herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

'Fingal Roman fort could become as big an attraction as Newgrange'

Councillor Tom O’Leary at the Loughshinny shoreline, with the historical site in the background
Councillor Tom O’Leary at the Loughshinny shoreline, with the historical site in the background

A national monument site that could rival the Newgrange passage tomb is on the verge of being purchased by Fingal County Council for €1m.

The site, located by the seaside village of Loughshinny, is thought to be a location where Romans may have landed.

The site - which is more than 40 acres - is set to be explored by Fingal County Council.

The headland of Drumanagh - a promontory fort - occupies the 46-acre site and is contained by three large ditches, used as a defence mechanism to cut off the land from the peninsula.

Artefacts

It is understood that a large number of ancient Roman artefacts have been discovered around the area by archaeologists over the years.

The purchase, once it goes through, will include the Martello tower, which was built in the early 1800s to prevent an invasion by French military leader, Napoleon Bonaparte.

The council is currently in negotiations over the purchase - with the deal expected to get over the line by the end of next week.

Once this is confirmed, plans for archaeological searches will be put in place.

Local councillor Tom O'Leary - who is also the director for the Fingal Tourism Forum - told the Herald that he hopes that it can be transformed into a mass tourism area similar to that of Newgrange in Co Meath.

"Did the Romans land in Loughshinny? That's the big question," Mr O'Leary said.

"If this is proven at this site, it has the potential to become a national monument as popular as Newgrange.

"I want to congratulate Fingal County Council on the (attempted) acquisition of these lands into public ownership and I look forward to hearing their plans for the careful exploration of this key historical sitee.

"These lands have huge tourism and historical potential if they are sensitively developed and I will be encouraging Fingal County Council, the Office of Public Works and all relevant government departments to produce a funded plan to exploit the full potential of these lands," he added.

If the potential tourist attraction is to be a success it would have to have more than 100,000 visitors each year.

Monument

Recent OPW figures show that around 150,000 people visited the monument in 2015, while in May this year it was visited by outgoing US Vice President, Joe Biden and his family.

Fingal County Council has a large number of heritage properties in their area, which include Swords Castle, Malahide Castle, Newbridge House, Shackleton Mills in Lucan and Ardgillan Castle and are understood to be very pro-active in this field.

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