Mountaineering Ireland supports the decision by the MacGillycuddy Reeks Mountain Access Forum to reinstate the existing cross on Carrauntoohil, Ireland's highest mountain.
At the 2012 Mountaineering Ireland AGM and Members' Forum there was an emotive debate about memorials on the mountains. The consensus was that there is no place for new memorial placements on the mountains of Ireland. There was also consensus that there are some memorials that have become part of the mountains’ heritage and landscape – the cross on Galtymore was mentioned as an example in these terms.
In considering the situation on Carrauntoohil where the cross was cut down recently, there are a number of important points that should all be taken into account:
- If the cross had never been there Mountaineering Ireland would be absolutely opposed to it being erected;
- A cross was erected on Carrauntoohil in the early 1950s and the current steel cross followed in 1976;
- This cross is on privately owned land and was placed there with the consent of the landowners and the wishes of the local Beaufort community;
- The landowners have always and continue to permit recreational access to Carrauntoohil;
- The MacGillycuddy Reeks Mountain Access Forum was established in 2014 to support the sustainable management of the Reeks. Representation on the forum includes landowners, the local community, local business interests (including activity providers), local Mountaineering Ireland members, the NPWS, Kerry Co. Co. and others;
- Those that cut down the cross did so without debate, without explanation, without the owners’ permission and it is therefore an act of vandalism.
Given Mountaineering Ireland’s policy and the other considerations outlined above, Mountaineering Ireland supports the decision by the MacGillycuddy Reeks Mountain Access Forum to reinstate the existing cross on Carrauntoohil. Whether the reinstatement requires planning permission or not is unclear but Mountaineering Ireland will not object to it. We urge all those involved to ensure that the reinstatement is done with the utmost sensitivity to the natural environment.
We are all familiar with development impacts from the past that have left a significant mark on the mountain environment. These include trigonometric pillars, burial cairns, the remains of mining operations and the Mourne Wall amongst others. These are now generally regarded as part of the mountain landscape. This does not mean that we should tolerate new developments. Ireland has a very limited stock of wild areas, and we are using these up at an alarming rate. We are, surely, living in more informed times, where our landscape deserves greater care.
Mountaineering Ireland has opposed a number of developments in the Irish mountains in recent times. These include the successful opposition to the development of wind turbines at Rockmarshall in the Cooley Mountains, inappropriate path construction at Cuilcagh Mountain, the development of a vehicular track in the Bluestacks and others. Mountaineering Ireland has made recent comment on other significant proposals, including the Grid Link project. In all these cases Mountaineering Ireland’s comments have been informed by our policy, the membership’s local / regional views and through consensus at Mountaineering Ireland’s biannual Members’ Forums. For a full range of submissions, please visit www.mountaineering.ie/accessandenvironment/Downloads.
Members have the opportunity through motions to the AGM, members’ forums and regional meetings to develop and / or change Mountaineering Ireland policy and inform decision making. We also welcome your feedback directly, either by email, letter, and phone or, indeed, via our Facebook page www.facebook.com/mountaineeringireland
On Saturday, 29 November a group of volunteers comprised of landowners, members of the local Beaufort Community, mountaineers and others reinstated the cross on Carrauntoohil. The process of reinstatement was done carefully using the existing base to avoid any new impact on the summit.
Images courtesy of Ruairí Ó Conchúir, Chairperson of Mountaineering Ireland's Access and Conservation Committee who was also there on Saturday.