Images from the vandalised stones at Loughcrew. PHOTO: OPW

Vandalism of Loughcrew neolithic tombs condemned

The Office of Public Works (OPW) and the National Monuments Service (NMS) in the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage are deeply dismayed by the acts of vandalism perpetrated at the Neolithic burial monument at Loughcrew in Oldcastle.

Graffiti was etched across elements of the various passage tombs and is the latest in a series of acts of vandalism at the national monument site which is accessible year round to the public.

Initial investigations have been carried out to determine any appropriate measures that may be taken to mitigate the damage to the Neolithic burial monument and investigations are continuing.

At the same time, the OPW and NMS will be gathering all available evidence in relation to this incident in order to assist An Garda Síochána with the prosecution of those responsible.

Condemning these mindless acts of vandalism, Minister Patrick O’Donovan, TD, Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, said: “The Loughcrew cairns are passage tombs of great antiquity. They are part of our cultural inheritance and I am shocked that some of the ancient carved stones at this heritage site have been recklessly damaged by graffiti. I appeal to anybody with information in relation to this incident to contact the local Gardaí to help find the culprits.”

Minister O’Donovan added: “Together with our colleagues in the National Monuments Service, we are preparing a campaign for the month of June to raise awareness of the significance and vulnerability of our beautiful monuments, which is vital to preserve them for future generations. I hope to have the opportunity to visit Loughcrew soon and to see for myself some of the most beautiful examples of Neolithic art in Ireland that can be found there.”

In response to a pattern of ongoing destructive behaviour at the heritage site, the OPW has engaged the services of a security company which will carry out a patrol of the hilltop each evening. Previous incidents had seen the visitor counter and the guides’ hilltop cabin vandalised, signage at the site removed and protective fencing, erected to comply with public health restrictions, torn down by persons unknown. Anti-social incidents have been notified to An Garda Síochána and Gardaí are aware of anti-social behaviour at the heritage site.

Throughout the pandemic, the OPW has kept outdoor heritage sites, parks and gardens open where it was possible to do so in compliance with Covid-19 regulations, providing important amenities for citizens’ health and wellbeing in their local area. We encourage visitors to explore and enjoy these sites, being mindful of social distancing guidelines as well as respectful of the unique value and sensitivity of the historic or natural environment they are visiting.