Minister condemns attack on Tara stone


MINISTER FOR Heritage Jimmy Deenihan has condemned apparent vandalism to the Lia Fáil standing stone that adorns the Hill of Tara in Co Meath.

In recent days it was noticed that it had been struck with a heavy object and fragments had broken off the national monument.

The damaged areas are clearly visible as white patches around the top of the stone.

“Shocking” is how the chairman of the Heritage Council and archaeologist Dr Conor Newman described it.

The granite stone is some 5,000 years old and one of the main attractions at the former seat of the High Kings of Ireland.

Also known as the Stone of Destiny, it is said it will roar when touched by the rightful king of Tara.

An inspection by an archaeologist with the National Monuments Service concluded it was struck with a hammer or similar instrument in 11 places “on all four faces of the stone”. It appears that the fragments which were chipped off have been removed as they could not be found.

It has been reported to gardaí and the Minister yesterday said, “Vandalism is a mindless act. The national monuments at Tara, which include this standing stone, are nationally and internationally renowned.

“These monuments are a fundamental part of our shared heritage and history, and I condemn, in the strongest terms, the damage that has been caused.”

Dr Newman said, “This is shocking and it indicates the degree of trust you need when it comes to heritage matters in Ireland because so many of our sites are out in the open air. They cannot be policed 24 hours a day, seven days a week and we rely an enormous amount on visitors to behave appropriately.”

The department is looking at ways to increase surveillance at such monuments.