Council approves donkey sanctuary on ancient site

Kerry County Council last night confirmed it had given the go-ahead for a donkey sanctuary and roadway now under construction in a unique Bronze Age valley near the Conor Pass which contains dozens of archaeological monuments.

The council said it had made its ruling “based on the information” it was given. No archaeological survey was demanded by the council.

The donkey sanctuary is within an archaeological complex of recorded monuments and the proximity to the monuments is causing concern.

Archaeologists from the National Monuments Service and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht are on their way to the Loch a Dúin valley near Cloghane amid concerns the development may be too close to a large fulacht fiadh (a Bronze Age cooking pit) and other archaeological monuments.

The council was approached by the proposer of a donkey sanctuary about whether permission would be required. The council said as the shed and road were agricultural in nature no planning was needed.

Kerry County Council last night issued a statement saying “based on the information it had received” it had decided the works did not need planning.

The valley in question has 90 monuments including fulachtaí fiadh and 12km of pre-bog field walls dating from the Bronze Age.

More than half a kilometre of roadway has been constructed and work has begun on the donkey sanctuary. Much of the valley — apart from a small forested section — is a special area of conservation, including Scorid River. Forestry and fisheries officials have also visited the site.

A statement from the council last night read: “Based on the information received and the nature of the development, a certificate of exemption was issued, confirming that the development, as proposed, did not require planning permission.

“An initial inspection of the site has been undertaken by the council’s planning staff and the county archaeologist to determine if the development is being carried out in according with the exemption issued. The matter has also been referred to the National Monuments Section of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.”

The council said it would be carrying out further detailed inspections and will contact the developer in the coming days.

An archaeologist who has part-surveyed the valley said the entire area with its structures thousands of years old was to the Bronze Age what the Céide Fields in Mayo were to the Stone Age in terms of significant monuments.


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