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Over 500 people have joined a facebook group in less than 24 hours
A campaign to save Brú na Bóinne from the Slane Bypass has been launched online over the weekend. It is being initiated by members of the National Monuments Forum, which includes Professor George Eogan, Professor Emeritus of Archaeology at University College Dublin. The National Roads Authority has chosen the most damaging route for archaeology and heritage, and Meath County Council has gone ahead and issued CPO orders for the route, without even waiting for the An Bord Pleanala oral hearing. A petition will be launched shortly, calling on Minister Gormley to deliver on his promise of a new National Monuments Act, and calling on UNESCO to place
In struggling to defend the preferred route for the N2 Slane Bypass, which runs 500m from the edge of the Bend of the Boyne UNESCO World Heritage Site, a spokesman for the NRA said, “we have selected a route with the least impact on archaeology and heritage".
"The Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne is Europe's largest and most important concentration of prehistoric megalithic art. The monuments there had social, economic, religious and funerary functions. The Committee inscribed the site under criteria (i), (iii) and (iv) and invited the Irish authorities to control carefully future developments in and around the site and to involve ICOMOS in conservation and management planning."
Criterion( i) is “to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius”; (iii) is “to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared”; and (iv) is “to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history.”
This makes the site a perfect candidate for the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger, which is designed “to inform the international community of conditions which threaten the very characteristics for which a property was inscribed on the World Heritage List, and to encourage corrective action.” There is no doubt that the 44 known archaeological sites, and the numerous others yet to be discovered within the 3.5km stretch, are related to the archaeological ensemble.
Although the Irish authorities claim they have written to UNESCO, they did not await a response before picking the preferred route, and the clock is now ticking for making objections. Meath County Council has already issued notices for compulsory purchase of land, despite the fact that planning permission is far from being granted, and public consultation continues.
Dr Edgar Morgenrath, associate research professor and co-ordinator of the Transport and Infrastructure Research Programme at the Economic and Social Research Institute recently noted in the Irish Times:
“It is remarkable that there are plans to facilitate the avoidance of the toll on the M1 by building a bypass around Slane involving the expensive construction of a bridge over the river Boyne when a simple HGV ban would solve the local traffic problems.” (Opinion, April 24, 2009)
Meath councillors voted in 2009 “to ban HGVs going through Slane because of the dangerous and steep incline from the bridge on the N2 into the village.” The County Manager has however refused to implement the ban, which would in fact been the solution with the ‘least impact’. The next best option would have been a western bypass, but instead the NRA has in fact chosen the route with the most impact.
Francis Ledwidge (1891-1917), wrote this poem about his native Slane, before being killed in action in World War I:
Behind the Closed Eye
1 I walk the old frequented ways
2 That wind around the tangled braes,
3 I live again the sunny days
4 Ere I the city knew.
5 And scenes of old again are born,
6 The woodbine lassoing the thorn,
7 And drooping Ruth-like in the corn
8 The poppies weep the dew.
9 Above me in their hundred schools
10 The magpies bend their young to rules,
11 And like an apron full of jewels
12 The dewy cobweb swings.
13 And frisking in the stream below
14 The troutlets make the circles flow,
15 And the hungry crane doth watch them grow
16 As a smoker does his rings.
17 Above me smokes the little town,
18 With its whitewashed walls and roofs of brown
19 And its octagon spire toned smoothly down
20 As the holy minds within.
21 And wondrous impudently sweet,
22 Half of him passion, half conceit,
23 The blackbird calls adown the street
24 Like the piper of Hamelin.
25 I hear him, and I feel the lure
26 Drawing me back to the homely moor,
27 I'll go and close the mountain's door
28 On the city's strife and din.
LINKS - Brú na Bóinne – News Stories
22-01-2010 Fears over M-way near ancient site – Irish Independent
22-01-2010 Slane bypass to run close to Boyne heritage sites – Irish Times
22-01-2010 Bypass will run 500 metres from Newgrange complex -Irish Independent
21-01-2010 Slane bypass would run close to Newgrange – RTE News
30-12-2009 New website highlights Slane bypass campaign – Meath Chronicle
23-12-2009 Pressure for Slane bypass must be kept up – Meath Chronicle
16-12-2009 Major step towards bypass as CPO notice is published – Meath Chronicle
16-07-2009 Slane HGV ban could mean problems for other road users, committee told – Irish Times