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TWO Clare locations are set to be included in Ireland’s latest application for UNESCO world heritage status.

Both Inis Cealtra (Holy Island) and The Burren are in the running to be designated by UNESCO as a site of cultural or natural heritage deemed to be of outstanding value to humanity. Currently, Ireland has two properties on the World Heritage List, Brú na Bóinne and Sceilg Mhichíl, both of which were inscribed in the 1990s.

Recommendations from the Expert Advisory Group (EAG) appointed by Minister of State with Responsibility for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan (GP) in June, were finalised in the past week. The EAG had been tasked with reviewing applications to become part of a new Tentative List of potential World Heritage Properties for Ireland.

UNESCO will not consider nominations unless a property has been included on the Tentative List for at least one year prior to the submission of any nomination. The nomination process often takes a number of years and includes the preparation of a detailed dossier to be officially submitted to the World Heritage Centre for evaluation.

Applications for a new tentative list were sought to replace the existing list formed in 2010, six valid applications were received by the June 2021 deadline. The EAG then undertook an extensive technical review of all applications and have advised that all six applications have the potential to demonstrate the critically important outstanding value to humanity which is a pre-requisite for any World Heritage consideration.

Additional work is needed on Inis Cealtra on the criteria for assessment, authenticity/integrity and the comparative analysis aspects of the application, the EAG found.

Cultural landscapes of The Burren Uplands have “the potential to fill a gap on the World Heritage List” once more work is done in the same areas as Inis Cealtra, the EAG stated.

Other areas recommended by the EAG include, The Passage Tomb Landscape of County Sligo, Transatlantic Cable Ensemble: Valentia-Heart’s Content in County Kerry, Glendalough Valleyin County Wicklow and as a serial transnational nomination, the Royal Sites of Ireland which includes Dún Ailinne, Hill of Uisneach, the Rock of Cashel, Rathcroghan Complex, Tara Complex, and Navan Fort.

Officials in the Department of Heritage intend to submit a new Tentative List to UNESCO in March 2022. This list will include those applications which have addressed the relevant EAG recommendations by that time, other properties may be added at a later stage.

Clare TD, Michael McNamara (IND) said he was “particularly pleased” to see the advice that it “could have potential as a World Heritage Property and could be included on a new Tentative List once the potential outstanding universal value has been further demonstrated through some additional work surrounding the criteria for assessment of outstanding universal value, authenticity/integrity and the comparative analysis aspects of the application”.

Deputy McNamara recalled, “Inis Cealtra (Holy Island) was previously on the list along with Glendalough, Clonmacnoise and three other early monastic sites. When I raised the matter in the Dáil on 15 March, I was surprised to learn that while an application for inclusion on the new list was anticipated from Wicklow County Council in respect of Glendalough, no application was anticipated from Clare County Council in respect of Inis Cealtra (Holy Island), although an application was anticipated in respect of the Burren Uplands. At the time, I questioned whether the difference of treatment of Glendalough and Inis Cealtra (Holy Island) was more to do with the presence of two cabinet ministers in Wicklow and none in Clare that their respective outstanding universal value.

“I immediately raised the lack of an application in respect of Inis Cealtra (Holy Island) with the CEO of Clare County Council, Pat Dowling and he undertook to look at this matter. The recommendations from the Expert Advisory Group is vindication of his judgement and his work and that of his team, particularly as the recommendation in respect of Inis Cealtra (Holy Island) is almost identical to that of Glendalough, which the expert group also recommended could have potential to be on the Tentative List, once more work is carried out to fully demonstrate the potential outstanding universal value in regards to the criteria, authenticity/integrity, protection and management, comparative analysis and stakeholder consultation aspects of the application,” he added.

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