Drone crash, graffiti and vandalism of national monuments reported by Office of Public Works at heritage sites

A drone crashing into a heritage site, a mysterious series of incidents where locks were stolen and replaced at an historic gate and passage tomb, and rogue metal detectorists were among the incidents of vandalism at national monuments over the past year.

The Office of Public Works said there had been more than three dozen incidents reported since September 2022 with multiple graffiti incidents and blocked up windows getting kicked in.

In April, at the Hill of Slane in Co Meath, a drone crashed into the wall of the college building there, which was reported to the OPW by a member of the public though fortunately no serious damage was caused.

There were also a series of bizarre incidents where locks were cut off national monuments and replaced with other locks to which nobody had the key.

This happened at St Laurence’s Gate in Drogheda, Co Louth twice and also at the passage tomb complex in nearby Dowth, Co Meath between February and April.

There were two cases of metal detectorists who had dug up the ground at heritage sites at Kilcrea Friary and Conna Castle, both of them in Co Cork, with OPW staff able to reinstate the disturbed soil.

Two separate incidents were reported at Holycross Abbey in Co Tipperary where a lock and a bolt on a wooden door were removed and thrown away.

Then, a fire with paper was lit on top of “rubble stone” which left the rock blackened although workers were able to clean it back up at a minimal cost.

Three cases of etchings on ancient cairns and megalithic tombs at Carrowkeel, Carrowmore, and Knockarea in Co Sligo were also discovered with all of the incidents reported to gardaí for further investigation.

The records were released in response to a request under the Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) Regulations.