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New national park to open to public in Co Meath's Boyne Valley

NEW NATIONAL Park is to be established in Ireland for the first time in more than 25 years.

The Boyne Valley (Brú na Bóinne) National Park will become Ireland’s newest national park as the State purchases Dowth Hall and demesne in Co Meath, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has confirmed.

The newly purchased 552-acre site includes the historic buildings Dowth Hall and Netterville Manor and is located within the wider area of the UNESCO World Heritage site containing the Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth megalithic passage tombs.

Dowth Hall captured the attention of archaeologists in recent years when a team surveying the site before restoration work uncovered a long-lost passage tomb.

The tomb, believed to be more than 5,000 years old, was studied by archaeologists, who discovered a burial chamber, the remains of six people (and a hare) and swirling megalithic art.

I’m at the Megalithic passage tomb that was uncovered near Dowth in Co Meath and it is incredible.

— Nicky Ryan (@NickyRyan_) July 18, 2018

There are currently six national parks around the country, only one of which — the Wicklow Mountains National Park — is in the east.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service, the National Monuments Service and the Office of Public Works have been tasked with creating a plan to protect and manage the new public land.

The plan will “expand measures and commitments to ensure protection of heritage at the site and to promote and enable the public to enjoy its natural and cultural beauty”, according to the Department of Housing and Local Heritage.

“It will include concrete proposals which support and build on research, education and public engagement to inform policy and future management of the property and its biodiversity,” the department said.

“The plan envisages capacity building in the public, private and research sectors to deliver benefits for archaeology, the farming community and farmland biodiversity. The property also has great potential for engagement with schools, educational bodies, the business sector and the wider public.”

Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noon said that the “incredible site” tells the story of “Irish heritage over millennia, layering prehistoric archaeology, 18th century architecture and rich natural heritage into one unique visitor experience”.

“I’m also looking forward to the development of the research farm on site, which will enable us to demonstrate nature-friendly agricultural practices to a wide audience and innovation for biodiversity in a farming landscape,” he said.