Five new sites proposed for Unesco heritage list

Mon, Apr 20, 2009, 01:00

PROPOSALS BY the Government to nominate Monasterboice as well as Glendalough, Durrow, Clonmacnoise and Inis Cealtra for consideration by Unesco as World Heritage sites will be outlined to county councillors in Louth this morning.

Monasterboice is an early mediaeval monastic site in Louth said to have been founded in the 5th century by St Buithe, a follower of St Patrick.

It is famous for its spectacular high crosses which date from the late 9th to the 10th centuries and stand amid the ruins, a graveyard and a 95 ft high round tower.

The tallest cross – of Muiredach – is more than 17 ft tall and the carvings on it clearly depict scenes from the Bible.

Last year professor of archaeology Dr Peter Harbison said the crosses “could probably be regarded as Ireland’s greatest contribution to European sculpture.”

He also advised that they be brought indoors from the elements to protect them for future generations.

“They are made of sandstone and if nothing is done the sculptures will decay further; sandstone decomposes easily,” he said.

Last year, Minister for the Environment John Gormley established an expert advisory group to review and update Ireland’s list of sites for consideration by Unesco.

This so-called “tentative list” was submitted in 1992 and two on it, Brú na Bóinne and Skellig Michael, were subsequently inscribed as World Heritage Sites.

A revised tentative list is to be submitted to Unesco in July and includes Monasterboice, Durrow, Clonmacnoise and Inis Cealtra.

Details of the submission as well as the strict Unesco criteria that must be met will be outlined at this morning’s meeting in Dundalk.