Why do we have so few, only in fact three on the island as a whole (Skellig, Bru na Boinne, and Giant’s Causeway)? Some other sites are tentative, but the situation to be honest seems stalled. Great. Much talk is made of the government “campaigning” for sites but the reality is that there is no need to campaign – its not a competition. Its an administrative issue – do you hit some, not necessarily all, of the criteria. The process is pretty clear. So why dont we have more?
Is it lack of interest from heritage and historical bodies, governmental and other? Is it lack of ambition? Is it a sense of not needing to have these imprimaturs? Is it, as I suspect, that we really dont give a fiddlers elbow about heritage, at an official level?
There are 1000+ UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I was recently in one (actually, its split into 9 ) the Classical Gardens of Suzhou. Wonderful, and the UNESCO stamp firmly and front and center displayed.
We need more. We deserve and have more. Look below at the criteria. Why would the megalithic ring forts of the West, TCD’s Long Room, Marsh’s Library, traditional music pubs (criteria iii before you laugh..), western Sea Cliffs (from Geokane through Moher, onto Croaghaun and Slieve League) , the whole shebang of the Wild Atlantic Way, Lough Hyne Marine Reserve, Powerscourt Estate, hurling, bogs (if we dont cut them all to appease Ming..) ….the list is pretty much endless if you look at the criteria. There is no reason, it seems to me, why we as a nation, not to mind as an island couldnt and shouldnt have a great ambition to go for 20, 30, 50 of these. What is stopping us? Who is stopping us?
Criteria – see more details here
(i) to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
(ii) to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;
(iii) to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;
(iv) to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;
(v) to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
(vi) to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);
(vii) to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
(viii) to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
(ix) to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
(x) to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.