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Drogheda Port Company has re-submitted a major plan to extend the port’s boundary and develop a €300 million deepwater facility at Bremore in north Dublin… more here.

Bremore Passage tomb cemetery is located on a rocky promontory with extensive views of the coastline, as far north as the Mourne Mountains.

In the record of monuments it says that Bremore complex consists of five mounds, the largest measuring c. 30m in diameter and c. 3.3m in height. This is surrounded by four other mounds (often referred to elsewhere as satellite tombs) surviving from 9m-15m in diameter and from 0.5m-0.75m in height. This layout is typical of other passage tomb cemeteries.

Bremore is listed on the Record of Monuments and Places as an archaeological complex consisting of the following;

DU-002-001-01 Passage Tomb;  DU-002-001-02 Passage Tomb; DU-002-001-03 Passage Tomb; DU-002-001-04 Passage Tomb; DU-002-001-05 Passage Tomb; DU-002-001-06 Fulacht Fiadh;

The Bremore tombs belong to a wider group known as the Bremore/Gormanston group that extends long the coast on either side of the mouth of the river Delvin. This is in itself significant as it indicates they were a ‘landing point’ and the start of the western expansion of tombs inland to Fourknocks. Passage tombs are thought to have originated from Iberia and the Bremore tombs would therefore represent an early stage in the developmental sequence-they are thus seen as the PRECURSERS of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.

The Bremore tombs, as monuments of national importance, are protected by a Preservation Order (No. 22/76) which means no works can take place on or in the vicinity of the monuments without the consent of the Minister of the Environment.

They are also listed on the Record of Protected Structures (RPS 003).

Thus Bremore passage tomb cemetery is subject to several levels of protection. As outlined by the National Monuments Service, the OPW is responsible for signage and care of the monuments. Also the passage tombs are on private land, in the care of the OPW and the National Monument Service.

Professor Eogan gives an account of the importance of the Bremore tombs in relation to the other great tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth in the Boyne valley and says that  “There’s enough evidence to say that it’s (Bremore complex) contemporary with the Boyne valley.”

Reference: Bremore Heritage Group NO PORT HERE on Facebook.

by Gordon Kingston, Heritage Action

“The name of the place where France and Britain decided to mount their joint assault now resonates through history. This scene of one of the bloodiest battlefields of the First World War is full of landmarks like ’Usna Hill’, ’Tara Hill’, and ’Munster Alley’, landmarks that got their nicknames from the tens of thousands of Irish soldiers who fought at this place.”

– a description of the Somme by Neil Richardson (from ’A Coward if I Return, a Hero if I Fall’; 2010, 69)

Around 200,000 Irishmen volunteered to fight in the First World War, Richardson writes; over a quarter of all eligible men in the country. More than 35,000 of those volunteers never returned. And those that did were frequently derided, ostracised; sometimes shot – the victims of a massive, subsequent swing in the national mood. Over the years that I’ve watched, and felt myself (I won’t deny it), the political mood swings of this same nation; Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour, the Progressive Democrats and the Green party, have each risen, sometimes risen again and then fallen after the swell of their wave. What does it mean? Do we think, or do we just feel? Are we volatile?

At the moment we are mired in pessimisism. All of us. The billions of euros lost by our major banks, in their mindless, greed-driven land speculation, have been guaranteed by the state, by us; the same state that regularly spends far more than it gains in taxes. And, technically, we are bankrupt. Last week, a report was released that detailed a decade of warnings to the Government about its spending habits. Those warnings were regularly ignored – spreading cash around was a good way of getting votes, and people loved Fianna Fail for it. And voted them in again and again.

Who pays the bill for it all now? Or rather, who loved them before and who hates them now? They’re the same party. There were plenty of warnings, over the years, to us, about what was going on – but the sweets were more enticing than watching the stable door. And the swell was there. We just rolled with the motion of the water. Only five years ago we were kings of the world – what would those soldiers think of the men who dared to paste a motorway beside the real Hill of Tara? Face it, if they were really like us and if they were living here five years ago, they, like the voters of Meath, would probably have sipped another latte and said; “go on lads, work away”.

Would their answer be the same if they were asked now? That mood has changed again. To look at it another way; if those same soldiers had stayed at home in 1914, would they not also have jeered the returning volunteers? What are we like, as a people? Are we all so volatile? The more you think about anything, the less clear it becomes – only those with Yeats’ “passionate intensity”, the intensity of the swell, can be sure of what they are doing. And they, he said, are the worst of us all.

Another road, a new bypass, is being planned near Newgrange and every alternative proposal for a route has been dismissed by those involved. I still don’t know – since I first heard of it I‘ve been trying, and failing, to decide what‘s right and what‘s wrong in this situation. How can they be so sure that theirs’ is the only way? Can they really be holding their minds steady amidst the waves?

According to last week’s Evening Echo a file in connection with the destruction of two ring forts in Kilmurry, Co. Cork, is to be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions. How effective will a prosecution be? This case’s background and the prevailing legal situation, have been summed up wonderfully for the Village Magazine and here;

Note that these are ‘repeat offenders’. As you’re no doubt aware, punishment, in the heritage area, is mostly non-existent and rarely exceeds the benefits of the crime. Perhaps, in this case then, William O’Brien’s suggestion (as quoted below) might be given some serious consideration? Think of Dante’s Ruggieri and Ugolino;

“In the absence of any possibility of punitive recourse or forced reinstatement, O’Brien, who is also Chairman of the Royal Irish Academy’s Archaeological Committee, has suggested that “the State always has the option of placing preservation orders on levelled sites, bearing in mind these still contain buried archaeological remains”. These measures are within the Minister’s powers and would give the State control of these sites. At the least it would require the landowner to protect the site and prevent him from further benefiting from the destruction.”

Here’s hoping. Remove the benefit of the crime – it’s the only way to stop it happening again.

by Gordon Kingston, Heritage Action

Ireland’s December Budget brought in a drastic series of cuts, in both current and capital spending. Tax credits and cut-off points were lowered, and a new ’Universal Social Charge’ was introduced (literally universal – it applies to anyone that earns more than a paltry €77 per week). The intention was obvious – to make more people contribute and to make those that already contribute, contribute a lot more. 

At the root of our present problems is a massive structural deficit – a fundamental gap between what the government spends and what it raises, in taxes, to pay for that spending -, caused, for the most part, by years of dependence on (now-vanished) property-sales taxes and on the tax spin-offs from debt-fuelled consumption; as a funding mine for significant state overpayment for services and for individuals.

But that is only the root. Because the same (Fianna Fáil-led) government guaranteed the collapsing banking system and persisted with that guarantee as bank losses grew (exponentially), it ensured that the multi-billion euro “Irish Developer/Irish Bank/International Financial Market” buck also stopped, bizarrely, with us; the ‘Irish Taxpayer’. And hence the high-interest EMU/IMF bailout; effectively a bailout of those original lenders to the Irish banks (mostly UK and European institutions), but one that will have to be subbed by us, it seems, for the next couple of generations.

It’s easy to see, therefore, why state axes have begun to swing. The question is, are those blows landing evenly; or are they striking more heavily, with the usual smooth follow-through of human/government nature, against those sectors that will cause the least public resistance? According to the Irish Times; “While overall capital spending in the Budget had been cut by 28 per cent,.. the Heritage Council’s capital allocation had been cut by 66 per cent, its current spending cut by 47 per cent and the built heritage heading by 83 per cent.”

The Heritage Council press release adds; “The Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government’s Heritage Unit, which has responsibility for protected structures, including world heritage sites, suffered a 77% budget cut. National Parks and Wildlife, whose remit includes the protection of our natural heritage and running all our national parks, suffered a 56% cut. The Heritage Council, whose role is to protect, preserve and enhance Ireland’s national heritage, suffered a 47% cut. This is on top of a 30% cut in 2010.”

Projects that will have to be abandoned, in the broader area of the environment, include the efforts to prevent Lough Corrib from being, in the words of the Sunday Times; “overrun by Lagorisphon major, an invasive pondweed originally from South Africa”. And the efforts to restore the declining populations of curlew, lapwing, redshank and snipe in the Shannon area. Apart from any moral imperative – our activity is responsible for their danger in the first place (the ‘stampede to dystopia’)  – the fines associated with the extinction of EU protected species are far in excess of the cost of protecting them. Would such a decision really have been made if proper weight had been placed on fairness and value for money?

In a similar vein and in reference, specifically, to the Heritage Council cuts, chairwoman of the Institute of Archaeologists, Finola O’Carroll, points out that this was; “…the budget to look after historic properties, fund Instar [the Irish National Strategic Archaeological Research programme], fund the Royal Irish Academy excavation grants, publications, grants to local authorities for historic buildings etc… This is completely disproportionate and obviously reflects a political choice, at a time when tourism, particularly cultural tourism, is touted as the great white hope. If any other sector had its research and development cut to this extent there would be war.”

In effect, these cuts would; “curtail the conservation of national monuments in State ownership, restrict the funding of research excavations through the Royal Irish Academy and reduce interpretation for tourists at national monuments sites”. And, crucially; “imperil two flagship archaeological projects – the Discovery Programme and Instar”, both of which had “contributed enormously to understanding our heritage and bringing that information to the people of Ireland and further afield”.

A study, referred to in the Heritage Council press release, has demonstrated that investment in these areas returns about five times its original cost, in value to the economy. Will Fianna Fáil ever be capable of doing anything right? And where are the Greens of these last dying days?

Heritage Action has been a strong opponent of the Tara Motorway, a ruthless wrecking of Ireland’s heritage – and for what? A road to nowhere, a road that will be remembered as a wasteful flash of euros; electronic credits that never really existed, while an ancient legacy was bulldozed into the dust. It won’t be the first time the following has been published (first penned four years ago now) but perhaps next time someone will sit up and take note when something like this is written again.
Tara abandoned by a generation who prefer soulless symbols
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? They allowed them not only to close down but also to rip up the Dublin/Navan/Trim railway line over 30 years ago. And they still trust them. There were so many other options for this road. Are you the same Tara who was magic for Master O’Connell, the principal of Tarmons National School in Tarbert? He instilled a love of you into our hearts, and I can still see the face of Fr O’Flaherty (our history teacher in St Brendan’s, Killarney) come alive at your name. But that was a different generation, other times. You are no longer in fashion. 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
Co Kerry

Tara campaigners have handed in a re-interment petition to Dáil Éireann;

“A petition to reinter the remains of those whose graves were desecrated during excavations for the M3 Motorway through the Tara Skryne Valley Co. Meath, will be handed in at Dáil Eireann on Monday 8th Nov 12 mid day.

Tara campaigners demand that the remains removed from their ancient Sacred Burial Grounds be reinterred in a respectful and dignified manner as closely as possible to their original resting places and as closely as possible to their original ceremonial layout. This campaign was given the backing of the World Archaeological Conference held in Dublin 2008 and attended by over 1,800 archaeologists, native peoples and international scholars from 74 nations.

Quote from WAC (World Archaeological Congress):

” Recognising that the reburial of ancient remains in Ireland is subject to the provisions of the National Monuments Act and the agreement of the National Museum of Ireland, the World Archaeological Congress also draws attention to the Vermillion Accord on human remains and suggests that any human remains excavated from the cultural landscape of Tara should be re-interred with due respect as close as possible to their original locations, as this is where these people would have wished to be buried”.

It is estimated that between 60-90 remains were removed from Collierstown, the reputed burial site of the Fianna after the Battle of Gabhra in 284 AD. In addition over 27 were removed from Ardsallagh and many more were taken from individual sites along the route of the M3 Motorway.

Well known signatories and supporters of the petition include Actor Stuart Townsend, Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, Pultizer Prize winner Paul Muldoon, Writer Colm Tóibín, famous Harpist Laoise Kelly, Grammy Award winning Singer/Songwriter Susan Mc Keown, Guitar Virtuoso Aidan Brennan and Musician Steve Cooney as well as Archbishop of Armagh Alan Harper and Bishop Smith of the Catholic Meath Diocese.

The organisers of the petition, Tomás Mac Cormaic and Carmel Diviney wish to thank Tara supporters worldwide for adding to the call to put pressure on the Irish Government and the National Museum of Ireland to show due respect to Tara’s ancestral remains. We hope that the thousands of other remains unearthed during construction works throughout the country which are not being held for scientific research purposes, will likewise be given dignified and respectful reburial without delay.


Carmel Diviney,


Tara Skryne Preservation Group.”

Preliminary excavation results (regarding the 62 Collierstown bodies) can be found here;

A link to the Tara-Skryne Preservation Group

And a link to some relevant photos

By Gordon Kingston, Heritage Action

Time and the lack of written record, have tied a tight blindfold between us and prehistory, but occasionally we get the chance of a small nudge in the right direction. Following the recent collapse of its capstone,  Tirnony portal tomb, in County Derry, is to be excavated in advance of restoration. The Belfast Telegraph carries this report;

As you’ll read in the article, this is indeed a rare chance. Excavation involves destruction and is, therefore, a tool that must be used sparingly; a delicate balance has to be struck between the desire for information and the need for preservation (a conflict between pressures, to borrow a phrase from Jung, that; “cannot be solved by an either-or but only by a kind of two-way thinking: doing one thing while not losing sight of the other”).

Certainly, the archaeological component of all the “saddle-up boys” development activity of recent years, while it did increase our ‘record‘, seemed to have drifted well away from the consideration of ‘need for preservation’. The same need that is lost to sight, I’m convinced, by allowing the uncontrolled use of metal-detectors; wonderful, easily destructible, knowledge does rest in the ground. Here at Tirnony, for instance and in contrast, the archaeologist Paul Logue can set out his team’s hopes to; “find out more about how this tomb was built, when it was built and how it was used.”

If you do happen to be interested in the portal tombs of Ireland, Wales and Cornwall, there’s a smart and very exhaustive study by Tatjana Kytmannow, available as a British Archaeology Report (BAR 455, 2008). It’s fascinating. The monument group has been dated, from finds analysis, to the Early Neolithic; to a period in the region of 4000 – 3500 BC and, interestingly, given the emphatic thrust to the contrary in one of the comments beneath the Telegraph article, she notes that;

“There are very simple dolmens in Portugal, Spain, Brittany, and western France which are all early, earlier than passage tombs, but there are no close parallels which possess the same defining criteria. While the idea (of) erecting large monuments of stone was most likely introduced, portal tombs are only found in Britain and Ireland and have most likely developed there.”

There is to be an archaeologist’s blog at, which should be worth checking out from time to time. It’s a good website to look through, in any case.

Kilmogue Portal Tomb; symbolism and spectacle?

by Gordon Kingston, Heritage Action

According to Frank McDonald, of the Irish Times, a large earthwork – 23 m in extent and about 4m high – has been identified, at Crewbane, on part of the eastern route for the proposed Slane bypass. Early speculation is that it forms a section of the western defence of the medieval royal fortress at Knowth. The archaeologists involved in the discovery; Joe Fenwick, Gerard Dowling and Roseanne Schot (of the Brú na Bóinne Research Project), had been commissioned to survey the area by former Irish Attorney General, John Rogers, a prominent objector to the proposal.

On foot of this survey, Mr. Fenwick has written to an Bórd Pleanála with his concerns; “It is apparent that the Crewbane souterrain (found in 2007) is not an isolated archaeological monument in the landscape, but one element in a complex of archaeological features situated on and around this prominent ridge overlooking the river Boyne. These include a second and possibly third potential souterrain, a substantial linear embankment, a circular enclosure [of] 40m in diameter [a possible ring fort], a relict field system and associated open settlement of possible medieval or early modern date… It is likely, however, that had this complex been known at the time the world heritage site perimeter was being drafted, its influence would have extended its perimeter somewhat further to the west and northwest.”

He concedes that any alternative, western route would be equally problematic from an archaeological point of view, but suggests that a viable solution might be to completely ban HGVs from the town and, instead of a bypass, to redirect traffic flow through an east-west corridor to the north. And thus towards the existing motorways; the M1 and M3.

This whole issue is problematic. While it’s difficult to argue against a bypass proposal that could save lives, so many roads have been built in Ireland already. Would it not be better, as Joe Fenwick suggests, to work with what has previously been constructed (at great expense and, occasionally, with controversy)? Traffic flow is a nightmare to guide, or to anticipate, anyway, because it’s dependent to such a degree on human behaviour, or rather, a number of different types of it. The NRA, for instance, have proposed tolling existing roads and links – like the Jack Lynch Tunnel in Cork – to help pay for more projects. Who’s to say that this bridge, in turn, wouldn’t attract a toll? It’d be a juicy enough prospect. Would all those HGVs continue to use it then?  

There’s a very funny scene in ‘Father Ted’. You’ll probably know it. It’s the one where Ted tries to hammer a small dent out of a car and, by all his compensatory tapping, reduces the vehicle to a wreck – it’s like that tale of the man who keeps slicing bits off the legs of his stool, to stop it wobbling, and eventually ends up sitting on the floor. In the week that it was announced that we, in Ireland, have one of the ten worst “ecological footprints” in the world, you’d have to wonder how much we’ve lost in our ‘process‘. Is the earthwork at Crewbane now fated to be another Lismullin; or another in a line of Lismullins, stretching, from case to case, into the future? To what eventual purpose? Will each ‘solved’ problem just pop up somewhere else instead? And how much will we have left under us at the end of it all?
These lines were written in another time and about another time, long before that again;

“…While, as a youth with practised spear
Through jostling crowds bears off the ring,
Boyne from their shoulders caught the bier
And proudly bore away the king.

At morning, on the grassy marge
Of Rossnaree, the corpse was found,
And shepherds at their early charge
Entomb’d it in the peaceful ground.

A tranquil spot: a hopeful sound
Comes from the ever youthful stream,
And still on daisied mead and mound
The dawn delays with tendered beam.

Round Cormac Spring renews her buds:
In march perpetual by his side,
Down come the earth-fresh April floods,
And up the sea-fresh salmon glide;

And life and time rejoicing run
From age to age their wonted way;
But still he wait’s the risen Sun’
For still ‘tis only dawning day.”

– from Samuel Ferguson’s ‘The Burial of King Cormac’

Congratulations to Dr. Mark Clinton, chair of the antiquities committee of An Taisce, and to all his colleagues in Annagassan, Co.Louth. He and his team have uncovered the remains of what may be the lost Viking fortress, or longphort, of Linn Duchaill. According to Eamonn Kelly, the National Museum’s keeper of antiquities; “the significance of it is immense. It will be up there with all the major Viking sites in Europe.” 

As Dr. Clinton puts it; “In 841 the Vikings over-wintered for the first time instead of raiding and leaving. The annals said they over-wintered here and in Dublin and this location was elusive. Until now.”

That it has been found at all is due to long and painstaking fieldwalking by a couple of people and to their courage in pushing an eventual site-hunch to obtain funding. Consequent excavation, of just three small trenches, has unearthed over 200 objects in 3 weeks; including ship rivets, pieces of silver, a spindle whorl and a brooch pin – even part of a human skull (within the defensive ditch). Did axes swing that day, at Linn Duchaill?;

“My mother said
I would be bought
A boat with fine oars,
Set off with Vikings,
Stand up on the prow,
Command the precious craft,
Then enter port,
Kill a man and another.” – from Egil’s Saga

Radiocarbon dates from the “massive” ditch, built across an inlet on a river, are pending, but there seems little doubt about its identification as; “the main fortification of the Viking fortress“. And thankfully, because no development is involved in this case, the structure won’t disappear again into the written word. According to Dr. Clinton, all finds; “will be conserved and analysed and a full report of the findings published”.

More articles about this excavation can be found here:

With regard to the growing Viking presence, it’s also worth noting Stephen Oppenheimer’s estimate (‘The Origins of the British’ 2007, 462) – that (historic) Norwegian and Danish intrusion into the DNA of the British Isles’ population could be by as much as 5.5%.

There are a couple of news items to report today. The first, regarding the proposed N2 Slane bypass – close to the Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site – can be found here:

An Bórd Pleanála has ordered Meath County Council to publish “additional information“, beyond that included in its original Environmental Impact Statement. It has also ordered the Council to reopen public consultation;

“Meath County Council will publish a new public notice in national newspapers tomorrow, Friday, 17th September, giving the public until Friday 15th October to make submissions to An Bórd Pleanála. The original consultation had closed on 25 February 2010.”

The Council must provide, inter alia, further information on; the archaeological and geophysical investigations that were carried out; the question of adequate consideration of an alternative route; and the design alternatives for the proposed bridge.

And more here:

I wonder where the money for this proposed project is going to come from? At least, within the next decade – seeing as we’re now taking in only about half of what we need, in taxes, to cover outgoings. And that’s not including the money that’s gone and yet to go, on Anglo Irish et al. Tax revenues won’t be rising anytime soon, I’d imagine? 

The second item, regarding the building (no pun intended) friction over the landscape conservation plan for the Tara-Skryne valley, appears here;

It seems that tensions were running high in Navan, on Monday night, The article reports; “chaotic scenes which included slow hand-clapping and heated confrontation between people of opposing views.” Surprised?;

“Those gathered in the hotel expressed concern about planning restrictions and de-exemptions proposed in the plan, in addition to the extent of the area taken in by the proposed plan, which stretches from Walterstown to Bective, Dunsany and Kilmessan, across to Skryne and Tara.”

God forbid that anyone should tamper with our right, as Irish, to build a house. The first section of a letter, that we published back in June, should be read in conjunction with the article above;

“The Tara Skryne Preservation Group would like to register our deep distress at recent radio and newspaper reports of local Meath Co. Councillors rallying against the implementation of the Tara Skryne Landscape Conservation Area Plan. A campaign of scaremongering and misinformation is being perpetrated by FF, FG and Independent councillors through which allegations of land sterilisation, eviction and non provision for Planning of one off housing has been instigated… Several Meath Councillors including Shane Mc Entee TD FG , Mary Wallace TD FF and Nick Killian FF are, in our opinion, misrepresenting the facts which can be seen clearly outlined in the Tara Skryne Landscape Conservation Area Plan on Meath County Council’s website. The Plan contains more than adequate reassurances on these very same issues.”


June 2021

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