Monday 19 March 2018

Archaeologist puts foot down on footpaths at Kilmacow

A RINGFORT at Kilmacow cemetery has put a halt to Cork County Council putting in place any timber fencing or works as it would interfere with the ground and be in breach of the Monuments Act.

At the Kanturk Area meeting on Friday, a senior engineer was able to confirm the state of the ground.

"I had a rough experience when I went there and my shoes are still wet," said senior engineer, Michael Cremin.

At the Kanturk Area meeting held in January, a preliminary report was furnished by senior executive engineer Pat Corbett for an outline for timber posts and 140 metres of wiring, along with the provision of gates at either side of the path, excavation of stone and gravel requirements.

However, Mr Corbett stressed that if any works were to be undertaken it would have to get the green light from the Heritage Unit of the Planning Department of the council.

At the area meeting held on Friday morning, Mr Cremin furnished councillors with a letter from Mary Sleeman, an archaeologist with the Planning Department.

She wrote that the Kilmacow cemetery is a well preserved early ecclesiastical enclosure/early Christian monastery similar to, but not as significant as Clonmacnoise and Monasterboice.

She also said that it is a recorded archaeological monument and there is an underground chamber or souterrain which is a typical feature of early Christian sites.

"There is a Holy Well associated with the site again confirming its early Christian date. So all in all, it is a very important early Christian Monastic site with a lot of surviving above ground but even more likely to survive as a subsurface archaeology buried in the ground," wrote Ms Sleeman.

She said she would not be in favour of any fencing or construction of an access road into the graveyard as it crosses over the early Christian site.

She also outlined that in accordance with the National Monument Act (1930-2004) any proposed works would require approval from the National Monuments Service of the Department of Arts Heritage & Gaeltacht.

However, Cllr Timmy Collins (Ind) said that after the response from the Heritage Department "could well mean that this will go on forever."

"I've got complaints from people that all they want to do is visit their dead but they are slipping on mud in there. While it is a very old cemetery, there are still people going in there as they have family there," he said.

Mr Cremin said the council would be complying at all times with the expert view from the Heritage Mr Corbett said it would absolutely not be possible to do any form of excavation or digging as it would interfere with the soil and the proposal of putting in a timber fence was now "absolutely out of the question."