Solar alignments but not much sunshine for solstice at Tara


THE SUMMER rain lifted just in time as 70 people gathered to link together in an “Arms Around the Mound” at the passage tomb on the Hill of Tara yesterday, the summer solstice.

“It was a fantastic response,” said organiser Carmel Diviney, secretary of the Tara Skryne Preservation Group.

They chose the solstice celebrations also to highlight their concerns about the possible impact on the Mound of the Hostages of conservation works being carried out by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Office of Public Works.

Ms Diviney said the mound, which is 5,000 years old and predates Tara becoming the seat of the High Kings of Ireland, has both solar and lunar alignments but they are not well publicised.

Its four-metre passage is illuminated “when the sun disc rises over the horizon at the beginning of spring, and at the beginning of winter on the two feasts of Imbolc and Samhain, it shines on the back stone”, Ms Diviney explained.

The mound had been fenced off the morning before the last solar alignment and, “in effect the fence impeded the sun from shining in”, Ms Diviney claimed.

A statement from the department addressed the concerns of the group: “The present conservation works do not include any proposals to interfere with the structure of the passage tomb itself or its alignment,” it said.

“Work on laser scanning of the tomb and further recording of the art within the passage tomb are planned to take place in July.”

Another solstice ritual took place at noon at the scene of recent vandalism.

The group said the ceremony was to send “healing love and energy” to the Lia Fail, the standing stone on the top of the Hill of Tara, which has clearly visible indentations in it.

It is also also known as the Stone of Destiny, and legend says it would roar when touched by the rightful king of Tara.

One of those taking part in the circle was Colette Darling from Dublin, who expressed her revulsion at the vandalism: “It looks like it was hacked at. It is an important part of Irish heritage and this is a very sacred place and should be respected.”