Residents in Donabate were horrified to find that a recent historical find at Corballis had been vandalised over the weekend.
The archaeological find was discovered last month on lands which are currently the site of a large planning application with An Bord Pleanála.
Corina Johnston, Labour Party Area Representative is absolutely furious at the vandalism caused last weekend – and furious that steps were not taken to protect the underground channel and significant ancient script found therein.
She had repeatedly called on the National Monument Service and the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD who is responsible for historical monuments, excavations, etc, to issue a protective notice on the site.
“Under the National Monument Act, the Minister for Heritage can provide a temporary or permanent preservation on sites of national importance. And the find should be considered by ABP before any planning decision is made.”
Said Ms Johnson: “A local man Barney was up there on Friday night and all was ok. See the photo shown here, he rested his hurling stick on the cap stone which is covering the entrance to the underground chamber, and the stone is surrounded by smaller rocks.
“He returned on Sunday night around nine o’clock and saw the damage. He returned with equipment, lights etc. Remember, it was raining Sunday evening. Barney saw the smaller rocks around the cap stone were gone; the stones had been smashed and scattered around the area, some were even thrown down the hole.”
“Gardaí were notified and visited the site. It is imperative the minister intervenes now and provides a preservation order – he has already delayed too long!”
Ms Johnston believes the perpetrators came with tools or heavy implements to break the stones. “Barney and Eamon Willis who originally found the chamber, stated the cap stone had even been turned 180 degrees over the hole. That would be no mean feat.
“A small hole is also evident to the left of the cap stone where the vandals obviously had something heavy. We are gutted, absolutely gutted.”
In recent days, Ms Johnston had further talked to an independent archaeologist who stated the ancient writing on the ceiling of the souterrain was perhaps Runes from the Norse Futhark alphabet rather than Ogham script as originally thought – making the script even rarer than previously thought.
“In view of the implications of the find and the recent vandalism, it is imperative that a temporary preservation order be placed on the souterrain and a thorough examination of the extended site be carried out. This is the least we can expect as we commence National Heritage Week.“
Ms Johnston is concerned that the highly significant archaeological find at Corballis, Donabate could be undermined by the planning application currently before ABP.
She said: “The Environmental Impact Assessment Report for this planning application was submitted in 2021, long before the recent archaeological find.
“Efforts to date to bring this new information to An Bord Pleanála have been refused. The Bord have stated that under SHD legislation, it cannot take any further comments or information on this planning application.”
The historical find was reported to the National Monument Service who visited the site and confirmed a souterrain (underground tunnel), a significant archaeological find which has now been added to the online non-statutory Sites and Monuments Record.
“The National Monuments Service confirmed the monument will be noted for consideration for inclusion in any revisions of the Record of Monuments and Places (RMP) which is a statutory record that affords a measure of legal protection under existing legislation. But there has been nothing added to the RMP list since 1999!”
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