Decision on Uisneach's UNESCO bid to be made early next year

A number of issues have to resolved before a decision is made on whether to proceed next year with a bid to have the Hill of Uisneach and other important ancient royal sites in Ireland designated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, councillors were told at their recent monthly meeting.

Responding to a query from Cllr Tom Farrell about what progress has been made on the plan to have Uisneach recognised by UNESCO as a site with global significance, director of service Barry Kehoe said that Westmeath, Roscommon, Tipperary, Kildare and Meath county councils, along with Armagh District Council are working on a joint bid to have the ancient royal sites of Ireland designated as a World Heritage Site. In addition to Uisneach, the other sites in the bid include Rathcroghan in Roscommon (the ancient royal site of the kings of Connaught), Navan Fort in Armagh (the site for the kings of Ulster), the Tara complex in Navan (the site of the High Kings of Ireland), Cashel in Tipperary (the site for the kings of Munster) and Dún Ailinne in Kildare (the site of the kings of Leinster).

Mr Kehoe said that the local authorities are in talks with the Department of Heritage about the bid and that a decision will be made early next year about whether to proceed with it at this time.

He added that there were a “lot of issues” that needed to be worked on and they will know early next year if these can be resolved in time for a bid in 2021.

He said that it is an “ongoing project” that he, the heritage officer Melania McQuaid and the council planning department are working on.

In 2010, the Royal Sites of Ireland was included on a “tentative list” for consideration by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

In the initial submission to UNESCO in 2010, the Permanent Delegation of Ireland to the OECD and UNESCO said that the Hill of Uisneach and the other sites are universally unique through their well-preserved cultural continuity and large-scale Iron Age complexes".

"The Royal Sites were sacred sites and places of royal inauguration and bear exceptional testimony to Iron Age civilisation. Historically, their roots go back to the Neolithic period and they illustrate significant stages in human history through the large array of monuments ranging from Bronze Age tumuli to Iron Age ring forts and to early Christian architecture. All of the Royal Sites form part of larger archaeological landscapes characterised by a large concentration of ritual monuments. 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. The Royal sites are directly associated with Irish mythology and traditional beliefs and continue to represent spiritual and symbolic centers of Irish culture and identity, which have influenced approaches to life in many countries of the world."