Today, I welcome receipt of recommendations from an Expert Advisory Group (EAG) I appointed last June to review applications to become part of a new Tentative List of potential World Heritage Properties for Ireland.
World Heritage Properties are sites of cultural and/or natural heritage designated by UNESCO to be of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) to humanity. Ireland has currently two properties on the UNESCO World Heritage List - Brú na Bóinne and Sceilg Mhichíl - both of which were inscribed in the 1990s.
The first major step towards full World Heritage inscription is the inclusion on a country’s Tentative List. This is an inventory of properties which have potential to demonstrate OUV and therefore considered suitable for nomination to the World Heritage List. UNESCO will not consider nominations unless a property has been included on the Tentative List for at least one year prior to the submission of any nomination. The nomination process often takes a number of years and includes the preparation of a detailed dossier to be officially submitted to the World Heritage Centre for evaluation. It is important to note that the nomination process does not necessarily result in the inscription of a property on the World Heritage List.
In line with UNESCO guidance to revise the Tentative List every ten years, in January 2019 I sought applications to a new Tentative List for Ireland, to replace the current list which was formed in 2010. All 31 Local Authorities were requested to make applications to my Department with respect to any properties within their jurisdiction, including properties on the 2010 Tentative List.
Six valid applications were received by the June 2021 deadline. The EAG then undertook an extensive technical review of all applications and my Department has now received the EAG recommendations. The EAG has advised that all six applications have the potential to demonstrate the critically important OUV which is a pre-requisite for any World Heritage consideration.
The Passage Tomb Landscape of County Sligo
The EAG notes that the potential OUV of this application has been well illustrated in the application and recommends that the Passage Tombs of Sligo be placed on the Tentative List.
Iniscealtra (Holy Island), County Clare
The EAG advises that Iniscealtra (Holy Island) could have potential as a World Heritage Property and could be included on a new Tentative List once the potential OUV has been further demonstrated through some additional work surrounding the criteria for assessment of OUV, authenticity/integrity and the comparative analysis aspects of the application.
Transatlantic Cable Ensemble: Valentia-Heart’s Content, County Kerry
The EAG advises that the Trans-Atlantic Cable Ensemble: Hearts Content transnational nomination with Canada could be on the Tentative List once the potential OUV has been further demonstrated through some additional work in relation to authenticity/integrity and stakeholder consultation and engagement.
The Cultural Landscape of the Burren Uplands, County Clare
The EAG advises that this application has the potential to fill a gap on the World Heritage List and could be included on a new Tentative List once more work is carried out to fully demonstrate the potential OUV in relation to the criteria for assessment of OUV, authenticity/integrity, protection, and management aspects of the application.
Royal Sites of Ireland, Counties Kildare, Westmeath, Tipperary, Roscommon, Meath, and Armagh (Dún Ailinne, Hill of Uisneach, Cashel, Rathcroghan Complex, Tara Complex, and Navan Fort)
The EAG advises that The Royal Sites of Ireland have potential as a serial transnational nomination, and could be included on a new Tentative List once more work is carried to fully demonstrate the potential OUV, particularly in relation to the authenticity/integrity, protection and management and comparative analysis aspects of the application.
Glendalough Valley, County Wicklow
The EAG advises that Glendalough Valley could have potential to be on the Tentative List, once more work is carried out to fully demonstrate the potential OUV in regards to the criteria, authenticity/integrity, protection and management, comparative analysis and stakeholder consultation aspects of the application.
We will now focus on supporting all six applicants in addressing the EAG recommendations. We intend to submit a new Tentative List to UNESCO in March 2022. That List will include those applications which have addressed the relevant EAG recommendations by that time. Other properties may be added at a later stage.
In tandem with the Tentative List process, my Department is developing a dedicated World Heritage Strategy for Ireland to guide the inscription of additional properties to Ireland’s World Heritage List over the next decade.
Ireland’s two World Heritage Properties of Brú na Boinne and Sceilg Mhichíl stand tall among the world’s most important heritage sites. What we are seeing through this process of establishing a new Tentative List for Ireland is huge ambition and desire across the country for Ireland’s heritage to stand even taller on that global stage.
I want to commend all involved in submitting applications and all those who have given their support to them. World Heritage designation is necessarily a long road and these are the very first steps on that journey. I assure everyone involved of our continued support in the time ahead as we strive to meet the critical UNESCO thresholds for inclusion on a new World Heritage Tentative list and address the priorities of communities across the country.
I also want to thank the Expert Advisory Group for their intense work over these last months and for their deliberations and recommendations. This is a truly exciting time for Ireland’s heritage and for our World Heritage goals, as we craft an ambitious new World Heritage Strategy for Ireland.