ONE OF the most respected educational and research institutes in the United States has listed the Hill of Tara among the 15 must-see endangered cultural treasures in the world.
The Tara complex in Co Meath, the ancient seat of the High Kings of Ireland, has been the subject of controversy because of the nearby construction of the M3 motorway.
The March edition of the magazine published by Washington’s Smithsonian Institution says “the clang of construction equipment can be heard at the Co Meath site nowadays. The Smithsonian features 14 other “precious historic and artistic sites” around the world which, it says, “can be visited today, but might be gone tomorrow”.
“Each testifies to our urge to build and create; each reminds us of how much we stand to lose,” says the Smithsonian.
Other sites listed include the reputed birthplace of Jesus Christ, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem; Chan Chan in Peru, the largest city in the Americas about 600 years ago; and the crumbling Route 66 across the US.
Campaigners say the M3 will cut through one of Ireland’s most important historical sites, but the National Roads Authority says the new motorway will be farther away from the hill than the existing route. The motorway is scheduled to be finished in the middle of next year.
Last month the Hill of Tara was listed among a number of locations which have been nominated for inclusion on a list of possible Unesco world heritage sites.
Vincent Salafia of TaraWatch, who is quoted in the Smithsonian article, said it “should send a clear message to both the Irish Government, and Unesco, that they cannot proceed with inscribing the Hill of Tara as a world heritage site, unless the M3 is rerouted.”
The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum complex and research organisation.