The Neolithic Corridor Tombs in County Sligo, the Valentia Transatlantic Cable in County Kerry and the Royal Sites of Ireland have been included in the new Tentative List for Ireland, a necessary step towards UNESCO World Heritage status.

The Tentative List is an inventory of the most important natural and cultural sites within a country’s borders that can demonstrate outstanding universal value and are therefore suitable for inclusion on the World Heritage List.

Neolithic tombs

The Neolithic landscape of the corridor tombs in County Sligo on the Wild Atlantic Way, the rugged coastline of western Ireland, is one of the most spectacular expressions of ritual monument building across Europe five to six millennia ago. The monuments include the famous Queen Maeve’s Cairn, dominating Knocknarea Mountain. The huge Neolithic tomb is composed of over 30,000 tonnes of stone and overlooks Sligo Bay.

A cable linking Europe to America

The County Kerry site is a 3,000km transatlantic copper cable that transformed global communications in 1858. It was laid between Valentia Island in Ireland and Newfoundland, Canada, linking Europe to America and cutting communication times from weeks to minutes.

The first message transmitted on 16 August 1858 was a congratulatory note from Queen Victoria to American President James Buchanan. When other technologies replaced the copper cables used to transmit information across the Atlantic, the Valentia cable station closed in the 1960s. It has since been renovated and now houses an interactive visitor experience called the Eighth Wonder.

From Paganism to Christianity

The Royal Sites of Ireland were all major royal inauguration, ceremonial and assembly sites, representing each of the four Irish provinces and the Meath region. The sites are strongly imbued with myth and legend and are associated with Ireland’s transformation from paganism to Christianity and with St Patrick.

Navan Fort in County Armagh was the royal site of the Kings of Ulster, while Dún Ailinne in County Kildare was for the Kings of Leinster, the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary for the Kings of Munster and Rathcroghan in County Roscommon for the Kings of Connaught. The Hill of Tara in County Meath was the seat of the High Kings of Ireland. Finally, the Hill of Uisneach in County Westmeath is traditionally regarded as the epicentre or navel of Ireland, the place where the five kingdoms met.

All the sites were selected for their potential to demonstrate outstanding universal value, i.e. transcending national boundaries and of equal value to present and future generations of all humanity.

The island of Ireland already has a number of places on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. These include the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim, Skellig Michael off the coast of County Kerry and Brú na Bóinne in County Meath. The Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark in County Clare, the Cuilcagh Lakelands Geopark in County Fermanagh and Cavan and the Copper Coast Geopark in County Waterford have been awarded UNESCO World Geopark status.

Finally, the island has three UNESCO cities – Belfast is a UNESCO City of Music; Dublin is a UNESCO City of Literature; and Galway is a UNESCO City of Film. And let’s not forget hurling, a sport that is listed as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

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