Cllr Tom Wood has called on Tipperary County Council to take whatever steps are necessary to secure UNESCO World Heritage Status for the Rock of Cashel.
At the September meeting he informed the members that the monument was rightly placed on a Tentative list in 1992 as a site of Ecclesiastical significance but successive governments had failed to progress the matter further. Cashel was again considered for a new Tentative nomination in 2009 but on that occasion was nominated as part of the Royal Sites of Ireland, a group including Tara, Hill of Uisneach, Dun Aillinne, Rathcroghan and Navan Forth in Northern Ireland and this he said slowed the process down considerably and was very cumbersome. He believed that while the Premier County had some of the best built heritage in the country little or nothing was done to package and promote it and felt that with World Heritage Status, the Rock, already achieving visitor numbers in excess of 250,000 and the magnet attracting people to Tipperarty, would help benefit tourism and employment greatly.
In response, management informed the members that the Council was actively engaged with the other relevant Councils and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in preparing for a formal application for the Royal Sites. Preliminary technical evaluations of each site were already drafted for professional review and revision by a world heritage expert who would produce a composite report on the nomination. This report is expected in the coming months and will then be subjected to rigorous assessment by an expert panel to ensure it meets the very demanding UNESCO criteria including that of “outstanding universal value.” A decision can then be taken on commencing a formal application for World Heritage designation. In that eventuality the process of a detailed application will begin involving stakeholders at the individual sites and will include public meetings, information seccions and other steps as required. The Council will be kept informed of progress throughout the application process. The inclusion of Navan Fort, Armagh, adds a cross border dimension to the nomination and is supported by both the Irish and UK governments.