Tuatha Dé Danann - Cairn Loch Craobh, Sliabh na Caillí, Loch Craobh, An Mhí, Cúige Laighean, Éire

The Unmaking Of Ireland

Back in April the National Geographic magazine attempted to explain to its horrified readers the seemingly inexplicable rationale behind the Islamic State’s fanatical hatred of the priceless, ancient monuments and artefacts of the Middle East:

“While using the destruction of cultural heritage to demonstrate their “piety” and stoke division within local populations, ISIS also sees the practice of archaeology as a foreign import that fans Iraqi nationalism and impedes their ultimate goal, in which modern nations of the Middle East are subsumed into a wider caliphate encompassing the entire Muslim world.

An article on the destruction at the Mosul museum in a recent issue ofDabiq, the online magazine of the Islamic State, makes its position clear: “The kuffār [unbelievers] had unearthed these statues and ruins in recent generations and attempted to portray them as part of a cultural heritage and identity that the Muslims of Iraq should embrace and be proud of.

Just a few months ago our own Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, warned of the dangers posed to the physical legacy of Ireland’s millennia-long civilization by ISIL/ISIS, albeit in typically unconvincing fashion.

“Speaking to reporters earlier today, Kenny pointed to the growth of the terrorist group in Syria alone and the global threats they pose.

“Purely from the historical point of view, they want to blow up Newgrange and the Rock of Cashel...”

Which is a somewhat ironic given that more harm as been done to the archaeological heritage of this island nation during two decades of successive government by Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour and the Greens, than anything we have seen by wannabe adherences of militant political Islam.

From the corruption-driven desecration of the landscape around Teamhair na Rí, the Hill of Tara, which drew the condemnation of the international academic community, to countless local acts of cultural vandalism such as the loss of the Knockhouse ringfort in Waterford, we do not wait for the barbarians to appear upon our shores – instead we elevate them to high office and watch as they lay waste to our history in the name of commerce and facile modernity.

The Mayne Road, the Mayne Bog in Coole, Co Westmeath, Ireland. Destroyed in a way only the Taliban or ISIS would understand!

From the blog of Donal O’Keeffe another chapter in the continued deculturalization of Ireland:

 

“In 2005, a 3,000 year old Bronze Age wooden road was uncovered in Mayne Bog in Coole, Co Westmeath. Described by An Taisce as “a major, timber-built road of European significance”, this was an archaeological find of huge importance.

According to Professor John Waddell, the Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at NUI Galway, the Mayne road (or “Togher”) is, in terms of size, age, and antiquity “truly of European significance and is on a par with those preserved in dedicated heritage centres like Wittemoor in Lower Saxony, Flag Fen in Peterborough (UK), and Corlea in County Longford”.

Professor Waddell’s mention of Corlea is interesting. The Corlea Trackway (Bóthar Chorr Liath) is an Iron Age structure near the village of Keenagh in Co Longford. At least a kilometre in length, it was wide enough for two chariots to pass each other side by side and it has been dated to 148 BC. Corlea now has an interpretive centre which has, for the past 21 years, employed four people seasonally from April to September and, attracting over 5,500 visitors each year, it is now Longford’s leading tourist attraction.

With all of the considerable respect due to Corlea, the find in Westmeath puts Corlea in the ha’penny place. Whereas Corlea is a trackway, the Mayne Togher is a proper road, up to 6 metres wide and 675 metres in length but, An Taisce notes, “it was seen to extend beyond both recorded limits”. Mayne is also a thousand years older than Corlea.

For the ten years since the find, Westland Horticulture has – entirely legally –continued to mulch something as old as Newgrange into compost for window boxes. At least 75% of the road is gone now. Dr Pat Wallace – former director of the National Museum of Ireland – has described this as “an international calamity”.

Professor Waddell says “It is quite extraordinary that this discovery has not been the subject of comprehensive survey and more extensive excavation. It is a scandal that its destruction through industrial peat cutting continues unchecked . . . Given the European significance of discoveries like this, the inaction of the Department of Arts, Heritage and An Gaeltacht is as depressing as it is inexplicable.”

A spokesperson for Minister for the Arts, Heritage and An Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, told An Taisce: “Further steps under the National Monuments Act… would not be warranted at this stage.” It’s hard not to interpret that as “Sure the damage is done now. They might as well keep going.”

Even a completely soulless Philistine without any regard for our culture, our history or our heritage would have to admit that – if nothing else – the destruction of the Mayne Togher represents a stunning disregard for the potential for tourism attendant upon such a discovery. Even if money is the only thing which moves you, you would have to wonder how we can afford to squander such a resource.

“The track is undoubtedly of European significance and far older than the Roman roads,” Ian Lumley of An Taisce told The Irish Times. “We’re now referring the matter to the European Commission for intervention on the basis of a (possible) breach of a European Commission Environmental Impact Assessment Directive.”

Even if Mayne Togher is now, belatedly, declared a national monument, at least three quarters of it has been needlessly destroyed. And for what? For potting compost.”

Deny a people its past and you deny them their future, facilitating the imposition of other ways of being, of understanding. That is as much an explanation for the actions of the Islamic State in Syria as it is for the actions of the Neo-Ascendancy in Ireland.

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13 comments

  1. Don’t worry..We don’t need tourist attractions/ historical sites.
    Tourists are more than happy to visit Ireland for the weather and the opportunity to get punched in the face in Temple Bar.
    Tarmac everything over I say.
    ( Sarcasm off ).
    We are approaching a point in history where they will not be enough work to support every person.
    This means people will have more and more leisure time. in which they might travel abroad.
    Now, I dunno..this means tourism is going to be more important than ever..Shouldn’t the tourists have something to look at?
    Arrest Kenny and Fianna Failures for treason.
    Gombeans are well too happy to protest about water Bills..Why aren’t they taking to the streets over all this???????
    It’s a massive strategic blunder.
    Say somewhere between Operation Barborossa and Gerald Ratner telling people his jewellery was junk.
    Up there with Not signing the Beatles and Exxon passing on the opportunity to drill for oil in Saudi Arabia.
    That kind of thing.
    But the Sheeple don’t care….Too busying Grazing.
    Gotta love Ireland.
    The blind leading the blind.

  2. Bravo, for spreading information about the Mayne road and the Corlea togher! About twenty years ago my cousins in Castletogher, Williamstown, Co. Galway discovered the togher that must have given Castletogher and nearby Templetogher their names. I tried but failed to interest Ireland’s academia in it.

    Last year I published a book titled “Ireland 1845-1850; the Perfect Holocaust, and Who Kept it ‘Perfect'” which interests its readers but enrages Ireland’s history-concealing/falsifiying academics.  Chris FogartyChicago

    1. Thanks, Christopher. I’ve heard of similar stories, artefacts uncovered by local people with zero interest – or active obstruction – from the authorities. County councils in particular have a terrible reputation in such matters.

  3. This is one of those posts where clicking “Like” is rather funny. After all, the topic is heartbreaking and makes me want to scream. But on the other hand, you have to “like” the fact that the message is getting across.

    This happens on a smaller scale in the U.S.; old forests and 400-year old houses get sullied by McDonald’s (YUCK!). But even the oldest houses in the U.S. pale in comparison to the length of time these structures in Ireland were around. They survived the era of British occupation just to get torn down by developers? It’s criminal.

    1. I quite agree. During the era of the Celtic Tiger everything was ploughed over that stood – however tangentially – in its path. The number and importance of the monuments that have been lost or damaged across the island since the 1990s is staggering.

  4. How very sad. Just like the discoveries in An Spideal, no one digs any further to find the rest of the stuff that everyone knows must be there, as it would interfere with local “business interests.” Only God knows how many national treasures we have lost to the padding of pensions by influential industrialists.

  5. Anger isn’t even the word. To think this amazingly significant piece of an archaeological jigsaw was dug up and turned into potting compost makes my blood boil.
    Sadly in Ireland we have a rich archaeological record constantly under threat from the authorities.
    (Exhibit A. Current Minister for heritage couldn’t be found during heritage week this year; she’d gone on holidays).

    The city council development at Wood quay in Dublin (local government offices built over a Viking settlement) still infuriates me.

    1. Wood Quay is one that still shocks. That they could get away with it, that they WANTED to get away with it, is beyond belief. Literal barbarians. The destruction of Georgian Dublin, coupled with scandals like the loss of the remains of Viking Dublin, is cultural vandalism of the highest order. Eleven years after the recommendations to save and promote the city walls as a tourist destination and tour we’re still waiting for something to be done. Meanwhile they are being used for car parks. Car parks!

  6. I can understand citizens of a third world country tearing down historic sites to build themselves a place to live or to use it for material to keep themselves warm. It’s unfortunate, but understandable.

    I cannot understand citizens of first world nations knowingly plowing under, tearing down, burning up or otherwise wiping from the map irreplaceable archaeological and historical treasures simply because they don’t interest them, they’re too lazy to make an effort to find a way to preserve such treasures or they impedes easy money.

    1. In Ireland it is more complicated, a need to erase selected aspects of the past, as if they were shameful. It’s that old post-colonial neurosis again. We spend a fortune in tax-payers money on restoring and preserving the monuments of British rule, the Big Houses of the old aristocracy now in state-care (or still owned by them but subsidised by state-donated money in several infamous cases). However that which is distinctively “native” is held in contempt. I know several non-Irish people in the field of history and archaeology and they all bemoan the lack of respect for the artefacts of the past in their own home countries – but all agree that the situation in Ireland is particularly and at times uniquely difficult.

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