Super-port move away from Neolithic tomb cluster a victory for archaeological conservation

The proposed construction of a multi-billion euro deepwater port AWAY from Bremore on the County Dublin coast is ostensibly a victory for the preservation of a significant cluster of Neolithic passage-tombs at that site.

The Sunday Business Post has said that Drogheda Port Company and Ronan Group Real Estate plans to locate the port NORTH of Bremore Head, in a development that can only be viewed as a success for heritage campaigners who have long suggested the Bremore location would have destroyed a sensitive and very ancient (probably 5,000-year-old) archaeological complex.

While the Sunday Business Post article, carried on its front page on 13th December 2020, does not specify the exact proposed location of the new super-port, the fact that it says it will be located on the County Meath coast north of Bremore suggests that developers have given up on that location due to a long-running campaign to preserve the Neolithic monument complex there.

The Sunday Business Post front page article about the development.

 

The construction of the deep water port would represent “one of the largest national infrastructure projects undertaken in Ireland in recent years”, and could be operational within five years, the article suggests.

However, the article says “the partners hope Bremore Port will act as a landing site, assembly point and support centre for wind turbines, which require large tracts of space and which will be used in the development of offshore wind farms in the Irish Sea over the coming years”.

Heritage campaigners will be anxious to find out at the earliest opportunity the proposed new location for the port. The boundary between counties Dublin and Meath is just 150 metres north of Bremore, at the estuary of the Delvin River, leaving the question open as to just how close to Bremore the facility will be situated.

Several of the megalithic mounds can be seen in this Google Earth image of Bremore Head.

 

The port development will also include office and warehouse space in close proximity to the port, taking advantage of the nearby M1 motorway and Dublin-Belfast railway line as transportation routes serving the development.

Opposition

The article says: “A port at Bremore was originally planned by Drogheda Port Company and Treasury Holdings a decade ago, but did not materialise. The original project ran into opposition from An Taisce, which warned that the proposed port could threaten an archaeological complex of passage tombs.”

It goes on to say that this opposition has been “taken into consideration” by the port company and RGRE, and that “the proposed port is planned for a different location in the same region”.

The red dots on this National Monuments Service map of Bremore indicate recorded monuments.

 

The National Monuments Service online database of monuments lists a total of eight monuments at Bremore Head – five of them megalithic passage-tombs which likely date to the Neolithic and may be contemporary with, or even older than, the great tombs of Brú na Bóinne which are around 5,200 to 5,300 years old.

At the time the port was in the planning stages about 15 years ago, I remember as Editor of the Drogheda Leader newspaper that 11 different coastal sites were being considered for the deep water port facility. Bremore was chosen as it apparently had the best capability for a deep water facility given the depth of the waters there.

Passage-tombs at Bremore, Co. Dublin. Photo: Kieran Campbell.

 

However, the plan unsurprisingly drew immediate criticism and controversy because of Bremore’s archaeological status. While Ireland is literally covered with archaeological remains, there are very few passage-tomb complexes, and any interference with those prehistoric monuments would likely lead to protests and delays.

Thankfully, it seems as if the project developers have decided to give Bremore a wide berth, but just how wide that berth will be remains to be seen.

Mythical Ireland will be keeping a close eye on the future of this development.

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This page was last updated on 13th December 2020 @ 9:16 PM