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Volume 17 No. 1 Issue No. 63

Spring 2003


7 Obituary— Maire D e laney

8 The lo s t bridge o f K ilkenny City:

John's Bridge, 1 7 6 5 -1 9 1 0

1 3 The East Cross inscription from

Toureen Peacaun

1 6 Casting n ew ligh t on old ex cavation s

2 0 The Harvard A rchaeological

M ission and th e politics o f th e Irish Free S ta te

2 4 Two p agan id o ls— rem arkable n ew d iscoveries

2 8 A Viking A g e fa rm s tead in

C onnem ara

3 2 The un tou chables

3 3 Early m ed ieva l enclosure a t

K illick aweeny, Co. Kildare

4 N ew s 3 7 Book n ew s A 4 4 I Reviews 4 4 Letters 4 5 H in dsight 4 6 Events

A fight ahead!

The last few weeks have been eventful ones for the National Monuments and Architectural Heritage Protection Division of Duchas. In mid-February news broke of proposals to break up Duchas following an internal departmental (Department of the Environment and Local Government) review. IMPACT, the union representing the professional staff of Duchas, have quite rightly stated that this would be a retrograde step. It would break up an entity which, in line with European approaches, integrates the conservation and management of the built and natural landscape.

In relation to the work and functions of the National Monuments and Architectural Heritage Protection Division (NMAHPD), it is apparently being suggested that the built heritage (historic properties) would become part of the Office of Public Works, with the other sections remaining in the Department of the Environment, or indeed that their functions would be transferred to local authorities. Whether by accident or design, these proposals, if followed through, would certainly compromise Duchas's ability to act in a meaningful way as a statutory authority with responsibility for managing and conserving the archaeological heritage.

Events at the Carrickmines Castle site on the route of the M50 motorway in south Dublin continue to unfold. We have seen the spectacle of professional staff from NMAHPD, Duchas and the National Museum of Ireland publicly airing their differences of opinion over whether the archaeological work on the site was being carried out in full accord with the provisions of the National Monuments Act. On 24 February the Supreme Court decided that as the site could be regarded as a national monument the removal of part of the site (specifically the stone-faced medieval ditch) to facilitate road construction needed the joint consent in writing of the local authority and the minister with responsibility for Duchas, namely Mr Martin Cullen, TD. Since this consent had not been obtained, the Supreme Court granted an interlocutory injunction against Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Council, preventing them from carrying out further work at the site.

The excavations have been carried out by licensed archaeologists in the employment of an archaeological consultancy on behalf of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Council, in consultation with the National Roads Authority's project archaeologist, Duchas and the National Museum of Ireland under the code of practice established between the NRA and the then Minister for Arts, Heritage, Caeltacht and the Islands in 2000. There have been public disagreements between these bodies on the handling of the site. In these circumstances it is hardly surprising that professional colleagues might be reluctant to be drawn into commenting on what is clearly a complex issue, even leaving aside the perplexing question of why Carrickmines was not left in situ and the road moved.

What connects the course of events at Carrickmines and the proposed break-up of Duchas is the perception that the state archaeological authority is not carrying out its brief properly. What is needed in these circumstances is a strengthening of the role of Duchas, not its fragmentation. The impression of a state authority struggling to keep on top of the situation may indicate that there is no active, long-term strategy in place. The break-up of Duchas is certainly not the solution. Why was Duchas moved to the Department of Environment and Local Government in the first place? Perhaps the dropping of 'Heritage' from the title of a government department is indicative of an official attitude. It would appear that there is a fight ahead.

Gabriel Cooney

EDITORIAL TEAM Tom Condit (Editor) « Gabriel Cooney ■ Emer Condit ■ Nicholas Maxwell ■ Una MacConville ■ Brian Williams ■ Chris Corlett Michael Connolly ■ Aidan O'Sullivan MARKETING Una MacConville PRODUCTION Nick Maxwell ■ Rachel Dunne ■ Niamh MacKenzie TYPESET AND COLOUR ORIGINATION Wordwell Ltd PRINTERS Stones The Printers Ltd. PUBLISHERS Archaeology Ireland Ltd, P.O. Box 69, Bray, Co. Wicklow Tel 01-2765221 Fax 01-2940836 COVER Rachel Dunne SUBSCRIPTION RATES Ireland/ UK 1 year: €20 Stg £15.50 2 year: €39 Stg £28.00 Overseas: 1 year: $40.00 €28 2 year: $78.00 €55 Back issues: €6 WEBSITE Visit for more information on back issues 3

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