1Wilde, William Robert. The Beauties of the Boyne, and Its Tributary, the Blackwater. Dublin: J. McGlashan, 1849, p. 122.
2Newman, Conor. "Composing Tara, the Grand Opera of Irish Pre-History." Eolas: The Journal of the American Society of Irish Medieval Studies, vol. 3, 2009, pp. 6–18.
3Jackson, Kenneth Hurstone. The Oldest Irish Tradition: A Window on the Iron Age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1964, p. 44.
The author, in his note on the page, offers an extensive caveat:
"I should emphasise that what I mean here is the historiasity of persons and events; for instance, Conn and Eoghan, kings of the north and south of Ireland respectively, reputed by the sages to have lived in the second century, are quite obviously legendary and indeed mythological characters, and the events in which they are said to have taken part are clearly bogus. The same is true of still later characters like Cormac mac Airt. It is probably not too much to say that the earliest figure whom we can regard with any confidence as at all historical is Niall of the Nine Hostages. Equally, then, the characters Conchobar and Cu Chulainn, Ailill and Medb and the rest, and the events of the Cattle Raid of Cooley, are themselves entirely legend and purely un-historical. But this does not mean that the traditional background, the setting, in which the Ulster cycle was built up is bogus; the whole of this lecture is intended to show that it is not."
4Hutton, Ronald. The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy. Oxford, UK: B. Blackwell, 1991, pp. 147-48.
Hutton explains that the stories "...were transcribed by Christian monks who may not merely have been hostile to the earlier paganism but actually ignorant of it...The authors could remember where the great pagan centres had been, but turned them into royal halls filled with warrior aristocrats instead of showing them as the complex ceremonial sites which they were. The heroes in the tales fight with swords from the Viking age, not the Iron Age. They ride in chariots, which are well attested in the early Christian centuries but not from those before."
The earliest version of the Dindshenehas Erenn collection of medieval legends is found in the Book of Leinster (c. 1160 CE). In that text Tara is the subject of five poems and three prose accounts. (Newman, Conor. Tara: An Archaeological Survey. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy for the Discovery Programme, 1997, p. 2.)
5Excerpted from a letter, protesting the British-Israelite excavations at Tara, published in The Times (Dublin) on 27 June 1902, signed by Douglas Hyde, George Moore, and W.B. Yeats.
To illustrate Tara's significance in academic research, Conor Newman, citing Edel Bhreathnach (1995), asserts that more than "220 academic publications dealing with various aspects of Tara, illustrates amply the scale and history of related scholarship." (Newman, Conor. Tara: An Archaeological Survey. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy for the Discovery Programme, 1997, pp. 2-5.)
6Moore, Thomas, et al. Irish Melodies, and Other Poems,: with A Melologue upon National Music. J. Cumming, 16, Lower Ormond Quay, 1840.
The harp has for centuries served as a symbol of Ireland.
According to Nicholas Allen, "Moore's melody is invisible music. The harp is no longer, as neither are the halls, whose company is mindful more of Heorot than of Meath. Moore's tactic is a form of adaptation, the very particular traditions of kingship and society represented by Tara articulated in the Victorian values of fraternity and feeling. This combination of lost cause and found language propelled Moore's career as an international entertainer. His melodies were sung from Ireland to the Americas. In his song, Tara is a portable space, a reliquary in which to put the emigrant's dreams of home. This nostalgia is sometimes misunderstood as a passive longing. In Moore's ballad, Tara is a prompt to think that some pasts might yet be recovered." (Allen, Nicholas. "Literature and the Landscape of the Past." In: O'Sullivan, Muiris, et al. Tara: From the Past to the Future : Towards a New Research Agenda. Wordwell, 2013, p. 566.)
The "Harp that Once..." is not the only tune identified with Tara, as there is also this familiar musical theme.
7Newman, Conor. Tara: An Archaeological Survey. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy for the Discovery Programme, 1997, pp. 237-242.
8Ibid, pp. 225-230.
According to the author, "The earliest identifiable monument is a postulated palisaded (?) enclosure of Neolithic date, part of which was uncovered in pre-tomb levels during excavation of Duma na nGiall [the Mound of the Hostages] and radiocarbon-dated to 3030-2190 BC."
Today one can see 25 monuments on the Hill of Tara. Twice that number have been discovered by geophysical means and through aerial photography. (Bhreathnach, Edel, and Conor Newman. Tara, Co. Meath: a Guide to the Ceremonial Complex. Archaeology Ireland, 2008, pp. 1-6.)
9Slavin, Michael. The Ancient Books of Ireland. McGill-Queen's University Press, 2005, p. 35.
While this often-repeated claim regarding Tara's "142 kings" cannot be readily confirmed with purely historical evidence, Conor Newman provides a sense of the longevity of the site's importance: "... Tara, [is] considered by some to be the premier site of 'Celtic' Ireland...Though heretofore this belief may have been founded more on its mythological and historical status than on a detailed knowledge of the date and function of its monuments, it will be argued below that it can be substantiated archaeologically. There is good archaeological evidence that Tara was of considerable importance during the Iron Age and this no doubt contributed in no small measure to its historic importance." (Newman, Conor. Tara: An Archaeological Survey. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy for the Discovery Programme, 1997, pp. 145-48.)
10Shanks, Michael. "The Hill of Tara: an undecidable." In: Tara: From the Past to the Future: Towards a New Research Agenda. Edited by Muiris O'Sullivan et. al. Wordwell, 2013, p. 529.
According to Roseanne Schot, "Tara was a sacred landscape dominated by ceremonial and funerary monuments and was a locus for religious observance and ritual, burial, ceremonies and gatherings over a period of more than 4,000 years." (Schot, Roseanne. "Forging LifeAamid the Dead: Crafting and Kingship at Iron-Age Tara." A Research Miscellany, by Michael Ann Bevivino et al., The Discovery Programme, Centre for Archaeology and Innovation Ireland, 2018, pp. 3–4.)
11Curtayne, Alice. "The Twilight of Tara." The Irish Monthly, vol. 60, no. 706, 1932, pp. 187–191.
According to the author, the date of St. Patrick's legendary act of defiance "...was probably the Holy Saturday night of the year 433."
12Newman, Tara: An Archaeological Survey. pp. 1-2.
While Ráith na Ríg may define a demarcated sacred space, the Hill of Tara serves also to bring together the sacred with the profane. According to Newman, "The Hill of Tara merges into this landscape, both literally and metaphorically, in so far as the absence of a clear dividing line between the Hill of Tara and its immediate hinterland is a metaphor for the mergence of ritual into everyday life in prehistoric Ireland."
According to the guide to the site, "The Irish name Temair incorporates the Indo-European verbal root *tem- 'to cut' and is cognate with Greek temenos 'sanctuary' and Latin templum 'temple'. It is a place cut off or demarcated for sacred purposes, 'a sanctuary'. In this is reflected the physical act of cutting a ditch around the crown of the Hill of Tara, literally cutting off this nexus between the human world and the world of the gods." (Bhreathnach, Edel, and Conor Newman. Tara, Co. Meath: a Guide to the Ceremonial Complex. Archaeology Ireland, 2008, pp. 1-6.)
13Murphy and Westropp, pp. 232-42.
Westropp's translation from the Dindshenchas Érenn: "Whence is Temhair (Tara) so named ? Not difficult. Temhuir, i.e. Teamhur, i.e.Mur Tea, the wall of Tea, daughter of Lughaid, son of Ith, son of Breogon, the wife of Eremon, son of Milesius, i.e. there she was buried."
14Newman, "Composing Tara, p. 13.
This is more fully explained by John Waddell: "This exceptional account was clearly compiled from a quite detailed topographical scrutiny of the monuments visible on the hill at the time and following a route from south to north. As an antiquarian exercise by some medieval scholars, it was not, however, a wholly disinterested and objective operation; it had a very particular purpose. From at least the fifth century the kingship of Tara had been contested by rival dynastic groups from Leinster, Ulster (the Ulaid), the north-west (the northern Ui Neill) and the midlands (the southern Ui Neill). It was in the ninth century, however, that Maelsechlainn Mac Maile Ruanaid, who died in 862, expanded southern Ui Neill power and control sufficiently to give weight to the long-standing claim that kings of Tara were kings of Ireland. Indeed his son, Flann Sinna, is described as Rig Erenn, 'king of Ireland,' in an inscription on the Cross of the Scriptures at Clonmacnoise. The Dindshenschas texts on Tara were compiled for a political reason to enhance the claims of the southern Ui Neill, and of Maelsechlainn Mac Domhnaill (king of Tara who died in 1022) in particular...It is interesting to see that within a century or two of the compilers of the Tara survey attributing various monuments there to ancestors of the Ui Neill and effectively inscribing their own legitimacy in the physical record of the past, Gerald of Wales, in his twelfth-century Topography of Ireland, anxious to present a precedence for Anglo-Norman occupation, was crediting earthworks such as ringforts to invading Danes." (Waddell, John. Foundation Myths: The Beginnings of Irish Archaeology. Bray, Co. Wicklow: Wordwell, 2005, pp. 15-19.)
15Murphy and Westropp, pp. 232–33.
This poem describing the Feis of Teamur was "...ascribed by Keating to Eochaidh O'Flynn, who lived in the middle of the tenth century."
"The feis of Teamur each third year,
To preserve laws and rules,
Was then convened firmly
By the illustrious Kings of Erin.
Cathaoir of sons-in-law convened
The beautiful Feis of regal Temur,
There came with him—the better for it—
The men of Erin to one place.
Three days before Saman always,
Three days after it—it was a goodly custom—
The host of very high passion spent,
Constantly drinking during the week,
Without theft, without wounding a man
Among them during all this time;
Without feats of arms, without deceit,
Without exercising horses.
Whoever did any of these things
Was a wretched enemy with heavy venom ;
Gold was not received as a retribution from him,
But his soul in one hour."
16Vance, Rob. Secrets of the Stones: Decoding Ireland's Lost Past. Ashfield Press, 2009. pp. 109-10.
From Wikipedia: "Baile Chuind Chétchathaig ("The Vision of Conn of the Hundred Battles") is an Old Irish list of Kings of Tara or High Kings of Ireland which survives in two 16th-century manuscripts, 23 N 10 and Egerton 88. It is the earliest such king-list known, probably dating from around 700 AD. The later Baile In Scáil is closely related."
17Duffy, Seán. Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 2013, pp. 28-31.
18Morris, H. "Pre-Christian Kings of Tara." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, vol. 17, no. 2, 1927, p. 154.
19Petrie, George. "On the History and Antiquities of Tara Hill." The Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. 18, 1839, pp. 28-9.
Petrie, citing Tighernach (11th century CE), states that Cimbaoth, the seventy-fifth monarch of the list (305 BCE) is the first of the Irish kings that should be considered authentic.
20Duigan, Michael V.: and Lord Killanin. The Shell Guide to Ireland. London: Edbury Press, 1967, p. 408.
If she couldn’t find a suitable candidate to become the king, Medb would rule herself. ("The Hill of Tara." Rough Guides, www.roughguides.com/destinations/europe/ireland/around-dublin-wicklow-kildare-meath/county-meath/hill-tara/.)
21Binchy, D.A. "The Fair of Tailtiu and the Feast of Tara." Ériu, vol. 18, 1958, p. 134.
The author's summation regarding the Feast of Tara: "The historical Feast of Tara was a primitive fertility rite culminating in the apotheosis of the sacred king. It was last held by Diarmait mac Cerbaill in 560, after which it was discarded as a relic of paganism. More than three centuries later, however, the pseudo-historians resurrected it in the form of a 'constitutional organ' of the 'high-kingship'. and we can actually trace the expansion of the legendary Feast of Tara until by Keating's day it has eclipsed the Fair of Tailtiu in importance and become the equivalent of a 'national assembly' or 'Parliament'. In this strange guise it continues to haunt our textbooks and examination papers. Together with Óenach Tailten it offers a cautionary example of the triumph of legend over history. The fact that both now figure among the 'national institutions' of medieval Ireland is a signal tribute to the ingenuity of our pseudo-historians of the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries who created the myth of the 'high-kingship' as the apex of an imaginary Irish politeia."
22Macalister, Robert Alexander Stewart. Tara, a Pagan Sanctuary of Ancient Ireland. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1931. 70.
The account of the burial of Cúchulainn's head and hand at Tara as translated by Eleanor Hull: "Then Lugaid arranged Cuchulainn's hair over his shoulder, and cut off his head. And the sword fell from Cuchulainn's hand, and it smote off Lugaid's right hand, so that it fell to the ground. And they struck off Cuchulainn's right hand in revenge for this. Then Lugaid and the hosts marched away, carrying with them Cuchulainn's head and his right hand, and they came to Tara, and there is the grave of his head and his right hand, and the full of the cover of the shield of mould." (Hull, Eleanor. The Cuchullin Saga in Irish Literature: Being a Collection of Stories Relating to the Hero Cuchullin. D. Nutt, 1898, p. 260.)
23Curtayne, pp. 187–191.
George Petrie provides this translation of what tradition holds was St. Patrick's prayer as he approached Tara to confront the king:
"At Temur to-day [I place] the strength of heaven, the height of the sun, the whiteness of snow, the force of fire, the rapidity of lightning, the swiftness of the wind, the depth of the sea, the stability of the earth, the hardness of rocks, [between me and the powers of paganism and demons]."
24Daniel, Glyn. Megaliths in History. Thames & Hudson, 1972, p. 16.
25"Ruadhán of Lorrha." Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Dec. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruadhan_of_Lorrha.
26Cunliffe, Barry. "A review of the Tara Symposium 2009." In: Tara: From the Past to the Future: Towards a New Research Agenda. Edited by Muiris O'Sullivan et. al. Wordwell, 2013, p. 575.
During the course of this symposium participants posed the question "What is Tara?" One popular suggestion was "A Drumlin with Attitude." While this term was not quite accurate geologically, it was aptly illustrated by Conor McHale.
27Petrie, p. 26
Commenting on one of the prose tracts from the dindshenehas, Conor Newman quotes Edel Bhreathnach (1995) that the "Dindgnai Temraeh 'is so detailed that it is tantamount to a medieval survey of the Hill of Tara.' How this bears on the historicity of these accounts is a question more for the historian than the archaeologist but has prompted us to take an optimistic view of the integrity and usefulness of the topographical information in the dindshenehas."
A half century after O'Donovan and Petrie's work, a less comprehensive survey was compiled by the Rev. Denis Murphy and Thomas J. Westropp (1894). In the early 1900s further field work was completed by R.A.S. Macalister (1919; 1931; 1938-56). (Roche, Helen, et. al., Excavations at Raith na Rig, Tara, Co. Meath, 1997. Discovery Programme Reports: 6: Project Results. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy for the Discovery Programme, 2002, p. 20.)
28O'Sullivan, Muiris, Michael Herity, and Ursula Mattenberger. Duma na nGiall: the Mound of the Hostages, Tara. Bray, Co. Wicklow: Wordwell, 2005, p. 244.
29Newman, Tara: An Archaeological Survey, pp. 5-6.
Ó Riordain also opened two sections across the rampart of Raith na Rig, "only one of which appears to have been recorded."
303D-ICONS consortium. “Ráith Gráinne, Tara.” www.3dicons.ie/3d-content/sites/6-raith-grainne-tara#description.
"By combining geophysical and topographic data it has been possible to demonstrate that the slight prominence in the north-eastern side is actually the central burial mound of an earlier ring-barrow that was incorporated into Ráith Gráinne. It too encompasses a small barrow into its north-eastern quadrant suggesting that this was an accepted custom at the time."
31Swan, D.L. "The Hill of Tara, County Meath: The Evidence of Aerial Photography." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Vol. 108, 1978, p. 61.
32Gregory, Lady. Gods and Fighting Men: the Story of the Tuatha De Danaan and of the Fianna of Ireland. London: John Murray, 1905. Online: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/14465/14465-h/14465-h.htm#L66
From Wikipedia."The Fianna were small, semi-independent warrior bands in Irish mythology. They are featured in the stories of the Fenian Cycle, where they are led by Fionn mac Cumhaill . They are based on historical bands of aristocratic landless young men in early medieval Ireland."
33Newman, Tara: An Archaeological Survey, p. 115.
343D-ICONS consortium. “Cláenfhearta, Tara.” www.3dicons.ie/3d-content/sites/13-cloenfherta-tara.
"There are three further mounds tucked in between the northern and southern Cláenfhearta and these too are probably burial monuments. South of this and along the crest of the ridge the remains of up to eight small, low barrows without banks can be identified."
35Petrie, pp. 187-88.
36Murphy, Denis, and Thomas J. Westropp. "Notes on the Antiquities of Tara (Teamhair Na Rig)." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, vol. 4, no. 3, 1894, p. 238.
From this 1894 text: "Our ancient books enable us to form a vivid picture of this building in its palmy days. The long room stretched down the slope for 300 feet; along each side were double rows of seats and tables, while in the middle space stood vats of liquor, lamps, and huge fires at which were numerous attendants cooking. We actually possess a little ancient sketch of one of these standing open-mouthed, with the meat on a spit. Every person had a portion of meat according to his rank, the claims being strictly regulated. Some, at any rate, of the drinking-vessels were of gold and silver, enriched with red stones or perhaps enamel. At the southern and highest end sat the king and chiefs. Cormac Ulfada, who was Ardrigh a.d. 213, is described with his long, slightly curled fair hair. He was clad in a white tunic, with a full collar embroidered with gold; over this a crimson cloak, with jewelled clasps and a gold torque. He bore a red buckler with silver clasps and golden figures of animals and stars. Lower down sat the other courtiers, bards, doctors, historians, "druids or augurs," down to the rabble of 150 cooks, waiters, jugglers, jesters, and doorkeepers. There was, doubtless, abundance of barbaric splendour in personal adornment, lavish, if rude, hospitality, noisy mirth and the more intellectual pleasures of music, song, recitations, and chess."
37Newman, Conor. "Procession And Symbolism At Tara: Analysis Of Tech Midchúarta (The ‘Banqueting Hall’) In The Context Of The Sacral Campus." Oxford Journal of Archaeology, vol. 26, no. 4, 2007, p. 416.
38Ibid, pp. 425-26.
Newman imagines the new king's procession through the cursus: "During this final leg of the processional journey the king may have been encouraged to reflect on the qualities and achievements of his predecessors among whose tombs, temples and symbolic domains he now walked. He would have been mindful of the gravity of the tradition of fir flathemon, the challenge of maintaining good and just rule, and the perils awaiting those who were found wanting." (p. 428).
39Hicks, Ronald. "The Sacred Landscape of Ancient Ireland." Archaeology, vol. 64, no. 3, 2011, pp. 40-45.
Other names for the monument: "...the hall of assembly. It is also called teach na laech, the heroes' house; long na laech, the heroes' dwelling; long na mban, the ship of women." (Murphy and Westropp, p. 238.)
40Newman, "Procession And Symbolism at Tara," p. 436.
Newman considers the Knockauns cursus to be of a later date.
41Hutton, pp. 147-48.
John Waddell quotes Geoffrey Keating [Foras Feasa ar Eirinn, II, 250] with this description of Tara's Banquet Hall:
".. The banquet-halls they had were narrow and long, with tables along the side-walls. Along each of these side-walls there was placed a beam in which there were numerous hooks above the seats on which the company used to sit, with only the breadth of a shield between each two of the hooks, and on these hooks the seancha hung the shields of the nobles and of the warriors before they sat down, each under his own shield, both nobles and warriors. But the territorial lords had the choice of a side, and the leaders of warriors had the other side; the upper end of the hall was occupied by the ollamhs, and the other end by the attendants who waited on the company. It was their custom also not to have women in the banquet-halls, but they were given a separate apartment in which they were served. It was, moreover, their custom, before the company were served, to clear out or empty the banquet-hall, so that only three remained in it, namely a seancha, a bollsaire, that is a marshal of the house, and a trumpeter who had a trumpet or horn to call all the guests to the banquet- hall. He sounded his trumpet three times. The first time he sounded it, the shield-bearers of the nobles assembled at the door of the banquet-hall; and the bollsaire took the shield of each noble according to his title, and placed, according to the direction of the seancha, each of the shields in its own appointed place. The trumpeter sounded his trumpet a second time, and the shield- bearers of the leaders of warriors assembled at the door of the banquet-hall; and the bollsaire took the shields from them and placed each shield, according to the direction of the seancha, at the other side of the house, over the warriors' table. Then the trumpeter sounded his trumpet the third time; and thereupon the nobles and warriors assembled in the banquet-hall, and each of them sat beneath his own shield, so that there was no contention between them."
(Waddell, John. Foundation Myths: The Beginnings of Irish Archaeology. Bray, Co. Wicklow: Wordwell, 2005. 28-29.)
42Sayers, William. "A cut above. Ration and station in an Irish king’s hall." Food and Foodways, vol. 4, no. 2, 1990, p. 90.
43Ibid, p. 92.
The author describes the origin of one of the other names of the Banquet Hall: the "House of Mead Circling:"
"The 'mead-circling' to which the hall's name refers would have begun from the central vat at the western end and proceeded sun- or clockwise, the direction of good luck, to the king and others of comparable rank. Similarly, the meat was first served to, and perhaps even carved before, the most eminent of the diners."
Clodagh Downey provides another perspective on such accounts of the Banquet Hall rituals:
"The magnificent feasts so colourfully depicted by the authors that described Tara's banqueting hall, while hardly reflecting much of the reality of the lives of the high-kings who play the leading role in these literary depictions, were probably delineated using at least some practical details gleaned from those authors' own experiences." (Downey, pp. 31-2.)
44Ibid, p. 93.
Sayers commented on the ritual of meat distribution: "According to the logic of ritual acts, each ox and pig carved in the tribal king’s hall not only returned that society to its origins but also reaffirmed its basic structure." (p. 105)
In his guidebook to the monuments on the Hill of Tara, Seán P. Ó Ríordáin pointed out that in the Banquet Hall illustration "...much of the text is obscure by reason of the number of words which have not been interpreted–in particular words relating to food..." (Ó Ríordáin, Seán P. Tara: the Monuments on the Hill. Dundalgan Press, 1969, pp. 22-3.) Our animated illustration attempts to add additional (very tentative) translations to the text. The primary source of the additional terms translated from the Book of Leinster illustration of the Banquet Hall was William Sayers (above). We are grateful for additional research assistance generously provided by Dr. Clodagh Downey and Dr. Andrea Palandri.
Thanks to The Board of Trinity College Dublin for allowing the use of the high-resolution image from the Book of Leinster. This image may not be further reproduced from software. For reproduction, application must be made to the Head of Digital Resources and Imaging Services, by post to Trinity College Library Dublin, College Street, Dublin 2, Ireland; or by email at email@example.com.
45Pepper, Elizabeth, and John Wilcock. Magical and Mystical Sites: Europe and the British Isles. Harper & Row, 1977, pp. 258-9.
George Petrie noted that such depictions of ancient practices were written "...as derived from bardic traditions, and their knowledge of the customs still prevalent among the Irish kings and great lords in their own times. That these ancient customs were indeed preserved to the times of the writers of the poems, has been already shewn from the statement of the poet Cuan O'Lochain ; and it can scarcely be doubted that they were perpetuated though on a limited scale, in the household of every chief, not only in Ireland, but also in the Highlands of Scotland, as late even as the sixteenth century." (Petrie, George. "On the History and Antiquities of Tara Hill." The Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. 18, 1839, p. 211.)
46Sayers, p. 101.
A poem from the Dindshenchas, "Temair toga na tulach," appearing in 20 manuscripts, reprises in verse the portion-distribution depicted in the illustration from the Book of Leinster:
"The House of Temair, round which is the rath,
from it was given to each his due;
honour still continues to such as them
at the courts of kings and princes.
King and Chief of the Poets,
sage, farmer, they received their due,
couches that torches burn not,
the thighs and the chine-steaks.
Leech and spencer, stout smith,
steward, portly butler,
the heads of the beasts to all of them
in the house of the yellow-haired king.
Engraver, famed architect,
shield-maker, and keen soldier,
in the king's house they drank a cup;
this was their proper due, a fist.
Jester, chess-player, sprawling buffoon,
piper, cheating juggler,
the shank was their share of meat in truth,
when they came into the king's house.
The shins were the share of the noble musician,
the flute-player and rhymester both,
the horn-blower, the piper,
both consumed the broken meats.
A charge on the prince of Meath,
were the cobblers and comb-makers,
the due of the strong skilled folk
was the fat underside of the shoulder.
The backs, the chines in every dwelling
were given to druids and doorkeepers;
the uruscla belonged without question to the maidens
after serving the house of Tara."
(Downey, pp. 19-21.)
47Macalister, pp. 64-5.
Neither Macalister nor any of his predecessors doubted the identification of Tara's cursus as the location of the fabled "Banquet Hall" of the Dindshenchas. As Conor Newman noted, "Whatever the origin of this tradition, it seems quite clear that this is the monument that the medieval compilers of dindshenchas believed to be the Banquet Hall. Petrie and Macalister readily accepted this ascription and developed the thesis at some length."
(Newman, Tara: An Archaeological Survey, pp. 103-111.)
48Downey, Clodagh. "Dindsenchas and the Tech Midchúarta." Ériu, vol. 60, 2010, pp. 1-2.
49Ibid, pp. 31-2.
Downey (p. 11) suggests that O'Donovan erred in his reading of the traditional sources as designating Tara's cursus as the "Banquet Hall" for all of Tara's kings:
"An important point that emerges from passage is that the Tech Midchúarta was obviously not conceived of as a permanent structure, but rather as one whose physical dimensions varied over time and with the particular king who was in power. I think, therefore, that what the author intended to say in this first sentence was the opposite of how O'Donovan took it: that the Tech Midchúarta of a king of his own time would not be like that of Conn and the other pre-Patrician kings he lists. I have tentatively translated the version...as 'it is not every king today who has it, as it was in the beginning', that is, that every king had a Tech Midchúarta up to Niall Noigiallach's time, but that in the author’s own day, this was not the case."
50Newma, Tara: An Archaeological Survey, p. 150.
51O'Sullivan, Aidan and Jonathan Kinsella. "Living by a sacred landscape: interpreting the early medieval archaeology of the Hill of Tara and its environs, AD 400-1100." O'Sullivan, Aidan and Jonathan Kinsella. In: Tara: From the Past to the Future: Towards a New Research Agenda. Edited by Muiris O'Sullivan et. al. Wordwell, 2013, p. 363.
The National Monuments Service sign at the entrance to the Hill of Tara contains this panel on the "Banquet Hall:"
"Ceremonial avenue (3000 BC?) and royal inauguration monument (? -AD 600). The Banquet Hall, located to the north of the Rath of the Synods, is a sunken linear avenue that may have originated as a Neolithic ceremonial monument. It is likely that it was subsequently used in the rituals surrounding the inauguration of the Kings of Tara. The site has not been excavated and its exact purpose and age are uncertain, but its parallel earthen banks and its great size, over 200m long, accord well with a religious monument of early prehistory known as a cursus. Cursus monuments were ceremonial processional avenues; although rare in Ireland, they are relatively common in southern Britain. The Banquet Hall is well suited for processions and may have been used for such in the inauguration rituals for the kings of Tara. Gaps in the embankments on either side afford glimpses of surrounding monuments and important burial sites, linking the investiture of the kings to the ancestors. When the Banquet Hall was in use its southern end was blocked by the fosse of an enormous oval open-air enclosure, a henge, that centred on the Rath of the Synods. This monument was unexpectedly discovered when the area was surveyed by archaeologists in 1999."
52Condit Tom. "Beneath the Ground at Tara." Archaeology Ireland, vol. 13, no. 1, 1999, p. 29.
The fluxgate gradiometer, which measures anomalies in the earth's natural magnetic field caused by underground disturbances, was used by Joe Fenwick to carry out the survey. This device can help to identify pits, trenches and other features which are no longer visible on the surface. The Ditched Pit Circle, technically a hengiform ceremonial enclosure, is analogous to timber circles and enclosures, such as at the Ballynahatty Giant's Ring, and at Brú na Bóine.
There is as yet no definitive evidence that the pits were intended to support timber uprights, but "...the exceptional clarity of the signature invites comparison with the growing corpus of palisaded enclosures and pit and timber circles from Ireland and Britain." (Fenwick, Joe, and Conor Newman. "Geomagnetic survey on the Hill of Tara, Co. Meath, 1998-9." Discovery Programme Reports: 6: Project Results, 2002, pp. 11-15.)
53Fenwick and Newman, pp. 11-15.
Regarding the dating of the monument, the authors write, "The possibility that [the Ditched Pit Circle] is quite early in the monument sequence at Tara may be reflected in the fact that, according to the geophysical image, it does not appear to have cut or truncated any monuments (though the strength of its 'signature' might effectively obliterate or mask lesser features). It is quite possible that its incorporation of Duma na nGiall [the Mound of the Hostages] is deliberate, and therefore that the ditched pit circle post-dates the passage tomb. Supporting this suggestion is the fact that the pit circle at Newgrange, which compares quite well with the Tara specimen, also encloses an undifferentiated passage tomb and so it is possible that this type of couplet is a recurring motif."
54Newman, "Procession And Symbolism At Tara," pp. 6-8.
The "jigsaw" quotation is from: Murphy, Anthony. "Mythical Ireland | Ancient Sites | The Hill of Tara – Teamhair." Mythical Ireland | New Light on the Ancient Past, www.mythicalireland.com/ancient-sites/the-hill-of-tara-teamhair/.
55Fenwick and Newman, p. 8.
Regarding the probability that the pits on either side of the ditch once supported timber uprights, Fenwick went a step further: "If I were to take a guess, I would suspect that you had massive timber uprights onto which there were a series of lintels because it helps define the space, to define the perimeter. It works very well visually." (Vance, pp. 104-5.)
56Newman, "Procession And Symbolism At Tara," p. 20.
Rob Vance suggests that changes in ritual practices, such as the abandonment of the Ditched Pit Circle, may have been due to dramatic changes in religious practices that may have accompanied climate change, or perhaps an unexpected celestial event, such as a large comet. (Vance, pp. 45-8.)
57Carew, Mairéad. Tara and the Ark of the Covenant: A Search for the Ark of the Covenant by British Israelites on the Hill of Tara (1899-1902). Dublin: Discovery Programme/Royal Irish Academy, 2003, p. 3.
The author explains: "Tara was regarded by the British Israelites as a powerfully symbolic site, their 'resuscitated' Jerusalem, and spiritual capital of the British Empire for the new millennium. To the cultural nationalists Tara was the capital of a future independent Ireland, free of the shackles of the British Empire. Both sides drew on interpretations of history and mythology to explain their actions."
58Petrie, pp. 139-40.
Petrie on the Rath of the Synods: "The site of Pupall Adamnain pavilion or tent of Adamnan is in this Rath and his Adamnan's Cross is opposite the fort to the east and his Seat and his Mound are to the south of the cross The Monument of Maine the son of Muinreamhar lies to the east of Rath na Riogh The ruins of the house which was burned over Benen the boy of Patrick and Lucad Mael the druid of Laoghaire are a short distance to the south east of Cros Adamnain that is at the side of the Rath to the north There are three small stones at the side of Rath na Seanadh to the north These three stones were placed over the druids who were named Mael Blocc and Bluicni Mael to the east Blocc to the south and Bluicni to the north."
Macalister offers a different tradition to explain the origin of the site: "It is possible that it is to be equated to Mur nOlloman, "The Scholar's Wall," said to have been built for the accommodation of the Assembly of Tara, by the legendary King Ollom Fodla, to whom the institution of the Assembly is ascribed. This building, whatever it may have been, is not mentioned in Dinshenchas, though other historians speak of it as though it were well known. It must have been a building, for Ollom Fodla is said to have died within it: and the existence of such a tradition is no less a proof of the existence of the structure to which it was attached, even though there be no certainty that Ollom Fodla ever had an existence outside of legend. In Petrie's time...the mound was locally known as 'The King's Chair' a name which is suggestive of a traditional memory of assemblies having been held here. If this were so, it would have been natural to have chosen this structure as a meeting-place for important conventions." (Macalister, pp. 39-43.)
59Carew, pp. 109-117.
The law guaranteeing the safety of women and children during warfare, enacted during the Synod of Birr, is known as the "Geneva Accords" of the ancient Irish. It extending the Law of Patrick, which protected monks, to civilians. The law-making forum at this synod was prompted, according to the story, when Adomnáin had an dream-vision in which his mother scolded him for not protecting women and children. ("Cáin Adomnáin." Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 4 Apr. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%C3%A1in_Adomn%C3%A1in.)
60Newman, Tara: An Archaeological Survey, pp. 91-8.
Animal and human bones were found in all of the fosses. These proved to be a mixture of cremations, and both crouched and extended burials, which suggests that these remains date from the first two centuries CE.
61Ibid, pp. 177-80.
The difficulty of understanding the complex multi-epoch use of the area of the Rath of the Synods is partially due to the burials in the eastern part of the churchyard, which have probably destroyed or made incomprehensible much of the underground archaeological remains. (pp. 91-8).
62"Tara Torcs." A History of Ireland in 100 Objects, a Selection. 100objects.ie/taratorcs/.
From this source: "The amount of gold used to make them, the fact that torcs are a new kind of object, the technological sophistication they required and the emergence of Tara itself as an especially important ritual centre all point to a society that is becoming more complex. The largest of the torcs has a diameter of about 42cm and, if untwisted, would extend to about 167cm. The ability to make objects such as these comes in a period of development that may have been stimulated by the deterioration of the Irish climate from about 1200 BC. This may have led to conflict and insecurity (new types of weapons and enclosed settlements date from this period), with the emergence of more powerful kings. The assumption is that torcs were worn around the neck, but these from Tara are large enough to have to been worn around the waist; they could even have been placed on idols. The strong likelihood, however, is that they were, as Eamonn Kelly of the National Museum puts it, ‘regalia worn by the kings of Tara. How do we know? These are the finest objects of the period’."
On the discovery and preservation of these objects, George Petrie wrote, "[the torcs] are now happily saved from the usual fate of antiquities of the kind discovered in Ireland, by the liberality of the Members of the Royal Irish Academy, and other patriotic individuals." (Petrie, George. "On the History and Antiquities of Tara Hill." The Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. 18, 1839, pp. 181-184.)
63Totten, Charles A.L. The Land and Legends of Innis Fail. New Haven: The Our Race Publishing Company, 1905, p. xiv.
Mairéad Carew, quoting from The Banner of Israel (20 March 1901): "The Irish in the person of their king rule the Saxons of great Britain. A portion of the Irish people believe that they are a conquered race, serving an alien king. This is not so. They are the conquering race, whose king of Irish descent, rules the British Israelites to-day. Is not this honour enough to keep them loyal, and contented and happy?" (Carew, Mairéad. Tara and the Ark of the Covenant: A Search for the Ark of the Covenant by British Israelites on the Hill of Tara (1899-1902). Dublin: Discovery Programme/Royal Irish Academy, 2003.)
64Macalister, pp. 32-3.
65Moshenska, Gabriel, and James Doeser. "The British Israelites." Bad Archaeology, 11 Sept. 2011, www.badarchaeology.com/religious-delusions/the-British Israelites/.
Mairéad Carew explains: "One of the central beliefs of British-Israelism was that the Anglo-Saxon race was descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel. To be a British-Israelite, one had to subscribe to this view; however, it was not necessary to leave one's church, and members were encouraged to remain affiliated to their original churches. British-Israelism, therefore, could almost be regarded as an ecumenical group, provided one was Protestant and subscribed to the movement's core belief. The British-Israel movement."
"Their claim that the British monarch was directly descended from the biblical King David through the kings and queens of Tara was, in their own view, 'the only possible interpretation of a good deal of prophecy'. When they came to dig for the Ark of the Covenant at Tara it would have been their understanding that it was their destiny to do so. Therefore, any opposition would have been against God's plan for the descendants of Israel." (Carew, Mairéad. Tara and the Ark of the Covenant: A Search for the Ark of the Covenant by British Israelites on the Hill of Tara (1899-1902). Dublin: Discovery Programme/Royal Irish Academy, 2003, p. 11 and p. 19)
67Byrne, Eugene. "The Second Coming and Other Ends." The Independent on Sunday [London], 5 January 1997.
68Carew, p. 12.
According to rationalwiki.org: "Edward Hine also published The British Nation Identified with Lost Israel in 1871, which went on to sell 250,000 copies. The 'Anglo-Israel Association' in Britain had only 300 members in its early years, however during the heyday of British Israelism the membership of the 'British-Israel-World Federation' (BIWF) reached 20,000 at its height in 1920." ("British Israelism." RationalWiki, rationalwiki.org/wiki/British_Israelism.)
69Ibid, p. 13.
The author explains, "The 'latter days' were the last days of history, in which the British Israelites believed themselves to be living as they awaited the 'millennium'."
Carew discusses the role of Irish Freemasons in their support of the search for the Ark of the Covenant. After the decline of the traditional craft stonemasons’ leadership of the Freemasons, the groups were largely taken over by “speculative masons” who were not themselves craftsmen, but who were interested in architectural traditions. In England and Ireland, these Protestant Freemasons in the Victorian era had various belief systems “as diverse as numerology, astrology, the Tarot, the occult, Pyramidism, Celticism and Druidism.” With Druidism in particular, these Freemasons found a link with Israel, claiming in their publication that "ideas and customs in sacred and social matters" of the Druids "were similar to those of Israel." This concept also linked the "descendants of Israel, the British Israelites, with the ancient site of Tara.” (p. 31) However, most of the Irish Freemasons would not have regrded Tara in the same way as the British Israelites. Their interest, rather, was only in the Ark of the Covenant due to its significance to them as a symbol. The British Israelites, on the other hand, were interested in tracing their lineage through the rulers of Tara. (p. 36)
As the website "Bad Archaeology" put it, "...the British Israelites had made their mark in the long and inglorious history of mad, bad and otherwise god-crazed archaeology." (Moshenska, Gabriel, and James Doeser. "The British Israelites." Bad Archaeology, 11 Sept. 2011, www.badarchaeology.com/religious-delusions/the-British Israelites/.)
70Windsor, John. "Cashing in on the royal mail." Weekend. Independent [London, England] 6 Apr. 1996: 6. The Independent Digital Archive. Web. 30 Mar. 2019.
71Harbison, Peter. The Archeology of Ireland. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976, pp. 62-3.
There was other, very similar, misperceptions. In 1867 Marcu Keane attempted to prove that that the same people inhabited Iran and Ireland because Ireland or Irin means "Sacred island" and Iran (in "Pehlivi") means the "Sacred land." Keane wrote:
"From these notices I conclude, that the original Cuthic or Scythic region was so called (Iran the Sacred Country) from the Ark having rested upon its mountain, as well as from its reputation as the site of Paradise; and that when some of the Cuthite Sycthians emigrated to Ireland, they brought with them the same of Iran, -- only changing it to Irin to express the insular character of their new settlement." (Keane, Marcu. The Towers and Temples of Ancient Ireland. Dublin:Hodges, Smith and Co., 1867, p. 236.)
As Mairéad Carew wrote: "For late nineteenth-century British Israelites the Holy Land was the British Empire represented by its spiritual capital, Tara, the 'transplanted Jerusalem.'" (Carew, Mairéad. Tara and the Ark of the Covenant: A Search for the Ark of the Covenant by British Israelites on the Hill of Tara (1899-1902). Dublin: Discovery Programme/Royal Irish Academy, 2003, p. 20.)
According to Carew, there may have been earlier treasure hunters disturbing other monuments on the Hill of Tara. She reports a large hole dug into the central mound of Raith Grainne (Carew may actually have been referring to the hole dug into the Northern Clóenfherta). There were also holes dug into the mounds of Dall and Dorcha. (p. 109)
72Carew, pp. 24-5.
The author adds: "Despite George Petrie's comments that 'the probability is much stronger that the Milesian queen owes her name and even her very existence to Temur than Temur [owes] its to her', the British Israelites got their 'uninterrupted story of Tea Tephi’ from the translation by Petrie of an eleventh-century poem written by Cuan O Lochain."
[Bregatea was] a meritoriour abode,
It is heard that it was once a high abode,
[Where lies] The grave under which is the great Mergech,
The burial place, which was not violated.
The daugher of Pharoah of many champions,
Tephi, the most beautiful that traversed the plain.
(Petrie, George. "On the History and Antiquities of Tara Hill." The Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. 18, 1839, p. 133.)
Carew notes that an 1877 story in the British Israelite publication "The Banner of Israel" claimed that the 'Tara Goblet' [perhaps the Ardagh Chalice], has 'pure Hebrew characters engraved upon it'. "From a British- israelite perspective any 'Celtic' artefact could be ascribed a Hebrew provenance." (p. 52)
According to Charles Totten, it was not St. Patrick but rather the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant which caused the banishment of snakes from the island:
Personally I attribute this legend as to Ireland's immunity from venomous reptiles to a far earlier incident to wit the arrival of Jeremiah in Ireland about 565 BC bringing with him not only the Lia Fall and the regalila of the Davidic line but principally the Ark of the Covenant. (Totten, Charles A.L. The Land and Legends of Innis Fail. New Haven: The Our Race Publishing Company, 1905, pp. 25-6.)
73Harbison, pp. 62-3.
It should be noted at Harbison's assertion that "...two of the three Irishmen who permitted this 'excavation' were to suffer untimely deaths..." was not known to Mairéad Carew, who authored the book on the British Israelites at Tara. (Carew, Mairéad. 15 March 2019. E-mail.)
Even some of the British Israelites believed in the dangerous supernatural forces protecting the site and its supposed treasure. A contributor to their publication "Covenant People" wrote of the Ark that "...no unconsecrated hand could touch it in the past and live." (Sheehy, J. The rediscovery of Ireland’s past: the Celtic Revival 1830-1930. London, 1980, p. 20.)
Quoting from an OPW document, Mairéad Carew wrote: "...the landlord at Tara, Gustavus Villiers Briscoe, stated that 'if he had not directed it to be done, no labourer in the locality would have touched it [Tara], so much is it disliked and dreaded by the people, who hold the place in evident veneration.'" (Carew, Mairéad. Tara and the Ark of the Covenant: A Search for the Ark of the Covenant by British Israelites on the Hill of Tara (1899-1902). Dublin: Discovery Programme/Royal Irish Academy, 2003, p. 47.)
74Totten, Charles A.L. The Land and Legends of Innis Fail. New Haven: The Our Race Publishing Company, 1905, p. 3.
75Carew, p. 61.
76Macalister, p. 40.
Regarding the frequently-mentioned anecdote regarding Roman coins being seeded in the diggings to confound the British Israelites, Macalister notes: "...it has been suggested that the coins were surreptitiously introduced by some practical joker. This is perhaps open to doubt: a jest of the kind, with real Roman coins, though they be as common as Constantine's, is costly enough to warrant us in expecting the jester to have derived from it some satisfaction, pecuniary or otherwise; but it does not appear that anyone profited. The fact, however, that such a suspicion could be seriously entertained is in itself an evidence of the irresponsible nature of the whole undertaking."
The author also relates a story from Sir John Dillon, who claimed that he saw a golden bracelet in the diggings, and handed it to one of the men working at the site, "but as it was not the Ark of the Covenant, the latter flung it contemptuously into the Boyne!"
77O'Sullivan, et. al., p. 9.
78Carew, p. 3.
79Carew, pp. 28-9.
Referring to authors such as Charles Vallancey and Henry O’Brien, Mairéad Carew wrote, "The speculative nature of antiquarianism rendered it malleable enough to accommodate the most absurd British-Israelite theories."
She also noted that "The British Israelites married the imperialistic logic of Ledwich with the Irish patriot Phoenicianist theories of Vallancey." (p. 43)
80Ibid, p. 56.
The Irish nationalist newspaper The United Irishman exclaimed on July 5, 1902, "We would prefer to see Tara in its green-clad mantle, waiting, as it has waited, through twelve hundred years for the return of the Gael to search its bosom and restore its glory." (p. 93)
Carew also points to the poem by William Butler Yeats "To Ireland in the coming times," as a demonstration of Yeats's cultural war in "defence of a 'pristine' Tara from 'marauding' British- Israelites," in which he grouped himself with poet-antiquaries Thomas Davis, James Clarence Mangan and Samuel Ferguson. (p. 54)
"Nor may I less be counted one
With Davis, Mangan, Ferguson,
Because to him who ponders well
My rhymes more than their rhyming tell
Of things discovered in the deep
Where only body's laid asleep."
(Yeats, W. B. The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats. New York, Macmillan Co., 1933, pp. 56-8.)
81Ibid, p. 79.
On January 5, 1901 the United Irishman published Maud Gonne's account of a visionary experience she said she experienced on the Hill of Tara.
"The wind blew wildly and with a sobbing sound among the fir trees, and I seemed to see shuddering, misty forms gazing curiously at us. A weird procession wound round the great raths where the palaces had stood. Some tossed white arms as they moved in rhythmic circles, and was it the sound of the wind among the trees, or was it the echo from the harp, held high in the air by the leader of the shadowy dance--Tara, Tara of the Kings, desolation."
And again on January 19: "From the long, long banqueting hall, which seemed full of moving forms, as the wind rushed over the tremulous grass, came one, who was tall and fair, and very beautiful. Her white garments trailed on the grass like mist, and her hair had the soft faint light of stars. In her hands she bore a golden crown with high points. She stood between two thorn trees, which bended themselves into an arch above her; she did not mingle with the wild dance of desolation. Behind her was a multitude, yet she seemed alone. 'Tara, Tara of the Kings shall be free' and she lifted the crown on high;'but first the river of blood shall flow.Those who will serve me must accept the sacrifice." (p. 98)
Gonne's visions may have been influenced by her membership, along with W.B. Yeats, in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
82Carew, Mairéad. "British Jewish Leaders Sought the Ark of the Covenant at Tara." IrishCentral.com, 8 Feb. 2017, www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/british-jewish-leaders-sought-the-ark-of-the-covenant-at-tara.
The author describes in the article how Maude Gonne "...organized a protest on Tara with hundreds of children on July 13, 1902."
Unfortunately, the webpage editor wrote an extremely misleading headline for the page, as there were no "British Jewish Leaders" involved. They were British Israelites, an entirely separate tribe.
83Carew, Tara and the Ark of the Covenant, p. 99.
Carew is here quoting from The United Irishman, August 2, 1902.
84Carew, Tara and the Ark of the Covenant, p. 80.
The British Israelites, convinced of their own "Israelish" origins, were not overtly antisemetic, at least no more so than many in the Irish Independence movement. Carew quotes from an article in the United Irishmen (March 9, 1901) excoriating the British Israelites: "Instead of thanking Providence for the disappearance of ten of the twelve tribes of Jewry, a number of people in different ages had been striving to find them out and inflict them on a world suffering from the villainy of the remaining two."
85Carew, Tara and the Ark of the Covenant, p. 68.
Today we would consider the British Israelites to be white supremacists. Carew writes, "In identifying themselves with the Lost Tribes of Israel, they had come to the conclusion that the white race was 'inherently superior.'" (p. 14)
According to an 1882 article in The Irish Monthly, the British Israelites had no particularly fondness for the Irish: "Whatever benefits, however, they [the British Israelties] anticipate from the discovery...the Irishman is rigorously to be excluded from all participation in them. On inquiring of an enthusiastic believer, a short time since, what part or lot was to fall to the Irishman in the general rush eastward, the writer was curtly informed, 'nothing at all, the Irish having been proved to be descended from the Canaanites.'" (Ames, F.S.D. "An Old Stone. The Irish Monthly, vol. 10, no. 103, Jan, 1882, pp. 18-19.)
86Adomnán. "Well of the White Cow, Tara Hill." Ireland's Holy Wells,14 Oct. 2011, irelandsholywells.blogspot.com/2011/10/well-of-white-cow-tara-hill.html.
87“British Israelism.” RationalWiki, rationalwiki.org/wiki/British_Israelism.
"The 1902 book Judah's Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright by J. H. Allen is a British Israelist tract that is cited by scholars as one of the reasons why U.S. white supremacists discovered British Israelism and twisted it into the explicitly racist Christian Identity theology."
"Christian Identity...is a racist, anti-Semitic, and white supremacist interpretation of Christianity which holds that only Germanic, Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Nordic, Aryan people and those of kindred blood are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and hence the descendants of the ancient Israelites..." (“Christian Identity.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 4 June 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Identity.)
Muiris O’Sullivan considers the British Israelite vandalism at the Rath of the Synods to be "reminiscent of Schliemann's search for ancient Troy," which occurred only 20 years earlier. (O'Sullivan, et. al., p. 9.)
Schliemann used ancient literature (Homer) as his guide, similar in some ways to the British Israelites using their eccentric reading of the Bible and mythology to create their own blueprint for excavation. Schliemann, who deployed dynamite in his excavations and was not above smuggling artifacts out of the country, may have served as an inspiration for the British Israelites. Schliemann also "discovered," and introduced to the West the ancient symbols that was to evolve into the Nazi swastika, finding "...on shards of pottery and sculpture at least 1,800 variations on the same symbol..." (Boissoneault, Lorraine. “The Man Who Brought the Swastika to Germany, and How the Nazis Stole It.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 6 Apr. 2017, www.smithsonianmag.com/history/man-who-brought-swastika-germany-and-how-nazis-stole-it-180962812/.) Given the evolution of the British Israelites into the racist Christian Identity movement, it is illustrative that books on ancient monuments, and Irish antiquarian T.J. Westropp made use of the symbol. As seen in this composite illustration, Westropp, in his 1910 plan of Dún An Óir adopted as his symbol the vertical swastika (circled in red) noted in many ancient cultures, such as uncovered by Schliemann. But a couple of decades later, the archaeologist's swastika had taken a sinister turn, literally, into the Nazi symbol, as seen on the cover of the 1935 pamphlet by Charles Diot which discusses the prevalence of the symbol within megalithic monuments. (Diot, Charles. Les Sourciers et les Monuments Megalithiques. Bourg: Imprimerie Berthod, 1935.)
Irish Archaeologist Robert Chapple's slide lecture illustrates the origins of the swastika in Irish art and archaeology.
88"Demolishing the Myths at Tara." The Irish Times, 30 May 1998, www.irishtimes.com/news/demolishing-the-myths-at-tara-1.158532.
Mairéad Carew responded to the publicity accorded Mr. Hill: ""I think it's incredible the media who were so tuned in, 100 years ago, to the destruction of a national monument that they launched a campaign to stop it, are now giving credence to Mr Hill..."
To learn more about the motivations and dogmas of those who brought their replica of the Ark of the Covenant to Tara in 2018, click here.
89Draft Tara Skryne Landscape Conservation Area 2010 . Meath Co. Council. www.meath.ie/CountyCouncil/Planning/TaraSkryneLandscapeProject/File,41581,en.pdf.
The Tara church was chartered to the Knights Hospitallers of St. Saint John of Kilmainham (the modern Knights of Malta) by Pope Innocent III in 1212.
Curiously (and ironically) the 13th century Knights have a self-defined modern successor in the Royal Black Institution, an offshoot of the Orange Order, and one with an affiliation with the beliefs of the British Israelites. See a photo of a Royal Black Institution banner in the gallery below the section on the Rath of the Synods. More information may be found here.
90Newman, Tara: An Archaeological Survey, pp. 98-101.
George Petrie thought that the stone was the shaft of a cross. (Petrie, George. "On the History and Antiquities of Tara Hill." The Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. 18, 1839, pp. 175-6.)
Rather than an accommodation to attach the arms of a cross, Newman suggests that the segmented top of the stone "may be related to a previous use perhaps as a jamb or lintel in the earlier church."
Anthony Murphy has suggested that Cross of Adamnan may have disappeared, and has no connection to this segmented pillar stone with its Sheela-na-Gig.
91Wilde, p. 104.
James Boswick names the druids (and the poets) of King Conn Cetchathach: "One of the Irish Mss. thus introduces the Magical stone of Tara: -- 'One evening Conn [Conn Cetchathach, chief king of Ireland in the 2nd century] repaired at sunrise to the battlements of the Ri Raith or Royal fortress at Tara, accompanied by his three Druids, Mael, Bloc, and Bluicne, and his three poets, Ethain, Corb, and Cesare; for he was accustomed every day to repair to this place with the same company, for the purpose of watching the firmament, that no hostile aerial beings should descend upon Erin unknown to him.'" (Bonwick, James. Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions. London: Griffith, Farran & Co., 1894. Rpt. New York: Arno Press, 1976, p. 57.)
92Zucchelli, Christine. Stones of Adoration Sacred Stones and Mystic Megaliths of Ireland. Doughcloyne, Wilton, Cork: Collins, 2007, pp. 97-8.
Connor Newman thinks it unlikely that these two stones are actually the stones the Dindshenchas called Blocc and Bluigne, nor are these two graveyard stones in their original positions. He writes, "In a thinly disguised sexual metaphor, suggesting at the same time both intercourse and birth, it is related that Blocc and Bluigne, though normally so close together that one could barely fit one's hand sideways berween them, parted only before the rightful king, who passed berween them and thence to the Lia Fail, which cried out against his chariot axle." (Newman, Tara: An Archaeological Survey, pp. 149-50.)
93Ibid, pp. 98-9.
Maureen Concannor writes, "This Sheela is carved in symmetrical fashion and seems to have big ears or some appendage from her ears. Note the hunched shoulders, the crouched position and the arms focused on the genitals." (Concannon, Maureen. The Sacred Whore: Sheela, Goddess of the Celts. Cork: Collins, 2004, p. 60.) Crediting the Christian saint with more tolerance than he may deserve, she adds, "That it has survived in situ for over 1,300 years through puritanical times attests to the veneration people had for the early saints of Ireland, such as Adamnan. It certainly attests that Adamnan still believed in the power of the Divine Hag." (pp. 83-4)
Regarding the antlers, or horns, seen by some observers, a visual reference has been suggested to the god Cernunnos. R.A.S. Macalister writes, "There are enormous projections at the sides of the head, the nature of which, owing to the weathered condition of the monument, it is impossible clearly to make out. But they have every appearance of being a pair of horns. (See Plate VIII). A cross-legged, horned human figure can have but one meaning when found in a Celtic region. It must represent the important deity which on one of the famous Paris altars is named cernunnos. Cernunnos has all the barbaric characteristics of a very ancient, primitive deity. He seems, indeed, to be an animal god arrested while in the very process of 'anthropomorphising.'" (Macalister, p. 255.)
94Newman, Tara: An Archaeological Survey, pp. 53-9.
Newman writes, "Although there appear to have been no posts or post-casts recovered in the excavated area, the size and shape of this trench suggested to the excavator that it was the foundation trench for a stout wooden palisade which, he speculated, may once have formed a continuous stockade around the inside of the earthwork (Ó Ríordáin, 1961, 9). That this feature did indeed encircle the interior of the monument is now supported by geophysical prospection, which has revealed the existence of a narrow, linear feature, approximately 2m inside the edge of the fosse, at four different locations around the enclosure."
95Schot, Roseanne. "Forging Life amid the Dead: Crafting and Kingship at Iron Age Tara." A Research Miscellany, by Michael Ann Bevivino et al., The Discovery Programme, Centre for Archaeology and Innovation Ireland, 2018, p.1.
These discoveries were made in a relatively small 1997 excavation just to the north of the Mound of the Hostages.
Fenwick and Newman mentioned the magical associations of Iron Age metalworking: "This wealthy and prestigious group of people chose to construct their settlement at Tara, with an obvious understanding of its importance in Irish Iron Age society. In the same way, the industrial activity with probable associated domestic settlement may not only represent ordinary non-ritual activity. In early Irish literature the craft of smithing and metalworking generally appear to have sacred or magico-religious status....The special position of the metalworker has also been noted in Britain, where ethnographic and historic accounts suggest that ironworking was considered a mystical process during which rocks were converted into powerful cultural artefacts." (Fenwick, Joe, and Conor Newman. "Geomagnetic survey on the Hill of Tara, Co. Meath, 1998-9." Discovery Programme Reports: 6: Project Results, 2002, pp. 71-7.)
96Newman, Tara: An Archaeological Survey, pp. 53-9.
No evidence of an original entrance has yet been discovered. Although Newman has identified three possible locations for entrances that may have been later additions. One is in the south, where there seems to be a “gap in what is taken to be the palisade trench.” There is also evidence for a possible entrance in the north-west, and one at the eastern side of the monument. “This does not, however, preclude the possibility that there was an original entrance at any of these points; there is simply no evidence for one.“
97O'Curry, Eugene. On the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish. London: Williams and Norgate, 1873. III, p. 12.
The author writes, "Tea the wife of Eremon one of the Milesian brothers who took Erinn from the Tuatha Dé Danann. It was because Tea was in accordance with her own request buried in the rampart of this primitive house that the name of Tea Mur that is Tea's Mur or rampart now Tara was first given to the hill by the Milesians. A small mound remained still at the time of Cuan O' Lothchain about the year 1000 as the remains of this once famous mound but all vestiges of it have now disappeared though its situation is still pointed out as a little hill which lies to the south between the Foradh and Cormac's House."
One possible location for Tea Mur (or Múr Tea) may be a small mound that was incorporated into the inner bank of the Forad.
98Newman, Tara: An Archaeological Survey, p. 59.
Newman writes, "Some of these monuments probably pre-date the construction of Raith na Rig and were deliberately incorporated into it to enhance its ritual standing. Being the summit of the Hill of Tara, this area was probably afforded special status, reflected in both the number and the complexity of monuments in the immediate area."
99Dowling, Gerard. "The Liminal Boundary: An Analysis of the Sacral Potency of the Ditch at Ráith na Ríg, Tara. Co. Meath." Journal of Irish Archaeology, Vol. 15 (2006), pp. 15-37.
Helen Roche further explains: "...the deliberate deposition of human skulls or fragments is an understandable practice in Iron Age times. It is recorded that the head was looked upon as the centre of a person's power, and in some cases the heads of the ancestors were revered and were kept within the house as a mark of respect. It has also been suggested that the burial of ancestors within, or in close proximity to, areas of habitation ensured continuity of tradition." (Roche, Helen. "Excavations at Raith na Rig, Tara, Co. Meath, 1997." Discovery Programme Reports: 6: Project Results. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy for the Discovery Programme, 2002, p. 59.)
100Sheridan, Alison, et. al. "'Tara Boy': local hero or international man of mystery?" Tara: From the Past to the Future: Towards a New Research Agenda. Edited by Muiris O'Sullivan et. al. Wordwell, 2013, pp. 212-15.
The authors further discuss Tara Boy: "Not only do the individual components of the necklace stand out as being unique or rare in Ireland and strongly point towards links with Wessex, but the overall form of the necklace itself, as a composite featuring several precious, rare and arguably amuletic materials and bead shapes, is a type whose distributional epicentre lies in Wiltshire, especially the area around Stonehenge... Such necklaces may have constituted a form of 'supernatural power dressing', worn to protect the wearer in life and during the dangerous journey into the Afterlife." (p. 219 )
"Of equal or even greater importance [to the grave goods' origins in Wessex] would have been the enduring draw of Stonehenge and of its broader ceremonial landscape as a cult centre, and the importance of making 'heroic' journeys to this distant centre and of acquiring exotic objects and ideas, as a way of underlining and enhancing the status of the elite...Therefore, like the people who had come from far and wide to the Bru na Boinne 'cult centre' nearly a millennium and a half previously, 'Tara Boy' may well have undertaken a long journey largely to confirm his identity and power as a member of the elite." (p. 225)
101O'Sullivan, et. al., pp. 237-9.
The authors write of the human remains: "An absolute minimum of 181 adults is represented amongst the cremated bone from the general tomb area, excluding the cists discussed above. To these may be added an unknown but substantial number of children and infants. The infants are almost invariably represented by unburnt limb bones.
A minimum of 63 individuals are represented in the combined assemblage of human bones from the three cists, of whom 56 are adult cremations, four are unburnt infants and three are unburnt older children."
Of the unique miniature Carrowkeel bowl found in one of the cists, the authors raise the possiblility that "this miniature vessel might be linked specifically with the presence of child and/or infant remains in the cist."
102Petrie, p. 159.
Petrie quotes from a poem of Cuan O'Lochain (d. 1024): "'King Cormac made a visitation of Ireland thrice, and brought a hostage from every fortress, which he exhibited at Temur, and that to these hostages he gave Dumha na n Giall.'"
T.J. Westropp wrote that the Mound of the Hostages was "...traditionally the basement of the house given by King Cormac to the hostages brought to him from all Ireland..." (Murphy and Westropp, p. 241.)
Due to the traditional name of this tomb, and also due to the thick metal bars on on the locked gate to the passage, many "...generations of Irish schoolchildren (and tourists) came away from brief tours of the hill erroneously assuming that this was a prison mound." (Rennicks, Rich. "Tara: The Mound of the Hostages." A Trip to Ireland, 19 July 2014, atriptoireland.com/2013/06/27/tara-the-mound-of-the-hostages/.)
103O'Sullivan, p. 7.
Although before its late-1950s excavation it was not known that the Mound was a passage tomb, there were suspicions. The authors quote Seán P. Ó Ríordáin in 1953: "the form of the mound 'shows it to be a burial mound, such as might be of almost any date in prehistoric times.'"
104O'Sullivan, Muiris. "The Mound of the Hostages, Tara: a Pivotal Monument in a Ceremonial Landscape." Archaeology Ireland, Heritage Guide No. 34, (June 2006).
The earliest datable evidence of human use of the site was from the charcoal taken from beneath the cairn and from the sod layer at its edge. Conor Newman postulated that these may be evidence of a "ritual cleansing" in preparation for the construction of the tomb. (Newman, Tara: An Archaeological Survey, p. 225-230.)
The charcoal deposits were dated to 3750-3500 (cal.) BCE. There was also a (probable) Mesolithic flake of chert discovered, which O'Sullivan described as "a spectacular discovery...offering the tantalising prospect that the Hill of Tara may have been a place to visit even before the Neolithic and/or that Mesolithic heirlooms were incorporated into the monument." (O'Sullivan, et. al., pp. 221-25.)
Despite all this, O'Sullivan et. al. warn that " It would be an optimistic interpretation to suggest that the focus of the early Neolithic activity was the site on which the Mound of the Hostages was to be constructed..." (O'Sullivan, et. al., pp. 221-25.)
105O'Sullivan, Muiris. The Mound of the Hostages, Tara: a Pivotal Monument in a Ceremonial Landscape. Archaeology Ireland, Heritage Guide No. 34, (June 2006).
106O'Sullivan, Duma na nGiall, pp. 243-44.
The author writes, "Eighteen radiocarbon determinations are available from human bone samples associated with the megalithic tomb, of which fourteen appear to reflect Neolithic depositions and four derive from early Bronze Age burials. Seven of the fourteen Neolithic dates refer to samples of cremated bone and seven to unburnt bone, including three samples from unburnt skulls."
O'Sullivan remarked elsewhere, "It was during this time that a remarkable ceremony took place. A ring of fires was set ablaze at the edge of the mound, coinciding spatially with the ring of burials inserted more than a thousand years earlier. The effect would have been spectacular, especially if the fires were burned at night, and the ceremony obviously marked a special moment in the life of the site, possibly the extension of burial activity into the mound or some such occasion." (O'Sullivan, Muiris. The Mound of the Hostages, Tara: a Pivotal Monument in a Ceremonial Landscape. Archaeology Ireland, Heritage Guide No. 34, 2006.)
107O'Sullivan, Duma na nGiall, p. 3.
Excavation of the tomb in 1959 revealed undisturbed Neolithic burial deposits, not from the tomb's interior, but from the spaces in the back of the structure's orthostats. "Sealed beneath the cairn, these deposits are a rare example of undisturbed primary passage tomb burial stratigraphy. By comparison...the primary cremation deposits in the main tomb had been subjected to considerable disturbance, caused in particular by activity associated with the insertion of early Bronze Age burials..." (p. 65)
O'Sullivan quotes the excavator (S.P. Ó Riordain): "Excavation of the tomb is a particularly slow process. The passage was completely filled with clay and stones which rose to the level of the outer face of the capstone. This fill contained numerous burials, burnt and unburnt, with and without pottery vessels. At the base of the fill a mass of bone was found-mainly cremated but with unburnt bones interspersed-the remains of scores of individuals of all ages.The main portion of the passage has now been cleared. There remains the task of completing it and the very much larger task of dealing with the chamber filled almost to the roof level. This work will take a long time and must be reserved for next season." (pp. 79-81)
In considering the later symbolic meaning of the Mound of the Hostages, the author writes, "Albeit limited to the Mound of the Hostages, the Rath of the Synods and a relatively small area between the two, the excavated archaeological evidence concurs with the generally held historical view that Tara's role after the arrival of Christianity narrowed to being a symbol of sectional kingly power and ultimately a focus of myth-laden cultural memory about the prehistoric and proto-historic past." (pp. 234-6)
According to Frank Prendergast, of the 221 passage tombs on the Island of Ireland, 15 have definite solar alignments. But the Mound of the Hostages is not listed as one of them. (Prendergast, Frank. Solar Alignment and the Irish Passage Tomb Tradition. Archaeology Ireland, 2018). However, the phenomenon is included in this database, and there is visual evidence in Ken William's photograph.
108FitzPatrick, Elizabeth. Royal Inauguration in Gaelic Ireland C. 1100-1600: A Cultural Landscape Study. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Boydell, 200, p. 50.
109Informational placard at the entrance to the Hill of Tara.
110Newman, Tara: An Archaeological Survey, p. 77.
Of the mounds that were later incorporated into the Forad, Newman writes, "These three mounds constitute the first identifiable phase in the development of the Forrad. It is not known whether they are contemporary with one another or not, but the similarity between [two of them] suggests that [they] might be."
111Grierson, Helen. "Tara." The Irish Monthly, Vol. 29, No. 336 (Jun., 1901), pp. 326-330.
In another article in the same journal, Alice Curtayne quotes from O'Connell's speech that day, in which he indicated that he "...had chosen Tara for the meeting because it was the spot where the chieftains of Ireland bound themselves 'by the sacred pledge of honour and the tie of religion to stand by their native land.'" (Curtayne, pp. 190-91.)
Other sources estimate the crowd at Tara's Monster Meeting to be up to 750,000 or even 1 million people. More than 20 years afterwards a ballad was composed to commemorate the event. (https://digital.nls.uk/broadsides/view/?id=20795)
112Newman, Tara: An Archaeological Survey, p. 77.
The author, who consulted for this Edel Bhreathnach, notes, "It seems reasonably certain that this is the feature identified in dindshenchas as Mur Tea (E. Bhreathnach, pers. comm.), the burial mound of Tea, the Egyptian wife of Érimón, one of the legendary kings of Tara."
113Ibid, pp. 148-50.
The author believes it likely the Lia Fáil was brought to Tara from Newry. "It is... of a coarse white granite, more likely to have been quarried from a bedrock source than to have been found nearby as a glacial erratic. The nearest known bedrock sources are near Newry in County Down."
114"Four Treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann." Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Jan. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Treasures_of_the_Tuatha_D%C3%A9_Danann.
According to legend, when the Tuatha Dé Danaan migrated to Ireland, they are said to have brought four magical instruments:
The Stone of Fál (Lia Fáil), which would cry out beneath the king who took the sovereignty of Ireland.
The Spear (sleg) of Lugh. No battle was ever sustained against it, or against the man who held it.
The Uscias Sword (claideb/claiomh solais) which belonged to Núada. No one ever escaped from it once it was drawn from its sheath, and no one could resist it. The sword is also described in the Tain as 'Nuadu's Cainnel' - a glowing bright torch.
The Cauldron (coire) of the Dagda. No company ever went away from it unsatisfied.
115Petrie, p. 159.
Petrie wrote that, in his time, the Mound of the Hostages was "still popularly called Bod Fhearghais, that is, Penis Fergusii, an appellation derived from the form of [the Lia Fáil]."
The standing stone, which seems to have been sculpted with that intent, aptly illustrates one of the reputed characteristics of the noble Fergus mac Róich, as laid out in the "Heptad of Fergus:" translated below by Whitley Stokes, who extracted it from within the Ulster Cycle as preserved in the 12th-century Book of Leinster:
"...Seven feet between his ear and his lips,
And seven fists [distance] between his eyes,
And seven fists in his nose,
And seven fists in his lips.
The full of a bushel-cup was the moisture of his head when being washed.
Seven fists in his penis.
A bushel-bag in his scrotum.
Seven women to curb him unless Flidais [his wife] should come.
Seven pigs and seven vats (of ale) and seven deer to be consumed by him,
And the strength of seven hundred in him.
(Stokes, Whitley. Tidings of Conchobar Mac Nessa. London, 1908.) More about Fergus here.
116Joyce, P. W. Wonders of Ireland and Other Papers on Irish Subjects. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1911, pp. 70-1.
Joyce argues, "...Petrie asserts that this was brought from the Mound of Hostages where the old writers place the Lia Fáil and that it is the Lia Fáil itself. Here we cannot go with him. For in the first place the identification of the real old Lia Fail with the present pillar stone is quite unsatisfactory and unconvincing. Fifty years ago I had a talk with one of the men who helped in the removal and I have good reason to believe that the pillar stone now on the Forradh was brought by the people in 1821, not as Petrie states writing many years after 1821 from the Mound of Hostages, which lies about 50 yards off, but from the bottom of the trench surrounding the Forradh itself, where it had been lying prostrate for generations. In the second place, the coronation stones used so generally by the Gaelic tribes all over Ireland and Scotland were comparatively small and portable like that now under the Coronation chair at Westminster, which is a flag 25 inches by 15 inches by 9 inches thick. But the present pillar stone at Tara is 12 feet long by nearly 2 feet in diameter. It would be very unsuitable for standing on during the ceremonies of installation and coronation, and seeing that the stone weighs considerably more than a ton it would be impracticable to bring it about as the legends say the Dedannans carried their Lia Fáil in their overland journeys in Scandinavia Scotland and Ireland and in their over sea voyages in their hide covered wicker boats. For even legends are consistent when dealing with ordinary everyday matters of common sense. No legend could be wild enough to tell us that the Dedannans brought with them in their wanderings lasting for generations the massive stone now standing on the Forradh."
In a 2018 paper, Grigory Bondarenko argued, "...there is clear evidence that the original Lia Fáil should not be associated with standing stones or even the conical stone now standing on Ráith na Ríg. A gloss on Fál in Baile in Scáil... and in the prose Dindshenchas... implies that the glossator possibly thought of a low and flat stone. Ó Broin and Carey have suggested that the Lia Fáil was a flagstone or a recumbent stone easy for a king of Tara to step upon and for his chariot to drive over." (Bondarenko, Grigory. "Lia Fáil and Other Stones: Symbols of Power in Ireland and Their Origins." Zeitschrift Für Celtische Philologie, www.academia.edu/38023004/.)
William Wilde proposed that the "real" Lia Fail was actually one of the two stones now identified as Blocc and Bluigne: "Perhaps the flat sculptured stone, latterly called the Cross of St. Adamnan, may have been it." (Wilde, pp. 105-6.)
117Newman, Tara: An Archaeological Survey, pp. 148-50.
T.J. Westropp wrote in 1894 that, "The hollow from which the pillar was removed is apparent on [the Mound of the Hostage's] summit." (Murphy, Denis, and Thomas J. Westropp. "Notes on the Antiquities of Tara (Teamhair na Rig)." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, vol. 4, no. 3, 1894, p. 241.)
Eugene Conwell, in 1836, conducted an informal (and unauthorized) "excavation" of the Lia Fáil , and reported, "On the top of the pillar,vwhich is rounded off, can still be traced the remains of four cup-like hollows, in their present appearance rudely dug into the stone. Other portions of the pillar also afford evidences of similar cup-like hollows." (Conwell, Eugene A., "On the Lia Fail on Tara Hill." Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy (1836-1869), vol. 9 (1864 - 1866), pp. 539-540.)
118Jordan, Carmel. "The Stone Symbol in ‘Easter 1916’ and the Cuchulain Plays." College Literature, vol. 13, No. 1 (1986), pp. 36-43.
The author states, "All the kings of Ireland, both pagan and Christian, were crowned upon this inauguration stone and their destiny was tied in with the magical powers of the stone. Keating notes that in addition to the stone being ‘enchanted,’ it also had ‘fatal’ qualities and was described by Hector Boethius as ‘saxum fatale.’ In other words, it possessed the "’terrible beauty’ of Ireland herself and her long troubled history. Significantly, the first elegy written in Ireland refers to a beautiful but ‘fatal’ Milesian goddess named ‘Fail.’ Thus from its earliest origins Ireland has been linked with both a ‘fatal’ stone and a ‘fatal’ woman whose name is intimately linked with that stone."
Some of the author's source material quotes Keating (1634).
119Bonwick, James. Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions. London: Griffith, Farran & Co., 1894. Rpt. New York: Arno Press, 1976, p. 57.
From a 1927 journal article, here's another account of the stone's prophetic powers:
"Conn Ced-Chathach, it is told, ascended the hill of Temair at sunrise, and stood on a stone at its top. To his surprise ‘The stone screamed under his feet so as that it was heard all over Temair.’ One of the druids in due course explained : ‘Fal is the name of the stone. It was out of the Island of Foal it was brought. It was in Temair of the Land of Fal it was set up. In the land of Tailltin it shall abide for ever; and it is that land that shall be the sporting fair-green as long as there shall be sovereignty in Ternair.’ Then appeared Scal (the Spectre) who revealed to Conn his coming sovereignty at Temair, and the sovereignty of each and all of Conn's descendants. They entered the house in Tara, and saw a young woman there with a diadem of gold upon her head. ‘And the maiden who was in the house before them was the sovereignty of Erinn for ever.’" (Dalton, John. "The Coming of the Ui-Briuin." Journal of the Breifny Antiquarian and Historical Society, vol. III, no. 1, 1927, p. 138. Read online here.)
Mcalister quotes a later version of the Book of Invasions's account of the stone's voice: "'There was a demon in the stone...who uttered the cry, down til the birth of Christ; but thereafter it was silent, for the power of demons was broken when Christ was born.'" (Macalister, p. 30.)
120Macalister, pp. 135-38.
Elizabeth FitzPatrick provides two different accounts of the ritual: "The fabled act of the Lia Fail at Teamhair crying out in recognition of the true king is described both in the saga De Shil Chonairi Moir (dated to about the ninth century) and in the introduction to the list of kings known as Baile in Scail (part of which may date to the ninth century). In the former, the upright Lia Fáil is portrayed as the 'stone penis' at the head of the chariot course, which screeches against the chariot axle confirming the king-elect's right to the kingship of Teamhair. A conflicting twelfth-century account in the Life of Colman mac LuacMin introduces a flagstone into the king-making ritual at Teamhair. The king-elect stands at the foot of the Stone of the Hostages and the inaugurator upon the flag-stone below, an open horsewhip in his hand so as to save himself as best he can from 'the cast [of a spear] provided that he do not step from the flag-stone.'" (FitzPatrick, Elizabeth. Royal Inauguration in Gaelic Ireland C. 1100-1600: A Cultural Landscape Study. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Boydell, 2004, pp. 102-4.)
This is the source of the "bullroarer" audio embedded within the Lia Fáil VR environment.
121Bonwick, James. Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions. London: Griffith, Farran & Co., 1894. Rpt. New York: Arno Press, 1976, pp. 259-60.
The author is quoting Rev. F.R.A., Glover, from his England, the Remnant of Judah and the Israel of Ephraim, published in 1860.
The British Israelites also referred to the Lia Fáil as "'...the symbol of empire,' and also by biblical names such as Jacob's Pillow, the Stone of Israel, the Remnant of Judah, the Pillar of Witness, and God's House." (Carew, Mairéad. Tara and the Ark of the Covenant: A Search for the Ark of the Covenant by British Israelites on the Hill of Tara (1899-1902). Dublin: Discovery Programme/Royal Irish Academy, 2003, pp. 26-7.)
122Zucchelli, pp. 97-8.
A 1902 article mentiones the antiquty of the legend regarding the Stone of Scone's Irish origins: "It is upwards of five hundred years since John of Fordun, writing in the fourteenth century, asserted that the stone which rests in the historic abbey by the Thames, was brought to Scotland by Fergus son of Ere, a Dalriadan chieftain..." (O’Reilly, P.J. "Notes on the Coronation Stone at Westminster, and the 'Lia Fail' at Tara." Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Fifth Series, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Mar. 31, 1902), pp. 83-4.)
The transfer of the Stone of Scone, from Ireland, to Scotland, and then to England would have been seen to have important political implications. "According to tradition, one of the sons of Mil would rule wherever it was located, so here was a demonstration not just of the Irish origins of the Stuart kings but also a prophetic illustration of the eventual triumph of the Stuart cause." (Waddell, John. Foundation Myths: The Beginnings of Irish Archaeology. Bray, Co. Wicklow: Wordwell, 2005. 35.)
123Archaeologist Peter Harbison described the original installation as "...the atrocious statue of St. Patrick..." (Harbison, Peter. Guide to the National and Historic Monuments of Ireland. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1992. pp. 268-70.)
Our photograph of that statue was made in 1978. Here is an earlier image, photographed prior to the installation of the fence and kissing gate.
On this early 20th-century postcard, it is not difficult to imagine the ancient pagan stone bowing in reverence before the statue of the saint.
Some sources record the date of the original statue's installation as 1829. Our source for the 1895 date is here.
The sculptor Annette Hennessey, whose design was selected for the replacement statue in 1997, did not win any friends in the local community when in a public forum there she referred to the saint as "just a myth." The antler-topped staff her St. Patrick is holding was inspired by the legend that the saint once turned himself into a deer to escape from danger.
The original statue came to a rather violent end, which you can read about here.
124O'Hagan, Terry. "Lia Fáilure : On the Recent Desecration of an Ancient Rude Monument at Tara." Vox Hiberionacum, voxhiberionacum.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/lia-failure/.
The author continues, "What is particularly depressing is the abject juvenile maliciousness of the act. One can almost understand the underlying reasons behind the rise in thefts and looting of historic artefacts, monuments and sites in recent years – unadulterated criminal greed, a complete lack of civic responsibility and a misguided belief that an illicit ‘profit’ can be made. Despite the asinine arseholery of such gobshites, at least they were after something, no matter how boneheaded, distasteful and illegal."
125"Tech Cormaic and the Forradh, Tara." 3D Icons Ireland, The Discovery Programme, Et. Al., www.3dicons.ie/3d-content/sites/9-tech-cormac-the-forrad-tara.
This source describes the feature as a "...low mound with a small hollow in the middle which may be the foundations of a house or perhaps the outline of a small barrow."
Conor Newman describes the same feature: "The interior, some 816m2 in area, is relatively flat, apart from the outline of what may originally have been a rectangular structure, 5.5m east-west by 6m north-south, just east of centre. The fact that the remains appear to define a subrectangular internal space suggests that it may once have been a building or house platform with its long axis aligned roughly north-south. It did not register in the magnetometer survey of the interior..." (Newman, Tara: An Archaeological Survey, p. 83.)
126Cusak, Margaret A. An Illustrated History of Ireland: From the Earliest Period. London: Longmans, Green, and Company, 1868. Read online here.
The author quotes to describe Cormac Mac Airt: "'His hair was slightly curled, and of golden colour: a scarlet shield with engraved devices, and golden hooks, and clasps of silver: a wide-folding purple cloak on him, with a gem- set gold brooch over his breast; a gold torque around his neck; a white-collared shirt, embroidered with gold, upon him; a girdle with golden buckles, and studded with precious stones, around him; two golden net-work sandals with golden buckles upon him; two spears with golden sockets, and many red bronze rivets in his hand; while he stood in the full glow of beauty, without defect or blemish. You would think it was a shower of pearls that were set in his mouth; his lips were rubies; his symmetrical body was as white as snow; his cheek was like the mountain ash- berry; his eyes were like the sloe; his brows and eye-lashes were like the sheen of a blue-black lance.'"
Cusak notes, of this text: " This quotation is translated by Mr. O'Curry, and is taken from the Book of Ballymote. This book, however, quotes it from the Uachongbhail, a much older authority."
127Meyer, Kuno. "The instructions of King Cormac Mac Airt: Tecosca Cormaic." Todd lecture series. (Royal Irish Academy). Volume 15, Dublin, Hodges Figgis & Co.1909, pp. v-xii. Read online here.
The author relates the tale thusly: "[Cormac Mac Airt] appeared unexpectedly at Tara, and happened to arrive when the monarch [Mac Con] was giving judgment in an important case, which is thus related: Some sheep, the property of a widow, residing at Tara, had strayed into the queen's private lawn, and eaten the grass. They were captured, and the case was brought before the king. He decided that the [sheep] should be forfeited; but Cormac exclaimed that his sentence was unjust, and declared that as the sheep had only eaten the fleece of the land, they should only forfeit their own fleece. The vox populi applauded the decision. Mac Con started from his seat, and exclaimed: 'That is the judgment of a king.' At the same moment he recognized the prince, and commanded that he should be seized; but he had already escaped. The people now recognized their rightful king, and revolted against the usurper, who was driven into Munster. Cormac assumed the reins of government at Tara, and thus entered upon his brilliant and important career, A.D. 227."
129Jokinen, Anniina. "Cormac mac Art." Luminarium. 20 May 2007. [26 June, 2019]. <http://www.luminarium.org/mythology/ireland/cormac.htm>
The account of how Cormac met his demise is from the Annals of Tighearnach, as recounted by Petrie. (Petrie, George. "On the History and Antiquities of Tara Hill." The Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. 18, 1839, p. 38.)
130"Ráith Laoghaire, Tara" 3D Icons Ireland, The Discovery Programme, Et. Al., www.3dicons.ie/3d-content/7-raith-loegaire-tara.
The information sign at the entrance to the site mentions both a defensive and a ritual use: " The site's substantial defences and its commanding views of the surrounding landscape suggest a strategic purpose. A large fosse runs inside the ramparts, however, which suggests that the enclosure had a ritual rather than a defensive character, perhaps being a henge monument."
Conor Newman emphasizes its defensive character: "The enclosure is defined by a CT-sectioned fosse...with traces of an internal bank surviving in the southwestern quadrant. The identification of this latter feature...is of considerable importance because it indicates that the monument is bivallate, with closely set ramparts, and therefore may have defensive characteristics." (Newman, Tara: An Archaeological Survey, p. 49.)
131Farrelly, John. "Meanwhile Down The Road." Indymedia Ireland, 2 July 2008, www.indymedia.ie/article/88213.
The author claims, "The harvesting [of the kale] will entail soil disturbance to a depth of at least half a metre."
From the information sign at the entrance to Tara: "A geophysical survey of the interior has brought to light a number of barrows and what appear to be settlement enclosures. The scale at which Rath Maeve was built indicates a large settled population in the area around Tara at the end of the Stone Age."
132Irslinger, Britta. "Medb 'the intoxicating one'? (Re-)constructing the past through etymology." Ulidia 4. Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on the Ulster Cycle of Tales. Queens-University, Belfast, 27-29 June, 2013." Ed. Mícheál Ó Mainnín & Gregory Toner. Read online here.
Irslinger writes, "The name Medb is assumed to be cognate with Celtic 'medu- 'mead' from PIE 'médhu- n. ‘mead, honey,’ continued by Old Irish mid, Old Welsh meth, Welsh medd and Breton mez. The adjective 'medw-o/ā-' is derived from this noun and underlies Old Irish medb 'strong, intoxicating', Welsh meddw, Breton mezv 'drunk.'"
According to Petrie: "The Meadhbh, or Meve, from whom this Rath was named, was, according to all the ancient Irish authorities, the wife of Art, the father of Cormac..." (Petrie, George. "On the History and Antiquities of Tara Hill." The Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. 18, 1839, pp. 138-9.)
133Gwynn, Edward. Poems from the Dindshenchas: Text, Translations and Vocabulary. Royal Irish Academy, 1900, pp. 21-3. Read online here.
The confusion regarding the well Nemnach may have been due to these, seemingly contradictory, verses:
Temair, whence Temair Breg is named,
Rampart of Tea wife of the son of Miled,
Nemnach is east of it, a stream through the glen
on which Cormac set the first mill...
The Caprach of Cormac is in the Rath of the Kings;
eastward from the Rath of the Kings (that is the truth of it)
is the Well of the Numbering of the Clans,
which is called by the three names...
Another source discusses St. Patrick's Well: "Poll tocair na tuiliche; meaning ‘Trial by Ordeal.' There is a medieval manuscript that talks about entering the waters and coming up again: if you had a black spot you were guilty and if you were spotless you were innocent." (Adomnán. "Well of the White Cow, Tara Hill." Ireland's Holy Wells, 14 Oct. 2011, irelandsholywells.blogspot.com/2011/10/well-of-white-cow-tara-hill.html.)
Another online source is here.
134Joan Revington, the lead OPW guide on the Hill of Tara, in a private email message on 21 March, 2019 wrote, "On the first edition ordnance survey map (1836 O’Donovan) and on Petrie’s map 1839 this well is marked as Nemnach, However in Conor Newman’s publication "Tara, an archaeological Survey" (1997) he identifies the well as Liaig (page 89) and writes that Nemnach is at the southern end of the Hill, at the bottom of the field below Rath Lóegaire (page 47). That’s the interpretation we go with today."
135Petrie, p. 158.
"Of the less remarkable monuments within the Rath na Riogh, the first is Dumha na Bo or the mound of the cow, called also Glas Teamhrach, which is described as lying to the west of Dumha na n-Giall. This is a circular mound six feet high, and forty feet in diameter at the base. In illustration of the name or origin of this mound no historical or even legendary account has been discovered. It may, however, be remarked, that innumerable legends respecting the cow, Glas, which belonged to the Tuatha de Danaan smith, Gaibhnionn, are still traditionally current throughout Ireland."
136Ibid, p. 137.
"By the side of Rath Laoghaire, to the south-east, lies the Monument of Mata Morglonnach, a treacherous solder, who lived with Cormac. One day, there were four youths playing at a certain game by the side of Rath Laoghaire, to the south east, Mata buried the four down to their hips in the ground."
137Ibid, pp. 138-9.
"The Monuments of Cu and Cethen lie on the Leither (slope) in the vicinity of Rath riogh to the west. There are two stones here; the one, the monument of Cu, the other, that of Cethen. So that it has become a common saying, 'They have acted like Cu and Cthen,' i.e. Cu slew Cethen, Cormac’s butler, in the middle of the house; and he passed directly under the height of Temur to the west, where he was overtaken and killed by the brother of him whom he had slain."
138Ibid, p. 140.
"The Monument of the Dwarf is east of them [Mael, Blocc,and Bluieni]. The Cubhat (grave) extends south-east and south (north?) west. Three feet only is the measurement of the two stones. There is a small eascaid below. This grave has a small stone under ground to the east and another to the west. It is found to be three feet at one time [of measuring] and three feet and a half at another."
"This tomb is stated to have been three feet in length, on the first measurement, and three feet and a half on the second To the understanding of this statement, it
will be necessary to observe, that the miraculous power of this tomb to adapt itself to the size of every person is recorded in many ancient Irish poems and prose tracts, as one of the thirteen wonders of Ireland. In one of these poetical accounts called Mirabilia Hibernia, which is given in a Latin translation by O'Flaherty, the tomb of the dwarf at Tara is thus described:
"The tomb of the Dwarf at Temur,
I have heard no wonder like it:
From the hour that lay under the flag
Little Sen of Senghais, grandson of Eibric,
To the largest man of the men of Fail
The smallest man along with him,
Its adaptation to either of them
Is of the wonders of the tomb." (p. 180)
139Ibid, p. 140.
"There are two mounds north of the Cubhat called Dall and Dorcha, Dall towards the south, Dorcha towards the west, and these [i.e. the persons interred under them] slew each other. And there is no wall between them, and the stones and the Cubhat."
"The monuments next noticed in the prose account, as being in the immediate vicinity of the Grave of the Dwarf, and north of the Rath of the Synods, are the mounds called Dall and Dorcha the tombs of the two blind mendicants so named,who slew each other. The accounts of the situation of these monuments, as given both in the prose and verse, are very indistinct ; the prose, as given in most copies, states, that they were to the north of the Dwarf's Grave, Dail towards the south, and Dorcha towards the west ; or, as given in the Book of Glendalough, Dall the name of the western mound, and Dorcha the name of the eastern. From the indistinctness and apparent contradiction in these accounts, it is not possible to assign, with any degree of certainty, the proper names to the two mounds, which still remain to the north and north-west of the Rath of the Synods ; but there can be but little doubt that they are the mounds alluded to, as otherwise they would be unnoticed features in all the descriptions." (p. 184)
140Ibid, p. 141.
"There is a small mound to the south-east of the ruin of this house [banquet hall] in the southern end, called Dumha na m-ban-amus."
"...Dumha na m-ban-amus, or the Mound of the Heroines, or, literally, Women Soldiers, which, according to the prose, was a small mound situated to the south-east of the Teach Miodhchuarta, and at the southern end: the verse states, more simply, that it was situated at the upper or southern extremity, and calls it the Mound of the Women who had been betrayed. This mound has disappeared, and no historical illustration of it has been found." (p. 215)
141Ibid, p. 141.
"The Grave of Caelchu and his Rath are near the northern head of Long na m-ban. This Caelchu, the son of Loarn, son of Ruadh, son of Cas, was one of the Eoganachts of Cashel, and the most distinguished of all the men of Munster for wisdom; and from him the chiefs of Ros-Teamrach and the tribe of Tuath-Cis, at Temur, are descended."
"Proceeding now to the northern extremity of the Hall, both the prose and verse place here the Rath, and the Leacht, or Grave, of Caelchu. These are described in the prose as being near the northern head of Long na m-ban, and the verse states that the Grave was to its north-east, and adds that it was a heap of stones; but there is every reason to believe that it should have been written north-west, as the Irish transcribers frequently mistake the word raip for nap. Both authorities state that this Caelchu was the great-grandson of Cormac Cas, and was one of the Eoganachts of Cashel, and the most distinguished of all the men of Munster for wisdom, and that from him the chiefs of dos Teamrach and the tribe of Tuath-cis at Temur were descended. He was cotemporary with the monarch Cormac Mac Art, and his son Cairbre Liffeachair. This Rath and Leach still remain, and the measurements of the former will be seen in the section, taken from west to east, and on a scale of 60 f. to 1 inch." (p. 215)
142Ibid, p. 141.
"The Treduma (triple mound) of Nesi, the daugher of Eochaidh Salbhuidhe, the mother of Concobhar, [Mac Nesa] at the north-eastern end near the north-east head of Long na m-ban."
"Of the persons to whom the preceding monuments referred, there is little or nothing to be found in history, with the exception of Conchobharor Conor Mac Nesa, king of Emania, or Ulster, and his cotemporary the celebrated hero Cuchullin. Tighearnach places the death of the first as occurring in the eighth year of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius, or the twenty-second of the Christian Era. His mother Nesi, from whom the adjacent Tredumha, or triple mound, was named, is stated by the same authority to have been the wife of Cathbad the Druid, and to have borne him adulterously; she is the subject of many revolting legendary Irish stories." (p. 225)
143Ibid, p. 141.
" The Rath of Concobhar Mac Nesa alongside the Treduma to the north; its door faces the east opposite the Ceann and Medhi of Cuchulainn."
"According to the same authority the Rath of Conchobhar Mac Nesa was situated beside the Tredumha to the north, with its door facing the Ceann and Medhi, or Head and Neck of Cuchullin. Near the Medhi were the ruins of the Sciath Chonchulainn, or Shield of Cuchullin, with its Tull, or hollow. The Rath, it adds, was level with the ground, and there was a small hillock in its centre, with as much of his clay, or ashes, in it as would fill the hollow of his shield.'" (p. 225)
144Ibid, p. 141.
"The Ruins of Sciath Chonchulainn and its Tul are near the Medhi to the north-east. The Rath is level with the ground, and there is a small hillock in its centre lan na teala de huir."
145Ibid, p. 142.
"The Carn of the Leinster Youths lies alongside the Sheskin of Temur to the north."
"To the north of the Sheskin, or Moor, of Tara, were situated two cairns, or monumental heaps of stones, one called the Cairn of the Leinster Youths, and the other the Cairn of the Hy-Niall Youths. These cairns were situated north and south of each other, and between them lay the Deisiol Temrach, which is spoken of in the verse as a lucky spot before going to heaven, where people turned to the right, or sun-ways. This notice has evidently a reference to the ancient pagan superstition of the Irish, not yet obsolete, that making a circle sun ways was productive of prosperity, or good fortune. This custom is still observed in the Roman Catholic pilgrimages, burials, &c." (p. 221)
146Ibid, pp. 136-7.
"The ruins of the House of Mairiseo lie from the Shee (hill?) to the north of Neamhnach [the well]. There are three small stones around it [or in it]. In its structure, this house had a high middle and low tuarad. Mairiseo was a widow who was contemporary with Cormac. Every house situated in that manner, was not sorrowful, nor without plenty."
"...the House of Mariseo, to the north of the Well Neamhnach, [has] long been destroyed, and [its] site occupied by the church dedicated to St. Patrick, and erected since the time of the writers of these ancient documents." (p. 150)
"The poem states, that this house was situated to the north, on the brink of the well Neamhnach; and the prose account agrees. It is stated to have been high at its northern and western sides, and low at the eastern—a description which would apply to its locality on the side of the hill. The poem states, that Mariseo was the female of greatest beauty in all Ireland; and the prose adds, that she was a widow who was cotemporary with Cormac. The poem adds an interesting particular connected with this locality, that from this house out towards Meath, that is, along the side of the hill to the east of the road, the houses, or dwellings of Temur, were spread." (p. 178)
147Ibid, p. 151.
148Vance, p. 11.
149The National Roads Authority is now known as Transport Infrastructure Ireland. Background information may be found here, and here.
150Dowling, J. P. "National Primary Route 3." National Motorway Info, www.irishmotorwayinfo.com/inex/roads/m3/m3.html.
151Lynas, Mark. "Weekend Feature: Ireland, One of the World's Worst Polluters." The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 4 Dec. 2004, www.theguardian.com/environment/2004/dec/04/waste.pollution.
In this "Concrete Isle" article, Lynas stated, "This is the land of the bulldozer, where Tarmac, churned-up mud and shopping malls are as likely to greet the visitor as historic castles and windswept bays. This land has been mauled by the Celtic Tiger, chewed up by double-digit economic growth - and what's left is barely recognisable."
In a response, one reader wrote (10 December, 2004), "Someone please tell Mark Lynas ("The Concrete Isle," December 4) that, contrary to appearances, the leprechaun people of Ireland occasionally need roads and houses, too. It takes a lot, I suspect, to make the average Irish person side with Martin Cullen and his roads programme, but if it's between him and the same old, pathetic British condescension as exemplified by your writer, then give me a hard hat and a cement mixer and I'll concrete over Tara myself."
152Elkins, Casey. "The Hill of Tara." Indigenous Religious Traditions, 23 Dec. 2011, sites.coloradocollege.edu/indigenoustraditions/sacred-lands/the-hill-of-tara/.
153"Hill of Tara and the Sacred Landscape of Skryne Valley." Sacred Sites International Foundation, www.sacred-sites.org/threatened-sacred-sites/hill-of-tara-and-the-sacred-landscape-of-skryne-valley/.
According to this site, "The M3 Motorway is part of a massive development program that is rapidly replacing the sacred green countryside of Ireland with big box housing developments, strip malls, superstores and suburban sprawl, all connected by new roads–900 kilometers of them, making Ireland the leader in European building. When archaeological sites such as this are in the pathway, there might be investigative archaeology, but then they are bulldozed, despite promises to do so only after careful archaeology has been undertaken."
154Breathnach, Edel, et. al. The M3 Motorway: Driving a Stake through the Heart of Tara. History Ireland, vol. 12, no. 2 (2004), pp. 5-6.
Conor Newman wrote passionately about the M3 project: "As a royal landscape par excellence, Tara is a unique example of how generations of people have contributed to the promotion, development and preservation of one human landscape over more than 4000 years. At the core of these endeavours is the sanctity of the intactness of this landscape, an organic fusion of topography, monuments, myth, history and legend, which blend together to define this as a religious sanctuary and royal estate." (Newman, Conor. "Misinformation, Disinformation and Downright Distortion: The Battle to Save Tara 1999-2005." Uninhabited Ireland. Arlen House, Galway, 2007, pp. 64-5.)
"...traditional Irish culture has degenerated into a branded commodity: make a profit from it if you can, use it as a green smoke screen to hide the real Ireland, but do not be so naive as to let Old Ireland stand in the way of profit." (p. 99)
Newman cites as an example of the government's attitude about Tara a 2004 letter from Brian Duffy, then Chief Archaeologist at the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, to his Minister, Dick Roche, that "'It could be argued that the M3 will be a monument of major significance in the future.'" (p. 62)
155Thornton, Donal. "Ireland Suffering from Ancient Curse of Tara and Furious Fairy Forts." Irish Central, 26 Jan. 2014, www.irishcentral.com/news/ireland-suffering-from-ancient-curse-of-tara-and-furious-fairy-forts-82694582-237682541.html.
Other incidents cited by Carmel Divine included Minister for the Environment Dick Roche being held up by an armed gang and subsequently losing his job and being demoted; and the chief Health and Safety Officer being seriously injured by a falling tree after work on the M3 began near Rath Lugh.
156Rathbone, Stuart. "How to Dig Holes and Alienate People. Archaeological Protest in Early 21st Century Ireland." Robert M Chapple, Archaeologist, 18 March 2013, rmchapple.blogspot.ie/2013/03/how-to-dig-holes-and-alienate-people.html.
The author laments, "...how much harm was done by the lies that were spread, deliberately or otherwise, in a country where the majority of people care so passionately about their past. When forced to have difficult discussions regarding how the needs of development can be paired to the need to protect or excavate archaeology the least we can expect is for the different parties to act honourably and honestly."
157Deevy, Mary B., and Donald Murphy. Places along the Way: First Findings on the M3. National Roads Authority, 2009, pp. vii-viii.
The "booming econony" of the era allowed the government to allocate sufficient funding for the comprehensive M3 archaeological investigations.
159Clarke, Linda. "2004:1283 - Testing Area 9, Lismullin, Meath." Excavations.ie, 2004, excavations.ie/report/2004/Meath/0012405/.
The Lismullin Henge was first discovered in 2004, but its excavation was not completed until 2007. The one-third of the monument not in the footprint of the motorway was left unexcavated. More information may be found here.
160O’Connell, Aidan. "Director’s first findings from excavations at Lismullin 1." In: Deevy, Mary B., and Donald Murphy. Places along the Way: First Findings on the M3. National Roads Authority, 2009, pp. 36-8.
161"Average Week Report NRA 2019-05-02." TII Traffic Data Site, 2 May 2019, www.nratrafficdata.ie/c2/tfweeksummary.
162Clarke, Linda, and Neil Carlin. "From Focus to Locus: A Window Upon the Development of a Funerary Landscape." In: Deevy, Mary B., and Donald Murphy. Places along the Way: First Findings on the M3. National Roads Authority, 2009, pp. 19-20..
The Bronze Age funerary sites of Ardsallagh 1 and Ardsallagh 2 (Co. Meath) were among the other sites investigated prior to the construction of the motorway. They were also within the viewscape of nearby Tara, so the possibility of intervisibility between all of these places suggests that the recently discovered sites had been strategically situated.
"These two recent excavations may have important implications for the Tara area, for they suggest that at least some of the ring-ditches at Tara may be Late Iron Age or early medieval replicas of earlier monuments while others may represent the re-use of preexisting features at this time."
163Willmott, John. “Here Is The Human Harp On Tara.” Tales from the Labyrinth, 23 Sept. 2008, celticways.blogspot.com/2007/09/here-human-harp-on-tara-sept-23rd-2008.html.
164Another website now only accessible by the Wayback Machine is that of the Tara Skryne Preservation Group (TSPG).
Among the goals of the TSPG were to have the human remains recovered during the M3 excavations " ...reinterred as close as possible to their original resting places," and to have the government provide a specific space on the Hill of Tara where "...Ceremonial Fires may legitimately be kindled during religious/ spiritual festivals throughout the year."
"Our Aims." Tara Skryne Preservation Group, c. 2009, tspg.org/aims-tara-skryne-preservation-group/. There is, however, a TSPG Facebook page.
165Newman, "Composing Tara," pp. 6–7.