Sunday 16 June 2019

Do not destroy the Hill of Tara

Sir - The Hill of Tara constitutes the heart and soul of Ireland. Its very name invokes the spirit and mystique of our people and is instantly recognisable worldwide.

Sir - The Hill of Tara constitutes the heart and soul of Ireland. Its very name invokes the spirit and mystique of our people and is instantly recognisable worldwide. The plan approved recently by An Bord Pleanála for the M3 motorway to dissect the Tara-Skryne valley, Ireland's premier national monument, spells out a massive national and international tragedy that must be averted.

The area surrounding the Hills of Tara and Skryne is one of the most culturally and archaeologically significant in the world. Predating the Egyptian pyramids, the chamber within Tara's Mound of the Hostages is perfectly aligned with the full moon of Lughnasa and the rising sun of Samhain and Imbolg. But we are only just beginning to understand and appreciate how the mound relates to the hundreds of other monuments of this area, many of which will be destroyed if the valley is sliced in two.

Executing An Bord Pleanala's plan will involve spending over ?1 billion of Irish and European taxpayers' money. Of this, tens of millions of euro will be spent 'recording' what should be left 'in situ', according to stated Government policy and the Valetta Convention (European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage). Moreover, in the rush to build the motorway, unforgiving contract deadlines will compromise the proper investigation of significant archaeological finds.

We call on the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, the Minister for Transport, Seamus Brennan, and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Martin Cullen, to overturn this decision and consider the many intelligent options that are still available. These include: the realignment of the existing N3, as per the original advertised plan; the reopening of the Navan-Dublin railway line, which is widely supported in the locality; or simply moving the M3 away from this delicate archaeological landscape.

We ask these public servants to place these options before the people of Ireland in an open and democratic manner and let us decide how best to spend Irish taxpayers' money.

Dr Muireann Ni Bhrolchain, NUI Maynooth; Prof Tomas O Cathasaigh, Harvard University; Mairead Carew, archaeologist and writer; Dr Howard Clarke, UCD; Donnchadh O Corrain, UCC; Dáibhí O Croinin, NUI, Galway; Prof Thomas Charles-Edwards, Oxford University; Maire Herbert, UCC; Prof Joseph Nagy, University of California; M Vincent Salafia, Brehon Law Project; Dr Alfred Smyth, Canterbury University; Prof Ruairi O hUiginn, NUI, Maynooth

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