Cuirrech Lifè - Foreword
The Curragh of Kildare, which is vested in my Department on behalf of the State consists of some 4,870 acres. It is an asset that is completely unique in terms of its archaeological, environmental, historical and cultural heritage and is a landscape of both national and international importance.
The Curragh provides a working environment for the Defence Forces, the racehorse industry and sheep graziers. The expanse of the open plain is an invaluable asset for professional military training especially important in light of Ireland’s involvment with United Nations peacekeeping duties. The Curragh also provides for horseracing and the training of thoroughbred horses, thereby making a major contribution to the Irish economy. The grazing of sheep plays a major role in supporting the local farming community as well as maintaining the ecological balance of this unique grassland. The Curragh is also an invaluable recreational facility, with golfing, football and other activities such as walking and jogging available. As such, the Curragh requires careful and responsible management to ensure its preservation for future generations. As Theodore Roosevelt once wrote,
The Nation behaves well, if it treats [its] natural resources as assets, which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value.
Dr. John Feehan, who is attached to the School of Biology and Environmental Science at UCD, is to be commended for this publication, the result of a major in-depth study of the Curragh. I am aware that Dr. Feehan’s interest in the Curragh goes back a long time and my Department has benefited on many occasions from his expertise so willingly given. The primary aim of this publication is to raise awareness of the Curragh. In it we are reminded of the Curragh’s physical formation resulting from the melting of the ice 12,000 years ago, how it got its name, the development of the grassland, its flora and in particular its species-diverse and magnificent waxcaps, by far the richest assemblage of waxcaps in the whole of Ireland. As the book progresses we learn of the legends, traditions, legislation, military history and sporting activities associated with this landscape. We read of its mythical associations with St. Brighid and the Fianna. This publication will be a superb repository of information on the Curragh and will inspire in the people of Kildare and in the wider community a greater awareness of what the Curragh really is and of the need to protect this jewel - unique in the crown of Ireland’s premier heritage sites. This publication will be an invaluable tool in assisting the formulation of policy on the future management of the Curragh, including its conservation and sustainable use.
I am pleased to have been able to support Dr. Feehan and his team in the production of this outstanding publication. I wish also to acknowledge the input of the members of the Defence Forces and also members of the Property Management Branch of my Department who gave up much of their own time in order to contribute to this work. Finally, I wish to congratulate the author for his initiative and expertise in producing this informative and timely study, which allows us to appreciate and understand the unique landscape that is the Curragh of Kildare.
Willie O’Dea T.D.
Minister for Defence
Further information regarding this publication may be obtained from the Property Management Branch of the Department of Defence. Tel. No. 01-8042450 or 01-8042464.
Department of Defence
Tel 00 353 45 492000
Fax 00 353 45 492017
* loCall 1890 251890
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