There was a time not too long ago that a new site worthy of the designation “National Monument” would have been wholly welcomed by the Minister of the Environment. More importantly its preservation would have been guaranteed. The discovery of a circular wooden structure of possible Iron Age date in the Tara-Skryne valley is a major event. It is a new key element in an integrated complex of monuments and places that have been recognized both archaeologically and historically. The number of sites on the Tara ridge alone is now approximately 40. The importance of Tara and it’s relationship with the High Kings of Ireland is known to all. The discovery of what could be called a temple, after the fashion of a comparable discovery at Emain Mhacha, seat of the Kings of Ulster, is of obvious major significance. Such sites are extremely rare. Prior to this government’s ill-advised amendments to the National Monuments Act in 2004, the Minister for Environment would have had very limited “wriggle-room” and a National Monument would have been safe. No longer; a stroke of the pen by the current minister will be enough to remove this newly discovered temple from the landscape. “Preservation by Record” they may say; how about “Destruction by Documentation”?
What should have been done? Full scientific excavation followed by reconstruction. In fact just like what was done at Knowth. There the tourists can view the replica circular structure of circa mid 3rd millennium BC date – and similarly here too tourists would love it. Its straight-forward economics. Carrickmines, Woodstown and Tara; three new National Monuments. Carrickmines; Government response – Monuments Act changed and site destroyed. Woodstown; a second bite at the cherry – and a new road is coming. And Tara? Wouldn’t it be a pleasant novelty if we could keep a new National Monument for a change? The 2004 amendment to the National Monuments Act must be repealed for sake of cultural integrity of this island. We owe not only to future generations but also to the present one if we are to attempt to have any self-respect regarding our own culture.

For further information please call Dr. Mark Clinton, Chairman of the National Monuments and Antiquities of An Taisce: 085 1092473