Tara – the ancient seat of the High Kings of Ireland


Tara, in County Meath, should be on your Ireland bucket list. It is on mine. Sadly, I haven’t been to Tara – yet.

Tara, known in gaeilge as Temair, was the ancient center of power in Ireland. More than 140 kings were crowned there. The Lia Fail, the Stone of Destiny, sits atop the hill of Tara. It was brought to Ireland by the famous Tuatha De Danann. Legend has it that the Lia Fail will roar when touched by the rightful ruler. (This is somewhat reminiscent of the King Arthur legend; only the rightful heir can pull the sword from the stone.)

Before that it was a dwelling place of the gods, as well as a portal to the underworld. The oldest passage tomb on Tara, Mound of Hostages, dates to 2,500 BC.

St. Patrick supposedly confronted the pagans here, bringing Christianity to Ireland.

Here’s an interesting fact: at the turn of the last century, amidst much controversy, a group of British Israelis believed the Arc of the Covenant was buried there. (It wasn’t.) Many Irish nationalist didn’t want anyone digging up/around Tara. This was the first time a national monument came under scrutiny as a national monument and not just as British owning Ireland.

Recently an incredibly large temple was found under the hill of Tara. It hasn’t been excavated because the government doesn’t want Tara closed down and dug up. But it does show the importance of the area in ancient times.  It also helps to confirm questions about the many other standing stones and ancient sites surrounding Tara. Because of new technology, archaeologist have found close to 100 other monuments in the area.

It would have been quite a spectacular place to behold in those ancient times! 100 acres of standing stones, monuments and passage tombs. Imagine a king being crowned, with thousands of people gathered to witness the event. Or the death of a king, taken to the passage tomb. There is so much history there, one could dream up all sorts of scenarios about what may or may not have happened. Definitely a place for those who love ancient history, Ireland and imagining what once was. How have I missed this place before?

There are mixed reviews. Once, when visiting England, a woman with our tour group kept complaining about all the castles. If I see one more stupid castle… Really? You truly can not please everyone. If you’ve been to Tara, I’d love to hear what you have to say!

Depending on the site I’ve researched, entrance varies from free to 5 Euro. Better have the Euros handy. The average time visitors take varies also, from 1-2 hours. I’d probably be there all day.

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