The council used to have three specialist conservation teams who would monitor the sites and carry out specialist conservation work on them if needed. However, the conservation teams have been reduced to just one, with only two people on it, one of whom is close to retirement.
The council has a Historic Monuments Advisory Committee (HMAC) which includes councillors, two of whom are very concerned for the future of such archaeological sites.
Independent councillor Marcia D’Alton, a member of HMAC, said the members “were highly trained specialists” and she expressed concern that “soon there will be no team at all”.
“We have 19,000 archaeological sites in Co Cork,” she said. “It is an in-house decision [within the council] to train up conservation specialists to make sure it has people who can carry out conservation work on these monuments.
“If the council does not have specially trained in-house employees, conservation work will need to go out to contract. This would be so much more expensive and would allow far less to be achieved with ever-decreasing funds.
“Monuments and buildings will start deteriorating if we don’t have the personnel or the money to protect them. We need a system in the county council where we can train up our own experts to tackle this issue,” said Fine Gael councillor Kevin Murphy.