Holy Island to be bought by Clare council for use as tourism site

Monastic site with Brian Ború links to cost less than €500,000

Clare County Council has announced it is to buy Holy Island, also known as Inis Cealtra, a 50 acre, former monastic settlement on Lough Derg.

Clare County Council has announced it is to buy Holy Island, also known as Inis Cealtra, a 50 acre, former monastic settlement on Lough Derg.

 

Clare County Council has announced it is to buy Holy Island, also known as Inis Cealtra, a former monastic settlement on Lough Derg.

The council proposes to develop a heritage and tourism facility on the 50- acre island, which lies about 1km from Mountshannon.

It is understood the purchase price is less than €500,000.

Still used as a burial ground, Holy Island is widely regarded as one of the most important historical and ecclesiastical sites in Ireland, with links to Ireland’s former High King, Brian Ború.

Some four acres of the island are already in the ownership of the Office of Public Works .

Ruins and buildings still standing on Holy Island include the remains of a round tower which is 24 metres in height. There is also an oratory and a number of churches.

Further ruins on the island date back far as the seventh century, when the monastic site was established by St Caimin.

The island is on the Government’s World Heritage tentative list, along with Clonmacnoise, Durrow, Glendalough, Kells and Monasterboice. A tentative list is an inventory of those properties which a country intends to consider for nomination to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Clare County Council chairman John Crowe said he is “confident the acquisition of this important site can be completed”.

Mr Crowe said he had briefed Minister for Tourism Paschal Donohue on the current status of the purchase negotiations during the Minister’s recent visit to Clare.

“I also have been in contact with the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW who already own land on the island. It would be tremendous to secure public ownership of Holy Island this year, considering it is the millennial anniversary of the death of Brian Ború,” he said.

The council’s director of services Gerard Dollard confirmed the acquisition of the island has been under consideration for a number of years and that an opportunity recently arose to bring the site into public ownership.

“We are fully aware of the significance of this location and would be anxious to see it forming part of the local tourism product and available to the wider public,” said Mr Dollard.

He also said the council was preparing a “visitor management plan on how the untapped potential of this site can be realised”.