Tara and Burren among seven Irish sites nominated for World Heritage status
Seven scenic gems from the Emerald Isle put forward for consideration
The sites are a representative sample of Early Medieval Monastic sites in Ireland, which embody the Celtic Church"s rich cultural and historical past, playing a crucial role in Europe's educational and artistic development.
The six Early Medieval Monastic Sites chosen are the epitome of the Early Medieval Monastic Cities which derived their unique settlement patterns from the major sites of pre-Christian Celtic Ireland which themselves developed over the several centuries of the Iron Age.
During these first centuries of the first millennium AD Britain and Western Europe fell into the orbit of the Roman Empire and the Christian Church, influences which Ireland largely escaped until the 5th century. The properties nominated are exemplars of centres of Celtic learning, teaching and enlightenment. The cultural tradition was unique and for a time the Irish monks were the only educators in Europe where these centuries are called the Dark Ages. For Ireland it was the Golden Age, as her missionaries kept the flame of knowledge and learning alive.
The Royal Sites of Ireland (Cashel, Dún Ailinne, Hill of Uisneach, Rathcroghan Complex and Tara Complex)
The Royal Sites represent unique expressions of Irish society as places of royal inauguration, ceremony and assembly. The sites are also significant as symbols of indigenous Irish culture and identity directly associated with politics and power in Ireland through the ages, stretching from pre-colonial kingship to early political mobilisation in the 20th century.
The myths, legends and folklore associated with the sites are also indicative of their role in the early indigenous belief systems of Ireland and in the transition to Christianity. As such, the sites also illustrate spiritual responses reflected in the transition from Irish Paganism to Christianity.
The sites illustrate creative responses and continuity, through the array of monuments ranging from Neolithic and Bronze Age tumuli, ring-barrows, ring-forts and sacred sites to Christian architecture and cultural landscapes. Situated on strategic and elevated locations, the Royal Sites are organically evolved relict cultural landscapes where the pre-Christian kingship in Ireland evolved and ended.
Western Stone Forts
The Western Stone Forts, comprising the Aran Islands, County Galway Group of seven Forts, Cahercommaun, the Burren County Clare, Caherconree and Benagh, Dingle Peninsula and Staigue, Iveragh Peninsula, County Kerry, represent the penultimate use of a distinctive settlement form i.e. the drystone, generally circular, enclosure, a class of monument that was widely used by the maritime communities of the north Atlantic seaboard of Western Europe, throughout much of later prehistory.
Western Stone Forts represent the apogee of the ringfort class of monument (an enclosed farmstead occupied by an extended kin group). The distribution, character, and hierarchy of forms of ringforts provide a mirror of the organisation, economy and polity of Irish society at a particular period (AD 700-1000).