Tara and Burren among seven Irish sites nominated for World Heritage status
Seven scenic gems from the Emerald Isle put forward for consideration
The list has been submitted to UNESCO for presentation to the World Heritage Committee meeting taking place from 25 July-3 August in Brazil, and if successful will see the number of World Heritage Sites in Ireland jump to 10.
The existing sites are the prehistoric Brú na Bóinne complex of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth in Co Meath, the seventh century monastic complex of Skellig Michael, 12km off the Co Kerry coast, and the Giants Causeway in Co. Antrim, a collection of over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns which developed as a result of an ancient volcanic eruption.
The seven sites are the Burren, Céide Fields and Mayo Boglands, the monastic city of Clonmacnoise, Georgian Dublin and its Literary Tradition, early medieval monastic sites like Durrow, Glendalough, Kells and Monasterboice, royal sites like Cashel and Tara and the Western Stone Forts (see below for details).
The Burren is located along the west coast of Ireland, encompassing the North of County Clare and the south east of County Galway. The Burren - from the Gaelic Boireann meaning "place of stone" - is defined by the presence of exposed limestone which extends over an area of approx. 72,000ha.
The Burren is an excellent example of a glaciated karst landscape displaying all the classic karst features such as bare pavements, cave systems, turloughs, dry valleys, sinkholes, dolines, poljes and micro-solutional features such as karren. The Burren is also thought to have the most extensive cave systems in Europe, with over 90km of navigable caves.
Ecologically it is very rich, containing over 70% of Ireland's native flora, including unusual combinations of Arctic, Alpine and Mediterranean species.
The Burren contains over 2,700 recorded monuments and has been described as "one vast memorial to bygone cultures". It also supports a very rich living tradition of music and folklore.
The submission highlights that the karst topography elicited a distinctive cultural response from its people, as seen in the extensive winter-based pastoral systems that prevail to this day and which contribute directly to the rich natural and cultural heritage of the region making it an excellent example of the ongoing creative utilization of natural resources by an agricultural society over six thousand years, and reflects the combined works of nature and of man.