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Tag: Tara (Page 1 of 3)

The Fifth Direction: Sacred Centres in Ireland

Anyone who starts to take an interest in the medieval texts relating to Ireland quickly picks up the idea that the country was divided into ‘fifths’ or Sacred Centres. Indeed, the Gaelic word cuigeadh still means ‘fifths’ (singular coiced) and the modern-day Gaelic expression which translates literally as ‘the five fifths of Ireland’ refers to the political divisions of Ulster, Connacht, Leinster and Munster. Yes, you have counted correctly. There are only four ‘fifths’ in Ireland. The early legends subdivided Munster into east and west, but this is an artificial adjustment. The earliest clearly datable references to the cuigeadh relate to the kingdoms which emerged in the fifth and sixth centuries. At this date Ireland is considered to be divided into fifths but only four functional divisions are recognisable.

Ireland divided into four ‘fifths’ (adapted from Rees and Ress).

Location of Midhe, or Mide (modern Meath)

Location of Midhe, or Mide (modern Meath)

A region known as Midhe (perhaps meaning ‘middle’ or ‘neck’), which incorporated the royal centre at Tara, was regarded as having pre-eminent status and has for many centuries been popularly considered to be the fifth coiced. Yet, politically, from the iron age onwards, Midhe was under the domination of one or other adjoining kingdoms. Tara, with its impressive group of ditched earthworks and the Lia Fail (Stone of Density, used for the coronation of the High Kings of Ireland), indeed had enourmous prestige in the medieval literature yet, when the kings met annually (at Beltain), they did so at a natural outcrop known in recent years as Aill na Mireann, but probably traditionally as Carraig Choithrigi (the Stone of Divisions), which is situated near the less-impressive earthworks on the Hill of Uisnech. Furthermore, it is Uisnech, not Tara, which is the geographical mid-point of Ireland. For instance, it is claimed that a beacon fire on Uisnech can be seen over a quarter of Ireland [1].

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Celebrating Beltane and the Fires of Tara

Half-nude, red-painted revelers at the Beltane Fire Festival reenact an ancient, annual Celtic ritual heralding the May 1 arrival of summer — “Beltane” being Celtic for “May.” Revived in the 1980s, the festival is part of an effort by modern Celts to celebrate the lost cultures of their ancestors, who dominated Europe some 2,000 years ago.

Beltane kicks off the merry month of May, and has a long history. This fire festival is celebrated on May 1 with bonfires, Maypoles, dancing, and lots of good old fashioned sexual energy. The Celts honored the fertility of the gods with gifts and offerings, sometimes including animal or human sacrifice. Cattle were driven through the smoke of the balefires, and blessed with health and fertility for the coming year. In Ireland, the fires of Tara were the first ones lit every year at Beltane, and all other fires were lit with a flame from Tara.

Celebrating Beltane like the Ancestors did

Today’s Pagans and Wiccans celebrate Beltane much like their ancestors did.

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The Faerie Tradition, Gwydion Pendderwen & the passing of Cora Anderson

Cora Anderson 1915 – 2008

Cora Anderson, a co-founder with Victor Anderson of what is now known of as the Feri Tradition, passed on this morning at the age of 93. Cora Anderson was known as a Grand Master of the Feri Faith, a prolific writer, and was a key influence in the lives of several prominent Pagans and Witches.

Cora Anderson is the author of Fifty Years in the Feri Tradition and Childhood Memories, and coauthor, with Victor H. Anderson, of Etheric Anatomy: The Three Selves and Astral Travel. She was a contributing author to Potpourri of Cookery. Her articles have been featured in Witch Eye and Circle magazines, and her recipes have been published in Women’s Circle and T. Babes Recipe Service. She also writes a feature column, “Letters from a Hill Witch,” at Lilith’s Lantern.

Cora was the Grand Master and, with her husband, Victor, the foremost teacher of the Feri/Faery Tradition. She helped train some of the most influential voices in neo-Paganism. A natural kitchen Witch, Cora worked as a hospital cook for many years, and often charged the food with healing energy for the patients. Her straightforward approach to the Craft earned her the respect and admiration of many around the world.

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‘Cá bhfuil tú, a Phádraig?’ – Save Tara for the Young Irish

'Cá bhfuil tú, a Phádraig?'

‘Cá bhfuil tú, a Phádraig?’

Pic: Laura Geraghty

One of the news sources I regularly read is the TaraWatch mailing list and this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to read something by ‘ghoop’, a regular contributor, that delighted me. He/she says that on Tuesday last (the 15th December 2009), the Pat Kenny radio show on RTE covered children’s books written in the Irish language on the “battle to save tara”.

Ghoop says that the

names of the books are likely to be available from the Kenny show if someone contacts them and could be put on the blogs for those who might like to know and even buy them for their kids..

Spread it around. The new generation are entitled to know from an early age what a battle is and has been fought. Posterity demands it. With these books the battle guarantees this posterity.

I’ve only managed to find one of these books but it looks amazing. It’s called Cá bhfuil tú, a Phádraig?, which means ‘Where are you, Patrick?’ and tells the story of a young girl and her friends who are protesting about the construction of the M3 motorway. Written and beautifully drawn by Laura Geraghty, she quotes from Inis Magazine who say:

A topical story, beautifully laid out and designed, about Aoife and her friends who are protesting about the building of the M3 motorway near Tara. They are surprised to receive a visit from an unlikely guest, St. Patrick, who suggests that the problem maybe be solved by a very traditional method.

The review on the Pat Kenny part of the RTE site says:

Cá bhfuil tú a Phádraig?
Published by An Gúm
Written and illustrated by a young artist called Lára Nic Oireachtaigh
Illustrations are beautiful and very striking.
It deals with the topical issue of the M3 being constructed through Tara, and the characters in the story are doing their best to protect Tara’s heritage and to prevent its destruction.
This is not the first story for children in the Irish language to deal with this issue – the well known poet Biddy Jenkinson published a children’s book, An Bhanríon Bess agus Gusaí Gaimbín, on the same topic two years ago. It’s obviously an issue that is close to the heart of several Irish-language writers.
Suitable for 8-12 year olds.

Laura says:

This book is written in Irish and illustrated in mixed-media style using a mixture of drawing and photography. The book is aimed at Irish-speaking children aged between 7 and 10 years, or at a slightly older age children who attend English-speaking schools and take Irish as a subject. The book deals with the subject of the M3 motorway that passes through the Skryne Valley near the historical site of the Hill of Tara. In the book, St. Patrick hears about this new motorway and returns to Tara to help the protesters to stop it from being built. My intention is that the book will promote the Irish language by dealing with a topical issue in a visually interesting way that will capture the interest and imagination of readers.

It strikes me that not only is this book an excellent way to maintain awareness of the Tara problem but a superb resource for adults like myself wanting to learn the Irish language! I’ll see if I can find some more Irish texts for  a later post.

Thank you ‘ghoop’ for this info.

You can get hold of the book from Amazon, or from Amazon UK, under the name Lara Nic Oireachtaigh.

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Louis le Brocquy and Jim Fitzpatrick donate works to Tara art auction

TaraWatch is sending a delegation to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting, to the held in Quebec City, 2-10 July, to lobby for the preservation of the Hill of Tara archaeological complex, being threatened by the M3 motorway construction works.

This initiative is being taken in response to the proposal by Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, to make a World Heritage site, with the M3 passing through the middle of it. TaraWatch supports the nomination of Tara, but wants UNESCO to insist that the M3 is re-routed first.

An art auction is being held on Saturday, 21 June, in the Pearse family home, at 27 Pearse Street, Dublin, in order to fund the delegation. The house was the birth place of Pádraig Pearse, (10 November 1879 – 3 May 1916) Pearse was a teacher, barrister, poet, writer, nationalist and political activist who was one of the revolutionary leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. The perfectly restored building now houses the Ireland Institute for Historical and Cultural Studies. Pearse is recorded as wanting the 1916 Proclamation of Independence read out on the Hill of Tara, as well as outside the General Post Office,on O’Connell Street, where he read it out at the beginning of the Easter Rising.

Works of art are being donated by a number of celebrated Irish artists, including Louis le Brocquy, Jim Fitzpatrick and Tom Mathews. The auction remains open for other artists to donate works, if they wish to participate.

The print being donated by Louis le Brocquy can be viewed at the Taylor Galleries, 16 Kildare Street, up until the day of the auction. Mr le Brocquy will also provide a written statement, concerning the artistic importance of Tara, to be submitted to UNESCO.

All the works will be on display at Pearse House, from 11.00am onwards, on 21 June. The auction itself will take place at 7.00pm.

For more information, please contact info@tarawatch.org / +353-87-972-8603

The artists

Jim Fitzpatrick is an Irish artist famous for Irish Celtic Art. Perhaps his most famous piece is his iconic two-tone portrait of Che Guevara created in 1968 and based on a photo by Alberto Korda. In 1978, he wrote and lavishly illustrated a book called The Book of Conquests, retelling of a cycle of Irish myths, the Lebor Gabála Érenn. The book retells the legends interpolated into a linear story via a series of exceptionally detailed illustrations matched with text of the deeds of might and valour contained in the myth. It is replete with intricate Celtic scrollwork and knotwork. This was followed up by The Silver Arm, which retells further portions of Irish myth. A third volume, The Son of the Sun, is listed as “in preparation” as of 2004. He has also produced artwork for Thin Lizzy, for Sinéad O’Connor’s 2000 album Faith and Courage and for The Darkness’ 2003 single Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End).

Louis le Brocquy (born November 10, 1916) is an Irish painter. Born in Dublin, Louis le Brocquy’s work has received much international attention and many accolades in a career that spans seventy years of creative practice. Le Brocquy is widely acclaimed for his evocative “Portrait ‘Heads” of literary figures and fellow artists, which include William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, and his friends Samuel Beckett, Francis Bacon and Seamus Heaney. In 1967 Louis le Brocquy was commissioned by the publisher Liam Miller to illustrate Thomas Kinsella’s inspired version of the Táin Bó Cúailnge, the dramatic record of Ireland’s proto-historic past. He and his partner, artist Anne Madden, have been very vocal in their opposition to the M3 at Tara, writing letters to the Irish Times, and attending marches.

Tom Mathews was born in Dublin in 1952. After working for a time in advertising he studied Fine Art at NCAD, since leaving which in 1974 he has worked as freelance writer, critic, and cartoonist. His work appears weekly in The Irish Times and The Sunday Independent as well as in Cara Magazine, Hot Press, and other publications. He has had sixteen one-man shows to date including three exhibitions of paintings. These have also featured in the Living Art and RHA. His cartoons are in many private and public national and international collections.

For more information see http://www.tarawatch.org

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Is the Curse of Tara affecting those who have desecrated the complex?

The Hill of Tara
Pic: Irish Central
The Hill of Tara (Irish Temair na Rí, “Hill of the Kings”), located near the River Boyne, is an archaeological complex that runs between Navan and Dunshaughlin in County Meath, Leinster, Ireland. It contains a number of ancient monuments, and, according to tradition, was the seat of Árd Rí na hÉireann, or the High King of Ireland.
Recent scholarship claims that despite the rich narratives derived from mythologies, Tara was not so much a true seat of kingship, but a sacral site associated with kingship rituals. Other historians have argued that the concept itself is mostly mythical. [Wiki]

The Destruction caused by the Motorway

The M3 motorway, which opened in June 2010, passes through the Tara-Skryne Valley – as does the existing N3 road. Protesters argue that since the Tara Discovery Programme started in 1992, there is an appreciation that the Hill of Tara is just the central complex of a wider landscape. The distance between the motorway and the exact site of the Hill is 2.2 km (1.37 miles) – it intersects the old N3 at the Blundelstown interchange between the Hill of Tara and the Hill of Skyrne.

The presence of this interchange situated in the valley has led to allegations that further development is planned near Tara. An alternative route approximately 6 km west of the Hill of Tara is claimed to be a straighter, cheaper and less destructive alternative. On Sunday 23 September 2007 over 1500 people met on the hill of Tara to take part in a human sculpture representing a harp and spelling out the words “SAVE TARA VALLEY” as a call for the rerouting of the M3 motorway away from Tara valley. Actors Stuart Townsend and Jonathan Rhys Meyers attended this event.

The Hill of Tara was included in the World Monuments Fund’s 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world. It was included, in 2009, in the 15 must-see endangered cultural treasures in the world by the Smithsonian Institution.

The Curse of Tara and its Fairy Forts

Irish Central reports that Activists claim desecration of Tara for highway sparked ancient curse.

An ancient curse of Tara has been unleashed in Ireland by the destruction of the Fairy Forts.

That’s according to anti-highway activist Carmel Divine who says a “modern day Curse of Tara” has been unleashed on Ireland by the “destruction and desecration of the M3 Motorway.”

She said that Seannachaí Eddie Lennihan warned the Irish Government in early 2007 against destroying the Fairy Forts in Ireland’s historic Tara Skryne Valley.

She said the Seannachaí warned the Irish Government that they would be cursed. At the time, a spokesman for the National Roads Authority, mocked the Seannachaí and said they weren’t concerned.

Diviney says all of Ireland’s woes date back to July 2007 when work began on the new M3 motorway.

She lists the following incidents as evidence of the Fairy Fort curse.

Wakeman Plan of the Tara Complex
Pic: Wiki

The Fey in Action

In June 2007 Minister for the Environment Dick Roche signed an order destroying the Lismullin Henge. Lismullin Henge was a 4,000 year old astronomical observatory and place of worship and hailed as one of the most important archaeological finds of the century.

Roche was since held up by an armed gang in the Druids Glen Hotel and also lost his job and was then demoted.

Martin Cullen the then Minister for Transport nearly got sucked out of a helicopter when the door fell off on one of his extravagantly expensive trips.

The chief Health and Safety Officer was seriously injured by a falling tree when felling began at Rath Lugh in 2007.

A worker was killed when he became trapped at Fairyhouse where there have been many accidents on this stretch of road.

A human tooth was discovered in a digger which was used to destroy the famous ancient feasting grounds and gathering place of ancient Harpers at Baronstown. Shortly afterwards the stairs in the National Museum collapsed.

And finally, just last summer, several large wasp nests were found throughout the valley. In Celtic Lore the appearance of the wasp was associated with the anger of Mother Earth.

Diviney says that Ireland will continue to be cursed as long as it continues to meddle with sacred ground.


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Tara: Voices from our Past

We found a short film by Mairéid Sullivan about the importance of the Hill of Tara on You Tube. She writes:

Over the past decade there has been considerable controversy regarding construction of the M3 Motorway through the Tara Valley, especially in light of the discoveries at Roestown and more recently Lismullin. While those finds are extremely significant, they pale in comparison to a more recent discovery at Tara.

This short film by the award winning documentary filmmaker and musician, Mairéid Sullivan, shows that the complexity and importance of The Hill of Tara goes well beyond what we’ve known about the site for the past few millennia.

Support the Anam Cara for Tara Arts Action Campaign
(Anam Cara means “Soul Friend” in Irish Gaelic) an initiative of the http://GlobalArtsCollective.org

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The Claw-Marks of the Celtic Tiger?

The Celtic Tiger?
Pic: Tambako the Jaguar
As you know, we at the Celtic Myth Podshow, try and avoid any particular political and/or religious stance – our main sphere of interest is in the Ancient Celts. Where did they come from? Where did they go and what traces of them are left today?

We found this following commentary by George Monbiot in the Guardian.co.uk newspaper website, and the political questions he asks bear a direct relationship to the religious, archaeological, and traditions/heritage of the Ancient and modern Celts in Ireland.The economical growth that Ireland has seen has been called the ‘Celtic Tiger‘.

He looks at the economical growth over the past 60 years and asks the question: how much of this is real?I do not understand the politics involved, I do not understand the choices that have been made or are available to be made – politics has never been my strong suit – I only understand the destruction that the Sacred Landscape in Erin has suffered.

This post is for those who do understand such things and are in positions where they have the power to help preserve the land and traditions of the Ancient Celts, that precious Irish heritage that is genuinely so important to our global Celtic heritage as well as the Irish tourism industry.

George goes on to say:

How much of this is real? How much of the economic growth of the past 60 years? Of the wealth and comfort, the salaries and pensions that older people accept as normal, even necessary? How much of it is an illusion, created by levels of borrowing – financial and ecological – that cannot be sustained? Go to Ireland and you’ll see that even bricks and mortar are a mirage: the marvels of the new economy, built on debt, stand empty and worthless.

To sustain the illusion, we have inflicted more damage since 1950 to the planet’s living systems than we achieved in the preceding 100,000 years. The damage will last for centuries; the benefits might not see out the year. Ireland, again, points a withered finger at the future.

Among other iniquities, the government forced a motorway through the Gabhra Valley, part of a site – the Hill of Tara complex – comparable in its importance to Stonehenge. It was both an act of wilful vandalism and a notice of intent: no consideration would impede the economic miracle. The road hadn’t opened before the miracle collapsed.

Once our needs had been met, continued economic growth did most people few favours. During the second half of the growth frenzy, unemployment rose, inequality rose, social mobility declined, the poor lost amenities (such as housing) while the rich enhanced theirs. In 2004, at the height of the longest boom the UK has ever experienced, the Nuffield Foundation published this extraordinary finding:

“Rises in mental health problems seem to be associated with improvements in economic conditions.”

Now, bar the shouting, it’s over. Last week the Wall Street consultant Nouriel Roubini, one of the few who predicted the financial crash, spelt out the fix we’re in. Governments cannot afford to bail out the banks again. Quantitative easing can no longer help, nor can currency depreciation. Italy and Spain will be forced, in effect, to default, and Germany won’t pay out any more. The successful capitalist reached this striking conclusion:

“Karl Marx, it seems, was partly right in arguing that globalisation, financial intermediation run amok, and redistribution of income and wealth from labour to capital could lead capitalism to self-destruct.”

The Solution?

The most hopeful sign that politicians might now be prepared to ask the big questions was the presence, in Ed Miliband’s pile of holiday reading, of Prof Tim Jackson’s book Prosperity Without Growth. It’s a revolutionary text, now two years old, whose time has come.

But how do you escape from growth without tanking the economy – and our prosperity? Under the current system, you can’t: when growth stops, it collapses. So Jackson has begun developing a macroeconomic model which would allow economic output to be stabilised. He experiments with raising the ratio of investment to consumption, changing the nature and conditions of investment and shifting the balance from private to public spending, while staying within tight constraints on the use of resources. He finds that the redistribution of both income and employment (through shorter working hours) is essential to the project. So is re-regulation of the banks, enhanced taxation of resources and pollution and measures to discourage manic consumption, such as tighter restrictions on advertising.

His system is not wholly different to today’s: people will still spend and save, companies will still produce goods and services, governments will still raise taxes and spend money. It requires more government intervention than we’re used to; but so does every option we face from now on, especially if we try to sustain the growth illusion. The results, though, are radically different: a stable, growthless economy which avoids both financial and ecological collapse.

From now on, as the old dream dies, nothing is straightforward. But at least we have the beginning of a plan.
Read the full article on the Guardian website at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/22/economic-growth-environment


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Irish Druids And Old Irish Religions by James Bonwick [1894]

Pic by : Tom

Irish Bards

The BARDS proper occupied a high position in Ireland. The Ollamhs had colleges at Clogher, Armagh, Lismore, and Tamar. On this, Walker’s Historical Memoirs, 1786, observes that

“all the eminent schools, delectably situated, which were established by the Christian clergy in the fifth century, were erected on the ruins of those colleges.”

They studied for twelve years to gain the barred cap and title of Ollamh or teacher. They were Ollamhain Re-dan, or Filidhe, poets. They acted as heralds, knowing the genealogy of their chiefs.

With white robe, harp in hand, they encouraged warriors in battle Their power of satire was dreaded; and their praise, desired.

There is a story of the Ard Ollamh, or Archdruid, sending to Italy after a book Of skins, containing various chosen compositions, as the Cuilmeun, &c. As heralds they were called Seanachies. As Bards they sang in a hundred different kinds of verse. One Ollamh Fodhla was the Solon of Ireland; Amergin, the singer, lived 500 B.C.; Torna Egeas, was last of the paean bards. Long after, they were patriots of the tribes–

With uncouth harps, in many-colour’d vest,
Their matted hair With boughs fantastic crown’d

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Tara has significance far beyond Ireland itself

THE World Archaeological Congress has urged the Government to ensure that no large commercial or residential development is allowed along the route of the controversial M3 motorway.

And the forum, made up of practising archaeologists, has said that excavations carried out along the motorway route in Co Meath — which runs near the hill of Tara — were performed to the “highest professional standards”.

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