Forty percent of the medieval site at Carrickmines Castle in Dublin will be lost in the completion of the M50 motorway.
In the 1350s the English used a strategy to protect the Pale around Dublin from the native Irish with a series of forts. Since 2000 archaeologists have peeled back the history on Carrickmines Castle, the first such fort located.
Archaeologists have retrieved thousands of artefacts from the site including weapons, coins, human remains and pottery. However part of the M50, a roundabout and a slip road is due to be constructed through the middle of the medieval site.
The National Roads Authroity (NRA) submitted re-design proposals to Minister for Transport Seamus Brennan. He passed the proposal with adjustments and 60% of the site will be retained.
The Minister is uncomfortable in making a difficult decision which sacrifices part of the site for the sake of completing a motorway. But he cannot allow the site to put the M50 back to the planning stages.
To change that new motorway would set back the programme by five years, it would cost approximately 22 million euro and meanwhile 80,000 cars a day would be virtually stranded.
Carrickmines is the single longest running continuous excavation in the country and with the work complete, the NRA insists work must go ahead. Chief archaeologist of the NRA Dáire O'Rourke acknowledges the Carrickmines Castle site is very interesting but,
There is no way that adjustments could be made or the motorway moved.
The decision by the Minister for Transport to get the M50 finished on time, has been criticised by heritage activists. Professor Seán Duffy, head of the Department of Medieval History at Trinity College, Dublin and chairman of the Friends of Medieval Dublin accuses the minister for
Making a short term decision which will do long term damage.
Also expressing concern is heritage group An Taisce who believes the matter may end up before the European Court.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 16 September 2002. The reporter is Paul Cunningham.