackway to grow hanging baskets like these!

Of course you’d hope common decency would have stopped Westland Horticulture from destroying our shared cultural heritage in the name of a quick Euro, but apparently not…

More here: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/bronze-age-road-in-midlands-turned-into-potting-compost-1.2368920

“The Lough Gur Summer Solstice Festival “is the perfect event that the whole family can enjoy, with a large calendar of fun events to keep everyone occupied.”

Gur

As we reported here and here, faced with growing opposition to onshore wind farms in the UK, Tory MPs are backing a plan to outsource the production of wind power to Ireland. Turbines will be built over there using British Government subsidies and the energy will be exported back to Britain using cables running under the sea to Wales. It’s the brainchild of American company Element Power who say “the Irish have a less reactionary attitude to onshore wind turbine developments than the British.”

mmmm

The Bog of Allen, an archaeological and natural treasure described by one Irish public body as “as much a part of Irish natural heritage as the Book of Kells” where 700 turbines are to be built. Elsewhere across the Irish Midlands a total of 2,500 turbines, each much higher than Blackpool Tower in clusters of 50 have been proposed.

It has just been announced that that slightly insulting claim is going to be tested because there’s going to be a public consultation. If the Irish public don’t like the idea that’ll be the end of it. Or will it?  In Britain the public’s clear wishes sometimes get ignored – hence the phrase “Oswestry democracy” – a process in which the people of Oswestry have given a resounding “no” to building next to a hill fort and Shropshire Council is acting as if they’d said yes.

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There are indications that the die is now cast in Ireland whatever the public says. Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte has just said “the views of local communities must be at the heart of the transition to renewable energy” – at the heart of the transition”, note, not “at the heart of the decision”. It’s ironic that this is about to happen in Ireland to supply Britain’s energy needs just at the moment when the British have decided to step away from such things at home and Energy Minister Greg Barker has stated that the rush to develop on-shore wind farms is “over” as “They have turned public opinion against renewable energy” and “We put certain projects in the wrong place” and “We are very clear about the need to limit the impact on the countryside and landscape” and “future wind farms will be developed off-shore”.

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Well, Ireland is certainly off-shore! How fortunate Britain has always treated the population of Ireland well else people might think we’re doing something duplicitous!

Who

Let’s start with an archaeologist. Charles Mount took the opportunity of last week’s Day of Archaeology to provide an insight into the state of Irish Archaeology in a contribution titled “Picking up the pieces”. He says the end of the Celtic Tiger boom has meant that

Irish archaeology has been blighted by economic failure, imposed austerity and the failure of the commercial archaeology model. Those of us who are left are trying to pick up the pieces, but the loss of collective knowledge and experience will never be made good. Many excavation archives generated during the boom years now sit in store rooms with no one now to write them up and bring them to publication”. Data from many sites “may never see the light of day”.

And now the politician. Mr Mount’s account reminded us of our article in June 2009 about Mr. John Gormley, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. He was once the author of The Green Guide For Ireland but was also the man who presided over the building of the M3 at Tara and who refused to prevent the destruction of the newly discovered National Monument at Lismullin. When launching three Codes of Archaeological Practice he made this amazing false claim that seems to underly a lot of government posturing on both sides of the sea:

“development and conservation can go hand in hand”.

He never explained how, and no wonder. Anyway, he is out of politics now and archaeologists like Mr Mount have been left with the reality and to pick up the pieces.

Two men have pleaded guilty to criminal damage following a party at the Grianan of Aileach ring fort in County Donegal.

ft                                           [http:://pdphoto.org Jon Sullivan]

The court was told that the fort, which is normally kept so well,  had been desecrated, stone walls had been defaced, cans, bottles and underwear were lying everywhere, while someone had even defectated at the entrance and also into the nearby holy well. The two defendants had been seen removing stones from the fort wall and throwing them 20ft down close to the entrance.

Judge Kelly said he had visited the fort itself which had survived 3,000 years and several wars and invasions and was disgusted that it was to be damaged by “loutish, ignorant and thuggish behaviour”.

Britain’s requirement for green energy is to be met by the erection of 2,500 giant wind turbines in clusters of 50 across the Midlands. They’ll each be much higher than Blackpool Tower and, thanks to special government rules, they can all be built less than a third of a mile from any house. Protestor Henry Fingleton said: “As we perceive it, the scale of the plan is so enormous that it will be the biggest transformation of the midlands counties since deforestation. It will ruin the landscape”. Nine community associations have banded together to demand “a more socially acceptable scale of wind-farm development“.

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We should perhaps point out though it won’t happen in the Midlands of England but of Ireland – although the power will go to Britain and in fact it’s a British idea, fuelled by subsidies from the British government. Here’s the plan: “UK to outflank objectors with wind farms in Ireland: Faced with fervent and growing opposition to onshore wind farms in the UK, Tory MPs are backing a plan to site those facilities in Ireland – and then export the renewable energy generated back to Britain using cables running under the Irish Sea, to Wales”.

So it looks very similar to buying cheap trainers from Asia produced in a way that wouldn’t be acceptable over here.

The Bog of Allen, an archaeological and natural treasure described by one Irish public body as “as much a part of Irish natural heritage as the Book of Kells” where 700 turbines are to be built using British Government subsidies to the developers. Each landowner will be paid many thousands to agree so effectively the British government will be providing the bribes to enable Ireland’s landscapes to be ruined.

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A guest post by Philip I. Powell. First published at
http://www.facebook.com/megalithicmonuments.ireland, reproduced with permission.

TOORMORE WEDGE TOMB

RMP No. CO148-001

A colleague, on a recent visit to a wedge tomb in west Cork, was shocked to find it being used as an out-house, containing trash bins, old rubbish and strewn with litter. I find this totally unacceptable, to see such callous disregard for a national monument and deeply concerned about what we really think about our national heritage. Is it that, unless it is given national attention via the state & independent media networks, we actually don’t care! Or are we saying that certain monuments deserve protection and others are perhaps not worthy of such protection.

Toormore Wedge Tomb

Photo by Michael Mitchell

All recorded archaeological monuments are protected under the National Monuments Acts 1930-2004 and this applies to every single one of them and not just the high profile monuments such as Newgrange,  Poulnabrone, the Hill of Tara and many, many others. It is for that reason that each monument is entered in the Record of Monuments and Places (RMP) as established under Section 12 of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1994. A unique identifying number is assigned to each monument and place in the record and, as such, gives it legal, statutory protection. When the owner or occupier of a property, proposes to carry out, or to cause, or to permit the carrying out of any work at or in relation to a Recorded Monument, they are required to give notice in writing to the Minister 2 months before commencing that work. This is to facilitate the NMS (National Monuments Service) time consider the proposed works and how best to protect the monument in question. Breach of these requirements is an offence. It is also an offence under the National Monuments Acts to dig or excavate anywhere near such monuments without a licence.

Toormore Wedge Tomb

Photo by Michael Mitchell

It should be a personal privilege to have any such monument on your property and not some sort of burden and yet some regard it as an inconvenience, which infringes on their lives. I, for one, would love nothing more than to have that privilege or as some may see it, that inconvenience. Our heritage and our national monuments are not just for the here and now. They and it are for the generations that follow us, not just on our island but for the whole world. This island of ours is one of the richest places on earth for prehistoric archaeology and is regarded by eminent archaeologists worldwide, as a haven for the study of the development of human society from the early Neolithic period to the late Iron Age and beyond.

The NMS is reliant on landowners and the general public, to help it fulfill its role in the protection and preservation of our national monuments & our archaeological heritage.

If you wish to report possible damage to a monument please contact the National Monuments Service by phoning 01 8882000 or e-mailing nationalmonuments@ahg.gov.ie as soon as possible. Thank you folks.

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