Sinn Féin TD for Meath East, Darren O’Rourke, has called for an enhanced effort to improve conservation and the visitor experience at the Hill of Tara.Calling for a concerted cross-agency effort to implement the Tara Conservation Management during a Dáil debate on the Historic and Archaeological Heritage Bill 2023 last week, He told Meath Live, “The Historic and Archaeological Heritage Bill 2023 provides a new framework to modernise and bolster the law that provides for the protection of our archeological and related heritage. There is much work to be done on the Bill but it is an important piece of work.

“In Meath we are blessed. The Hill of Tara is an absolutely precious piece of heritage. It is unique in that it is a living monument. It is not paused in time. It is openly accessible. People use it every day, morning, noon and night. It is a popular attraction. In 2021 during Covid-19 there were more than 182,782 visitors to the site. However, it needs massive attention.“We now have the long-awaited Tara Conservation Management Plan which includes a number of important principles, policies and objectives. The objectives require significant cross-agency effort and energy in order to be delivered. I support the plan but I have concerns that those agencies – ranging from the local authority to the OPW to Teagasc to the Discovery Programme to many others – will not deliver on that plan. It is absolutely essential that they do.

“Similarly, there is an immediate need to act on Objective 3 “to manage and enhance the visitor experience at the Hill of Tara”. In particular Action 1 ascribes responsibility to Meath Co. Co. and the Department to “implement measures to facilitate sustainable access for arrival to site respecting its setting, significance and environs, having regard to traffic and parking issues, public transport, cycling and pedestrians, etc.” This is an essential element and requires immediate attention and prioritisation.

“The Conservation Management Plan is most welcome but it needs to extend beyond the state-owned land. The plan can’t be allowed gather dust. It must be implemented to ensure the site is conserved and that the site and surrounding area is improved for visitors.”