Environmental impact assessment and the demolition of national monuments


The national monument at Lismullin, Co. Meath which was identified during road construction.

The national monument at Lismullin, Co. Meath which was identified and demolished during road construction.

New regulations introduce an important change in the way environmental impact assessment is carried out in Ireland in order to comply with a ruling of the European Court. In future environmental impact assessment will be the responsibility of the competent authority that will come to a decision after receiving an environmental impact statement from the developer. The change means that from now on the demolition of national monuments like Lismullin, Co. Meath (pictured) will be the subject of an environmental impact assessment carried out by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.


On the 9th of July 2012 the Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht commenced the European Union (Environmental Impact Assessment of Proposed Demolition of National Monuments) Regulations 2012. The requirement for the regulations result from the decision of March 2011 of the European Court in case C-50/09 the European Commission vs. Ireland, that Ireland had failed to fulfil its obligations under the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive as it had (amongst other things) excluded demolition works from the scope of legislation transposing the Directive into Irish Law. In other words demolition of a significant heritage building or structure where the works would constitute a significant impact on cultural heritage should have required an environmental impact assessment.


The new regulations amend the National Monuments Act 1930 by introducing environmental impact assessment procedures in relation to the demolition of national monuments. The amendment adds a new section 14D and only applies in relation to consents under section 14 or directions under section 14A (as inserted by the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 2004) in relation to national monuments discovered in the course of construction of an approved road scheme under the Road Act 1993.


This new section requires the Minister, as the competent authority, before deciding to grant a consent or issue directions that would result in the demolition of a national monument to ensure that the proposed demolition has been the subject of an environmental impact assessment. Environmental impact assessment means an assessment, being an assessment which includes an examination, analysis and evaluation, by the Minister that identifies, describes and assesses in an appropriate manner, in light of each individual case and in accordance with Articles 4 to 11 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, the direct and indirect effects which proposed demolition of a national monument would have on the following:

(a) human beings, fauna and flora;

(b) soil, water, air, climate and landscape;

(c) material assets and the cultural heritage;

(d) the interaction between the factors referred to in paragraphs (a)

to (c).


The Minister, as the competent authority will receive information from the applicant in the form of an environmental impact statement, and will then carry out the assessment of impact on the environment of the proposed development. Environmental impact statement means a written statement of the direct and indirect effects, if any, which the proposed demolition of a national monument, if carried out, would have on the environment and which contains the information which an environmental impact statement is required to contain under this section. The Minister may after consultation with the Director of the National Museum and the responsible local authority grant an exemption from these requirements in exceptional circumstances. Where an applicant is required to submit an environmental impact statement a notice of this intention must be published in the press two weeks before the submission of the statement. The Minster must circulate the environmental impact statement to the Director of the National Museum and the responsible local authority. If the Minister considers the environmental impact statement is inadequate he may request further information. The Minister will then carry out an environmental impact assessment of the proposal and decide whether or not to grant a consent or issue directions to demolish the national monument. Once the Minister has decided whether or not to grant consent or issue directions for the demolition of a national monument he shall publish a notice in the press and arrange for the environmental impact statement and information on the decision to be made publicly available.


I will be speaking about EIS practice for quarry developments at the Portobello Institute 10 August 2012.  See here

Cite this post as:

Mount, C. 2012. Environmental impact assessment and the demolition of national monuments. The Charles Mount Blog, 19 July 2012. http://charles-mount.ie/wp/?p=906


The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem at Kildare

The Perceptory of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem at Tully near Kildare

The Perceptory of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem at Tully near Kildare

For three hundred years the town of Kildare was host to a house of crusader knights.

The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, also known as the Knights Hospitaller and the Knights of Malta, originated in the early twelfth century as an international monastic order Continue reading

The O’Conor Faly Murders of 1306

Carrick castle, Co. Kildare, the venue for the notorious O'Conor Faly murders in 1306.

The O’Conor Faly murders of 1306 were the most notorious and shocking of Medieval Irish history.

In 1306 one of the most notorious and shocking murders of Irish history was carried out by Sir Piers Mac Feorais Bermingham on the family of Murtough O’Conor Faly, King of Offaly. Piers Bermingham had agreed to act as god-father to Murtough’s nephew and Murtough, his brother and all the O’Conor Faly chiefs had attended a baptismal mass with the Berminghams at Carrick, Co. Kildare on the feast of the Holy Trinity. After the mass the whole party entered the Bermingham Castle at Carrick and it was here that Birmingham’s men attacked and killed Murtough and his entire family. Twenty-nine people are said to have been killed and then decapitated.

 The O’Conor Faly sept or clan were descendants of the Uí Failge who were Kings of eastern Offaly (now part of Co. Kildare) and at times had been Kings of Leinster. When the Normans arrived in Kildare in the 1170s they had been forced out of their lands into the area of Offaly west of Tullamore. Here they had regrouped and at the end of the thirteenth century had risen against the English. Their most spectacular raid was in 1294 when they had captured Kildare castle and destroyed the records of the Lordship of Kildare.

Robert de Bermingham had taken part in the original Anglo-Norman conquest of Ireland and Strongbow, the leader of the expedition, had granted him the lands of the Uí Failge. His descendant Piers Bermingham was baron of Tothemoy, the part of north-east Offaly next to Co. Kildare. In 1289 he had been appointed by the King to guard the Marches or frontier of Leinster from Rathangan north to his barony of Tothemoy. This had placed the Berminghams and O’Conor Faly on a collision course and they had been at war intermittently since that time. In 1306 however there must have been a truce and the baptismal ceremony on the feast of the Holy Trinity was presumably intended to cement improved relations between the two frontier families. Perhaps a baptism could have been followed by a marriage alliance? What the O’Conor Faly didn’t know is that Piers Birmingham planned to use the occasion to administer the coup de grâce.

The murders took place at Carrick castle which is on the road from Edenderry to Kinnegad in western Co. Kildare. Carrick castle is actually a thirteenth century Hall-House, a rectangular three-story block with vaulting over the first floor that supported a main hall on the second floor. The Hall-House is situated conveniently next to a thirteenth century church and it was probably here that the baptismal ceremony took place with the after celebrations planned for the Hall-House. The murders were reported on extensively in the contemporary chronicles.

 The Annals of the Fours Masters recorded that:

 “O’Conor Faly (Murtough), Maelmora, his kinsman, and Calvagh O’Conor, with twenty-nine of the chiefs of his people, were slain by Sir Pierce Mac Feorais Bermingham in Mac Feorais’s own castle, by means of treachery and deceit.”

 The fullest account was written in the Annals of Innisfallen:

“Muirchertach Ó Conchobuir Fhailgi and In Calbach his brother, were slain by Sir Piers Bermingham, after he had deceitfully and shamefully invited them and acted as god-father to [the child of] the latter and as co-sponsor with the other. Masir, the little child who was a son of the latter, and whom Piers himself had sponsored at confirmation, was thrown over [the battlements of] the castle, and it was thus it died. And twenty-three or twenty-four of the followers of those men mentioned above, were slain, for In Gaillsech Shacsanach (she was the wife of the same Piers) used to give warning from the top of the castle of any who went into hiding, so that many were slain as a result of those warnings. And woe to the Gaedel who puts trust in a king’s peace or in foreigners after that! For, although they had [the assurance of] their king’s peace, their heads were brought to Áth Cliath, and much wealth was obtained for them from the foreigners. “

 As the Annals of Innisfallen indicate Bermingham was not punished by the King for the murders but instead received a sizable reward. In fact it is recorded in the Calendar of Justiciary Rolls of Ireland that on the 9th of June 1306 Bermingham and his accomplices appeared in the Royal Justiciar’s Court at Naas. They requested a payment for the beheading of felons. The individuals beheaded aren’t named but this undoubtedly refers to the O’Conor Faly and his family who been killed just weeks earlier. Bermingham was granted a £23 reward from the Royal treasury by the Justiciar. The suspicion is that this was a government sanctioned murder. But if its aim was to remove the threat to the frontier posed by the O’Conor Faly clan it failed and in fact hostilities recommenced immediately. The O’Conor Faly would continue to be a threat to the English province until the plantation of Offaly in the sixteenth century.

Cite this post as:

Mount, C. The O’Conor Faly Murders. The Charles Mount Blog, September 29, 2011. http://charles-mount.ie/wp/?p=565

The Review of the Record of Monuments and Places.

Monuments like this county Wexford mill could lose all legal protection if post-1700 sites are removed from the Record of Monuments and Places.


In recent weeks the Record of Monuments and Places, which since the mid-1990s has in combination with the Planning and Development Acts been the basis of monument protection in Ireland, has become the focus of attention as a result of a review of the Record being carried out by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The Record of Monuments and Places (RMP) was established under section 12 (1) of the 1994 National Monuments (Amendment) Act and provides that the Commissioners (now the Minister) shall establish and maintain a record of monuments and places where the Minister believes there are monuments, such record to be comprised of a list of monuments and relevant places and a map or maps showing each monument and relevant place in respect of each county in the state. Section 12 (2) provides that the record shall be exhibited in each county. Section 12 (3) provides that when the owner or occupier of a monument or place which has been recorded under subsection 12(1) or any person proposes to carry out, or to cause or permit the carrying out of, any work at or in relation to such monument or place, he shall give notice in writing of his proposal to carry out the work to the Commissioners (now the Minister) and shall not, except in the case of urgent necessity and with the consent of the Commissioners (now the Minister), commence the work for a period of two months after having given the notice.

 The Record is essentially a notification mechanism that functions mainly through the planning system (through policies included in the County Development Plans) to alert the National Monuments Service and other third party planning consultees to development proposals that have the potential to impact monuments in the Record. Steps can then be taken to assess any impacts and have them mitigated as appropriate.

Removal of Monuments from the Record

The legislation establishing the Record has only these three sections and there is no mechanism included in the Act for the removal of a monument, nor has a mechanism been included in any subsequent amendments. In effect once a monument has been placed on the record, as long as it still physically exists, there are no legal grounds for removing it from the Record.

The Definition of a Monument

The definition of a monument is found in section 2 of the National Monuments Act 1930 and includes any artificial or partly artificial building, structure, or erection whether above or below the surface of the ground and whether affixed or not affixed to the ground and any cave, stone, or other natural product whether forming part of or attached to or not attached to the ground which has been artificially carved, sculptured or worked upon or which (where it does not form part of the ground) appears to have been purposely put or arranged in position and any prehistoric or ancient tomb, grave or burial deposit, but does not include any building which is for the time being habitually used for ecclesiastical purposes. There is no date involved in the legal definition of a monument; therefore a monument may be of any date.

National Monuments

The definition of a National Monument is also found in section 2 of the National Monuments Act 1930 and refers to a monument or the remains of a monument the preservation of which is a matter of national importance by reason of the historical, architectural, traditional, artistic, or archaeological interest attaching thereto and also includes (but not so as to limit, extend or otherwise influence the construction of the foregoing general definition) every monument in Saorstát Eireann to which the Ancient Monuments Protection Act, 1882, applied immediately before the passing of this Act, and the said expression shall be construed as including, in addition to the monument itself, the site of the monument and the means of access thereto and also such portion of land adjoining such site as may be required to fence, cover in, or otherwise preserve from injury the monument or to preserve the amenities thereof.

Again there is no date provided in the definition. But the emphasis on historical, traditional and artistic traits clearly indicates that the framers of the Act had in mind that structures of recent historical date could be classified as National Monuments. Indeed a number of post-1700 structures were in fact acquired by the state and preserved as National Monuments. These include monuments such as Michael Collins’ birthplace, Eamon de Valera’s Cottage and Seán Mac Diarmada’s House.

New Government Policy

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht stated in the answer to a Parliamentary Question on 20th September that:

“My Department is currently examining the recording of post-1700 AD monuments with a view to formulating policy and criteria for including them in a revised and updated Record of Monuments. The objective of the review is to achieve a standard approach nationally that will ensure that all elements of the built heritage continue to be adequately protected. (Question No. 312, Ref No: 25004/11)”

The Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland have expressed concern that the review may result in post-1700 monuments being removed from the record. Many structures of post-1700 date have been highlighted on the National Monuments database in preparation for their removal from the Record. Amongst the monuments highlighted for delisting are Michael Collins’ birthplace, Eamon de Valera’s Cottage and Seán Mac Diarmada’s House which are all in the care of the State and appear on the 2009 list of National Monuments issued by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. That these National Monuments are being considered for removal from the Record of Monuments appears to create an anomalous situation. If these structures are not considered to be monuments worthy of inclusion in the Record then should they not also be removed from the list of National Monuments as well? Some would argue that these are National Monuments because of their connection with individuals of importance in the history of Ireland. If these criteria are considered enough to justify these structures as National Monuments, then why not as a Recorded Monuments? And what about all the other structures associated with historic personages and events, are they not monuments as well?

Falling Between Stools

Another issue with the delisting is that an assumption may have been made that all the post-1700 Recorded Monuments have been included in the Records of Protected Structures included in the County Development Plans, but, this is far from the case. For example, Creenagh Bridge, Co. Leitrim LE033-038—- which is marked for delisting, is noted on a map in 1750 and is presumably older. It is not listed as a Protected Structure in the Leitrim Co. Development Plan 2009-15 nor is it included in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. If the bridge is delisted from the Record of Monuments this historic structure more than 250 years old will be stripped of all legal protection. The sweathouse at Kilmore, Co. Galway GA044-073002 is an undated structure that is situated next to a Holy Well GA044-073001- and could be part of a complex of early Medieval monuments. This structure is not listed as a Protected Structure in the Galway Co. Development Plan 2009-15, nor is it included in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. This structure of unknown date situated beside a Holy Well will may be stripped of all heritage protection. Many more monuments once thought worthy of protection will similarly have all legal protection removed under these proposals.


In a press statement issued on the 21st September 2011 entitled “Deenihan Confirms Post 1700 AD Monuments Will Continue to be protected”, the Minister stated:

 “There is no question of the current Record of Monuments and Places being revised until we have completed the review” he added. “When draft policy and criteria for updating the RMP have been developed, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht will consult with interested parties before any decisions are made.”

It is to be sincerely hoped that following the review of the Record of Monuments all elements of the built heritage will continue to be adequately protected as the Minister has said.

Cite this post as:

Mount, C. The Review of the Record of Monuments and Places. The Charles Mount Blog, September 22, 2011. http://charles-mount.ie/wp/?p=542

Michael Collins’ Birthplace to be delisted from Record of Monuments


This gallery contains 3 photos.

One of the anomalies surrounding the proposal by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to delist post-1700 monuments from the statutory Record of Monuments and Places is that some of the monuments indicated for delisting are National Monuments … Continue reading

The archaeologist who designed the monument to Ireland’s golden age

The O'Connell Memorial at Glasnevin

After reading Peter Carvill’s comments on the “Monuments and created and appropriated continuity” post about the O’Connoll memorial at Glasnevin, I decided to have another look around the site. Glasnevin is an excellent example of a created continuity. The site today appears to have a vestige of antiquity about, but is in fact an invention of the mid-nineteenth century.

As part of the project of Irish national development the early archaeologist George Petrie was invited in 1851 to design a monument for the Irish nationalist leader Daniel O’Connell. Petrie, regarded by some as the founding father of Irish archaeology, had been head of the Placenames and Antiquities section of the Irish Ordnance Survey and President of the Royal Hibernian Academy. In 1833 he was awarded a gold medal by the Royal Irish Academy for his essay Origin and Uses of the Round Towers of Ireland that proved beyond challenge that the most prominent monuments in the Irish landscape, the Round Towers, were not built by invading Danes but by the Irish of the Early Christian era. In the following years the Round Tower had become one of primary symbols of Irish national resurgence.

The site chosen for the monument to O’Connell was not a historical site like the Hill of Tara, with its existing history and mythology, but the site of the new catholic cemetery established in 1832 under O’Connell’s patronage in the Dublin suburb of Glasnevin. The Committee of Glasnevin Cemetery, whose members were largely drawn from O’Connell’s Catholic Association established in 1823, had appealed to the O’Connell family for the body and had then paid for it to be returned from Italy where he had died. With O’Connell’s remains at Glasnevin the Committee planned to build a tomb and monument on the site. Although this was a new site the monument still had to refer back to what was perceived as the Irish golden age and Petrie was chosen as the acknowledged expert. His vision was to recreate the core structures of an Early Christian monastic site, the Round Tower, Church and High Cross. O’Connell’s tomb was placed in the crypt, which took the form of a circular barrow or burial mound enclosed by a ditch that gave access to the crypt beneath. Atop the barrow a massive 51m Round Tower was constructed, the largest ever built in Ireland. However, Petrie’s original plan was not fully realised as the whole plan was not completed. The mortuary chapel was not built until 1870 and the High Cross was never completed.

The result was an extraordinary monument and statement of national resurgance. O’Connell’s monument is a good example of the creation of continuity. The national icon O’Connell was not memorialised on an old site or at an old monument with its own history and mythology but at a completely new site where a new history and mythology were being created. Yet the form of the monument still looked back to and improved on an idealised golden age. Here at Glasnevin a new mythology could be developed by a new rising elite freed from the shackles of history but looking back to and claiming continuity with an imagined golden age. Here also one of the founding fathers of Irish archaeology found a role as the architect of the link to Ireland’s golden age.

Cite this post as:

Mount, C. The archaeologist who designed the monument to Ireland’s golden age. The Charles Mount Blog, June 29, 2011. http://charles-mount.ie/wp/?p=165

Monuments and created and appropriated continuity

Aerial view of the Hill of Tara, Co. Meath, Ireland.

The creation of continuity

Throughout history people have built, copied and added to monuments according to the needs of the day. These alterations, emulations and additions draw on the histories and mythologies of the old monuments and the places and landscapes in which they are situated and recreate them to suit a new narrative. Richard Bradley (1987) drew on the ideas of Maurice Bloch (1977) concerning the use of the past in the present and Eric Hobsbawn’s (1983) concept of the invention of tradition (where practices of a ritual or symbolic nature seek to instil values and norms which imply continuity with a suitable past) to suggest that the use of the ritual past is one way in which groups establish their own political positions and put these positions beyond challenge. The past becomes a resource in the hands of the living who may legitimate their position through the promulgation of origin myths. Bradley suggested that the past was also re-used through the strategic use of old monuments that were incorporated into a new landscape. He called the appropriation of meaning held in the mythology of old monuments the creation of continuity.

The appropriation of continuity

These processes can be seen at work in the development of monument complexes where both the copying and the physical conjoining of monuments are evident. In a forthcoming paper on the monument complex at Rathdooney beg, Co. Sligo I propose the concept of appropriated continuity as a means of interpreting the development of monument complexes (Mount in press a). Appropriated continuity is a  strategy intended to forge a physical link to a dominant social group through the creation of conjoined monuments. In oral tradition appropriated continuity is paralleled by the development of false genealogies intended to justify the position of one group by claiming lineal descent from another (Byrne 2001, 3).

Created and appropriated continuities in the landscape

There are a number of landscape locations in Ireland with prominent monument complexes that were re-used and recreated at various periods. The re-use of old sites and ancient monuments represents more than simply a continuity of practice, but a conscious decision to use sites that would have had an established significance, mythological identify and landscape prominence. The occurrence of this re-use at a number of sites indicates preoccupation with forging links with the past, to draw on or recreate the past in order to support emerging social or political developments by creating a new continuity.

The greatest concentration of conjoined barrows (prehistoric burial monuments) in Ireland is found on the Hill of Tara in Co. Meath, where they occur in five of the six main barrow groups. The barrows groups at Tara represent the continuation and elaboration of Early Bronze Age lineage groups through the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age (Mount in press). As the Tara barrow groups developed, lineages could be spatially and historically linked and be seen to descend from remembered ancestors and the grouping of barrows reflect both the links and tensions between ancestral lineages reflected within the groupings Cooney (2009, 379). The practice of physically conjoining a new barrow to an old one and encompassing old barrows into new monuments was probably intended to link lineages together or emphasise an existing, a new or a falsely created lineal descent.

The conjoining of barrows and other earthworks during prehistory indicates that at times it was important to physically link a new monument to an existing one. This expressed a physical relationship between the new and old monument so that the new and old became one. In the case of barrows this symbolically linked those commemorated by the later monument to the earlier one. The emergence of conjoined monuments and the preoccupation with old sites and monuments are all related to the creation of continuity. Emulating, re-using and recreating old monuments is characteristic of groups creating history to suit contemporary needs. Building a barrow to resemble and emulate an ancient monument with associated mythology signals that a group is similar to or even descended from the mythological figures of old. Building a new monument that physically joins or encompasses another goes beyond emulation and represents the attempt to annex, appropriate or even eclipse the symbolic, familial or social associations of the earlier monument.


The concept of created continuity provides us with insights into the development of prominent monuments complexes in the landscape. The concept of appropriated continuity allows us to explore the nature of the relationships being created. The former strategy looks to the formation of a new political or social order using the past as a frame of reference. The latter strategy is about establishing direct relationships within a political or social system and is involved with the creation of lineage and descent relationships. In lineal descent groups conjoining monuments is a way of promoting a more distant relationship or supporting an entirely fictitious one and is an attempt to appropriate continuity with the earlier monument.

Further reading

Bloch, M. 1977. The past and present in the present. Man 12, 278-92.

Bradley, R. 1987. Time regained: the creation of continuity. Journal of the British Archaeological Association 140, 1-17.

Byrne, F.J. 2001. Irish Kings and High Kings. 2nd ed. Dublin.

Cooney, G. 1994. Sacred and secular Neolithic landscapes in Ireland, in D.L. Carmichael, J. Hubert, B. Reeves and A. Schanche (eds) Sacred Sites, Sacred Places. One World Archaeology 23. London. 

Cooney, G. 2009. Tracing lines across landscapes: corporality and history in later prehistoric Ireland, in G. Cooney, K. Becker, J. Coles, M. Ryan and S. Sievers (Eds.) Relics of Old Decency: archaeological studies in later prehistory. Dublin, 375-88.

Hobsbawm, M. 1983. Introduction: inventing traditions, in M. Hobsbawm and Ranger, T.O. The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge, 1-14.

Mount, C. (In press a). Created and appropriated continuity at Rathdooney Beg, Co. Sligo. In C. Corlett and M. Potterton  (eds) Life and Death in the Iron Age in Ireland.

Mount, C. (In press b). The context of the Early Bronze Age cemetery in the Mound of the Hostages, Tara, Co. Meath. In M. O’Sullivan at al. (eds) Tara from the Past to the Future.

Newman, C. 1997. Tara an Archaeological Survey. Discovery Programme Monographs 2. Dublin.

Cite this post as:

 Mount, C. Monuments and created and appropriated continuity. The Charles Mount Blog, June 7, 2011. http://charles-mount.ie/wp/?p=127

What’s wrong with the Register of Historic Monuments?

The Four Courts in Dublin

Recent controversy surrounding the inclusion of a site on the Register of Historic Monuments, leading to a trip to the High Court in Dublin, has been reported in the Irish media. I’m not going to comment on the merits of this particular case but I want to discuss a major omission from what to many is a little known part of the Irish Monuments Acts. The Register of Historic Monuments was established under section 5 of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1987. The section states (with amendments and changes of responsibility) that the responsible Minister shall establish and maintain a Register of Historic Monuments. The Minister shall enter in the Register the name, location and description of the monuments and other archaeological sites known at the commencement of the Act, and any monuments or areas that become known after the commencement, which in his opinion should be entered. The Minister may also amend or delete entries in the Register.

The Minister shall publish in Iris Oifigiúil (the official state gazette) a list of the monuments and areas entered in the Register. The Minister shall notify the owner or occupier of the monument or area in writing of the entry, amendment or deletion from the Record by registered post or be delivered to him by hand by an agent of the Minister.

Where the owner or occupier of a Registered Historic Monument or any other person proposes to carry out work in relation to the monument or area, he shall give notice in writing of his proposal to the Minister and shall not, except in a case of urgent necessity with the consent of the Minister, commence the work for two months after giving the notice. A person shall not demolish or remove wholly or in part or disfigure, deface, alter or in any manner interfere with a Registered Historic Monument. A person who contravenes this section shall be guilty of an offence. The Register performs an important function in safeguarding the cultural heritage of Ireland but the manner in which it is operated appears not to have kept in step with the times.

What about the procedures for entering monuments in the register?

The inclusion of lands on the Register can have a substantial impact on the ability of a landowner to enjoy the use of his or her lands and may have also an impact on the land’s value. Therefore one would expect that there are a rigorous set of procedures for consulting with landowners and for landowners to appeal the registration process. However, An examination of the 1987 National Monuments Act reveals that there are no procedures set out for entering a monument or area in the Register other than stating that the Minister may enter monuments or areas that in “his opinion” should be entered. This sounds very arbitrary and there is no consultation or appeal procedure established in the Act.

The National Policy on archaeology Frameworks and Principles for the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage 1999 does not include any procedure for the inclusion of monuments on the Register. However, in section 4.3.3 it states that areas containing no known archaeological monuments may be included in the Register of Historic Monuments as archaeological areas if the Minister has reason to believe that such an area is of archaeological interest, including on the grounds of its potential for containing archaeological monuments or objects, its interest in respect of palaeoenvironmental studies, or its importance in respect of protecting the amenities of an archaeological monument.

The Register of Historic Monuments is not mentioned in the Department of the Environment’s (who had responsibility until recently) Customer Service Action Plan 2009-11, nor is there any procedure for including monuments in the Register on the Departments’ website. In relation to major infrastructure projects, such as the N25 Waterford City Bypass, the Minister has established a working group to advise him on the preservation and archaeological investigation of the Viking site at Woodstown, Co. Waterford. He then accepted the Groups recommendation to enter the site in the Register of Historic Monuments in 2008. However, this procedure appears to have been used in relation to only a handful of state-sponsored developments.

In the Review of Archaeological Policy and Practice published by the Department of the Environment in 2007 the issue of opening the listing and registering of monuments and sites to public consultation and scrutiny was highlighted. However, to date nothing has been put in place. On the face of it this appears to be contrary to the principles of natural justice, but it would seem that for the moment the only place where a landowner can expect to appeal the imposition of a registration is in the High Court.

Cite this post as:

Mount, C. What’s wrong with the Register of Historic Monuments? The Charles Mount Blog, May 18, 2011. http://charles-mount.ie/wp/?p=24