The Hill of Tara is one of Ireland’s premier national monuments and is of international prominence and importance. In recent years, it has been subject to extensive research by the Discovery Programme, funded by my Department, through which our knowledge and understanding of the site has been greatly increased. Around 200,000 people visited Tara in 2018.
Against the background of increasing visitor numbers, my Department has been developing a conservation management plan for the state-owned lands at the Hill and is leading a working group of relevant stakeholders, including the Office of Public Works (OPW), which has responsibility for day to day management of the state owned lands, Meath County Council, the Heritage Council and the Discovery Programme, with the objective of progressing, completing and publishing the updated plan as soon as possible. The Working Group meets regularly and is now in the final stages of producing the plan. The preparation of the Plan has included a monument condition survey to inform the conservation needs of the monuments on the State-owned lands. An online visitor survey, as well as a visitor profile, was also undertaken by the Dublin Institute of Technology at the request of the Discovery Programme and Heritage Council. My Department is now reviewing all relevant documentation with a view to bringing the Plan to completion.
The new plan will focus on conservation issues and will inform a list of priority conservation and site management actions and measures to be implemented over its lifetime. The plan will inform future interventions on the site, aided by the ongoing monitoring of visitor numbers by the OPW. It will concentrate on the lands that are in the ownership of the State and as such, it will not, nor is it intended to, address land use and planning issues in the wider environs of Tara. Parking and traffic management, as well as visitor facilities outside the area of the State-owned lands, are matters for the local authority although the Plan may inform the need for such visitor facilities. My Department is available to advise and assist the local authority with such proposals from the point of view of protecting the archaeology and amenity of the Hill of Tara itself.