Heritage groups rally to save historic site

A HOST of international academics and historians have joined a campaign to save Ireland’s most precious heritage site from damage by motorway construction.

One of the leading campaigners, Julitta Clancy, was conferred last week with an honorary MBE by Princess Anne for her work as a founder member of the Meath Peace Group.

Others include archaeologist and writer Máiread Carew; Professor Thomas Charles-Edwards of Oxford University; Professor Bart Jaski from the University of Utrecht and Professor Joseph Nagy of the University of California.

The academics, many of whom are internationally renowned historians and archaeologists, have signed a public statement calling on the Government to review and change its plans to dissect the valley with the motorway.

They also want UNESCO to consider designating Tara a World Heritage Site (WHS), like the nearby Brú na Bóinne which was listed a WHS in 1993 as Europe’s largest and most important concentration of prehistoric megalithic art.

Plans for the M3 motorway show that it will come within one kilometre of the Hill of Tara, something viewed with growing alarms by archaeologists and historians worldwide.

According to campaigners, the plan which was approved recently by An Bord Pleanála, “spells out a massive national and international tragedy that must be averted”.

The area surrounding the Hill of Tara and Skryne is one of the most culturally and archaeologically significant in the world and parts of it predate the Egyptian pyramids by 1,500 years.

Campaigners fear that the construction of the motorway will destroy any real prospect of future research of the hundreds of possible monuments in the area.

“There is an incredible array of monuments on the Hill of Tara,” said Julitta Clancy yesterday.

“The developers argue that they will avoid all known monuments but that leaves huge undeveloped areas open to destruction.”

Mrs Clancy, who is also secretary of the Save Tara/Skryne Valley Campaign, said:

“Heritage protection in this country is at an all-time low and we should be able to accommodate infrastructural development while safeguarding our monuments.

“Our heritage agencies should have afforded Tara greater protection and preservation must now be the first imperative,” she said.

In a statement, the campaigners said: “Tara constitutes the heart and soul of Ireland.

“Our ceremonial and mythical capital, its very name invokes the spirit and mystique of our people, and is recognised worldwide,” they said.

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