Councils plan to put Cork’s heritage sites on the world stage

Councils plan to put Cork’s heritage sites on the world stage
Gunpowder Mills, Ballincollig

COUNTY Hall is to seek the assistance of Cork City Council in devising a list of places in Cork that could become Unesco World Heritage Sites.

The Martello Tower near Fota Island. 
The Martello Tower near Fota Island. 

Councillor Marcia D’Alton (IND) wants military fortification sites such as Fort Carlisle/Davis; Ringaskiddy Martello Tower; Haulbowline Island Martello Tower and naval buildings; the Belvelly, Rossleague and Monning Martello Towers; Collins Barracks and Ballincollig Royal Gunpowder Mills to be put forward for the list which recognises landmarks or areas which have cultural, historical or scientific significance.

Of 1,073 Unesco Work Heritage sites across 167 countries, just two are in Ireland. These are Brú na Bóinne in Co Meath and Skellig Michael in Kerry.

Ms D’Alton said Cork’s unique network of fortifications have their origins in Napoleonic times and contain huge potential for developing tourism trails, with cooperation from Cork City Council, for the county as they have been internationally recognised by military historians as being some of the most impressive fortifications anywhere in the world.

The Fastnet Rock Lighthouse. Pic. Donagh Glavin
The Fastnet Rock Lighthouse. Pic. Donagh Glavin

Gillian Coughlan (FF) has also put forward Fastnet Rock as a potential site which could make the list.

The National Monuments Service (NMS) of the Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht is currently planning to re-open Ireland’s tentative list to new applicants soon. Nominations will be sought for properties of natural and cultural heritage which are considered to meet the criteria.

In October 2008, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht set up an Expert Advisory Group to review Ireland’s tentative list of properties for future nomination.

The review was undertaken during 2008 and 2009.

Belvelly Bridge near Fota Island, a suggested heritage site.	Pic: David Creedon/Anzenberger
Belvelly Bridge near Fota Island, a suggested heritage site. Pic: David Creedon/Anzenberger

Following public consultation, assessment of proposals and consideration of submissions, the new tentative list was approved by the minister and submitted to UNESCO in March 2010. It replaced the previous list that was drawn up in 1992.

Sites that made the list included the Burren, Céide Fields in Mayo, the monastic city of Clonmacnoise, Dublin’s historic city, early medieval monastic sites (Clonmacnoise, Durrow, Glendalough, Inis Cealtra, Kells and Monasterboice), the royal sites of Ireland (Cashel, Dún Ailinne, Hill of Uisneach, Rathcroghan Complex and Tara Complex) and Western Stone Fronts.

Collins Barracks, with Cork docklands in background in 1960. Ref. 464L
Collins Barracks, with Cork docklands in background in 1960. Ref. 464L

No Cork sites were considered but several sites around the county would have strong cases with Collins Barracks dating back to 1801 and playing a part in several wars as a staging post for soldiers during the Crimean War, Zulu War, Boer War, and World War I.

Haulbowline Island dates back to 1602, while Ballincollig’s Royal Powder Mills was once the largest manufacturer of gunpowder in the entire British Empire.

Applicants must provide supporting photographs and letters of support from stakeholders and owners.

Helen Francis of the department said: “The level of commitment involved in preparing a site for eventual World Heritage Site Inscription... is considerable and takes several years.

Ms D’Alton said it is imperative that work begins on identifying and creating a dossier on the merits of each site so both City and County Hall are ready to put forward their case when the list opens up.

“I am happy to hear that the department is considering opening the tentative list and we should collaborate with City Council on this,” she said.

“It takes a really long time to put a detailed submission together so the faster we start working with City Council the better and when the tentative list is reopened we are ready to submit. It’s a bit like having a shovel-ready project,” she added.

Cork County Council will now write to City Council about the matter.

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