Written Answers. - National Monuments.

John Bruton

Question:

770 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands the national monuments and historic properties in State care in County Meath; the arrangements which may be made by members of the public to visit these properties in each case; the guides, if any, available at these properties either in a display form or by means of a guided tour to visitors; the plans, if any, there are in place to undertake remedial restoration or preservation works at any of these monuments; and the applications, if any, she has received to bring other monuments in County Meath into State care. [1076/99]

Dúchas, the heritage service of my Department, manages 49 national monument sites in County Meath, many of which are open to the public. I have arranged to have a list of these, together with information on arrangements for public access to them, sent directly to the Deputy.

Some sites such as Brú na Bóinne and Tara have been improved in recent years and provide high quality visitor facilities with a full guide service, audio visual presentation, toilets and other facilities. As further heritage sites are developed, Dúchas will be expanding its visitor service accordingly.

Many sites, by nature of their extent or remoteness do not have a staffed visitor service. To assist the public in the appreciation and understanding of these sites interpretative panels are provided. An ongoing programme is in place to provide such panels for all sites in State care in the county and indeed, throughout the rest of the country. Existing signage at heritage sites is being examined countrywide and will be replaced, where necessary, by more visitor friendly signage on a programmed basis. Dúchas has also produced over 300 separate publications for these sites and this number is growing annually. Many of these publications are available in European languages as well as Irish and English. In addition, sites with a guide service are promoted in a variety of ways and this year, under a new initiative, three million colour leaflets will be published and widely distributed both at home and abroad. I have arranged also to have a selection of these publications sent directly to the Deputy.
The following work programmes are either in progress or being planned by Dúchas in County Meath and are being financially assisted by the European Union's Operational Programme for Tourism.

Trim Castle:

Major conservation works, roofing of Keep and the provision of visitor and guide facilities.

Bective Abbey:

Improved access and site presentation.

Brú na Bóinne:

Conservation works and the provision of guide facilities at Knowth.

Loughcrew:

Improved access and site presentation.

Slane:

Long distance riverside walk from Slane to Oldbridge; works to monuments.

While it is hoped to make substantial progress on these schemes within the next two years, progress may be influenced by such factors as successful negotiations with property owners.
Dúchas is primarily concerned with sites and monuments of the pre 1700 AD period and available funding is primarily directed towards such properties in State care. I am not aware of any current requests to take other monuments in County Meath into State care.