The Irish State has purchased the World Heritage lands of Dowth Hall and demesne, including Netterville, in Co Meath in order to establish a new National Park, the Boyne Valley (Brú na Bóinne) National Park.
The property is 552 acres in size and is described as a cultural and natural heritage site of national and international importance, Ireland's Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage said on Friday, September 29.
The property includes Dowth Hall, an 18th-century neoclassical country house, and Netterville Manor, a late Victorian almshouse.
The lands amount to approximately one-third of the total area of the UNESCO World Heritage Property of Brú na Bóinne, which includes the great Neolithic passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth.
It is unclear how much the state paid for the state, but it had been listed for €10 million.
Today, Ministers @DarraghOBrienTD and @noonan_malcolm announced the acquisition of Dowth Hall as part of what will be Ireland's seventh National Park in the stunning Boyne Valley - the first National Park in Ireland's Northeast. #Heritage #ProtectNature@NationalMons… pic.twitter.com/4nMaDywUMr— Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage (@DeptHousingIRL) September 29, 2023
Ireland's Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage said on Friday that Dowth, which has been actively managed by Devenish Nutrition over the last decade to preserve its cultural heritage and biodiversity, presents a remarkable opportunity to designate a seventh National Park in Ireland,
The Department noted that the Dowth lands "are important places for nature," and added that the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) will maintain the management of the farmlands, habitats, and species to date and will work to protect and improve it even further.
There are 54 species of birds living on the land, according to a recent biodiversity survey, with five species of high conservation concern. Additionally, there are 11 species of butterflies, eight species of bats, and a significant red deer population living on the land.
A Masterplan for the new park will now be developed by the NPWS, Ireland's National Monuments Service, and Ireland's Office of Public Works.
Management of Dowth Hall and lands will form part of the existing Brú na Bóinne Management Plan, the Department said, and "strengthen the vision for the protection of Dowth’s remarkable heritage, including the Neolithic passage tomb discovered in 2017 under Dowth Hall itself."
Commenting on the purchase, Ireland's Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD said on Friday: "Rarely does the State get an opportunity to acquire lands of such significance.
"This landscape and property is of exceptional heritage importance. Here in this one place we have over 5,000 years of recorded history.
"In our care, it will significantly enhance our management of the Brú na Bóinne World Heritage landscape.
"We will conserve and protect Dowth’s heritage in line with our obligations to UNESCO and we will enhance responsible tourism, ensuring it becomes a standout destination.
"This purchase opens up possibilities for us to develop heritage partnerships, protect remarkable heritage and make it accessible.
"It is simply an outstanding opportunity for an outstanding place."
“This purchase opens up possibilities for us to develop heritage partnerships, protect remarkable heritage and make it accessible”.September 29, 2023
Minister of State with responsibility for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD added: “This intact 18th century demesne, layered over a monumental prehistoric landscape of global importance and combined with the outstanding natural heritage of the Boyne Valley represents an outstanding addition to Ireland’s family of National Parks.
"We look forward to sustaining and growing this legacy to ensure that farming, nature and the cultural heritage of this ancient landscape can continue in harmony, as they have done since our ancestors first settled in the Boyne Valley over 5,500 years ago.
"Through our partnerships with state agencies, departments, local authorities and communities – which are enshrined in Heritage Ireland 2030, our national heritage plan – we are committed to nurturing Dowth as a key pillar of Ireland’s remarkable heritage that we can all admire, be proud of and enjoy.”
On a stunning morning in Meath we've gathered at Dowth Hall to announce the establishment of Ireland's first new National Park in 25 years. The archeological and built and natural heritage value of the Boyne Valley Brú na Bóinne World Heritage National Park will be unsurpassed. pic.twitter.com/70aAOq2Y7x— Malcolm Noonan T.D. (@noonan_malcolm) September 29, 2023
Niall O Donnchu, Director General of National Parks and Wildlife Service said: “The work begins now of developing a Masterplan for Dowth. We will approach this with a keen sense of responsibility, ambition and excitement, knowing that this is a remarkable opportunity for Ireland’s heritage to play a lead role in the regional economy and in place-making for the east of the country.
"This new National Park is a special place where history, heritage, nature and culture collide. We will work with stakeholders in developing a Masterplan that will deliver on its full potential for locals, visitors and generations to come."
Minister @DarraghOBrienTD and @noonan_malcolm announce agreement to purchase Dowth Hall - and the establishment of a new national park - Boyne Valley Bru na Boinne. https://t.co/r0zeN1Frp8 pic.twitter.com/jH5rvO8IhT— National Parks and Wildlife Service (@NPWSIreland) September 29, 2023
Minister of State with responsibility for Office of Public Works, Patrick O'Donovan TD, said: "Dowth demesne is a key part of the outstanding heritage of the Boyne Valley. It is highly significant that the State will now be able to unite the wider historic landscape to create an extraordinary resource for the enjoyment of current and future generations.
"The OPW has a long association with this area of Meath, conserving and presenting the extraordinary archaeological, natural and built heritage of both Brú na Bóinne and the Battle of the Boyne site."
Owen Brennan, Executive Chairman of Devenish Nutrition said: “We are very pleased to welcome what is a new and exciting chapter for Dowth and the Boyne Valley."
The newly acquired land is not directly connected to the Brú na Bóinne visitor center, which includes the passage tombs at Newgrange and Knowth. However, the Irish Times reports that the planned Boyne Valley Greenway could run through the recently acquired property.