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Public urged to ‘Protect Our Past’ amidst rise in damage to heritage sites

Photo: Mark Stedman

The Office of Public Works (OPW) and the National Monuments Service have launched a new campaign called 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 aims to remind people of the importance of protecting unique archaeological and architectural heritage sites around the country, many of which are in Wicklow.

Examples of these archaeological monument types in Wicklow include stone circles, standing stones, rock art, churches, graveyards, ringforts, 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. 

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage commented: “Ireland has over 145,000 recorded archaeological sites and monuments spread across every town, parish and townland, meaning we are never far from a special place that provides us with a tangible link to our ancestors and our past.

“The rate of survival of Ireland’s archaeological and architectural heritage is unique and something to be proud of. We all have a role to play in ensuring its survival for present and future generations. I encourage everyone visiting a heritage site or monument this summer to be mindful of how their actions might impact these sites or monuments.” 

Minister of State with responsibility for Office of Public Works, Patrick O’Donovan, TD, said: “Our heritage defines our sense of identity; it tells us about who we are and where we came from and is a critical resource for education and learning.

“It includes evidence of the environment in which those societies lived – from the everyday to the very special. Heritage also plays a vital role in contributing to our tourism sector, especially in rural areas, so we need to come together to ensure we protect it.”

Further information about the Protect Our Past Campaign can be found at www.gov.ie/opw/.

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