TWO CLARE SITES have been omitted from the final list of sites aiming to secure UNESCO World Heritage status.

Holy Island (Inis Cealtra) and the cultural landscape of the Burren had been included among the six applications before the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage for the new World Heritage Tentative List.

However, the Department has confirmed that the new list does not include either of the historic Clare sites. Instead, the Neolithic passage tomb landscape of Sligo, the Transatlantic Cable in Valentia, Kerry and the royal sites of Ireland which includes the Rock of Cashel, Navan Fort, Dún Ailinne, Rathcroghan, The Hill of Uisneach and Tara have been put forward at the expense of Inis Cealtra, the Burren and Glendalough Valley.

An ‘expert evaluation process’ was completed subsequent to the June 2021 deadline which resulted in three sets of sites being included on the new tentative list. The Tentative List is an inventory of natural and cultural heritage sites that can demonstrate outstanding universal value considered suitable for nomination to the World Heritage List. The three sets of sites on the new list will now develop their nomination bids for submission to the World Heritage Centre in Paris, with support from the Department and the OPW.

Once submitted to UNESCO, this new Tentative List will replace the existing 2010 Tentative List.

It is a pre-condition for nomination that a site must be on the tentative list for at least a year before work can formally begin on a nomination dossier. Nomination does not necessarily result in the inscription of a site on the World Heritage List. A site can be inscribed on the World Heritage List only if the World Heritage Committee determines it is of “Outstanding Universal Value for all of humanity”.

Ireland currently has two properties on the UNESCO World Heritage List – Brú na Bóinne in Co Meath, and Sceilg Mhichíl off the Co Kerry coast, both inscribed in the 1990s.

Former Chairman of Clare Tourism, Eoin O’Hagan told The Clare Echo that it was “unfortunate” that neither Holy Island or the Burren made the final cut. “Maybe when the island and visitors centre is finally redeveloped, by Clare County Council, UNESCO might seek another nomination. This spectacular spiritual treasure has been a couple of Millenia waiting to be discovered. Inis Cealtra is one of the highlights of Shannon and will be the crown jewel of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and the future Shannon Greenway,” the Managing Director of Cealtra Communications speculated.

Stronger criticism was voiced by lead consultant at the Heritage Factory, Daniel MacCarthy. The Lissycasey man was appointed European coordinator of the UNESCO derived International Council of Traditional Sports and Games in the wake of his successful project management of the World Intangible Heritage designation of hurling on behalf of Croke Park and Culture Ireland.

He felt there was unacceptable standards set by the leadership of Clare County Council regarding its national and international cultural role. “Leaders set the values, the tone, the drive and strategy and bring the stakeholders with them. I don’t see that in terms of the results we are getting in Ireland’s Banner County, who were the first always in its rich cultural history not just on a local but global stage, from invention and aviation to innovation and inspirational almost messianic leaders and always underpinned by passion and custodial role in the preservation and promotion of Irish traditional culture while engaging imaginatively with today’s societal trends”.

“I am not impressed by the strategies nor structures we have in place that makes us ready to succeed under our current civic bosses, just look at the cultural and tourism trends and what’s being actually delivered compared to other proactive counties from Greenways to €500,000 plus ‘strategies’ for the Cliffs and the park and ride cases to the missed opportunities of the great Spa wells of our own land being part of the network of the Great European Spa tows that now have a world heritage status and funding tranches of their own”.

A “slow, ponderous and reactive” approach has been “going on for years,” Daniel claimed and felt this was also evident in efforts to secure the ownership of Shannon Heritage sites. MacCarthy has just delivered an acclaimed feasibility study for a new sports museum for Cork City Council and is heading to Perugia this September as part of an Irish delegation participating in the European Traditional Games for the purposes of hosting in the Shannon Region the Ireland 2026 World Traditional Games incorporating both the European TAFISA Sports and the World GAA Games.

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