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Achill-henge still standing two years on


Michael McLaughlin was the first photographer to take pictures of Achillhenge two years ago.
?Michael McLaughlin was the first photographer to take pictures of Achillhenge two years ago.

Achill-henge still standing two years on

Edwin McGreal

It was a cold November weekend two years ago when one of the most bizarre structures in Ireland was built under a veil of secrecy.
On Friday, November 25, 2011 over 30 articulated trucks arrived on Achill Island with much confusion about their purpose. They carried a collective load of concrete to build what has become known as Achill-henge, the island’s own version of England’s famous Stonehenge.
By Sunday evening, under the cover of darkness, the imposing structure was completed, towering nearly 15 feet from its base, 30 metres in diameter and a circumference of close to 100 metres, high on a hillside above the village of Pollagh on Achill Island.
The man behind the project is controversial one-time developer and Achill native Joe McNamara. It was built without planning permission. McNamara said it didn’t require it, describing it as ‘an ornamental garden’ but Mayo County Council rejected this. The High Court and An Bord Pleanála agreed with the council and after lengthy court and planning hearings, Joe McNamara was informed he must take it down.
However it still stands strong on Achill Island and The Mayo News understands Mayo County Council are still waiting to serve papers on Mr McNamara, who no longer resides in Ireland.
The purpose of the structure has never been fully established although the wide belief is that it was built as a protest to much of the failings of the Celtic Tiger.
In the middle of the structure a concrete semi-circle is still visible, as is a rectangular concrete  base. It’s believed the second phase of the structure was designed to be placed here but two years on, what will happen with Achill-henge is very much uncertain.