Wednesday 21 March 2018

'They can't interfere with a fort'

Danny Healy-Rae supports the Macroom Bypass but says route can't affect Ringfort

Stephen Fernane

"Go around it and be quick about it," was Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae's emphatic response to the discovery of a Bronze Age ring fort on the N22 Macroom bypass where 30 previously undiscovered archaeological sites have been identified.

In July the Kilgarvan deputy received international attention following his light-hearted claim that the fairies had a hand in the poor condition of the N72 road on the Killarney side of Barraduff.

However, the discovery of a fort in the middle of a road project, which has received the strong backing of Deputy Healy-Rae, has not compromised his view that these monuments should be left alone.

"They can't touch it and they'll have to go around it. They stopped a project like this in the past because of the Kerry snail - which was ridiculous and was no reason to stop the development of a road. But a ringfort is different. There's plenty room to go around it and they can't go interfering with a fort," he said.

The fort was discovered near Ballymakeera and is believed to date from 2,500 BC to 500 BC.

But deputy Healy-Rae is holding firm to his belief saying from the day he was born people told him never to touch a fairy fort and this view has remained sacrosanct ever since - he even said he would rather 'starve first' than level a fort.

"The people before us didn't touch them and neither should we. I'll stand firm on that and we should leave these things after us the way we got them. They should go around it and be quick about it," he added.

The fort was discovered two-thirds of the way along the road's 22km corridor between Macroom and Ballyvourney using a ground penetrating radar device which is known as a 'geophysical survey' in archaeology. It is used to detect sub-ground features which are then mapped and assessed prior to excavations taking place.

The finds consist of pits and postholes beneath the subsoil which are suggestive of prehistoric or medieval settlements. A lime kiln and fulachta fiadh - which are burnt mounds used for cooking - were also among the finds.

The fort will now be excavated which will help yield further information about its design and function.

Surveys on any buildings, bridges, monuments or structures impacted directly or indirectly by the new route are being undertaken.

It is proposed that all of the sites discovered on the route will be archaeologically excavated, subject to ministerial direction from the Minister for Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht.

It is likely that all the excavations will be completed by the end of next year.

The findings will be published at a later date by Transport Infrastructure Ireland.