Tourism plan for ancient site in Meath


THE ancient Tailteann site in Co Meath, damaged in May when part of a large natural mound was flattened, will be developed into a tourist attraction.

The secretary of the Meath Archaeological Society, Mr Oliver Ward, hopes all such sites will now be catalogued to prevent a similar incident. Mr Ward has, with archaeologist Prof George Eogan, contacted the Meath county manager, Mr Joe Horan, to set up a committee to oversee the site's excavation, its reinstatement and its development as a tourist attraction.

"We hope to see the reinstatement of the scene of this accident and then identify and publicise all of the area," he said.

About half an acre of the Knockans site was damaged, he said. It dates back to prehistoric times and is part of several townlands known as Tailteann. It was the site of a rural fair celebrated periodically by the kings of Tara.

"(The fair) can be classed as a Lughnasa assembly site with its origins well back in the prehistoric period," according to the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht.

A Department spokesman acknowledged responsibility for the mistake which led to the site's partial demolition. "The owner of the site had been given to understand by the National Monuments and Historical Properties Service that this work (proposed by the owner) would not create any problem."

In 1984, the site was inspected during the compilation of the Sites and Monuments Record but was classified as a natural feature and not a monument. It was not included in the Co Meath record or in the archaeological inventory for the county.

But the acting Meath county secretary, Mr Kevin Stewar, said: "We understand the site is in an area of special protection in the county development plan. It is listed for conservation, and any development would require planning permission, and none was given."