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Crucial time for Tara's heritage

Sunday Independent - Letter to the Editor
27 April 2008
http://www.independent.ie/opinion/letters/cowen-archives-speak-volumes-1360436.html

Sir -- I am writing in relation to Environment Minister John Gormley's
calls on April 11 for the Tara Skryne Valley to be considered for
nomination to UNESCO's World Heritage List.

This list represents cultural and natural heritage properties of
"Outstanding Universal Value". It also affords protection by requiring
that they are managed in a way which will preserve their value for
future generations. As one of Ireland's most eminent and important
historical sites, I believe the Tara Skryne Valley meets UNESCO
criteria and clearly demonstrates this "Outstanding Universal Value".

However, central to this is the notion of integrity, which signifies
the wholeness or intactness of the site. It is interesting therefore to
consider Mr Gormley's intentions to have Tara nominated to the list
when it will clearly be in breach of one of its central tenets.

The proposed M3 motorway which passes within 1km of the Hill of Tara
has already brought with it irrevocable destruction of our most sacred
of landscapes. Its cultural and historical value to the Irish people is
deserving of a national recognition and protection before international
recognition and protection.

No inscription to the World Heritage List will legitimise the ongoing
work of the M3 motorway through the Tara Skryne Valley. It would also
not serve the credibility of UNESCO well to inscribe a site which at
present is witnessing an erosion of the very qualities proposed it be
listed for. I can only hope that bringing UNESCO's attention to the
matter will encourage the rerouting of the motorway to a more suitable
site, of which there are many, and bring with it future inscription to
the World Heritage list, which it deserves. I can also only wish that
Mr Gormley will emerge from behind the distraction World Heritage
status offers and make a decision in the best interests of our nation
and our heritage.

Yours in hope,

Ian Lacey,

Gorey, Co Wexford

Save the Hill of Tara from the M3 Motorway!
http://www.tarawatch.org

 

 

Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 11:15 AM

Subject: [TaraWatch] Applying the ten UNESCO Guidelines criteria to Tara

 

-- ianlacey1986 <ianlacey1986@yahoo.co.uk> wrote:

> It may not be suitable for the petition but perhaps really stressing
> the impact the M3 will have on the 'integrity' of the site in Art.
> 16 and especially at the conclusion would benefit. From my
> experience, UNESCO are wary about putting their name to a site where
> its integrity is affected and if it were re-iterated once or twice
> throughout the text it may help. It is the 'integrity' of the site
> that will concern UNESCO and ICOMOS the most, and if it is also
> stated that it is a complex and landscape (which will be bissected);
> surely this integrity is threatned not only by the damage already
> caused but by future work also. It would not serve UNESCO's
> credibility well to list a site currently witnessing such change and
> with the Tara Campaign attracting such international attention.

Congratulations on getting your excellent letter published today. The
more I think about this, the more I think Minister Gormley has
unwittingly opened the door on this entire issue again, and in fact
elevated it to another level.

I'm going to redraft the petition, with a completely different format.
I'll go through all of the relevant criteria, one by one, and give
independent evidence, to support its applicability to Tara. Of the ten
criteria, which do you think does NOT apply to Tara?

Again, the criteria are:

Selection criteria:

1. to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;

- What about this one? On first glance I think no, but then when you
look at the mathematical and astrological precision of some of the
monuments. Could you argue that the entire collection of monuments,
placed there in succession over millennia, represent a single work of
art...that used the natural landscape as a palate. However, this may be
a stretch, and we should just use the clearly applicable ones.

2. to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span
of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in
architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape
design;

- Yes to this one. Many of these seem to overlap with others below.

3. to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural
tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has
disappeared;

- The Celtic Congress letter might work well here, as might the
Massachusetts Archaeological Society letter, showing it's relevance
today to Celtic/Irish worldwide.

4. to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural
or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a)
significant stage(s) in human history;

- we should note here that according to UNESCO Guidelines, "Since 1992
significant interactions between people and the natural environment
have been recognized as cultural landscapes.

- Can someone list the periods represented at Tara? Bronze Age, Iron
Age, Medieval, Early Modern? what are the years? Which monuments best
represent each period?

5. to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement,
land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or
cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it
has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;

-Yes to this one too. How do we differentiate with this and number 3?

6. to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living
traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary
works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers
that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other
criteria);

- What events? coronations? battles? synods? St Patrick/Druids?

- What traditions, ideas, or beliefs? Brehon law? Christian/Pagan? tomb
culture?

- What literary works of outstanding universal significance are
associated with Tara?

NATURAL

7. to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional
natural beauty and aesthetic importance;

- How best to describe the area of natural beauty? what designation did
Meath County Council have for parts of the area. Some of them were very
strong, but strangely didn't cover the area of the road take.

8. to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's
history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological
processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or
physiographic features;

- what about this one? is the Ice Age formation of Tara/Skryne hills
and valley significant in a geological way?

9. to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going
ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of
terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities
of plants and animals;

- Probably not, right?

10. to contain the most important and significant natural habitats
for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those
containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the
point of view of science or conservation.

- Again, probably not, right? As long as we have number 7, we have the
natural aspects covered, for purposes of Article 2 of the Convention.

So, my impression is that 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 all apply. What do you
think about 1?

Thanks,

Vincent

Save the Hill of Tara from the M3 Motorway!
http://www.tarawatch.org

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