Study to be carried out on the future use of the Curragh plains

Calls have been made for the area to be given National Park status

The Department of Defence and Kildare Co Council are set to establish a study on the future of the Curragh plains, the Minister for Defence, Paul Kehoe has said.

The Curragh plains are an important working facility for the Defence Forces, the horse racing industry and sheep owners who avail of long-established rights of pasture. 

Minister Kehoe said that as both a working environment and a high-value amenity of ecological importance, he is keenly aware of the multiple challenges facing his Department in ensuring the ongoing management of the plains.

"My Department recently met with Kildare County Council to explore issues centred around the development of a collaborative consultancy study with Kildare County Council to examine the current land management arrangements for the Curragh plains and provide recommendations for their protection and future development. 

"It is envisaged that the study would be carried out over a two year period. This matter is under active consideration in my Department," he said.

However, the Minister noted that any such examination concerning the future of the Curragh plains must ensure that account is taken of the prime importance placed on the use of the area by the Irish Defence Forces and of the needs of the centrally located Defence Forces Training Centre.

He previously noted that any examination of the Curraghs future should access the developmental potential of the area as a high value visitor and cultural amenity attraction.

Minister Kehoe was responding to Kildare based TD Martin Heydon who has previously called for the Curragh plains to be given National Park status.

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The Curragh Plains extend to 4,870 acres and have remained unfenced and uncultivated for at least 2000 years.

As they have remained uncultivated for over 2000 years the soil and the plants that grow there are quite unique in Ireland.

A law dating back to 1870 gives a number of sheep farmers the right to graze their sheep anywhere on the Curragh, except for the racecourse and the areas used by the military.

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