A new national park has been declared in the Boyne Valley area of County Meath, reports RTE.
The Boyne Valley Brú na Bóinne National Park will be Ireland’s seventh national park and only the second in the eastern part of the country.
This followed the purchase of more than 500 acres of state land at Dowth Hall and the demesne, which forms about one-third of the Bru na Boin UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The property was sold for 10 million euros.
The site has been described as a cultural and natural heritage of national and international importance from prehistoric times to modern times, reports RTE.
It is part of Brú na Bóinne, which was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993 along with the three megalithic passage tombs of Newgrange, Noth and Douth, already owned by the state and managed by the Office of Works (OPW).
The purchase paved the way for the creation of a national park.
Heritage Minister Darragh O’Brien said: “Here in this one place we have over 5,000 years of recorded history. In our care, it will significantly enhance our management of the Brú na Bóinne World Heritage landscape. We will conserve and protect Dowth’s heritage in line with our obligations to UNESCO and we will enhance responsible tourism, ensuring it becomes a standout destination,” reports RTE.
An overall plan for the protection, presentation and management of the new park will be developed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), OPW and the National Monument Service.
Ireland’s national parks protect biodiversity and architectural heritage and promote education, research and recreation.
Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan said it was a unique addition to Ireland’s family of national parks.
“We look forward to sustaining and growing this legacy to ensure that farming, nature and the cultural heritage of this ancient landscape can continue in harmony, as they have done since our ancestors first settled in the Boyne Valley over 5,500 years ago”, reports RTE.
A “master plan” to secure and operate the facility is expected to take two years to complete.
Because of this deadline, it may take some time for the public to freely explore the new national park.
However, Minister O’Brien said he hoped that public access would be gradually provided before the national park was fully opened.
Ministers confirmed the state had paid €11 million for Douth Hall and the demesne, which had been advertised on the property market for €10 million, reports RTE.
They said the land purchase was “good value” for the Irish.
Further investment will be required on the site, including significant renovation works to Douth Hall as well as other buildings on the demesne.
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