*Photograph: Martin Kiely

REVISIONS to try make an application for the Burren designated as a world heritage site are to be made.

Both the Burren and Inis Cealtra (Holy Island) were not included in the World Heritage Tentative List for Ireland announced by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in July.

Six applications were received by the June 2021 deadline and the exhaustive and expert evaluation process over the following eleven months concluded that three applications should be included on the new Tentative List for Ireland with details being sent to UNESCO Paris.

Minister Darragh O’Brien (FF) explained that the expert advisory group found that the application for the Burren needed further development. “The EAG acknowledged that the Burren has the potential to fill a gap on the World Heritage List, however, it recommended that the potential OUV needed to be demonstrated by focusing on the criteria for assessment of OUV, authenticity/integrity, and the protection and management aspects of a potential World Heritage property”.

He stated, “Also, as the original application was submitted by Clare County Council, a revised application needs to be drafted to incorporate aspects of the Galway Burren to ensure a coherent mutually balanced approach. My Department is committed to supporting Clare and Galway County Councils to develop this application further and looks forward to receiving a revised joint application to the Tentative List. The Burren is therefore not precluded from being on the Tentative List in the future”.

To progress the bid further, Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) called for a consultation plan to be held within North Clare for landowners, communities and stakeholders including the Burren IFA.

Elected representatives in the West Clare Municipal District will be briefed on the application at the end of March.

Heritage Officer with Clare County Council, Congella McGuire stated that the local authority has been in communication with the Department “to plan for the next steps in progressing with an application for the Burren to Ireland World Heritage Site Tentative List while specifying the work to be undertaken and the resources required. Clare County Council are working with Galway County Council in this regard and wish to further engage with all the stakeholders, communities and landowners including the Clare IFA”.

Speaking at the March meeting of the West Clare MD, Cllr Killeen said the designation was “a big deal”. He believed for the bid to be successful, “it needs the cooperation of everyone in Burren area if it is to be designated as a world heritage site. I still wait to see what practical steps will be taken”.

Cathaoirleach of the West Clare MD, Cllr Shane Talty (FF) noted, “It is a sensitive issue in a sensitive area, what the designation might achieve from a tourism point of view is one thing but how it affects landowners and how they continue their duties is another, the consultation aspect will be hugely important”.

Resources must support the intent of international recognition, Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) stressed. “The value of these internationally recognised awards for our area is clear from the Wild Atlantic Way to the Burren Geo Park, they also bring with them their own challenges. We have to prove that we follow these designations and the recognition of the preciousness of our areas by allocating resources to them and making as the number one priority that local communities thrive off them and I think we’re falling down on that part. We need to do more than say we intend, we need to allocate the resources”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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