NEW signage which suggests charges may be incurred at Beaghmore Stone Circles – one of Ireland’s most significant historical sites – has triggered an angry response from the public.
The new signs from the Department for Communities at the site of the stone circles – situated near Broughderg in the Sperrins – makes clear that permission is needed for use of the site for ceremonies and events.
Furthermore, the department says consent is needed for commercial and wedding photography, filming, as well as organised groups and tours.
However, the main cause of concern is the line; “A charge may be incurred for any private, corporate or commercial uses permitted at this site.”
The department has defended the content of the new signage, saying their primary objective is to protect the site, which they own.
A popular social media group set up to protect the landmark monuments – which dates back beyond 2,000BC – said any suggestion of a charge goes against the spirit of the site.
“New signs have been erected by the Department of Communities at the historical Beaghmore Stone Circles in the past few days.
We understand that these signs are to help protect this unique site and this we wholeheartedly welcome, however a number of these requirements may be contradictory to the spirit of this ancient site. We would appreciate your personal views on this matter,” the post from the Friends of Beaghmore Stone Circles read.
And the responses which flowed in response, were unanimously against charges.
“This is a Pagan site how dare they try and charge for assemblies and or need permission,” one of the first responses read.
Another person said, “If I want to go up there with a few friends and paint it, I’ll do that whenever I want to, thank you very much. I refuse to pay with the Giant’s Causeway and I refuse with this.”
Other responses included, “Need written permission to bring a group there? Seems to contradict the tourism priorities.”
They continued, “Not exactly welcoming either,” and “Charging to visit won’t attract visitors. Small groups shouldn’t need permission to visit on occasion, like the solstice. These sites were never damaged in the past, but those signs might just attract unwanted visitors.”
While many agreed for the need for the protection of the stone circles, some questioned the lack of community consultation.