War of Independence monuments not protected as historic sites

Monuments dotted around the country dedicated to the War of Independence are not protected as historic sites.

Battlefields, ambush sites, and monuments of archaeological interest have to be at least 200 years old before safeguards are taken to preserve them.

At the moment, local authorities only have responsibilities to safeguard any national treasure pre-1815.

However, Cork County Council officials have said they are willing to offer professional advice to heritage or community groups seeking to “clean up” monuments in the run-up to the centenary of the Easter Rising.

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The issue came to the fore at a recent meeting of a national monuments committee in Co Cork and further raised at a full meeting of the council.

“Obviously it’s disappointing that the remit of committee does not allow for any monuments less than 200 years old to be looked after,” said Cllr Melissa Mullane.

In her north Cork locality, she said, there were some very small War of Independence monuments in need of slight repair.

“We have the monument at the bridge in Mallow which needs some script work,” she said.

“Similarly, Mourneabbey Ambush monument requires some amount of work but nothing of great magnitude and I believe it would cost a small amount of money,” the Sinn Féin county councillor said.

“Furthermore, there are a number of monuments at the side of roads and we also have numerous ones in graveyards. These would include the republican plot in Mallow and probably one of the most significant in Cork would be Liam Lynch grave in Kilcrumper, Fermoy.

“These graves need to be the responsibility of the State. Various voluntary groups do a tremendous job in taking the maintenance of these on board themselves but, as was noted from the meeting, untrained volunteers could perhaps unknowingly cause damage to these monuments.

“We are going into the centenary of 1916; we should not have to wait for the bicentenary when tragically a lot of these monuments will no longer exist or possibly be in so much disrepair they will never be restored,” she said.

Meanwhile,Fianna Fáil councillor Frank O’Flynn, chairman of the Liam Lynch commemoration committee, said money should be found by the council to look after such monuments.

Assistant county manager Tom Stritch said the council had no problem getting its archaeologists and conservation experts to give advice to voluntary groups who want to preserve them.

Currently, castles, cathedrals, and cemeteries feature among the protected sites.

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