Despite being one of Ireland’s truly historic sites, Burt’s Grianan of Aileach is all but ignored both in terms of the provision of facilities and tourism promotion
In another attempt to rectify this Sinn Fein’s Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has submitted a motion to Donegal County Council aimed at maximising the potential of the ancient ring fort.
Since election to Donegal County Council in 2004, Colr Mac Lochlainn has campaigned for the development of the structure, repeatedly raising the matter at council meetings and meeting with Office of Public Works (OPW) officials on site at An Grianan on two occasions.
Cllr Mac Lochlainn said: “Last year, I visited the site at the Hill of Tara in County Meath and witnessed for myself the facilities for visitors at that location. I would argue that An Grianan is an equally important historical location to the island of Ireland as it was also the base of the High Kingship of Ireland (Ard Rí) at a time and is visually more impressive in terms of the panoramic views around it.
“So why does it continue to be neglected? Why is it not even mentioned on the OPW’s own Heritage Sites of Ireland map? Why is the signage to the site on approach roads so poor? I am tired of the lack of focus on An Grianan. In recent years, there have been ongoing works to ensure the safety of the structure and despite some controversy, following a meeting with OPW officials at the site; I accept the works were necessary. But it is now time to develop the potential of this wonderful national treasure.
” I have submitted the following motion for the next meeting of the council and I am confident of its successful passing and I am utterly determined to ensure that its objectives are delivered.”
The motion reads: “That Donegal County Council immediately lead up a strategic initiative to maximise the tourism potential of Grianan of Aileach in partnership with the OPW and Duchas and to give An Grianan its place in our national heritage”.
LACK OF FOCUS
Councillor Pádraig MacLochlainn put last week a motion forward “ to maximise the tourism potential of Grianan of Aileach in partnership with the OPW and Duchas and to give An Grianan its place in our national heritage”.
If he is talking about Duchas – The Heritage Service and Irish State body responsible for national monuments and historic properties, then good luck to him, because this Duchas has been abolished in 2003. It was seen as an obstacle in the preparations for the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 2004, which gave the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the power to injure and to destruct a national monument without any restriction to archaeological considerations (Section 14/2d). And because a motorway was going to be built through the world heritage site at Tara, so much praised by Councillor MacLochlainn, the construction of this road did already include the above and worse.
The responsibilities of Duchas were split between the Department of aforesaid Minister and the Department for Finance and the OPW.
Staying with the Office of Public Works and in connection with Grianan of Aileach, – maximising “the tourism potential” is not something which would naturally spring to mind, considering what must be the record closure for any national monument in such short amount of time. Re-arranging the layout, shape-shifting and concreting a dry stone monument aside, but if I would have had a garden wall built by fault or design by a company with such a record of collapses, like the OPW has with Grianan of Aileach, I would only let my enemies walk on top of it.
Maybe if Councillor MacLochlainn would have had experienced this extent of construction failure on his own house, he would have been less trusting towards the lullaby of those responsible for it. He might even have been able to focus a little bit harder on the underlying issues.