The Office of Public Works (OPW) and the National Monuments Service (in the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage) have launched a new campaign entitled 'Protect Our Past', highlighting the need for visitors to Ireland’s heritage sites and monuments to be mindful of their actions over the summer.
The campaign, launched by Minister of State with responsibility for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, and Minister of State with responsibility for Office of Public Works, Patrick O’Donovan, TD, is reminding people of the importance of protecting our country’s unique archaeological and architectural heritage sites, many of which are extremely vulnerable.
There are over 145,000 recorded archaeological monuments around the country in private and public ownership, with latest research suggesting evidence of human activity in Ireland well over 10,000 years ago. Examples of archaeological monument types in Ireland include megalithic tombs, stone circles, standing stones, rock art, ecclesiastical enclosures, churches, graveyards, ringforts, souterrains, crannógs and castles.
As people enjoy a summer exploring Ireland, the two Departments are encouraging people to visit the many varied heritage sites that Ireland boasts, but to be especially mindful of how fragile, vulnerable, and irreplaceable our heritage sites can be. Recent evidence of graffiti and anti-social behaviour at several of Ireland’s most significant monuments - some of which are ancient burial sites - has illustrated the need for more respectful behaviour.
Some archaeological sites are suffering damage that threatens the preservation of archaeological remains. Small fires and ground disturbance, for example, which may be carried out with no ill intention, can destroy or seriously damage these monuments.
The Irish countryside is unique in Europe in the number of ancient monuments that survive from past ages. This campaign aims to increase understanding and appreciation of these monuments so we can all play our part in protecting them for the next generation.