Hill of Tara makes Smithsonian endangered list

 

One of the most respected educational and research institutes in the United States, Smithsonian, has listed the Hill of Tara among the 15 must-see endangered cultural treasures in the world.

The Co Meath site, which was the ancient seat of the High Kings of Ireland, has been the subject of controversy with the nearby construction of the M3 road. Campaigners say the road will cut through one of Ireland’s most important historical sites, but the National Roads Authority says the new motorway will be further away from the hill than the existing route.

The motorway is scheduled to be finished in the middle of next year, but may be completed before that.

In its March edition of its magazine, Smithsonian says “the only music you're likely to hear around Tara nowadays is the clang of construction equipment”. The magazine is dominated by “14 other precious historic and artistic sites” around the world which it says “can be visited today, but might be gone tomorrow”.

“Each testifies to our urge to build and create; each reminds us of how much we stand to lose,” the magazine says.

Other sites include the reputed birthplace of Jesus Christ, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Chan Chan in Peru which was the largest city in the Americas about 600 years ago, and the crumbling iconic Route 66 which starts in Chicago and passes through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona before ending in Los Angeles.

Vincent Salafia, campaigner with the TaraWatch group, urged the Government to take the Smithsonian’s advice.

“This should send a clear message to both the Irish Government, and Unesco, that they cannot proceed with inscribing the Hill of Tara as a World Heritage Site, unless the M3 is re-routed,” he said.

“Action must be taken now, to avoid the Stonehenge scenario, where the UK Government is being told by Unesco to spend one billion pounds moving the roads there.”

The Department of Environment and Minister John Gormley are drawing up a shortlist of sites to be considered as Unesco world heritage sites.