The Hill of Tara is being overwhelmed by the increasing number of visitors to the site.
An estimated 200,000 people visited the 5,000-year-old site last year, and a conservation plan is being developed after concerns have been raised about the state of the ancient site.
Minister for Heritage Josepha Madigan has acknowledged that “critical amenity structures” need be addressed at the site and said a plan is expected to be ready by mid-summer.
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Madigan described the Hill of Tara, the ancient seat of the high kings of Ireland, as the “symbolic capital of Ireland.” There are 150 recorded archaeological monuments on the 100-acre site.
The Irish Times reports that the Office of Public Works (OPW) is leading the working group to develop what will be a five-to 10- year policy plan. Other stakeholders include the Meath County Council, the Heritage Council and the Discovery program.
Madigan said the plan “will not, nor is it intended to, address land use and planning issues in the wider environs of Tara.”
Parking and traffic management issues will be the responsibility of the Meath County Council, although Madigan said the OPW would assist the council in every way possible.
Parking is currently a major issue at the site, with a field currently being used to accommodate vehicles.
According to Sinn Féin TD for Meath West Peadar Tóibín, “Hill of Tara is in a mess” and is “not in a fit state” for the number of visitors it receives.
“The hill itself is increasingly mucky. The rath on which the Lia Fáil [an upstanding stone said to be the coronation stone for the high kings] stands is flooded throughout the year. There are no pathways of any sort,” said Tóibín.
He added that there were planning issues with “the lack of capacity, toilets, shops and restaurants,” issues which Madigan said would need to be addressed by the Meath County Council.
Madigan said she wanted to “make sure the aesthetic, social and spiritual values of the Hill of Tara are protected.”
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H/T The Irish Times