Vandals have desecrated an ancient neolithic site at Loughcrew in Oldcastle by etching graffiti on it with a stone.

Heritage minister Malcolm Noonan has hit out at the wanton destructions, saying, ‘Our heritage sites provide important accessible spaces for the enjoyment and benefit of the public and it is shocking that anyone would think it appropriate to damage decorative stones left by our ancestors from thousands of years ago.

‘I condemn such mindless vandalism at one of Ireland’s most significant archaeological monuments and we will do all we can with our colleagues in the OPW to ensure that the culprits are identified and brought before the Courts.’

The National Monuments Service and the Office of Public Works are aware of this “very regrettable occurrence”.

Efforts  have been ongoing to determine  any measures that may be taken to mitigate the damage to the burial monument.

This is the latest in a series of such incidents at Loughcrew. NMS and OPW will be gathering all available evidence for transmission to An Garda Síochána with a view to those responsible being prosecuted.