Tara’s Future in Jeopardy

By Louise Carroll, Contributor
June / July 2004

The construction of a motorway in County Meath has historians, archaeologists, politicians and others up in arms. The proposed M3 toll road will run through the Tara Skryne Valley, which the protestors argue is a part of the Hill of Tara National Monument. The Hill of Tara was a central ceremonial, burial and royal area in pagan times, and it dates back to 4000 B.C. The highest king in Ireland reigned from Tara, and today it is still considered a sacred place to the Irish.

The Save Tara campaign has gathered large international attention to the issue. Nonetheless, the construction is moving ahead, and test trenching, the initial phase of building, began March 22 with full excavation slated for September.

A group of experts on the history, archaeology and cultural importance of Tara — including an economist — presented their case to thwart construction to The Dáil (Irish Parliament) on April 28. They argued that although the proponents of the motorway claim that only three sites of historical significance will be affected, in fact, almost 30 will be disturbed. They also believe that the project will be delayed and run over budget due to the time and care in digging up the historic site. In addition, the roadwork would have a negative affect on tourism to Tara.

However, the Save Tara campaigners do agree that the traffic in the area is a problem and that something must be done to relieve the congestion. They recommend expanding the existing road, building a motorway somewhere other than Tara or reopening the railroad line in the area.

Vincent Salafia, a lawyer and the public relations officer of the Save Tara campaign, said to Irish America, “At the end of the day our message is: Look, you [the proponents of the motorway] made a mistake. But you have to go back and fix this one. Otherwise, this will be one of the biggest mistakes this country has ever made.” ♦

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