National Monuments Bill, 1929—Second Stage.

Thursday, 24 October 1929

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 32 No. 2

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Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance (Mr. Bourke): Information on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  Zoom on Séamus Aloysius Bourke  I move: “That the National Monuments Bill, 1929, be read a second time.” That the Bill is described as the National Monuments Bill rather than the more usual Ancient Monuments Bill is not without some significance. It stresses the point that the provisions of a measure of this kind should concern not merely the limited though happily daily increasing number of people interested in antiquarian learning and research but the nation as a whole. Apart from the preservation of the national language I think there is nothing more likely to conduce to the development of a strong and healthy national spirit in the country than an informed and intelligent interest in these memorials of the past. They stand like so many milestones and mark the advance of civilisation in our country from the remotest times down to the present day. In fact, in some respects an interest in these monuments should have a wider appeal than the language, because the language to a great extent perforce is confined to people inhabiting the country whereas the preservation of our monuments must be of some concern, not only to those inhabiting Ireland at present but to the Irish race spread all over the world, and as well as that, it is of interest to everybody who has any concern with the early development of European culture, apart from and independent of the levelling influence of Roman power, since Ireland is the only country in western Europe where such a development was enabled to take place.

At the outset I would like to make [243] it clear that this Bill is not, and does not purport to be, the last word in ancient monument conservation as understood in countries where this science has been brought to the highest pitch—for example, in Sweden. There are two reasons for that. First of all, you cannot legislate effectively, particularly in matters of this kind, very far in advance of public opinion. Legislative measures of this kind must advance pari passu with a desire on the part of the people for such measures. As long as the attitude of a considerable portion of our population towards ancient monuments is one of regret that the Land Commission stands between the tenant and the historic castle, the stones of which could be so profitably disposed of for road metal, and the prehistoric mounds or raths which could be so usefully employed as top dressing, it would be very foolish to embark on legislation, based on the assumption of active and enthusiastic co-operation on the part of all sections of the public. Secondly, an elaborate code dealing with this matter would mean the setting up of elaborate machinery, and that would naturally entail a very large addition to the official staff for manning that machinery, and as a consequence a heavy additional charge on the Exchequer which would scarcely be justifiable at the present time, unless for some development that was likely to be immediately and directly financially productive. The Bill is in some respects conservative, and in other respects progressive, having an eye to future development of various kinds. The Bill is conservative in so far as its effective enforcement should go a long way to prevent any further diminution of our wealth of historical and archæological remains.

A great danger is to be anticipated from the clumsy and unscientific efforts at excavation by amateur archæologists. There is the danger that such inexperienced people, in their zeal to discover something new, may destroy the very thing which they are seeking. There is the [244] danger that certain objects of very great archæological value, but perhaps not obviously so, such as prehistoric human remains, unique in some particular way, may pass unrecognised or be ignored, that objects of first rate national importance, when dated by the geological layer in which they were embedded, might prove of very little value when excavated without any scientific note being made of the circumstances under which they were discovered.

Then again, we are all aware of the fact that souvenir hunting tourists have played havoc with some of our most valuable archæological remains. In fact, the souvenir hunting vandal has left a trail of destruction behind him almost as wide as that of the iconoclast army or the pillaging mob. We have an example of that in Co. Tipperary in Holy Cross Abbey. In that Abbey was a sedilia, described as the most perfect piece of architectural work in Ireland. That sedilia is to-day but a shadow of its former glory as a monument not merely to the skill with which the craftsmen of the thirteenth and the fourteenth centuries wrought in Ireland, but to the lack of appreciation of that skill which persists throughout a large part of Ireland at the present time.

Then again we must bear in mind that, concurrently with the quickening of interest in archæological investigation all over the world, there has been a corresponding increase in the commercial value of the objects which have been discovered by such investigations, and the tendency is very much on the increase to market those objects in centres where they are likely to command the highest price, which is not always in their country of origin.

The Bill, so far as any legislative measure can, calls a halt to all those undesirable activities and ensures, as I have already stated, that there shall be no further diminution in our wealth of archæological and historical remains. Side by side with the conservative section of the Bill, we have the progressive side, inasmuch as the Bill gives very wide [245] powers to a central advisory council and to local advisory committees to advise and assist the Commissioners of Public Works, and the various local authorities, in all matters dealing with the preservation of these monuments, and kindred subjects.

So much for the general scope of the Bill. I now proceed to explain as briefly as I can the present state of the law and the principal changes we propose to make by this Bill. The first point is the definition of a national monument. At present the Board of Works and the local authorities are only able to deal with monuments which are either ancient or mediæval. When mediæval times stopped and modern times began is, I believe, a point much disputed in the history schools, but at any rate we are barred at present from dealing with eighteenth century buildings as national monuments. That disability we propose to remove by the definition in Clause 2 of the Bill; anyone who reads it will see that it is fairly wide.

The second point is the powers of the Board of Works and the local authorities, respectively, to acquire the property in national monuments, or alternatively to become guardians of such monuments without acquiring them. The present position is rather complicated. The Board of Works may purchase a monument by agreement, not by compulsion; they may also accept a monument by way of gift or legacy; and they may become guardians of a monument with the consent of the owner. A county council may accept a monument by way of gift or legacy; they may not purchase; and they may not become guardians, but they may prosecute anyone who injures a monument within their territory. We propose to enlarge the powers both of the Board of Works and of the county councils. We propose to give the Board of Works the power to purchase by compulsion, but only with the consent of the Minister for Finance; this provision is in Clause 11 of the Bill. We propose to give the county councils the power to become guardians of a [246] monument; and we also propose to give the present and the new powers of the county councils to borough councils and urban district councils, as we think that in boroughs and urban districts where interesting ancient monuments exist the local council may well take a more special interest in them than the county council would take.

I now come to an innovation of some importance, which is, however, already the law in Great Britain and in Northern Ireland—I mean the provision about preservation orders in Clauses 8, 9, and 14. If the Minister for Finance is advised that a national monument which is private property is in danger of damage or destruction he may make a preservation order, of which the effect is that the owner as well as everyone else is prohibited from injuring the monument, and that the Board of Works may, if they think it expedient, appoint themselves guardians of it, and take steps to preserve it without the owner's consent. Every such order must be laid before each House of the Oireachtas, and must be annulled if a resolution against it is passed by either House.

There are three other new provisions which we expect to be useful for the preservation of national monuments, two in Clause 14 (1) (b) and (c), by which it is forbidden to make excavations near a monument. and also to export any such monument or any part of it, and one in Clause 16 which gives power to control burials. The indecent and, indeed, appalling spectacles due to burials in overcrowded graveyards in and about ruined churches are a frequent occasion of complaint, and we hope to do something to diminish that evil.

A very important provision is that in Clause 19 which establishes an advisory council to give skilled advice on archæological matters to the Board of Works. The Commissioners of Public Works are, of course, not specialists in archæology, and their Inspector of Ancient Monuments is primarily an architect and not an archæologist; it is important, therefore, [247] that they should receive advice and guidance from specialists.

Powers are also given to the county and town councils, by Clause 20, to set up advisory committees of skilled persons; and this should be a very useful measure.

Now I come to that part of the Bill which deals with movable objects of archæological interest, and here we are on new ground altogether, for up to the present there has been no legislation whatever in the Saorstát to control the freedom of dealing in archæological objects. There is, of course, the law of treasure trove, but the purpose of that law is not the preservation of the remains of antiquity, though it may be incidentally useful for that purpose.

In this Bill we make two provisions for the preservation of movable objects of archæological interest. The first, in Clause 21, enacts that every person who finds such an object shall report the find to the Gárda Síochána; in this way the National Museum authorities will get early information. This provision is on the same lines as the existing law in Northern Ireland. The other provision, in Clause 22, prohibits the export of any archæological object except by licence from the Minister for Education. This is a new provision; I believe there is a similar enactment in Italy protecting valuable pictures, but there is no precedent in Great Britain or Northern Ireland.

Finally I should like to mention a general provision which is important for the protection both of movable and immovable objects, that is the prohibition in Clause 23 of excavating for archæological purposes except with a licence from the Board of Works. Such a licence would, of course, be granted only to competent archæologists. Unskilled excavation has in the past been responsible for the destruction of an immense number of valuable archæological objects both movable and immovable.

These are all the points which it seems necessary to touch upon now. I think that this Bill, if the [248] Oireachtas passes it, will enable the Government to make a distinct advance in the preservation and protection of national monuments and archæological objects.

Mr. Fahy: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  We approve of this Bill. As far as it goes it is a good Bill agus ma's maith é is mithid é. It is high time to have these compulsory powers of entry, acquisition, or preservation of national monuments. Also it is well to see us keeping in line with other nations in the prevention of the exportation of objects of national interest in as far as legislation can achieve that purpose. At any rate, it should have a good moral effect as well. The Parliamentary Secretary has spoken of the depredations, of the vandalism of people living in the vicinity of many of these monuments. At the same time, in this Bill a borough rate is mentioned. These are the people who will decide whether the borough will strike a rate or not. I wonder how much they expect to get out of the borough rate for the preservation of such monuments. I would advocate, of course, the striking of a rate for their preservation, but I do not know how far the boroughs and councils will respond in the present temper of the local bodies as regards the burden of taxation. It is very necessary that something should be done in that respect, but I remember seeing—I had better not mention the county— the grave of one of the great O'Neills practically inaccessible owing to the growth of weeds and nettles a few years ago. Whether any improvement has been made there since I know not.

There is a reference also in Subsection (5) of Section 3 to voluntary contributions. It is a pity we have not a better public spirit in the Free State in that respect, though I notice recently there have been many contributions to the National Museum from Tuam and other places which would show that public spirit is being aroused and interest taken in these matters and that the citizens are recognising their duties to the nation and the National Museum. [249] Perhaps it would be well if the Parliamentary Secretary told us by what machinery exactly the Commissioners of Public Works would acquire compulsorily a national monument.

Section 13 says that every national monument deposited under this section in a public museum shall, while so deposited, be open to inspection by the public in like manner as the other exhibits in such museum. I do not know whether that was put in as a joke. Recently I visited the National Museum to see a certain collection I was interested in, and I found it down in the cellar not catalogued. One time it was on display. If “in like manner” was like that a lot of the objects would be better left in the graves they are in at present. It is very advisable, of course, to prevent these amateurs excavating, so that we will not have the Hill of Tara dug up again in a search for the twelve tables or anything like that. As to the Advisory Council, I am certain that advice would be forthcoming, for private citizens have done a lot in that respect, and have taken an interest in those monuments. Generally they have been regarded as a harmless lot of fogeys around on holidays. It is very necessary in the interests even of our own history that local interest should be aroused in them. It is generally admitted that to teach history you begin with your own locality—that is the best method. In the schools also interest could be fostered if the children were taught what monuments are in the neighbourhood and what historical significance they have. It is particularly necessary in Ireland to preserve those monuments to get the history of them and to teach all about them, because, as a learned professor in the National University said a few years ago, many attempts were made here to poison the wells of history. I think some of the streams of history are to be found in those monuments. They show not only the development of the civilisation here, its chequered career and how it was retarded from time to [250] time, but also the development of the national civilisation and its relation to other European nations.

This is a good measure, but it could be nullified in the carrying out. There is not much money allotted by this Oireachtas to the Museum, about £1,000 per annum for the purchase of objects. That is of very little use. They do not seem to realise what part that could play in the history of the nation, in culture, in getting material for history. That is a small amount. The National Museum in that respect would be the storehouse for most of these moveable objects. It is being treated in a disgraceful manner. Reports used to be printed and circulated. Recently they have been typewritten and laid on the Table of this House, where very few members would see them. I wonder is the reason that the criticism was so caustic that they did not care to see it in print? One sentence, as far as I recollect the words, was: “We do not believe that such barbarous treatment of a museum would be possible in any European country.” That is the opinion of the Board of Visitors. I find that in that Museum there was a geological collection. Space was wanted at a certain time and the mahogany cases in which the collection was displayed were dissected with hacksaws and the collection is now in packing-cases in the cellars awaiting still to he sorted or something done. So there is no use passing this legislation if it is not carried out in the proper spirit. It is good as far as it goes, but let us hope that more money will be voted by the Oireachtas, so that the Museum will be put on a proper basis. Economies might be necessary, but education is the wrong department in which to economise too much. In addition to that, in deciding what objects should be purchased, how they should be classified, and so on, I think that the scientific and export staff should be given permission within the amount allotted to say what should be purchased, what should be paid for them and how they should be classified, and that the Department of [251] Finance or the Board of Works should not interfere too much, for that is work for the expert.

As far, then, as this Bill goes, we commend it, and hope that it will be administered in the proper spirit; that sufficient money will be given to enable the Museum to acquire these objects of interest, and that the Museum will be properly staffed to deal with these objects.

Mr. T. Sheehy (West Cork): Information on Timothy Sheehy  Zoom on Timothy Sheehy  I rise with the greatest pleasure to support the National Monuments Bill. I congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary on his very able exposition of the Bill. I am certain when it will be read from one end of the Saorstát to the other that people will realise the importance of introducing the Bill at this stage. Down in my constituency there was an historic castle up to very recently. A storm came along, and it crumbled to the ground. There are only its foundations now. It was Castlehaven Castle, at the entrance to Castletownsend Harbour, on the coastline of County Cork. It was the castle from which O'Sullivan Beare, after his last grand and great struggle for Irish liberty, sailed away to Spain. It has now only the foundations left, but they are sacred to the country, and by this Bill, introduced by the Government, they can be preserved; they can be safeguarded, and they will be there a monument to the younger generation of what was done in the good old times to save our independence and win it. Down along the seaboard of the County Cork there are a large number of castles that were once owned by the O'Mahony clan. Twelve castles were occupied and held by that brave clan. They held them until the walls crumbled around them. The remains are there now. Are they to disappear? This Bill that has been introduced to-night will be taken up with enthusiasm, not alone along the seaboard, but also in the Midland counties. Everywhere, thank God, through the Twenty-six Counties there are monuments to the heroism of our forefathers, and it would be [252] sad indeed if there would not be enthusiasm to-day, especially when we have the nation in our own hands, when we have a sacred heritage handed down to us; when we now, in the fullness of our liberty, come along to preserve the great monuments that stood for Irish liberty for centuries in the past.

I am satisfied that this Bill will be enthusiastically supported in the Dáil. Every single man with a drop of Irish blood in his veins will remember that the time has come at least to recognise the heroism of our race, and it would be sad that the stones that were erected centuries ago and used by Irishmen would be used now for cow-houses and sheds. God forbid that there should be such a sacrilege. It is up to the Government to stand firmly by the Bill and pass it unanimously on to the Statute Book.

Mr. G. Wolfe: Information on George Wolfe  Zoom on George Wolfe  I welcome this Bill perhaps from the fact that for a great number of years I belong to two societies that take an interest in archæological works—the archæological society of my county, and the Society for the Preservation of Memorials of the Dead. In the course of these years, and in the course of excursions organised by these societies, I have had various opportunities of seeing the condition of many monuments of interest, not only in my own county but throughout many others. I am sorry, to say that in many cases there has been a most deplorable laxity shown in the care of some of these crosses and monuments that never can be renewed if once destroyed. This present year, having exhausted all our objects of interest in our own county, the archæological society of Kildare had an excursion to the Carlow district, and we saw very many works of the past that interested us, and were objects of very valuable instruction to many members of our society who were present.

I am glad to say there was one inestimable treasure that has been taken great care of by the Board of [253] Works and that is a most magnificent door in the ruin of the Church of Killeshin that the Board of Works are at present renovating and restoring. It is one of the most splendid Anglo-Norman doors in existence in the world. On the other hand the Castle of Carlow, one of the most splendid ruins you can come across, although it stands in grounds that are extremely well kept, is, to my mind, in great danger of tumbling down completely. I wish to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to it. I believe it is not under the care of anybody at present although the ground about it is cared for and looks well. Still everybody noticed that the top wall of this castle is in extreme danger of coming down and if it does the whole thing will collapse. I draw attention to this most interesting memorial which never could be replaced if once destroyed. As a matter of fact a great deal of vandalism has been done by the removal of stones from the castle which was at one time very much larger than it is now, but as it stands it is a work of which the whole country should be proud and it should be preserved.

There is also another case I noticed some years ago. It is in a private demesne and it is, of course, in good order. I refer to the Cross of Durrow which I think is owned by Mr. Graham Toner. It is one of the most magnificent crosses in Ireland and although it is in very good order I notice that there are trees standing beside it, and if there came a storm anything like the storm of 1903, this cross which could never be restored or replaced, will certainly be smashed to atoms. I draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to that monument too. It is one of those things that the whole world would esteem. Anybody at any rate who takes an interest in any object of antiquity would go out of his way to see that such an object of interest as that should be preserved by every means that is possible.

I am sorry to say I think a good many people, even those who take an interest in archæological subjects, [254] do a great deal of damage by tearing up mounds and raths of that sort with the idea of finding works of interest. I have come to the conclusion that a great deal more damage has been done than of value received by doing this. Some raths have been absolutely destroyed by this insane curiosity to find what is contained beneath them. Instead of leaving them as they are, they remove them and find nothing, and the material is used for road work or for building, or anything of that sort. Though everybody in the county professes to take an interest in these things, when it comes to the money part of the business it is another matter. It would be a very hard thing to persuade any council, I am afraid, to set aside money, as far as I know, for this matter. I think the money must come from the Board of Works, that they must themselves look after these monuments with the help of the local people if the Bill is to be effective. Leaving it to the county authorities, to my mind, will not be of much use; it must be done by the Board of Works to be effective.

These objects are not alone interesting to archæologists, but they ought to be instructive to the youth of our nation. They ought to be as useful, in their way, as the Minister said, as the cultivation of the Irish language in bringing about a national spirit and love of things great and good in the past, and if only for that reason alone I think these monuments are worthy of being preserved and cared for much more than they have been. I hope this Bill will help towards that end. I am sorry to say I have not read it as carefully as I ought to, but I followed the Parliamentary Secretary's statement as attentively as I could. I am glad to learn that in the Bill there is a section preventing people who have an insane object in trying to see what is underneath a mound, tearing it to pieces. There is a section dealing with that, and also to prevent articles of value from being taken out of the country, and that, too, is of great importance. These [255] are all to the good, and I hope that they will be enforced, because it is very little use having an Act passed if it is simply left a dead letter.

I hope that this Advisory Committee that the Minister has power to establish will include energetic archæologists who understand the subject from all parts of the country, and who will see that the work is carried out and that inspection is carried out at suitable times and that the monuments are preserved. I hope this will be done and that the result will be that throughout the country this destruction of old castles that has been going on for a very long time—I can remember several in my own county that have practically disappeared—will cease. No one knows who took the stones from these old castles or where they are gone. These castles were objects of great interest, and although people took a great interest and pride in them they did not do anything to prevent them from being removed. It will be one of the most important parts of the work—at least I think it ought to be—of this Committee that the Minister will have power to appoint, to see that these historic monuments of great interest and beauty, of which no country in the world of its size has more than Ireland, are preserved. For all these reasons I hope this Bill will be beneficial, and I hope it will be worked well and that as a result we will see the younger people taking a greater interest in objects of antiquity than they are doing at present.

I think it was Deputy Fahy suggested that in the local schools objects of local interest should be explained. I am in agreement with that. I think every child ought to be well up in the knowledge of the historic monuments of his own county and of the country at large. It would have on everybody, child and man alike, an enlarging and elevating effect. I am extremely glad that this matter has been taken up by the Government, and I hope it will be carried out in a wise and [256] beneficial way and that the result will be of great advantage to our country.

Major Cooper: Information on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  Zoom on Major Bryan Ricco Cooper  I am sorry to interrupt the chorus of eulogy of the Bill. I think it just as well that somebody should talk about the detailed contents of the Bill and not only about the purpose of the Bill. With the purpose of the Bill we are all in agreement, but before we make it law we ought to examine the machinery and see how it is going to work. I am of opinion that some of the machinery is not, to say the least of it, very workable and that it may very possibly become a dead letter. It is, of course, an invasion of the rights of property. I do not think Deputy Wolfe has quite discovered that his powers over his property will be very much diminished under the Bill. Take Sections 8 and 9. There is nothing to prevent a preservation order being issued in respect of an occupied dwellinghouse. Assuming that the preservation order is issued in respect of an occupied dwellinghouse, the owner of that house cannot keep out the officers of the Board of Works at any hour of the day or night. Section 9 says: “Any officer of the Commissioners duly authorised by them in that behalf may at any time inspect and examine such national monument and for that purpose may enter on such monument and any other lands or premises.” They can come and inspect a man in his bath. They can come in on him in his bed to discover whether his snoring is destroying the fabric. That is very drastic. These powers may very possibly be necessary. I do not think that these drastic powers will be particularly pressed.

Then take Section 23—the prohibition of excavation. You cannot in practice dig up your own land or anybody else's for any purpose except for agricultural or industrial operations. If a man was so misguided twenty years ago as to bury his money at the bottom of his garden he would not be able to dig it up under this section, because it would be worth more now than then. [257] It would be an archæological object under Section 2—the definition section. That may be necessary. I agree that unskilled excavation has done an awful lot of harm, but I do implore the Parliamentary Secretary to accept a one-word amendment and besides “agricultural and industrial operation” to allow the word “sanitary” to be inserted, otherwise we shall have great difficulty in getting at our own drains. The greatest enemy of the preservation of archæological remains is not the hand of man so much as our climate. Anybody who has been to Clonmacnoise knows that. The purpose of preservation is so excellent that I am willing to submit to these invasions of the rights of property, if they are necessary.

I note, however, with great alarm Sections 21 and 22, together with the definition of an archæological object which must be read in conjunction with these two sections. “The expression `archæological object' means any chattel whether in a manufactured or partly manufactured or an unmanufactured state which by reason of its antiquity or the archæological or historical interest attaching thereto has a value substantially greater than its intrinsic value, and the said expression includes ancient human and animal remains but does not include treasure trove in which the rights of the State have not been waived.” That is a very comprehensive definition. I found myself, on going through my library a few years ago, an uncatalogued book. It was an old one of no particular value, but on the title page of the book a former owner had written his name and the date and that was Jonathan Swift. Presumably that signature had made that book an archæological object within the meaning of the section and very possibly rightly so, but who is to be the judge? You can say anything has an historical value. A pair of spectacles have a certain value. Presumably the spectacles worn by the Chairman of the Fifth Committee of the Tenth Assembly of the League of Nations at Geneva will have an added historical value and it may be [258] necessary to schedule the spectacles of the Minister for Education under this section. Who is to be the judge of the archæological value? There is a controversy going on at present as to certain discoveries on the coast of County Sligo. One school of archæologists think they have discovered traces of the existence of man in Ireland tens of thousands of years earlier than he was supposed to exist here. Another school say that these remains were not made by man at all, that they were the result of glacial action—that they have not been made by hand at all but that they are the result of the action of a glacier. Who under this Bill is to judge whether these are archæological objects or not? There seems to be no machinery for determining that.

I want the Dáil to consider the position of a man who finds an object under Section 21 of this Bill. These objects are generally found, not by organised search parties. We are not likely to have excavation parties such as the one which found the tomb of Tutankamen, but rather to have to fall back on a man whose education has riot gone beyond the Sixth Standard, and who cannot be versed in archæology. If such a man had got an employer he would go to him—it may be to Deputy Sheehy, Deputy Gorey or myself—and say: “Look at what I have found in the bog.” Deputy Sheehy, Deputy Gorey or myself would probably say to him: “Oh, that is obviously a polished stone axe of the palæolithic period. That must be reported under Section 21 of this Bill.” Deputy Gorey would probably say more than that it should be reported under that section of the Ancient Monuments Act. But supposing the man has no employer, that he is the owner of the place himself, and takes up something. He does not know what it is. It may be an archæological object, and he is anxious not to expose himself to the penalty of £10. He proceeds to report it to the Guards. The Guards have very many excellent qualities, but I am not aware that every Guard on duty is a trained archæologist. No doubt [259] when this measure becomes an Act Deputies, when coming to their work here, will see rows of charabancs standing outside with parties from the Depôt being taken around the National Museum getting instruction as to the difference between the palæolithic and neolithic periods. In conjunction with the Guard, the finder, a man who may have only reached the Sixth Standard, or perhaps not as far, has to state not only his own name and address, but to describe the character of the object he has found, a task that very often will tax a trained archæologist. Will he say, being deprived of the benefit of Deputy Gorey's advice, “This is a polished stone axe of the early palæolithic period,” or simply say, “This is a quare kind of an ould stone with bits of scratches on it”? I think it likely that he very probably would do the latter. Of what earthly use is that sort of information? How are we going to preserve any ancient monuments by means of that kind of report?

There is nothing in this Bill as to what is going to happen all these reports. When the Bill is operative people can be brought up and fined for not making these reports. Therefore, there will be an enormous number of such reports. But what are the Guards to do? There is nothing in the Bill to say. Are they to go to the National Museum or to the office of the Commissioner of Works? Is the Parliamentary Secretary going to inspect them all himself? Is there any provision made for their publication? Are they to be published in the Iris Oifigiúil, or are they to be published in the journal of the Society of Antiquaries or in the Journal of the Royal Irish Academy? There is nothing about that in the Bill. Unless some provision is made for codification, examination and publication Section 21 is absolutely worthless. It might just as well not be there at all, and in fact it will be inoperative. Section 22 is very far-reaching. The Parliamentary Secretary spoke, I think, about Italian [260] precedents. Deputy de Valera, I think, knows that Italian precedents are very far-reaching. As a matter of fact, I think Italian precedents do not apply to archæological objects at all. They apply mainly to works of art which are well known and which are not being constantly discovered. The Italian precedents prevent their exportation. You do not want to prohibit the export of every archæological object coming under this very wide definition in the Bill. What you do want is to be able to prohibit the export of anything that could not be replaced, anything really valuable, but every little flint arrowed head or stone scraper that prehistoric man used for himself is not of very great value. One could easily allow things of that kind to go if one could buy other things outside the country which could not be found here.

There are things of definite value and importance that ought not to be lost to the country. On the Committee Stage I hope to introduce an amendment giving to the Parliamentary Secretary or to the Minister for Finance power to issue a prohibition order of export. I think that something on the lines of the preservation order under Section 8 could be drafted which would give the Minister all the powers necessary to prevent the departure of anything of value. If not going outside the scope of the Bill, I would like to include things of artistic value as well as things of historical value. My desire would be to give the Government power to prohibit the export of such articles, but not to interfere and hold up every small transaction, every little tiny deal between a dealer in Dublin and a dealer in London, until permission was received from the Minister. It is possible to overdo red tape. I think that the amount of red tape in this Bill is so great that the measure itself will become entangled in it, and will be absolutely unworkable.

Mr. R. Walsh: Information on Richard Walsh  Zoom on Richard Walsh  My speech may not be strictly in order on this Bill, but recently there came to my knowledge a matter to which I wish to draw the [261] attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Lands and Fisheries. Recently I had a book in my hands relating to an estate in the West of Ireland. It was compiled about a hundred years ago. This estate consisted of about 50,000 acres. The book was a survey made by an engineer named Nicholson in the city of Dublin for the owner of the estate. The book gave a biographical sketch of every tenant on the estate, his economic condition, whether he was a good farmer or a bad farmer, how each townland and village was divided, as well as of the little towns on the estate, the industries in them, and everything appertaining to them. I also had in my hand another book relating to the same estate, a volume of maps drawn in the year 1720. I am glad to say that these books are at present in safe hands. I have been informed that documents of that description are constantly going into the hands of the officials of the Land Commission and that there is practically no care taken of them, and no steps taken to collect them. I would like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Lands and Fisheries if that is so.

Professor Tierney: Information on Prof. Michael Tierney  Zoom on Prof. Michael Tierney  I am afraid there is only one way to get over the difficulties Deputy Cooper raised about Section 21—there must be recognised associations established under the Bill. The provision which is made under the Bill for voluntary local advisory committees might be extended some way so as to assist the work which it is proposed to put on the shoulders of the Civic Guards in dealing with casual finds that may be made about the country. Otherwise, I think that Deputy Cooper has raised a serious objection to the section. It would be very difficult either to enforce this section or to ensure that if enforced it would serve any useful purpose whatever. Like all the other Deputies who have spoken, I consider that the Bill is an extremely useful one and is a valuable instalment of work in which not alone this country but other countries have been somewhat behind-hand. [262] Neither in Great Britain nor in this country has anything like the adequate provision been made for the care of objects of archæological value and interest that has been made for nearly a century past in every other country in Europe. This Bill is an instalment of work that must be done before we can say that we are making proper use of, or taking care of the historical and archæological monuments that we have in our possession.

There is one grave doubt that arose in my mind with regard to this Bill. It was associated with the vesting in local bodies of national monuments. I am very much afraid that if the preservation of national monuments is going to be a charge on the local rates the local bodies will be very unwilling to undertake any such task, and that that part of the Bill will become very easily a dead letter. I would like to be assured on this point. I think, as the Bill stands, that is a pious aspiration rather than anything else, and that the Minister in Section 8, where he takes the power to issue preservation orders, has the right to override local bodies and step in over their heads in cases where proper care is not being taken of monuments to see that the work is done. I think that the extension of the functions of these advisory councils, and the extension of the number of them wherever it is possible, would probably go far to improve the Bill and make it more workable. There are some other aspects of this whole matter to which it might be well worth while drawing attention.

It might be necessary to see that not only are national monuments preserved, but that proper use is made of them in the educational sense. In that direction I think there is more work to be done in this country than in the work of preservation. We have still to see there is a proper archæological survey, so that we could know what monuments are worth preservation, and that information about these monuments is made available for the public and strangers who may wish [263] to use them. There are places around the country where good work was done in the production of guides to important monuments. That work has practically fallen into abeyance because these guides have been allowed to go out of print, and in a great many places it is not possible for the visitor to get any information worth getting locally about a great many of these important monuments. I think it would be necessary to extend the work by some means. I do not know whether it can be done in this Bill or not, or whether the Board of Works can take charge of the production of proper guides to national monuments, but certainly it is necessary to preserve the monuments.

In addition to preserving them it will be also very necessary to take steps to see that they are of some, value when preserved, because if a monument is simply standing as an object on the landscape and cannot be studied or understood it would be better if it were not there. The same thing applies, I think, to another duty which will, I think, fall on this Dáil. Some time or other there will have to be a great deal more provision made than there is for scientific excavation in the country. As far as I am aware, there is no provision made at the moment for the scientific examination and excavation of various national objects. These are things which are equally important with the preservation Of these objects, and I think that the work which this Bill undertakes to do will not be properly done until these things also are attended to. It is in that respect I believe that the advisory councils, both local and central, can do extremely good work. I believe that once you have set up and have actively working such bodies as central advisory councils on this question of historic national monuments, that that body will be able to plan out the work that must be done in the future, and will be able to ensure that public opinion will be sufficiently educated to see that the work is done.

[264] It is unfortunate that in this country, as in so many other countries, we are altogether, or very largely, unaware of the great amount of valuable wealth that we haw at our disposal in these national monuments. It is well to have this Bill brought into operation before the danger became pressing—that some of our national objects might be taken bodily over and re-erected in America. A country like this, where there are so many national monuments, is always in danger, and, of course, we have suffered a great amount, as everybody knows, in the last hundred years, and we can find fragments of very interesting national monuments embedded in modern buildings. I discovered in the summer that one of the reasons why Connemara is so well supplied with small harbours is that the stones from O'Flaherty's castles were used, and efficiently used, in building some of them. The Dáil should put an end to that sort of thing, but before we can be satisfied with the state of affairs with regard to archæological monuments in this country further steps will have to be taken to see that there is an extension of scientific examination and excavation, and that the results are made available to a wider public than now.

Professor Alton: Information on Ernest H. Alton  Zoom on Ernest H. Alton  I have been anticipated in two of the criticisms I was going to make of this Bill by previous speakers, but I would like to reinforce what they have said, and particularly what Deputy Tierney has said with reference to the provision of a proper survey and the registering of national monuments. To make it possible for the bigger societies in Dublin and the local societies that are contemplated under the Bill to preserve and to use national objects of archæological interest properly, it is necessary that they should be registered by some central authority or society. Such a society would prevent losses that possibly have occurred, and some losses that I know occurred a few years ago. One would think that there are few men in this country [265] that had in their private possession objects like Ogham stones, but there was one gentleman in Tipperary who had three, and he was going to export these to America because he was going to get a big price for them. We had to pay a very big price to prevent those stones going out of the country. I know that objects similar, but of perhaps less importance, have gone out of the country in recent years.

Criticism was made by Deputy Cooper of the unworkable character of Section 21. I agree completely with what he has said. The definition of an archæological object expressly excludes objects that come under the definition of treasure trove. Treasure trove are objects such as gold, silver, and plate, coin, or bullion concealed in earth or dwelling-houses and found, the owner not known. These are expressly excluded under this section. I suppose we are to deal with such valuable treasure trove under existing legislation, but I do not know that existing legislation makes any provision for the declaration of a find of treasure trove, or any punishment for the suppression of a find of that sort. I know the difficulties we had in the past. Perhaps some of the Deputies have heard about the great Clare gold find made in 1854. I suppose it was one of the biggest historical finds ever made in the world, because in the bronze age Ireland was the Klondyke or Ballarat of the world. It seemed to have an enormous amount of gold in the bronze age.

That attracted the invaders, our ancestors, to the country first. In Clare in 1854 when building the railway workmen came on gold and took it away in buckets. One workman went to the village and sold a handful of it for £30. It was valued afterwards as bullion worth over £400. A great portion of it was melted down. Then there was the Broighter find, the greatest example of La Tene painting which we have. You remember the action which we had to take to rescue this find which was sold privately and which got into the hands of the British [266] Museum. There are many other finds now on the Continent and also in America which were slipped out of the country. That should not occur. We should look into Section 21 again. I think we should revise the legislation dealing with treasure trove and bring it in under that section, and also make a better definition of “archæological objects.” Such definition does not occur to me at the moment, but I will mention the matter again in Committee. I am glad that an effort is being made to prevent injuries to our ancient monuments. Most of us have visited New Grange and have seen the signatures and scrawls which have disfigured some of the finest monuments there. There are other injuries to ancient monuments which this Bill proposes to prevent. I wish that something could be done for the restoration, not perhaps of our most ancient monuments, but of other monuments in which we also take pride.

Section 16 deals with ancient monuments. I recently saw one of the most interesting churches in Ireland, a marvellous church in Tipperary containing a royal tomb. The chancel is about six or seven feet deep in earth. Though one must sympathise, and I do sympathise, with the sentiments of people who want to be buried in old and hallowed places like that, one must deplore what seems to me to be a sacrilege. I think that Deputy Wolfe can reassure himself that this Bill is going to put an end to the amateur excavator. Scientific excavation of monuments should not, and my experience shows that it does not, do any damage to a monument. It often restores it and explains it. I hope some day to see New Grange cleaned out. The trees that grow on the top there never belonged to the ancient monument. There is a great ring of stones, wonderfully carved there, and there is an outer ring of stones which one can hardly see. I hope that the Commissioners will get to work to clean it up, as it is one of the most interesting monuments in Europe. This Bill has been a long time coming. [267] Hope deferred makes the Bill all the more welcome. I have been hoping for it for many years. Everybody should be interested in the ancient things of this country and I believe that every Irishman is. I do not know anything that stimulates more quickly a sense of nationality than a sight of one of these monuments. Nothing makes one more conscious of a national heritage than to see and examine one of these most beautiful objects which have been passed on to us by those who lived in the country formerly.

Mr. Law: Information on Hugh Alexander Law  Zoom on Hugh Alexander Law  The Parliamentary Secretary has nothing to complain of in the reception of this Bill. Not even with the exception of Deputy Cooper, whose criticisms were entirely constructive, has there been anything but praise for it. I certainly have nothing but praise to add, but I do not know whether the public outside realise as fully as members of the Dáil evidently do, how important, and, indeed, how urgent this matter is. In this, as in the other matter of which I ventured to speak a while ago, namely, the historical mansions and the destruction that is going on, every day that passes without adequate protection being afforded brings about the ruin and, it may be, the disappearance of monuments which are of the deepest interest to all Irishmen. Let me give one example of the kind of thing that is happening in very recent years. Not far from where I live in Donegal there is a castle, not of the antiquity of the monuments of which Deputy Alton spoke, but still of great historical interest, the old stronghold of the MacSweeney of the Battleaxes, one of the great military chieftains under the Prince of Tirconaill. Those who read that wonderful historical novel, “The Flight of the Eagle,” will remember that it was in this castle that Red Hugh O'Donnell was in fosterage. It was from there that he set out on his fatal journey to another MacSweeney near Rathmullen, and from there was carried off in a ship to his long captivity in Dublin [268] Castle. Not quite a century later Owen Roe O'Neill landed under the walls of that castle to which I refer when he came from the Low Countries to lead the great fight in 1641. Within my recollection that castle was perfectly habitable. It was, in fact, inhabited and was in a perfectly good state of preservation. Unfortunately it ceased to be occupied for some time, and there was no care taken of it. One fine day, not many years ago, there arrived a tinker who, after the habit of his kind, looked around to see what unconsidered trifle could be picked up. He searched around but found nothing in the lower part. Then he climbed to the roof and observed upon it a considerable quantity of lead. He also saw that he was only being observed by the roof and the seagulls. He proceeded to strip the roof of its lead, which he took away. Unfortunately for the poor man, whether the seagulls brought tales of him or not I do not know, suspicion fell on him, and on being arrested lead was found in his possession for which he could not account. He appeared before the Petty Sessions Court, where his story was not believed when he pleaded that, while it was true that the lead was in his possession, he did not get it in the castle, but, in fact, found it floating on the tide. I am sorry to say that the Bench, of which I was one, was entirely unsympathetic, and I think he served his sentence. The result was that owing to the lead being taken from the roof, the old central keep, one of the oldest parts where Red Hugh must have lived, became exposed to the weather and within eighteen months that keep which had survived in perfect condition since, I think, the beginning of the sixteenth century, became a ruin, and after a short time the entire building was seriously damaged. That, however, is not the whole story.

The other day I was over there again, and I noticed that some worthy citizen of the Free State had proceeded to make a large hole in the outer wall surrounding the castle, and that wall, which had [269] stood in perfect condition until this year, is now falling or threatening to fall. That castle has been hitherto in private hands. I believe it is now passing into the hands of the Land Commission. That is clearly a case where the care of a national body such as the Commissioners of Public Works is desirable. I merely give that as an illustration of the need there is for the passing of a Bill of this kind into operation at the earliest possible moment. It is certainly not too soon. In spite of the teachings of our past, we have been strangely indifferent to the fate of the memorials of the past.

I was reading not long ago some of the essays of Thomas Davis, and again and again one gets in Thomas Davis's essays the pleading with the people of his time, if they called themselves Nationalists, that one of their first duties to their country was to see that the memorials of the past were preserved. I might, for example, remind the House of these words: “This country of ours is no sand-bank, thrown up by some recent caprice of earth. It is an ancient land, honoured in the archives of civilisation, traceable into antiquity by its piety, its valour and its sufferings. Every great European race has sent its stream to the river of the Irish mind. Long wars, vast organisations, subtle codes, beacon crimes, leading virtues and self-mighty men were here. If we live influenced by wind and sun and trees, and not by the passions and deeds of the past, we are a thriftless and a hopeless people.” I welcome this Bill, for it is a sign that at any rate we are not “a thriftless and a hopeless people.”

Mr. Flinn: Information on Hugh Victor Flinn  Zoom on Hugh Victor Flinn  I welcome this Bill because I think it is good that, for an hour or two, we should be engaged in the common contemplation and reverence of the things that belong to all of us. I think that a discussion of this kind, intervening as it does in the midst of perhaps sharp political controversies which divide the people, is immensely valuable in the sense of showing the fundamental [270] unity which is in us. I had a rather curious experience recently, which showed to me at any rate the significance of very small objects— I mean things apparently of very little importance—and the light which they throw on historical matters. On the almost unique occasion on which I shared a platform with the Leas-Cheann Comhairle down in Ardfinnan, we were sitting having tea with Mr. Mulcahy, who is in occupation of Ardfinnan Castle and who has very reverently restored it. He produced for us a casque or helmet which in the previous year had been dug out of the stream underneath the castle. It was then apparently a rough tin can which he retrieved from the men who were working there. He sent it to Dublin, where it was cleaned and polished and then, I think, submitted to the National Museum authorities here, who identified on it the crest of Ayala. Ayala was only significant to me as the name of a wine, but to Deputy Hassett, who happened to be there on the occasion and who seems to be a man of very deep knowledge and reading in matters of this kind, it apparently had another significance. Mr. Mulcahy was wondering how the helmet of Ayala could have been found in Ardfinnan Castle, and Deputy Hassett, who had been looking up ancient records, remembered that a knight of that name had landed at Kinsale and, in all human probability, that knight was a captive in Ardfinnan Castle.

On further inquiry we found that the firm of Ayala, who are now exporting wine from Spain to England and Ireland, are of the same family as that knight whose helmet was retrieved after some hundreds of years from the stream under Ardfinnan Castle. The fact that a little crest upon a thing of that kind should so link up history, and that there was the accidental presence of those who knew the two or three different pieces of information necessary to link it up, suggests the very great importance which may attach to very small objects of that kind. My [271] own attitude towards old things is rather that of reverence than of knowledge.

“Seclusions, ivy hushed, and pavements sweet

With the immemorial lisp of musing feet.”

It is well to get back, if we can, to the recognition of our common past. That is the biggest value, I think, of a Bill of this kind, that it does turn our minds back in that way. Two thousand years at least of common history do unite us, and the two or three, or ten years which divide us may easily be forgotten in the recollection of these long years. It is in the building up in our hearts of that recognition, rather than the merely historical value, that we must find value in old things of that kind, and our duty is to preserve them. It has been suggested that many old monuments are scattered about that very ordinary people might possibly help to preserve.

I think it was professor Petrie who found, up in the North of Ireland, a big stone which he thought must be part of a statue. On the principle that a statue which was broken up would not have been widely scattered in the district, he went around looking at all the walls and all the houses to see if he could find the remains of that statute. The second portion of the statue formed part of the gable-end of a farmer's house. After certain negotiations he succeeded in inducing the farmer to allow him carefully to remove the gable-end of his house and get that other piece of stone. Putting the two pieces together, he formed an idea of what he then required to complete the statue. The next portion of it was found to be part of a gate-post within a mile of the same place. Again by careful negotiation he was able to remove the gate-post and get the stone. He searched all over the district to find the piece which remained and at last he found it as the threshold stone of the local [272] golf club. He said it was one thing to induce a farmer to let him take down the gable-end of his house or remove the pillar on his farm in order to reconstitute a national monument, but the local golf club was a very different matter, so they removed the portion of the statue that was there during the middle of the night.

These are examples of the way in which things of historical importance do lie within the discretion and the possible preservation of ordinary people. I think that if this debate does nothing more than awaken both in this House and in the country a reverent recollection of the duty we owe to those old things, and a feeling that their existence represents a thing which we can share in common, because out of reverence to them we may find a greater accord and unity amongst ourselves, it will have achieved a lot. That is the very greatest value of, and the highest possible justification for, a Bill of this kind.

Mr. Esmonde: Information on Osmond T. Grattan Esmonde  Zoom on Osmond T. Grattan Esmonde  This is the first occasion since I have been in the Dáil that there is evidence of not only a sincere but an enthusiastic unanimity amongst all parties and all individuals in the House. In introducing this Bill the Government have shown they realise that we have a responsibility not merely to ourselves but to the many millions of our race in all parts of the world who will be coming back to this country in ever-increasing numbers to visit the homes of their ancestors. There are some difficulties in the Bill which I am sure will be remedied in Committee. I am sure we will have very interesting discussions on the various sections.

In the first place, the definitions are extremely wide. The definition of a national monument, for instance, will be very difficult when it comes to a question of administering the Act. At the present time we do not know what national monuments we have. We have not got any archæological survey of the country. If the Act is to be administered [273] efficiently, steps should be taken to see that such a survey is carried out. In that connection a very good service could be rendered by the Air Force. In travelling over the country I have noticed many ancient monuments—formations, forts and other erections—which, when I consulted the survey maps, were not there recorded. Very many things can be seen from the air which cannot be noticed from the ground.

The British flying men in the aerodromes near Belfast have been carrying out very interesting archæological surveys of the Six Counties. I am sure the members of the Irish Air Force would be very glad and very enthusiastic to carry out this national work. It would also give them great practice in aerial photography. I urge the President and Ministers to consider that aspect. The Free State Air Force, I believe, have already done very interesting work photographing such sites as the Hill of Tara. That work can be extended throughout the country.

There is then the question of archæological objects. I do not know whether they would include documents and books. During the last few years, since this State was established, the country has been practically sucked dry of documents and valuable books of great national importance. Those books have not been found available in the National Library, and there is nothing to prevent them leaving the country. Even to-day and yesterday an extremely important sale of documents and books of national importance has been held in Limerick. They include valuable manuscripts dealing with the history of Limerick City. I understand a large number of dealers from London with American affiliations have been over, and I fear that a very considerable number of these documents have left the country. We have not the power to prevent it. I do not know whether the definition of archæological objects will cover those particular items.

There is one matter I would like to mention in conclusion. I notice that [274] this Bill does not protect anti-national monuments, and in that connection I have to express my disapproval of the delay on the part of the Parliamentary Secretary in removing a certain archæological object from the front of this building. I hope, in view of the fact that that object is not protected by this Bill, he will take immediate steps to hasten its removal.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  took the Chair.

Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  I am glad to observe that this Bill has met with such unanimous approval. To me at any rate it appears to be an evidence of a change of heart as well as a change of mind on the part of many Deputies in the House. In saying that, and in paying a tribute to those who have drafted this Bill, or who have given thought to such cultural and educational matters as are contained in the Bill, I would suggest to the Minister at least one alteration. I refer to Part II. which relates to the guardianship and acquisition of national monuments. In Section 5 it is provided that “The owner of a national monument (not being a building which is occupied as a dwelling house by any person other than a person employed as a caretaker, ...)”. That section immediately excludes many buildings which have for the Irish people a very historical connection.

Mr. Bourke:  Section 8 of the Bill covers that.

Mr. Anthony: Information on Richard Sidney Anthony  Zoom on Richard Sidney Anthony  Yes, but I do not think it goes as far as I want it to go. In Cork we have a number of houses and buildings already in occupation and I do not know that the Bill makes any provision for the taking over by the State of those historic houses. For instance we have the house at one time occupied by the Brothers Sheares and we have another house at one time occupied by Father Mathew and we have houses occupied at one time by other notable people who have contributed largely to the building up of this State in one way or another. [275] I suggest that the Minister would, at a later period, take that matter into consideration and make provision in the Bill which would insure to the Irish people the preservation and maintenance of these historic buildings.

Mr. Bourke:  It is a great satisfaction to introduce a measure of this kind. From all quarters of the House there appears to be nothing but favourable criticism, and any criticism that has been of the opposite character has been such that we must all feel a certain amount of sympathy with it. Several Deputies touched on one point. I think Deputy Fahy was the first to touch on it. These Deputies seem to have an erroneous idea as to the powers of local authorities under the Bill. Under the Bill the Commissioners of Public Works have extremely ample powers. They can become owners or guardians of practically any monuments they like. But naturally it would be impossible for the State either to become owners or guardians or to issue preservation orders to look after every possibly important monument in the country. There is a limit to the nation's purse, and there is a limit to the number of these memorials with which the State should concern itself. That will be for the Central Advisory Council to decide. Probably later on there will be a monumental survey made. It will be for them to decide what monuments it will be worth the Commissioners' while to take care of. After that there is, no doubt, a great number of monuments not of very great interest to the nation as a whole, but of very great interest locally, and if that interest is so strong that the local authority feel justified in looking after them, it is highly desirable that they should have power to do so. They have power at the present time in some places. While it is not a power that is generally availed of, it is availed of in some places. And no doubt as interest in this matter increases, that power will be availed of to a greater and greater extent.

[276] As usual, it is not an easy matter to separate Deputy Cooper's wheat from his chaff. In most of his criticisms there is a certain amount of chaff, but there are also some grains of wheat. He certainly touched on the weakest point in the Bill. The Bill was a long time in hatching. The reason was that there were a few sections which we found very difficult to put into legal phraseology with due precision. No doubt the section dealing with the preservation of monuments gives very wide powers to the Commissioners of Public Works. At the same time, if we are to have full authority to deal with the various situations that may arise in the country it is necessary that these powers should be very wide. I do not think there is any real danger of these powers being availed of to spy on Deputy Cooper in his bath or any purpose of that kind. Immediately prior to Deputy Cooper, Deputy Wolfe referred to a very famous cross in Durrow Abbey. I think that cross is world-famous. The Deputy said it is in imminent danger at the present time. This Abbey is privately owned. Without the Government having wide powers to go in there, there is no possibility of saving that cross possibly from destruction. I do not know if the facts as stated by Deputy Wolfe are correct, but if they are it is very necessary that we should have power to deal with a situation of that kind. Sections 21 and 22 are undoubtedly the most difficult ones in the Bill. On the one hand I do not think there is any fear of such a state of affairs arising as is pictured by Deputy Cooper. After all, we must give the people in the country credit for a certain amount of common sense. They are not going to rush to the Gárda Síochána with every stone and pebble they pick up on the beach. But it is necessary that the power should be there to make a person think twice when he comes on a valuable find, as has often happened in this country in the past, before he would hold on to that find or try to export it, without giving [277] the proper authorities in Dublin who have scientific knowledge an opportunity to investigate those things and examine them. After the objects are shown to the Gárda Síochána in the ordinary way they will be sent up to Dublin, where the National Museum staff under the Minister for Education will be able to compare them with similar finds in the Museum, and if it is found that there are already sufficient examples of that kind, then the finder will be free to dispose of them or to export them if he so desires. He will get a licence for that purpose.

Although there may be a great difficulty in putting this section into operation, and although there may be very wide evasion of it, that is no reason why such a provision should not be put into the Bill. We have put it in. The definition of “archæological objects” is wide, perhaps, unduly wide. I hope some of the Deputies will exercise their intelligence in devising perhaps a happier form of words. However, that is the best that we can put in up to the present. There is no intention in the Bill to prevent people exporting their antique furniture which has no particular association with this country. There is no intention to prevent people exporting pictures or other articles of that kind which may be highly valuable from the artistic point of view, but which have no real connection with Irish history or Irish archæology. On the other hand, if you once try to limit your definition in this Bill you will find it very hard to know where to draw the line. However, we had to make a start, and in going through the Committee Stage and the Report Stage, if any Deputy can make a better suggestion, a suggestion that will find more favour with the House, we will be quite willing to give favourable consideration to it. Several Deputies referred to the fact that we cannot do very much until we have a monumental survey. That is true, but that will be a matter for our Advisory Council to give advice on when it is established. It would be [278] a very foolish thing to set about establishing this monumental survey when our monuments had disappeared, and, at the same time, to have no power to prevent their destruction. Deputy Walsh referred to a matter which is not pertinent to this Bill, but I think it would be well for him to consult the Historical Manuscripts Commission about it. The information he has might be very useful to them. On the whole, I am very glad this Bill has been so favourably received, and I hope that as it goes through the Dáil it will continue to receive the same constructive support from all parties.

Mr. Fahy: Information on Frank Fahy  Zoom on Frank Fahy  Might I ask the Parliamentary Secretary what provision will be made to finance this Bill, or does he expect it can be financed and that they can purchase objects, send them to the Museum and get them classified there for the thousand pounds odd that is annually devoted to the National Museum?

Mr. Bourke:  The money will be voted every year by the Dáil. The amount will probably vary with the circumstances.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee Stage fixed for Wednesday, October 30.


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