Magnificent seven battle for world heritage honour
IT'S our own magnificent seven. The Government has nominated seven sites across Ireland, including the Burren in Co Clare and the "historic" city of Dublin, to be added to the list of world heritage sites.
The Department of the Environment confirmed yesterday that the nominations were sent to UNESCO last week to begin the process of adding them to the list of areas deemed to be of "outstanding universal value".
Ireland already has three sites on the list -- the Giant's Causeway in Co Antrim, which was inducted in 1986; Bru na Boinne (the Newgrange complex) in Co Meath (1993); and Skellig Michael in Co Kerry (1996).
The latest nominated sites also include the Ceide Fields and North West Mayo Boglands; Western Stone Forts; Monastic City of Clonmacnoise and its Cultural Landscape; Early Medieval Monastic Sites; and the Royal Sites of Ireland, which include Cashel, Dun Ailinne, Hill of Uisneach, Rathcroghan and Tara.
World heritage sites are defined as being of "cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity", according to UNESCO.
There are 900 properties on the list, including the Alhambra in Spain, Red Square in Russia and Acropolis in Greece.
Management plans for the sites have to be completed before UNESCO will consider adding them to the list, a process which could take 18 months, a spokesman for Environment Minister John Gormley said.
"This list has been the result of extensive consultation," he said. "We have some very interesting and innovative sites including literary and Georgian Dublin, which amalgamates two of the key elements which make our capital so special, but a lot more work needs to be carried out at these sites."
In its submission on Dublin, the Government says it was the most important city, after London, of the British Empire in the Georgian period (1714-1830), much of which survives today. And three of Ireland's four Nobel laureates for literature -- WB Yeats (1923), George Bernard Shaw (1925) and Samuel Beckett (1969) -- were from Dublin.
The Burren is an "outstanding example" of the use of a very challenging environment over 6,000 years, while the Ceide Fields in Mayo are the "most extensive Stone Age monument in the world".
Clonmacnoise is heralded as an "unparalleled example of an early medieval insular monastic city", while six early medieval sites, including Glendalough and Kells, are described as being principal examples of "centres of Celtic learning, teaching and enlightenment".
The Royal Sites of Ireland, which includes the Hill of Tara, has also been added to the list. The Western Stone Forts -- seven on Aran, including Dun Aonghusa, and others in Clare and Kerry -- are also nominated.