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The Hill of Tara.


Tara from 'Teamhair' The sacred place.
 

For centuries the Hill of Tara was the seat of the high king's of Ireland, at its height in the third century AD under King Cormac MacArt, Tara was one of the wonders of Europe. Little is to be seen today save for the earthen ramparts about three hundred yards across that enclosed the site. King Cormac is credited with introducing the first water mill to Ireland.

There are some 30 identifiable monuments on the site dating from about 3,500 BC to the 5th or 7th centuries AD most are associated with pre Christian ritual and burial. One notable feature on the hill is two parallel banks said to have been the base or foundations of the great banqueting hall.

The hill rises three hundred feet and gives commanding views of the pastureland of Meath. Tara's Gaelic name is 'Teamhear' which is derived from a word meaning a place with a wide view. Additionally the site had once been a Stone Age burial site, so it would have been considered sacred.

At one end of the hill are two parallel lines these are said to mark the foundations of The Hall of Banquets, which is believed to have been a single hall, in which a feast was held every three years. These feasts are associated with king who reigned as high king between 218 to 254. It is said that 150 cooks toiled to prepare the food and 300 men were employed to serve it. No doubt this was more than a feast, the business of the kingdom would have been debated and decisions taken on future policy's.

Tara's decline began with the arrival of Christianity, one of the enclosures on the hill is called The Fort of the Synods, deriving its name from a meeting between high king Lohaire and St Patrick who was summoned to explain the lighting of an Easter fire on nearby Slane hill, which is visible to the east.

In 1212 the Hospitas of St John built a church on the eastern slope of the hill, part of an ancient wall is visible on the site this may be part of this building.

In 1822 a Church of Ireland parish church St Patrick's, was erected this now serves as a visitor centre for Tara.

In 1843 Tara was the venue for a mammoth rally, it is said over 250,000 thousand people gathered to hear the Irish patriot Daniel O'Connell speak against union with Britain