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Roestown national monument at Tara removed
history and heritage |
Friday March 16, 2007 09:51 by Sickened - The Irish Nation
The NRA and Meath County Council have removed an incredible underground souterrain complex
In the last few days one of the most important newly discovered sites along the path of the M3 motorway was removed completely, and 'preserved' by record
What is going on at Tara?
The complex of beehive souterrains, triple and double, interconnected, has been removed.
Details of the site from the NRA web site can be found at:
Here's a recent article about the site, and efforts to protect it.
Ancient Tara site to be buried under concrete
Mon, Jan 15 07
Protesters are holding a vigil in an effort to prevent the building of the M3 motorway over a 6th century underground passage, at Roestown, Co Meath
IT's probably 1,500 years old, and it has survived Viking raids and the ravages of time, but in just a few years it will be buried under tonnes of concrete.
Archaeologists excavating the route of the M3 motorway from Dublin to Navan have unearthed a 6th century souterrain, or underground passage, in near-perfect condition at Roestown, Co Meath.
The souterrain, which was used to store food and valuables and as a place of refuge, will not be preserved for future generations and as a tourist site.
Instead its location and condition will be recorded before it is capped and the motorway built over it.
It is just one of dozens of sites of archaeological interest in the Tara Skryne valley - where Ireland's High Kings were based, according
to tradition - that will be treated similarly, to allow construction of the road.
Since last June, a group of protesters has camped on the Hill of Tara in an attempt to save the Valley of the Kings from being bisected by
While hard-pressed commuters want the new road, those against it question why the motorway has to be built through the middle of the
country's most important archaeological site.
The National Museum has also expressed concerns about the routing of the motorway.
Since June 21, a fire has continuously burned at the Tara Solidarity camp, tended by the thousands of protesters who have made the trip in an attempt to stop the motorway from going ahead.
The protesters include conservationists, local people and archaeologists, united in their intention to make the road an election
issue and have the motorway rerouted.
"We're hoping to get it to the top of the agenda locally and nationally," Michael Canney said yesterday.
"We're getting a fund together, and there will be a lot of political work done in the next three months.
"The protests will continue right throughout the election."
Heather Buchanan, the Navan-based chairwoman of the Save Tara Skryne Valley campaign, said "One of our concerns is that the National Roads Authority is employing archaeologists who only have a year to do their work."
One of the protesters, Debbie Reilly from Navan, said yesterday: "I'm an artist and I've camped on the hill since I was a child.
"I'd draw on the riverbank, and for me this is the source of my inspiration. This road will be so intrusive, there will be a rift in
"In Navan, there's a tradition to get a car on your 18th birthday because the buses are so poor.
"It's not difficult to see this road will not solve the commuter problems."
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Souterrains like this have been excavated+recorded+shown in lectures+published regularly by Irish archaeologists - a nice one, just as complex (albeit with less stone) was excavated and _reconstructed_ in Lisnagun, east of Clonakilty, West Cork. Countless examples exist, and can be visited in every county in Ireland.
How long will it be before the proposed N3 is itself a national monument.
At present, the use of hydrocarbons for moving individualised vehicles has a very uncertain future. maybe twenty years maximum until fossil fuels become too expensive to use for this purpose. We only have enough land in Ireland to support 20% of current vehicle numbers using ethanol/vegetable oilHydrogen used in individual cars is a non-runner.
My guess is the N3 will be empty in fifty years time. Why are we destroying our heritage for such short term stupidity
I have to say, having visited this site that there is nothing ordinary about it. 'Digger' may be used to seeing such impressive structures, but I certainly am not. It occured to me while visiting the site that we really do live in a time of cultural paralysis and extreme dysfunction as a society. How could we not, with our wealth and privledge, not take a moment and preserve these wonderful examples of neolithic architecture? What wonderful examples of humankind's ingenuiety.
Digger has perhaps fumbled in the greasy till too long to see what
is of true value.
Tara is this generation's Wood Quay. Who can look at that site now and not regret what could have been - a vista from the liffey to Christchurch - a public space of learning and enlightenment.
Make no mistake - the M3 is an archeological, enviromental and economic disaster. It is a product of corruption and short-sightedness.
This Government plans to spend €17.6 billion on new road projects over the next five years. Embarking on the largest road-building project in the history of the State, through the cultural and archeological heart of the country, is complete madness at this time. We should be reducing car-dependency and creating sustainable local employment.
Readers of Indymedia - the small number of activists on the Hill are inexperienced but committed, they need your support and encouragement. The destruction of this structure could have been prevented and highlighted by a small number of organised and experienced activists.
Tara is about resources, money, power, land-ownership, vested interests, corruption and a pathetic post-colonial disregard for our heritage and culture.
What are you going to do about it???
Just look at this article and what it says about what this guy said.
Chief archeologist only has basic degree
By - Frank McDonald, Environmental Editor.
Brian Duffy, chief archaeologist of the Department of the Environment, was appointed to his post even though he has only a general BA degree in archaeology and no track record of archaeological excavations or publications, The Irish Times has established.
Mr. Duffy got the job in July 2003, ahead of candidates with superior qualifications and professional experience - notably Dr. Ann Lynch, who holds a PhD in archaeology and has led excavations at sensitive sites such as Poulnabrone in Co. Clare and Tintern Abbey, Co. Wexford.
The job specification for chief archaeologist requires, among other things, a person with "strong leadership qualities, management skills and sound judgment" who would motivate and manage a staff of 40 and provide "expert professional advice on archaeology as required".
Competition for the post was confined to senior archaeologists in the department's heritage section. None of the three eligible applicants was interviewed; they were merely invited to submit a form describing their work, previous experience and other relevant information.
These written applications were reviewed by Mary Moylan, assistant secretary at the department's planning division, and Michael Canny, assistant secretary, corporate services. Eight days later, they recommended that Mr. Duffy should be appointed by Martin Cullen.
Prof. John Waddell, head of the department of archaeology at NUI Galway, from where Mr. Duffy graduated in 1971, said his appointment caused surprise because people were aware of his lack of qualifications and experience of excavation work.
"He has no post-graduate qualifications and, to the best of my knowledge, he has never written anything or published anything on mainstream archaeology, in contrast to most of his colleagues in the department, some of whom have PhDs and many of whom have master's degrees".
"He has never directed an archaeological excavation and has no experience in that area whatsoever, though he might have participated in one as a student 30 years ago. He also got his BA long before landscape archaeology became an important area of research".
Prof. Waddell said Mr. Duffy's "incomprehensible lack of knowledge of what constitutes an archaeological landscape" was evident in the advice he gave Minister for the Environment Dick Roche on the plan to route the M3 motorway through the Tara-Skryne valley in Co. Meath. "In failing to address the question that the Tara landscape constitutes an archaeological area . . . the chief archaeologist, the department and the Minister failed in their duty of care in respect of the country's heritage", he said in an affidavit for the High Court case on the M3.
Mr. Duffy's qualifications were also called into question during a recent Circuit Court case in which his predecessor, David Sweetman, successfully sued Associated Newspapers, publishers of Ireland on Sunday, for libel over an article on the Carrickmines case.
When his counsel, Garrett Cooney SC, noted that Mr. Duffy was involved in Carrickmines and commented that he was "a well-known and well-qualified archaeologist", Mr. Sweetman said: "Well, actually, Brian Duffy isn't well-known and, in my opinion, not well-qualified".
In the Tara case, Mr. Duffy expressed the view that the M3 motorway "will be a monument of major significance in the future". And in dealing with the Woodstown Viking site in Waterford, he argued that it could be "preserved in situ" by rolling the N25 Waterford bypass over it.
But Dr. Pat Wallace, director of the National Museum, insisted that the site was of such importance that it would have to be excavated. Without naming Mr. Duffy, he challenged the view of those "who for some inexplicable reason seem to think it would be better covered over".
Two months after becoming chief archaeologist, Mr. Duffy dismissed the view that Woodstown was a Viking longphort - which is what it turned out to be - as a "speculative notion of the site's nature, with absolutely no archaeological evidence to support it".
In response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act, the department refused to release any details of Mr. Duffy's academic qualifications, his professional career, what archaeological excavations he has carried out and what publications he has to his credit, if any.
The department cited section 28 of the Freedom of Information Act, which covers the disclosure of personal information, saying it considered "on balance [that] the public interest in protecting the privacy of the individual in this case outweighs the public interest in releasing the information".
Personnel officer Dave Fadden recently informed the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland that the process used to appoint Mr. Duffy was "in line with the department's policy on filling internal positions at this level" and that the "most suitable candidate" had been selected.
In a statement, the department said Mr. Duffy was a qualified archaeologist who has served in the National Monuments Service since 1976 "dealing with a wide range of archaeological issues including the Archaeological Survey of Ireland, conservation programmes at national monuments and all aspects of development-related archaeology".
Though the statement confirmed that the three candidates for the post had been "rated" based on written submissions, it said an arrangement has now been introduced that senior professional posts in the department "are filled on the basis of competitive interview".
© The Irish Times, 5th. December 2005.
Shure and begorrah - would he know a Nat.Monument if it kicked him in the **************?
How many places have been declared a Nat.Mon. in the past 20 year? 16, Moore Street.
Pity the 1916 guys didn't stop off at Tara.
Doesn't suprise in the least that someone like Duffy got the job. Most of the senior positions in the EPA for example are filled by similar people with dubious backgrounds - usually ones that suit the government of the day, which currently is bent on cultural and environmental vandelism up and down the country in order to line the pockets of the golden circle.
The front page of the Irish Times today (March 17 2007) shows a grinning Taoiseach while Liam Reid writes of the destruction of a royal site at Roestown.
Irish Times, Saturday, 17 March 2007
Ancient sites dismantled along M3 route
Liam Reid, Environment Correspondent
A series of ancient underground buildings from the early Christian era have been dismantled in recent days to make way for the controversial M3 motorway.
The buildings, on one of the largest historical sites discovered along the proposed route, were logged and then removed by a team of archaeologists in advance of work on the road.
Dating back 1,300 years, they are the first stone archaeological features to be taken down as part of the motorway project. The move has led to a series of protests. Yesterday historians and archaeologists attached to the Save Tara campaign said the buildings, just north of Dunshaughlin, could be part of a royal site and therefore directly linked to the Hill of Tara.
However, archaeologists working for the National Roads Authority (NRA) said buildings of this type were relatively common in Ireland and that it had been meticulously logged before the dismantling began.
Described as a souterrain, the structure consisted of three beehive chambers linked by passages.They would have been used for storage and as refuges in case of attack.
The buildings, which were discovered in 2005, date back to the seventh century and were in use up to the 13th Century.
Located at Roestown, just north of Dunshaughlin, the souterrain was part of a much larger ancient complex.
The discovery of glass beads and carvings on bone indicate that some manufacturing activity could have been ongoing on the site at some stage.
Mary Deevy, project archaeologist with the NRA, said the removal of the stone buildings were part of a series of similar excavation work along the route.
"It's completely standard archaeological practice," she said, adding that three dimensional laser images of the chambers had been taken before they were removed.
She said souterrains were relatively common in Ireland and that 3,500 are officially listed, the majority of them in Co Louth.
She said Roestown was not listed as a national monument, and that the excavation and removal had been carried out in accordance with the directions handed down in 2005 by the Minister for the Environment Dick Roche.
However, Celtic scholar Dr Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin, of the Save Tara campaign said the discovery of artefacts, including gaming board, indicated a "very high class site, probably inhabited by a king". Under Celtic laws the use of such gaming boards was confined to royalty.
She said Roestown was one of four major ancient sites discovered along the route and backs up claims by various experts that the area of royal Tara was much larger than the hill itself and extended along the Tara Skryne Valley, through the proposed route of the motorway.
"What the archaeologists working for the NRA have uncovered are the living places and the burial places of the people associated with Tara," she said.
It comes as campaigners prepare to use St Patrick's weekend to highlight the issue of Tara and the impact of the planned road on the archaeology of the area. Although the saint is not recorded as having visited Tara, he is directly associated with the area through various legends, such as the lighting of a Pascal fire on the hill of Slane nearby.
Vincent Salafia of the TaraWatch group said Roestown should have been listed as a national monument, and accused the NRA of having "rushed in and demolished the site" before it had a chance of receiving protected status. "This is the St Patrick's Day gift that the Irish Government has given to Irish people around the world," he said. "While the Government Ministers are swanning around the globe preaching the gospel of climate change, at home they are advancing one of the most environmentally and culturally damaging projects ever conceived."
Roestown - now being demolished
Stone lamp from Roestown
Beads from Roestown
Gaming board - the preserve of kings
Poetry reading on Tara begin at 5.00 pm today
Statue of St Parick on tara, facing the Hill of Skryne
Lia Fail/Sone of Destiny - location of poetry readings
Here is an article published yesterday in the LA Times by Colum McCann, novelist living in New York. He has written on this issue before and signed the statement on Tara.
Four-lane motorways on the emerald island are paving over a rich
By Colum McCann, March 17, 2007
IN HIS EXTRAORDINARY examination of landscape, history, texture and
storytelling, "Connemara: Listening to the Wind," the author Tim
Robinson says that "right living in a place entails a neighborly
acquaintance with those who lived there in previous times." What
Robinson suggests is that whoever we are now is derived from those who
went before us — their stories, their architecture, their failings,
their journeys, the roads they took. Things connect, and in those
connections lies a certain mystery.
There is a massive ongoing debate in Ireland about a motorway destined
to destroy one of the richest archeological landscapes in Europe. The
expanded route for the M3 motorway goes through the heart of the Gabhra
Valley, between the hills of Tara and Skryne. Legend records that St.
Patrick set ablaze his Pascal fire on the Hill of Slane, just as the
pagan fire was to be lighted on Tara. Successive Irish kings were
crowned there. History lies deep. In a week when Irish politicians come
to America bearing bowls of shamrock, it's interesting to ponder that
they're going back to dreams of concrete.
The proposed road is a four-lane tollway, the sort that Ireland has
grown fond of in recent times. Cultural and environmental activists
predict that the motorway will inevitably be followed by all kinds of
commercial and ancillary development. Much of the Emerald Isle is
key-chained with crossovers, flyovers and high steel bridges these
"Future tourists are sure to be confused by what they encounter in
County Meath and indeed throughout the country," says Muireann Ni
Bhrolchain of the Campaign to Save Tara, a newly formed umbrella group
for the dozens of opposition groups. "Rampant development throughout
the country, much of it facilitated by corrupt officials, has been a
byproduct of Ireland's breakneck economic expansion over the last
Roads touch our lives in more intimate ways too. Recently I was reading
a book about the Irish high kings to my 8-year-old son, John Michael.
He loved the Stone of Destiny, the ancient coronation stone, and was
fascinated by the notion that the stone would roar when touched by the
"Did it shout?" he asked. I said I had no idea, but I imagined so.
"Good," he said, and then asked: "Have you ever been there?" Many
times, I told him, even once when I was his age. His eyes lighted up,
as young eyes do at the wonder that their fathers had ever been the
same age as them.
"Did you ever hear it roaring?" he asked. I said I hadn't, but I bet it
would for him.
Just a few hours later I received a series of photographs showing that
work on the M3 had already begun. Trees were being ripped up in and
around the Gabhra Valley, which happens also to be the site of the
proposed interchange at Blundelstone, near the heart of the matter. It
seemed that the Irish National Roads Authority and the Meath County
Council were trying to get a jump on construction so that the proposed
rerouting of the motorway could not take place.
So be it, perhaps. Roads find their places. Ireland is changing.
Perhaps we should just let it change.
But then the question is, what sort of Ireland might remain?
The area of highest contention is about two miles of the Tara-Skryne
valley. Few people dispute the wider issue of the need for a better
road. Defenders point out that the motorway is about three-quarters of
a mile from the Hill of Tara. It will take 30 minutes off the journey
between Dublin and Cavan. Some even claim, amazingly, that it will
restore tranquillity to the area. There is even an argument that the
road and its floodlights will become part of the archeology of the
future. Hallelujah, the future says. A four-lane highway. Another Stone
But we bury the past only if we're ashamed of it. We have a
responsibility to heritage, environment and, indeed, imagination. Yet
most meaningful Irish debates these days seem to take place only in the
realm of time and money. Half-hours are crucial to the economics of the
future. Those who oppose these notions are labeled contrary, dreamy,
populist. Even when viable alternate routes are proposed, the
proponents are labeled simplistic. But nothing is simple, not even
As an Irish novelist living in New York, I've been told that I should
keep my "bourgeois," "emigrant" and "sentimental" nose out of the
debate. It is not my story. It is not my road.
But the road here has gone back an awful long way. If we are not to be
ashamed in the future, we must take whatever care we can of our past.
In a strange, naive way, I think my son, here in New York, might
understand this too.
These are our roaring stones — and sometimes they take root in the most
Clinton's excellent book says there are 3,500 souterrains on the isle.
The High-kings would have loved a road from Teamru that allowed up to 4 chariots to race down to Dubhlinn. Think of the craic.
The papers said it was 'pulled down'. Surely pulled up would be the case?
The whole M3 story is becoming a saga. Some of us live in 2007, not 807.
Tx for the swipe about the greasy till Cheeba, how do you pay your bills? Something to do with high horses no doubt.
I was simply making the point that souterrains like that at Roestown are all around us in Ireland - and I never said they were 'ordinary'; they are there to be visited and in this small country, when all of the roads are built, the vast majority of them will still be there to be visited.
Notwithstanding that, it seems one persons demolition is anothers scientific excavation which is a point I'd expect journalists to be aware of.
roestown represents the cultural dna of human beings who believed in spirit, beauty, honour, family and many other things we have forgotten.
they were probably brutal, and ignorant in their own way too... but it wasn't for them bleeding, digging, praying, building, you would't be here...
it is amusing and appalling to see fellow humans gleefully delight in vaporising our own bones and footsteps on this motorway to oblivion
while we're at it, let's tear up the Mona Lisa....sure there's millions of paintings in the world....
as for your motorway 'technology;'' ... you are much closer to the Early 1970's in your thinking...
digging up dead humans for a living...taking pictures of them and spitting in their faces...what truly inspiring Modern human you are
how many of the 3,500 souterrains will be here in 100 years because of the likes of you??
In the few years I've been digging I've never seen anybody spitting on human remains - human remains excavation has always been a solemn, emotionally charged act. The same goes for the excavation of features such as the souterrain at Roestown - field archaeologists take excavation very seriously and when it's raining or snowing tomorrow we'll be the ones out there making sure the excavation record is good enough - no amount of money from 'the greasy till' can generate the passion needed to do excavation in Ireland today.
Given what we know about climate change, peak-oil and the loss of community that results from suburbanisation. The need for local and sustainable jobs. The capital flight gathering pace to low-wage and lower-taxation economies. The corruption and gombeenism.
I too wonder...
digger. the point, as you well know, is that there are places that should be dug, and there are places that should remain 'in situ'. roestown and other tara related sites should remain in situ, because of their national and international importance. that's what valetta convention says, as does irish policy. that is why many planning permissions are turned down in the tara area... for the likes of you and me... but because the government wants to do it, and it is national policy to build motorways, then its ok to dig these sites and people up.
there is a lot of secrecy around human remains and what becomes of them, once the NRA get their hands on them. nobody is arguing there should be no excavation or construction anywhere...and it is reassuring to know not all 'archaeologists' working for the nra are just diggers, without sensitivity. but...where do the bones go?
roestown is not a souterrain like any other souterrain.... its location and context cannot be ignored... it is part of a greater whole, that is completely unique to ireland and the world. just as a dwelling connected to mount siani would be more important than a dwelling 100 miles away. roestown's importance comes both from its physical existance and its relationship to other sites, making up a single entity. they tell a story, a story of our origins, in the the most illustrative way possible. we are digging up something that was of supreme importance to those people...and that is what i mean by spitting in their faces... you're also spitting in the face of the majority of irish people, who don't want you to do this, by the way...
Since when has Roestown been in the 'valley between Tara and Skreen'? And where are the other legal challenges we were promised after Salafia told us he was 'pleased' to announce that he was taking the NRA's deal and leaving the way clear for 'others' after his pitiful attempt in the High Court?
What we needed in 807 in the (many) dynastic wars was a hole in the ground to hide in while the fighting raged. If it was found and someone tried to get in, you bopped them over the head. If it was the only souterrain in Ireland or Meath, then fair enough, set up an expensive interpretive centre for this royal bolt-hole.
In 2007 we need roads. Even if the oil runs out we can run our donkey carts from Cya-van down to Dublin more efficiently on a motorway. Probably the canals will make a come-back. But until then could we have just one decent road towards the northwest please, for those of us who are still the plebs - not gombeens - just ordinary working taxpayers.
Most of the people objecting to this mad route are not against a road. anyway originally it was to be an upgrade and bypasses - as a result of the insistence of having a spanking new road those towns are still clogged with traffic. They could have been bypassed years ago, the upgrade was first mooted in 1999. Its now 2007 in case you hadn't noticed.
Why a new road? The old road could not be tolled. This is tolled twice
The only independent survey carried out on the issue showed that 2 out of 3 people are against this route. This is an undemocratic decision that was not part of the NDP in 2000.
Who made the decision to change from road to motorway? Why was it not part of the NDP?
Was it part of FF/PD policy in 2002 to destroy Tara?
The Blundelstown interchange - at the foot of the hill - will attract development. It will be floodlit.
Why is it situated there?
Interchange at Tara
Impact at Tara
Some people are using the need to access Dublin from the North-West as an excuse for building a tolled motorway through the Garbha Valley.
Already 73% of motorway capacity in the country is located in the south and east region with only 27% in the BMW region. The imbalance in spatial planning in the country is the main cause of excess commuting distances already. If a proportion of the €17.6 billion currently allocated to roads were diverted to regional job creation this would go some way towards alleviating this problem.
North Doneagl, Monaghan and Tyrone are already well served by the M2, while South Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo are served by the M4.
The question of whether a third motorway should go through Meath (the M1 and M2 already traverse the county) is extremely questionable.
But what of Cavan? Here's two mental ideas for you and your donkey to consider M3-4-me: Why not connect Cavan to one of these two existing roads thereby diverting all traffic from the county and from central Donegal and Fermanagh to one of these two existing routes. Here's another wild one: Why not re-open the existing railway line between Cavan and Kells and Navan and Clonsilla? Both whacky
eh? Platform 11 estimate that this route could be re-opened by 2011.
If you really want an insight into the NRAs agenda you should note that if the M3 is built as presently proposed it will cut this existing railway line, likely making any reopening prohibitively expensive in the future. But then this will perfectly suit the roads lobby, CRH and the tolling companies.
If you care about your county and your community, M3-4-me, as opposed to just yourself , then you would question why regional development in this counrty is treated as an afterthought, that is after the developers and corrupt politicians enrich themselves at our expense.
You are thinking exactly as the landowners along the proposed route are thinking - fuck the future, it will benefit us, so we don't care.
Open you eyes Cavan man.
As an Irishman who is proud of our heritage both spoken and historical I am shocked, angry and disgusted that the desecration of our historical monuments is acceptable in the name of progress.
What next I ask myself, will they tear down Newgrange and replace it with a Tesco super store?
to the superior contributors, I reckon ye are confusing the politics with the facts...
As for me, I'm gonna keep salvaging time ...
As for ye, good luck with the aggressive good intentions...
Think of how many millions more euros of tax-payers money will be wasted by choosing this route instead of the more viable less destructive alternatives. And all to line the pockets of the golden circle including some of the stars of the planning tribunals!!
The Maynooth Advocate is the new student paper from NUI, Maynooth
Maynooth Advocate Special Feature (From the blog of the Maynooth
Advocate - a new student newspaper at the National University of
Friday, March 16, 2007
Amhrán na bhFiann by Stephen Galvin
There is an unsurpassable feeling as I sit or stand around a campfire –
a feeling as though I have always been there. Though I may be meeting
people I have never seen before, of races and beliefs I have never
known, there is rarely a feeling that I am unwelcome, amidst certain
people. An indigenous quality of welcome is present for the benefit of a
stranger, to be incorporated wholly into a community to the level of
their choice. If I want to be alone, I will be so, and if I want
company, they will give it to me. Who are the people of the vigil camp
of Tara, who remind me of the inhabitants of the various kinds of living
quarters I have loved in West Cork – people who do not judge, but ask
important questions. And who am I to be here?
I watch the group of young (16 – 18) girls who seem to run the eatery at
Tara, where I eat a drastically overpriced bagel for breakfast. They
discuss make-up, tight jeans, sequined belts, and show their affection
to one another in giggles and pinches. A culture shock is in the world
of difference between the lifestyle apparent here, where I take my
breakfast because I can afford it, and that of two fields away where I
spent last night, in a tepee with a fellow who has lived and maintained
a fire for over nine months, and his companions who have been there
about as long, camping outside through the 2006 summer and winter. They
maintain a 24/7 Solidarity Vigil, protesting all day each Friday and
participating in and organising certain branches of the Tara protests. I
drink coffee from a cafetiere and they drink tea that they boil in the
pot on the fire. These soldiers’ communal point, a large tepee, has been
improved upon even since my last visit to Tara two weeks ago. A local
friend and participant in the campaign has helped put together people’
ideas to form a stove from two half barrels and an aluminium pipe, which
helps the smoke lift through the smoke hole on top of the wigwam and
reduce the amount of rain that can extinguish the fire. Allow me to
reiterate that this fire was lit on the Summer Solstice of 2006 and has
not gone out, despite several different base locations.
The café is far too warm after last night’s freezing endeavours. The
central heating, exploited, overwhelms this spoiled writer, not as used
to the cold as those in the camp, but not wanting this strange wasteful
heat either. My life, O Reader, was not an uncomfortable one thus far. I
have always maintained, or have had maintained for me, the pleasures and
comforts necessary to stay healthy, and happy. I have always been warmed
by the help of my family, and sometimes my friends. But I now feel cold.
I feel rigid and hurt. I wonder if the power of an idol god in the shape
of the Euro, has finally sunk its teeth into a formerly generous and
moralistic nation. Are we so rich, that not only can we refuse the
menial petrol-station-toilet-cleaning jobs in the knowledge of those
willing to be paid less, but perhaps we leave it to the foreigners, too,
to fight our battles for basic heritage protection?
I feel sick from finally clicking in to the ignorance in which our
country is kept, pawning a unique folk land to the dirty whores that run
the Ultimate of our society. We all know the evil controlling hands that
touch our everyday lives, molesting us through our recreational
pleasures, and we are all aware of the extent to which the U.S.A is
brutally wiping out anyone who, like the Irish once did, stand against
their marauding invaders. To some degree, we all know that it’s not just
the puppet-masters of our baby Bush, and that our own evil of greed and
petty, shoddy, lazy selfishness is shit-bombing our doorsteps.
Authoritarian forces continue to rape our children. We are all aware,
and yet we continue to sit around claiming we’re not to blame. Where are
all you nationalists now, who so love to quote your fathers’ passions
about the so-many-years of oppression, and the War of Independence?
Where are you, as our Heart-Land is being destroyed? What does your
media report of the full-bodied skeletons of the Fianna being bagged,
broken, removed, most being prepared to be ploughed and covered by an
unnecessary 10-lane motorway with a 52-acre interchange? Why, in the
name of Ireland, is no one being informed about what’s going on in Tara?
And why are our prejudices continuing to block us from even looking!
This is not the first time I have wanted to shout at the world. Nearly
every day that passes, I am not entirely able to keep peace with myself
for not doing more, and I develop world-weariness. But saving the planet
is not all about intention, though that is the first need. It was
synchronistic to choose the weekend to go to Tara in which I could
experience all aspects of what’s going on there. One of the main reasons
for my journey recently was to witness the lunar eclipse and to partake
in a general ceremony of appreciation of the Life we hold, for which the
hill is famous. I was not prepared for the onslaught of information that
was borne down on me for the duration of my stay, nor for the emotional
depression that I held as I traversed through three of the thirty-eight
Skryne-valley archaeological excavation sites (Baronstown, Collierstown
and Soldier’s Hill) to see what was being done. I and a number of new
friends, including an Irish archaeologist, examined trenches and items
that were being dug up – some things bagged and removed, most would be
disregarded. What the media called “charred remains” was in fact a
sacred cemetery, in which over 30 graves were all pointing towards the
King’s Hill, Tara. According to the archaeologist with us, these would
likely have been important people – Fianna warriors, leaders, or kings.
The land cried to me, and I cried for the land. And I cannot tell you
what these moments are like – when the spirits of the environment
surround you and screams to you in pain. There is wrong being done!
Grave-stones are being used to hold down plastic sheeting, tombs are
left exposed to the elements and are disintegrating, purely because of
“bad workmanship,” as my archaeologist friend politely called it, and a
very evident contemptuous uncaring for anything found, because they do
not want to find anything. They do not want people to know that anything
is there. They do not want us to know, because we would stop this
atrocity if we knew.
“They” are the National Road Authority, who employ large numbers of
archaeologists to partake in a mediocre level of excavation – but
nothing that stretches beyond the perimeters of the proposed motorway
(even though some of the thirty-eight sites spread over larger areas).
It is clear that they have a preconception that they will be building
this road no matter what they find (anyone remember the Nice Treaty?)
Pat Wallace, the Director of the National Museum of Ireland, has written
to the Minister for Environment against it, and has been ignored. Where
does this leave us?
Along with staying in the camp and seeing several excavation sites, I
was also present at one five-hour meeting of the Campaign to Save Tara,
effectively the foremost and last group to be working against this. Any
questions and confusions about what is being done were quenched. But
even this official organisation, made up of members of branch campaigns
such as Save Tara, Tara S.O.S. and Tara Watch, can only do so much.
Their message is clear: Stop the road going through the Skryne-Tara
valley and put into action one of the several alternative routes or
methods available to achieve the same goal. They will be having an
official campaign launch in the first week of April. Please listen,
brothers and sisters: This is the time to act.
Posted by Maynooth Advocate at 2:07 PM 0 comments
Tara Facts by Muireann Ni Bhrolchain
“For the most part people did not live on Tara; they buried their dead
there and built temples. They lived, instead, in the immediate hinterland,
in the shadow of their sacred mountain.” (Conor Newman, former director,
the Discovery Programme)
Proposal for the M3 in Meath
An Bord Pleanála approved the route of the M3 6-lane motorway in August
2003 and a campaign to reverse the decision began. The initial proposal was
to upgrade the existing N3 and bypass the towns of Dunshaughlin, Navan and
Kells but an existing road cannot be tolled. The motorway includes 2 tolls
and a floodlit 53-acre interchange 1500m from the top of the Hill of Tara
at Blundelstown. The width of this type of motorway is 27 metres but the
actual land take could be double that figure. The width and proximity can
be seen by a visit to the N3 just beyond the entrance to Tara. Fears that
development would follow have been confirmed with the first planning
applications being lodged.
In 2004 the National Roads Authority (NRA) and Meath County Council
(MCC) employed an archaeological company to carry out test-trenching and 38
sites were found in the section between Navan and Dunshaughlin.
In May 2005 the Minister for the Environment gave directions under the
National Monuments Act 2004 for the excavation and removal of these sites
against the advice of the director of the National Museum and leading
archaeological experts worldwide. He could have refused according to a
previous minister, Michael D. Higgins. He set up Dúchas and with a new act
this gave Irish heritage the best protection in Europe. This Government
dismantled Dúchas and amended the act.
The NRA and the Government present us who object to the present route as
a minority; the only independent survey, carried out by RedC, found that
70% of people said that they wanted the road rerouted out of the Valley.
The NRA spend hundreds of thousand of euro on propaganda – a booklet to
every house in Meath, full page newspaper advertisements and a huge folder
and DVD posted all over the world.
Six primary routes were presented to choose from, two outside and four
inside the Valley between Tara and Skryne. The NRA and MCC ignored the
advice of experts at the time and still downplay the enormity of the sites
on the chosen route. No geophysical survey was done on the other routes
suggesting that they never seriously considered another choice. Tara is
recognised as having a number of defensive outposts including one called
Rath Lugh and the present route divides it from Tara.
The archaeological company owned by Margaret Gowen Ltd. said:
“The monuments around Tara cannot be viewed in isolation, or as individual
sites, but must be seen in the context of an intact archaeological
landscape, which should not under any circumstances be disturbed, in terms
of visual or direct impact on the monuments themselves” (N3 Navan to
Dunshaughlin Route Selection, August 2000, paragraph 7.3)
The same company advised the route selection company, Halcrow Barry:
“It would be virtually impossible to underestimate the importance or the
sensitivity of the archaeological and historical landscape in this area”
(Margaret Gowen and Co. Ltd., N3 Navan to Dunshaughlin Route Selection:
Archaeology, August 2000, 3.1).
The Environmental Impact Statement said: ‘this section of the N3 runs
through one of the richest and best known archaeological landscapes in
This concern was seen from as far back as 1999 in V.J. Keeley Ltd.’s
Archaeological Assessment Paper Survey, Preliminary Area of Interest N3
Dunshaughlin North to Navan West, Co. Meath where it is reported that:
“In addition to being highly visible from the Hill of Tara, the route
passes through the archaeologically sensitive landscape of the stream
valley (ibid., 6.5.1.). No mitigation would remove the effects of this
route on the Hill of Tara or on its outlying monuments. It would have
extremely severe implications from an archaeological perspective.”
The routes became known by their colours on the map, and the so-called Pink
route running to the east of the TaraSkryne Valley and the original
preferable route, was regarded as the ‘least intrusive’ and would have no
archaeological impact. The chosen Blue route was recognised as having the
highest number of archaeological sites; the engineer said the three
criteria used were engineering, economics (Cost Benefit Analysis) and the
environment of which archaeology was only a sub-section.
Tara and the Gabhra Valley
The archaeological importance of Tara and the Valley is obvious but Tara
was also the principal site of Irish ritual kingship. The god Lug claimed
kingship of the Tuatha Dé Danann on top of the Hill, Cú Chulainn’s head and
right arm are said to be buried there. Cormac mac Airt built Skryne
(originally Achall) when he lost an eye and could no longer live in Tara.
The last battle of the Fianna, the Battle of Gabhra, occurred in the Valley
where Cormac’s son was killed and buried. King Laegaire confronted St
Patrick at Tara when the first Christians arrived in Ireland.
In 1992 Charles Haughey set up the Discovery Programme and the first
area chosen for study was Tara. Three experts, Dr Edel Bhreathnach
(historian), Conor Newman and Joe Fenwick (archaeologists) were employed to
carry out a unique research project. In 1953 Eamon de Valera turned the
first sod on the excavations carried out by Séan Ó Ríordáin; the
Taoiseach’s son Ruaidhrí de Valera continued this work. Minister Síle de
Valera turned the first sod on the Discovery Programme’s excavations in
The three experts said in a statement (2004):
“This is a unique landscape ought to be subject to the highest level of
protection. Any surveying or excavation undertaken should happen only as
part of a well thought-out research plan … Clearing archaeological sites
from the path of a motorway does not constitute a research plan … Visible
monuments such as Rath Lugh which form clear confirmation of the ceremonial
complex of Tara will be left stranded on the side of a motorway.”
At the Oral Hearing, the archaeological expert on Tara, Conor Newman
“The Hill of Tara is one of the most important and famous archaeological
complexes in the world … This is not hyperbole, it is a statement of fact.”
He also said:
“The Hill of Tara represents the ritual and political core of a far larger
territory or landscape. It cannot be regarded, or treated of, in isolation
from this broader landscape because this would be to divorce it from its
cultural and geographical context. For the most part people did not live on
Tara; they buried their dead there and built temples. They lived, instead,
in the immediate hinterland, in the shadow of their sacred mountain.”
Tara - a touchstone for later historical campaigns
Aodh Ó Néill, who was considered a national leader in 1599, visited Tara
for a victory assembly. Even earlier, in 1527 another leader Ó Conchobhair
went to Tara to symbolically shoe his horse. The Lord Deputy Sidney, in
1570, asked the Anglo-Irish lords to assemble at Tara and the Meath gentry
gathered there during the 1641 rebellion. There was a battle near Tara
during the 1798 rising; some of the dead were buried on the Hill. Daniel
O’Connell held a monster meeting there 15th August 1843 and said: "We are
standing upon Tara of the Kings … This was emphatically the spot from which
emanated every social power and legal authority by which the force of the
entire country was concentrated for national defence."
For a number of years after 1899, the British Israelites looked for and
received permission to dig on the Hill as they believed that the Ark of the
Covenant was buried there. A letter was sent to the Times in London by
Douglas Hyde, George Moore and W.B. Yeats that said: “Tara is, because of
its associations, probably the most consecrated spot in Ireland, and its
destruction will leave many bitter memories”. Not since then has there been
such a threat to Tara.
Legalities and Ministers
A court case taken in January 2006 failed, affidavits were dismissed and
oral evidence was not admitted. A previous judgement on Tara was made in
1972 when Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh Chief Justice of the Supreme Court said: “The
expression ‘national monument’ means a monument or the remains of a
monument, the preservation of which, is a matter of national importance by
reason of the historical, architectural, traditional, artistic, or
archaeological interest. A monument, among other things, is anything that
by its survival commemorates a person, action or event.”
European petitions and complaints have been lodged and some are still
outstanding but even they seem to be powerless.
Archaeological work and methods
There were 38 sites discovered in the section between Dunshaughlin and
Navan by a method known as test-trenching where the soil is stripped back
by mechanical diggers. A more precise way to do this work is to use a
Geophysical Survey that is much less invasive. The areas between those
chosen for test-trenching were not properly tested and their archaeological
content is as yet unknown. Despite the opinion of the Director of the
National Museum that mechanical diggers should not be used on the sites
they are being used throughout. In his 18-page advice to the Minister he
said that sites were being downgraded: “This almost amounts to the
re-definition of a monument type in non-monument terms. In many other
instances there is a lack of archaeological detail – even in summarised
form - in the Resolution Documents relative to that provided in the
testing reports. For example in the case of Baronstown 1, Bronze Age
material uncovered during testing is not mentioned in the resolution
document. Little or no attempt seems to have been made to interpret the
sites as opposed to describing isolated features.”
The omission of such finds is quite sinister in the context of the
rumours that emerge from sites about artefacts that are covered up and
hidden. Couple this with the chilling sentence in the Chief State
Archaeologist’s letter to the Minister: “It could be argued that the M3
will be a monument of major significance in the future and be seen as a
continuation of the pattern of route development through the valley.”
The alternative routes were not seriously considered, neither was the
re-opening of the existing railway line nor the widening of the N3. The
motorway leads to the M50 at Blanchardstown – the NRA admits that the new
M50 will fill up immediately. If the new outer orbital route is built there
will be no need for the M3. Another choice is linking the existing road to
the upgraded N2.
The Irish Times and Sunday Tribune published against the route.
Thousands signed the online petition and wrote to the Minister for the
Environment and to the Transport and Environment committees. A march was
held in Dublin (2004) and another in Navan (2006). Hundreds of letters and
articles have appeared in papers from American to Japan, group letters were
signed, one by 30 academics in April 2004, the American Institute of
Archaeologists, another signed by 22 archaeologists based in England,
Scotland and Wales. A statement signed by 320 academics was presented to
the Government in 2005 just before the Minister made his decision; names
are still being added. Sam Green of the Landmarks Trust wrote a letter to
the paper and John Bruton, ex-leader of Fine Gael, said in a letter to the
NRA: “It is undoubtedly the case that the proposed scheme did go through
all of the analysis and procedures … But that does not mean that this is
the right decision. It just means that it went through the right
The Meath Archaeological and Historical Society objected at the Oral
Hearing. Writers signed the academic statement including Frank McGuinness,
Gabriel Rosenstock, Paul Muldoon (who donated a poem), Seamus Deane, Colm
Tóibín, Joe O’Connor and Colum McCann. Stuart Townsend supported the
campaign; the Artists 4 Tara exhibition of 2004 included pieces by Jim
Fitzpatrick who donated the use of a painting. Others who want to save Tara
include Alan Stanford, Nuala O’Faolain, Rossa Ó Snodaigh, Pádraigín Ní
Uallacháin and Coscán wrote a song for Tara. All the main heritage groups
spoke against it: the director of the National Museum, the Royal Society
of Antiquaries of Ireland, the Heritage Council, the Discovery Programme
and the European Association of Archaeologists. The President of the
Ancient Order of Hibernians signed the on-line petition 2004.
The stance of political parties
The Labour Party tabled a private motion on Tara (November 2004); the
Senate also tabled a debate in 2004. Sinn Féin, the Greens and Labour have
come out against the route as well as Seán Haughey (FF) and independent TDs
and senators Maurice Hayes, David Norris, Shane Ross, Joe O’Toole, Joe
Higgins, Tony Gregory and Proinsias de Rossa MEP.
The most recent developments include the Oral Hearing on Tolls in early
January but the minutes are still unavailable although the contracts for
the M3 were signed 7th March 2007.
Since June 2006 there has been a Tara Solidarity Vigil on the Hill and a
new umbrella grouping has emerged – the Campaign to Save Tara. Protests
take place every Friday afternoon from 3pm at Blundelstown.
Tara was put forward by Tarawatch for inclusion on the 100 most
endangered sites in the world - a decision will be made later this year.
In the election, the public should vote for pro-Tara candidates but the
signing of the PPP makes it difficult to interfere with the chosen route.
Esker at Rath Lugh - destruction
Builders moving into Roestown
This is just disgusting
I have not confess to not noticed this much as it has been going on in the past few years, I had not realised it was going on to this extent.
This is a crime and vandalism of a high order. To read the amount of expert opinion and mounting evidence to what actually is there and to see the insensitivity is just appalling. I am doing my bit and writing as many letters to those in influence, but this approach seems to not have worked so far. It is insulting to us as Irish people, our heritage, our children and future generations are going to be just miss out.
What to do at this stage? every form of protest has been ignored.
I suggest a big national call to protest on this one, get the media, Prominent people, Artists, Poets, Archaelogists, The Ex President, The opposition parties.....
......get Bono back from his international travels and Geldof out of London.
God I just don't know what to do......WHy????
I would refer the last post here to the thread Emergency at Tara to see the advice on how to help.
An others as well - people needed on sites.