A Student of History

January 15, 2007

Hill of Tara Update

Filed under: Ireland — John Maass @ 3:57 pm

From the Irish Times of Thursday, January 4, 2007:

Preparatory work for the new M3 motorway from Clonee to Kells in Co. Meath was temporarily disrupted yesterday when Save Tara campaigners held a protest against the controversial road. A handful of protesters entered a site at Baronstown, near Dunshaughlin, where scrub, trees and soil were being removed. They sat in front of machinery that was being used to move the scrub. They also sat in the buckets of earth-moving equipment to prevent them from being

Work on the site was halted and workers vacated the area in advance of an inspection by health and safety consultants.
The action marked the beginning of a campaign against preparatory tree felling along the route of the M3, including near national monument Rath Lugh, the site of a promontory fort in the Tara-Skryne Valley and at Ardsallagh, where a large number of trees have been removed.

Protesters argued that work other than archaeological excavation should not be taking place before an oral hearing on the National Roads Authority (NRA) draft tolling scheme for the motorway takes place later this month and before contracts have been signed with Eurolink, who are the preferred bidder for the project.

Eric Burke, a protester who lives close to Ardsallagh and whose garden is included in a compulsory purchase order for the road, said the tree felling began just before Christmas.
“They did not give us notice the trees would be coming down, they just came in and did it,” he said.

“They haven’t finalised the tolling scheme yet, so why have they started this?”  Local Sinn Féin councillor Joe Reilly has called for work on the route of the M3 to cease as the public-private partnership contract has not yet been signed.  However, a spokesman for the NRA said the preparatory work was not part of the main contract to build the M3 but was being done ahead of the site transfer and was being carried out by a firm sub-contracted to Meath County Council.

He also said the draft tolling scheme was a separate issue from the construction of the motorway and the motorway could still go ahead regardless of the outcome of the oral hearing.

“The gap can be filled in other ways,” he said.

On yesterday’s protest, the spokesman said the contractor had taken appropriate measures.  “There was no need to cause controversy, the decision was to make sure no one was put in harm’s way, even if they were willing to put themselves in harm’s way. The mature stance was not to engage and to move to work elsewhere,” he said.

“That is what the contractor did. A health and safety consultant was called in and the gardaí were informed of the situation, but because it did not escalate they did not need to come out.”


  1. Here is a press release on behalf of the new umbrella group Campaign to Save Tara. It is accompanied by links to various recent photographs and articles at the end. Please use the photographs. If higher resolutions are required please to not hesitate to mail me. We have higher resolutions available.
    For background, I am a senior lecturer in the School of Celtic Studies, National University of Ireland, Maynooth. I teach early Irish literature and history. Tara is at the very heart of this subject matter.
    I can be contacted at muireann@indigo.ie or muireann@savetara.com
    Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin 087-9249510

    PRESS RELEASE for immediate release


    ST. PATRICK AND TARA – No Place for Heritage and Tradition in the New

    Legend records that St. Patrick lit his Pascal Fire on the Hill of Slane, just as the pagan fire was to be lit on Tara. The druids at Tara warn the king, Loegaire son of Niall of the Nine Hostages, that unless they put out the fire it will outlive their pagan fire forever. Loegaire is feasting in the banqueting hall when Patrick enters and confronts the ‘great, fierce, pagan emperor of the barbarians reigning in Tara, which was the capital of the Irish’. In one version of the story Loegaire refuses baptism and insists on being buried in pagan fashion – that is upright and fully armed in the ramparts of Tara facing his hereditary enemy, the king of Leinster. This is the landscape targeted by the proposed M3 motorway.
    Irish Ministers will travel the world this weekend, presenting shamrocks to Mr Bush and marketing the bright, shiny new Emerald Isle in cities far and wide; from New York to Toronto, Savannah to Rome, London to Japan. A new found concern for the environment, and the traditional focus on a green and unspoilt landscape, is central to the marketing effort.
    Meanwhile back at home … the contracts for the M3 motorway have been signed. The present route for this motorway is destined to destroy Tara’s landscape; the Gabhra Valley, between the Hills of Tara and Skryne. The proposed road itself is a four lane, tolled motorway that cuts a swathe through the richest archaeological landscape in Europe. A huge interchange is planned within 1500m of the top of the Hill, and cultural and environmental activists predict the motorway will inevitably be followed by all kinds of commercial and ancillary development. The Green and Emerald Isle is quickly becoming the Concrete Isle.
    During the preparatory archaeological excavations 38 sites have been uncovered in the Valley. The archaeological richness of the Valley has proved to be such that the sites have been expanded and now back onto one another, forming one large archaeological dig-site in this section of the proposed route. At least 13 contained burials and dozens of ancient corpses are being dug from their resting places and placed in warehouses for future examination. Such is the fate of the ancestors in the new Ireland.
    Future tourists are sure to be confused by what they encounter in Co. Meath and indeed throughout the country, particularly the most scenic areas. Rampant development, much of it facilitated by corrupt officials has been a by-product of Ireland’s breakneck economic expansion over the last decade.
    Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin, Campaign to Save Tara, said today: “The Irish diaspora abroad have an opportunity over the next week to impress upon the Irish Government that this decision affects all of us; that Tara belongs to Irish people all over the world, it is part of our cultural and national identity.”
    She added: “We call on everyone who cares about the heritage of Ireland to take this chance to express their personal abhorrence in whatever way they can on St. Patrick’s Day. And if you happen to meet one of our smiling politicians at your St Patrick’s Day celebrations tell them exactly what you think of their plans to destroy Tara. Our campaign is calling on the Government to abandon this cultural vandalism, and instead seek UNESCO World Heritage Status for the Tara Complex. It is only by doing this that Tara can be preserved for this and future generations.”
    M. Ni Bhrolcháin, The Campaign to Save Tara
    Links to photographs: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/81489&comment_limit=0&condense_comments=false#comment186612
    and the sites and the finds: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/81168

    Comment by muireann ni bhrolchain — March 15, 2007 @ 5:13 am | Reply

  2. Thanks…..JM

    Comment by John Maass — March 22, 2007 @ 11:45 am | Reply

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