Irish Water, in conjunction with Kerry County Council, are about to construct a water plant in the midst of and overlooking a Rock Art group, these are normally found on boulders and outcrops of bedrock.

The townland of Letter West on the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry has the greatest number of Rock Art panels of Neolithic date in any one townland in Ireland. Sixty-four panels, to date, have been recorded. The adjoining townland of Kealduff Upper contains an additional fifty panels.

This group of Rock Art stones constitutes 15% of the National total, 33% of the County Kerry complement. This group contains both rare and unique motifs. The siting of known examples of Rock Art is always determined by choice of location. The Letter West/Kealduff Upper assemblage has to date survived in a pristine unspoilt natural habitat. All that, after thousands of years, is about to change.

The proposed works are extensive and include: the installation of a reservoir, with the potential of a second reservoir in the future; 2 white concrete tanks; 2 green kiosks; a house-like structure (8m x 3m).

The fact that the development is located within one of the County Council’s own ‘archaeological landscapes’ (included in the Kerry Development Plan 2015-2021) would appear to be lost on the planners.

The fact that in 1997 Ireland ratified the European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (the Valletta Convention) would also seem to have been overlooked (Article 5-iii states that State authorities are obliged ‘to ensure that environmental impact assessment and the resulting decisions involve full consideration of archaeological sites and their settings’).

This is clearly the wrong location for this installation. An Taisce has called on the Minister for Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht to enforce the terms of the ratified Valletta Convention, the terms of the ratified European Landscapes Convention, and the County Council Development Plan (with reference to Archaeological Landscape designation).

This development has to be stopped and relocated before the host landscape of the Rock Art is desecrated and ruined for future generations.

For further information, contact:

Mark Clinton, Antiquities Officer, An Taisce, Tel: +353 1 832 2058
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce. Tel: +353 87 241 1995
email: [email protected]
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland