Can the Irish save Tara?

The Irish have always been aware — and proud — of their history. That characteristic is coming in handy as the citizens of the Emerald Isle attempt to stop the construction of a major road slated to roar straight through one of Ireland’s oldest monuments.

Tara, or the Hill of Tara, is an ancient (and still somewhat mysterious) earthworks consisting of spiraling mounds. Archaeologists speculate that from 4000 BCE to the invasion of Richard de Clare in 1169, Tara was the center of Ireland’s political (and ceremonial) acitivies, and the name Tara derives from the Gaelic Teamhair na Rí, or “Hill of the King.”

The motorway in question would plow directly through the Tara-Skyrne valley, and is being built to serve Dublin commuters. Because the highway would radically alter Tara’s landscape, the site was picked up by the World Monument’s Most Endangered list. Those opposed to the road argue that there are several alternatives that were never properly researched, and that would circumvent Tara.

Recently, protests have gotten dramatic (see photo).

The most recent posts on, a blog set up to inform readers of the Tara battle, report that the Irish High Court has rejected an application for an injunction to halt work on the motorway. In response, one woman chained herself to a jack in a tunnel–any attempts by law enforcement to remove her, as well as heavy road equipment running over the tunnel, threaten to collapse it and harm her.

So what can you do? First, get informed, and then spread the word. Several avenues are paved for onlookers to help raise awareness of Tara — besides MySpace and Facebook pages, there’s also the aforementioned, the World Monuments Fund’s site, an online petition, and Tarapixie, an audio/video protester site.

Thanks to Emily Villamar Robbins for lots of information and linking me to several Tara sites.