Several of Ireland’s most heavily populated tourist attractions have been cut off the list to become Unesco world heritage sits because they did not have “outstanding universal value (OUV).”

More than 12 sites including Dublin’s Phoenix Park, home of President Mary McAleese and Killarney’s National Park, based on over 25,000 acres, were withdrawn from the list because they have no significant OUV.

Killarney National Park and Clara bog in Co Offaly were ruled out at a meeting of the Department of the Environment expert advisory group.

"There was a consensus within the group that these sites do not have OUV [outstanding universal value],” the meeting heard.

"There are much better examples of natural sites on the world heritage list and the integrity of Clara bog has been compromised by peat extraction."

Other sites were ruled out because they had been damaged by recent human activity.

Derry city and Kilkenny city- two historically walled towns- were also thrown out of the running citing “insufficient evidence to demonstrate a theme.”

An attempt to have the canals of Ireland included as one of Unesco’s site was also ruled out because they were not old enough.

The Grand Canal, built in 1763 is the southernmost of a pair of canals that connect Dublin, in the east of Ireland, with the River Shannon in the west, the two canals nearly encircling Dublin's inner city.

The group said: "The Chinese example takes precedence by way of comparison, having been constructed in the 2nd century and still in use today."

Although Birr Castle in Co. Offaly was also disregarded it may be considered next time round.

The reason; it may be too similar to Grennwich in London, already included on the world heritage list.

An account of the meeting said however: "The [site] at Greenwich includes the Observatory… in setting standards for the world and in the understanding and use of time, [it] was of outstanding universal value. That outstanding universal value did not exist at Birr Castle."

Only seven Irish sites remain in the running to be nominated a prestigious site.

They are as follows: Skellig Michael in Co Kerry, Brú na Bóinne in Co Meath, the Giant's Causeway in Co Antrim, the Burren, Ceide Fields and the Mayo Boglands, Clonmacnoise in Co Offaly, the Historic City of Dublin, a selection of early medieval monastic sites, the Western Stone Forts and a group of historic royal sites in Ireland including Tara.