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‘But hopefully (if they) are listening to the programme this morning and they hear us talking about it, they might feel a bit a shame’
The head of Meath County Council Nick Killian has said he hopes those responsible for damaging a monument at the Hill of Tara might feel a bit of shame over their actions.
One of Ireland's most important and significant sites, the Lia Fáil, part of the Hill of Tara complex in Co Meath, had the word ‘fake’ spray painted onto it in what Mr Killian called a “mindless act of vandalism”.
Mr Killian, speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, said the council was appalled at the damage, which is believed to have occurred sometime between Monday night and yesterday morning.
“We're fairly appalled in Meath (at this) mindless act of vandalism because this is one of our most important and significant sites, not just in in Meath but in in the country,” he said.
“And Tara as you know is a very special place. Visitors and locals alike experience it every day of the week.
“It’s a wonderful place, it's State-owned and it's managed by the OPW. The gardai are obviously investigating and we would appeal to anybody who was maybe on the hill on Monday evening (to come forward).
“It was very busy at Tara all day Monday because it was a lovely day to be on the hill.
“If they know anything, go to the guards and let us know. The OPW have promised that they will clean the stone and get it back to its natural order as soon as possible.”
Mr Killian said he believed the paint can be reomoved but pointed out that this is not the first time the monument has been attacked.
“Unfortunately, it was damaged in 2012 when somebody took a hammer to it and then in 2014 it was painted but the OPW got it back to pristine condition.”
Mr Killian added that it was a huge site to protect.
“Only last month we launched the Tara conservation management plan and that identified it as a very open site. It's very easy to get into and unfortunately antisocial behaviour does happen there.
"It's used by so many people but we're trying to put a management plan in place over the course of the next three to four years to try and ensure that vandalism such as this doesn't happen. It's very hard to have a place like that monitored and managed because it's over 100 acres.
"Of course, we're very proud of it and the fact that last year, in 2021, we had 188,000 visitors come visit Tara. And that's on a continuing basis. Whatever day of the week you go up there, there's always people there from all over the world.”
He added that the site is open, as normal today.
"It’s a lovely morning this morning, it's a great morning to be out on the hill at Tara.”
Asked why anybody would want to damage the stone he said, “the mind boggles”.
“I don't know,” he said. “The word fake was put on to it. Maybe somebody is having difficulty with life and decided to go to Tara and damage the the Lia Fáil. It's very hard to know, who knows? But hopefully (if they) are listening to the programme this morning and they hear us talking about it, they might feel a bit a shame.”