Archaeologist objects to Achill-henge
As Mayo County Council prepare to make their decision this week on whether the controversial Achill-henge development on a hilltop in Pollagh should be classed as an exempted development, an Achill-based archaeologist has spoken out against the structure.
Theresa McDonald is the Managing Director of the renowned Achill Archaeological Field School and a leading member of the Achill Historial and Archaeological Society, this week she outlined her objections to the Stonehenge-esque structure built at Pollagh in November by controversial developer Joe McNamara.
“We’re worried that there is an archeological site, mostly prehistoric, less than half a kilometre from the site,” she told The Mayo News. “It is mostly covered by bog, as are a lot of sites in Ireland. There was also an old railway line from Slieve Mor going through the site of the so-called ‘henge’ to Purteen Harbour, that’s gone now because of the unauthorised development.
“The [archaeological] site is on the Sites and Monuments Record for Co Mayo. There is evidence of there possibly being a bronze age monument and we don’t know how extensive the site is, in theory it could stretch to the site of the Henge,” said Ms McDonald.
Ms McDonald, whose Field School has in the region of 100 students due to come to the island this year, says that one of the steps Joe McNamara would have had to take in a planning application was an archaeological survey.
“There is a planning process there and I don’t see why this should be an exception. If the gentleman in question, Mr McNamara, had applied for planning permission to Mayo County Council, he would have been asked to employ an archeologist to survey the site and see if there are archeological deposits in the vicinity. The council would then base their planning decision partly on this basis,” added Ms McDonald.
The committee of the Achill Historical and Archaeological Society have also expressed their objection to the development. In a letter to The Mayo News Gerard Mangan, Secretary of the Achill Historical and Archaeological Society, said that allowing the development to stand would have ‘grave implications for the future preservation’ of other archaeological sites in the area as ‘it may lead to other inappropriate developments elsewhere in the area’.
Senior Planning Officer with Mayo County Council, Iain Douglas confirmed to The Mayo News yesterday that they would have a decision this week in relation to Joe McNamara’s application to have the Achill-henge development classified as exempt from planning. Should Mayo County Council refuse that application, Mr McNamara can appeal to An Bord Pleanála.
Meanwhile both Mayo County Council and Joe McNamara will return to the High Court on January 31 next. The council have indicated that they will seek an order compelling Mr McNamara to take the unauthorised development down.