At a ceremony in Mountshannon yesterday, the council confirmed it had acquired 41 acres on the island which, together with the two acres already in the ownership of the Office of Public Works (OPW), now means the entire island is, for the first time, in public ownership.
The council also announced its intention to procure professional experts to prepare a visitor management and tourism development plan for Holy Island which will provide a framework, in consultation with key stakeholders, for tourism development and visitor management of the island, whilst also ensuring the cultural heritage and natural assets that contribute to the Island’s uniqueness are maintained and protected.
Still used as a burial ground, the ruins and buildings still standing on Holy Island date back as far as the 7th century when the monastic site was established by St Caimin. Buildings on the island include a 24m-high round tower, an oratory, and a number of churches.
Speaking at a function in the Mountshannon Hotel, following a visit to Holy Island, the mayor of Clare, Cllr John Crowe (FG), said: “Holy Island is one of the most important historical and ecclesiastical sites in Ireland, and it has important links to Brian Ború. It is on the Unesco world heritage site tentative list for Ireland as an early medieval monastic site along with Clonmacnoise, Durrow, Glendalough, Kells, and Monasterboice.”
He said: “It is the jewel in the crown for East Clare and I am delighted that Clare County Council has now concluded the purchase of 41 acres on the Island so that the Island is now in public ownership.”
The island purchase has been funded by the council from its own resources, and funding towards the production of a visitor management and tourism development plan has been provided by the Lough Derg marketing and strategy group.
According to council CEO Tom Coughlan: “Clare County Council has invested significantly in tourism product at the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, Doolin, Loop Head and now we have a tremendous opportunity to make available one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland to a wider audience.”
”We fully understand and appreciate the significance of this site and the necessity to ensure that any proposals are sensitive to the natural environment and cultural heritage of the site. We look forward to working with all stakeholders as we progress the development of the visitor management and tourism development plan.”