THE Burren will be the only Clare site proposed by the local authority for inclusion on a global list of outstanding heritage locations.
The council confirmed to The Champion that an application is currently being made to keep The Burren on Ireland’s Tentative List. This means it could eventually go forward for potential future nomination to the UNESCO World Heritage List, joining the likes of Brú na Bóinne and Skellig Micheal. “Neither Inis Cealtra (Holy Island) nor Cahercommaun Ringfort are at present under consideration by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in this round of nominations,” a council statement said. It added that the council is committed to “keeping this under review”.
The news has met an angry response from Deputy Michael McNamara who previously called for the three Clare sites to be put forward, as well as Scattery Island (Inis Cathaigh) and Mooghaun Hillfort. “It beggars belief that the council would purchase Holy Island and a venue in Mountshannon for the visitor centre – both of which I welcome – and then not pursue the UNESCO nomination,” he said. “I can understand there were issues involving backing from other local authorities, but were possibilities like clustering Holy Island and Scattery Island considered? Alternatives for progressing Cahercommaun as part of the built heritage of Gaelic Ireland could also have been looked at. I would expect the council to be proactive. There’s no point in it putting itself out there as the leading local authority in terms of tourism expertise if it doesn’t try to push this global designation.”
A department spokesperson confirmed that, “from its ongoing engagement with local authorities [it] does not anticipate receiving applications that would take in either the Holy Island or Cahercommaun Ringfort sites as part of the Tentative List review”. The statement said however that the department will be continuing its engagement and consultations with local authorities generally and will be open to the including these or any other suitable sites in any future Tentative List review. It confirmed that an application is expected from Clare County Council for the Burren, as part of the current review.
In 2010, both Inis Cealtra and Cahercommaun Ringfort were included in ten clusters proposed by the government for the tentative list. Subsequently, local authorities in Kerry and Offaly withdrew their commitment to pursing designation for the clusters which included the two Clare sites.