Anam Cara for Tara...

Anam Cara means "soul friend" in Irish / Gaelic.

See Hill of Tara - Update 2017 hereHill of Tara, Ireland

The campaign to save the Hill of Tara, in Ireland, was the first campaign this collective contributed to, beginning in 2006.

"Tara is, because of its associations, probably the most consecrated spot in Ireland, and its destruction will leave many bitter memories behind it."
W. B. Yeats, et al., in a letter of protest to The Times, 27th June 1902, when Tara was last threatened.

This campaign revealed how real estate speculation can lead to corruption and economic collapse. Real Estate speculators will not be the ones to introduce sustainable town planning options.
See my recently published report:
What Has Happened to Ireland's Sovereignty?

Original dedicated campaign webpages
Read the Tara position paper
and, lawyer/judge, poet Tom Kerrigan's essay: Ireland's Shame

Tara: Voices from our Past (2007)
a short film by Mairéid Sullivan 

Original 2007 notes:
Controversy regarding construction of the M3 double-tolled Motorway through the ancient Hill of Tara Valley in Ireland has reached alarming proportions.

For more than a decade there has been considerable controversy regarding construction of the M3 Motorway through the Tara Valley, especially in light of the discoveries at Roestown and more recently Lismullin. While those finds are extremely significant, they pale in comparison to more recent discoveries at Tara.

This short film shows that the complexity and importance of The Hill of Tara goes well beyond what we've known about the site for the past few millennia.

“…an act of cultural vandalism as flagrant as ripping a knife through a Rembrandt painting”
Professor Dennis Harding, Department of Archaeology, Edinburgh University

Fourknocks: An interpretation...

Martin Dire
Fourknocks, June 2004
This article is based on a lecture given to the Meath archaeological and historical society by Martin Dire at the Fourknocks in June 2004. The lecture was based on outlining the less obvious reasons why structures like the Fourknocks were sited where they were. Martin argues that the placements of the prehistoric monuments are far from haphazard or random. >>> more


Focus on the Hill of Tara

The Hill of Tara evokes the spirit and mystique of the Irish people. From ancient times, the quiet rolling hills and valleys surrounding the Hill of Tara have been the ceremonial and mythical ancient capital and the "heart and soul" of Ireland.

This is a call to arts practitioners, cultural conservationists, and event organizers whose creative efforts are inspired and underpinned by Irish or Celtic cultural heritage.

Let us lend our voices, our talents, in support of the Irish people who are striving to prevent desecration and destruction of their cultural heritage.

The Anam Cara for Tara arts action campaign celebrated the important role heritage plays in promoting vibrant cultural values.

World Heritage Alert!
This organization calls for action submitted by various heritage campaigns around the world. Visit the World Heritage Alert! website.

What is world heritage?
Almost forgotten until comparatively recently, there can be no doubt that Tara is a newly "discovered" World Heritage Site and it is unfortunate that the Irish government is apparently yet to make this discovery.
>>> more


Letter to the Meath Chronicle
Department of Archaeology,
National University of Ireland, Galway

Tara 'sold to highest bidder'?
Meath Chronicle, Saturday January 27th 2007

Dear sir - It is rather depressing that only now, somewhat late in the day, Meath County Council has become united in its opposition to the M3 twice-tolled motorway. For motorists obliged to use this motorway for commuting purposes the daily toll will amount to e5.20 (or e26.00 a week). But the multiple tolls are only part of the price we, as Irish citizens, will be obliged to pay.

Tara is internationally recognised as a symbol of our nationhood. It is a cultural icon and part of our world heritage. Yet this motorway, and interchange at the very foot of the hill, is destined to gouge its way through Tara's Gabhra Valley and irrevocably undermine the physical integrity of this landscape forever. A rash of secondary development that will inevitably come in its wake will compound the damage still further.

It appears that Tara has been sold to the highest bidder, a business consortium that will stand to reap a substantial profit at our inestimable loss. To add insult to injury, each time we pass through the M3's toll-plaza barriers, we will do so in the knowledge that part of our money will be used to offset the costs of this cultural desecration.

The real toll will be more than monetary; it will be at the expense of our self-respect as a people and dignity as a nation.

Department of Archaeology,
NUI, Galway.

What Has Happened to Ireland’s Sovereignty?
By Maireid Sullivan
The campaign to redirect the M3 tolled motorway away from the Hill of Tara, in Ireland, marked the beginning of my understanding of land banking and the speculative developers' 'boom-bust' business model. From the beginning of the Celtic Tiger era, the Irish Diaspora has witnessed speculation-driven economic corruption and political self-aggrandizement on levels beyond imagining. Community concerns have been vindicated by the Mahon Tribunal Report. After 15 years of hearings (1997 to 2012), The Tribunal of Inquiry Into Certain Planning Matters & Payments has uncovered corruption affecting 'every level of Irish political life'. The Tribunal brings to prominence the litany of corrupt practices and crooked dealings that characterised the relationship between ‘certain developers and numerous prominent public representatives’. (Mahon Tribunal Report details published on Wikipedia>>> continue...

Maireid Sullivan, Anam Cara for Tara

National University of Ireland, at Maynooth, archaeologist and Celtic studies lecturer Dr Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin of the Save Tara campaign has written to the Minister and the Taoiseach regarding the works being undertaken on behalf of the National Roads Authority (NRA) / Meath County Council (MCC) along the section of the proposed route of the M3 motorway in the Gabhra Valley, near to the Hill of Tara, in Co. Meath. The message says that the tree felling and use of heavy digging machinery at Lismullin and at the base of Rath Lugh (one of Tara's outlying defensive fortifications) is not being carried out in accordance with the
Minister's directions. It seems that standards of best archaeological practice are not being observed and that the directions are being openly flouted.

When the Minister gave directions on May 11th 2005 he said that: "the removal of forestry and topsoil at Lismullin and Ardsallagh will be carried out under archaeological supervision; all construction topsoil stripping will be archaeologically monitored." There is no archaeological supervision of forestry clearance at Lismullin. Neither is there any archaeological monitoring of
large-scale earthmoving from the base of the Rath Lugh scarp. Such actions completely undermine Rath Lugh and the assurances given by the Minister in relation to this, one of our nation's most sensitive archaeological and historical landscapes. It must be assumed that the Minister and his senior archaeologist must know of this work that is in direct breach of the directives.

Rath Lugh is an important national monument in its own right but, as an integral part of Tara, its significance is even greater. It stands as a sentry over the Gabhra Valley guarding the northern and north-western approaches to the Hill and overlooks other nearby recorded archaeological monuments, namely a barrow and souterrain. It is extremely likely that other monuments that
are not visible on the surface are also found within its immediate vicinity. Photographs show the destruction at the base of Rath Lugh – the stratified archaeological sediments can be seen in the photos.

If there were archaeological supervision such works would have been brought to a halt at the first sight of potential archaeological features. Heavy machinery, whether supervised or not, should not have been used or permitted in this area. Why is it necessary to commence such work under cover of darkness? This remains a mystery to all except, of course, those who sanctioned the work in the first instance. Health and Safety concerns aside, it is unlikely that someone will see freshly disturbed archaeological features in the dark – even if an
archaeologist were present armed with miner's helmet and infra-red goggles.

The Minister also said in a statement on May 11th 2005: "The directions which I have given represent a measured approach. They are both comprehensive and onerous. They protect heritage." In fact, it appears that the Minister’s expressed wishes are being 'comprehensively' ignored. Save Tara is asking the NRA / MCC to halt all work immediately along this section of the M3 as
The PPP has not yet been signed. We ask that an enquiry be held into why such work was authorised and who was responsible for approving it.

Save Tara calls on opposition spokespersons to ask for this work to stop forthwith.
Dr Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin, Save Tara,
Maireid Sullivan, Anam Cara for Tara campaign

‘Tara Road’ opponents to launch Oz protest
The Australian Irish Echo
March 12 – 25, 2008
(Front page feature)
By Aaron Dunne

GROUPS opposed to the construction of a motorway near the historic Hill of Tara in Co Meath are planning to picket a range of Irish events in Australia over St Patrick’s Day.

Save Tara campaigners have planned protests in Melbourne and Sydney to coincide with the arrival of a number of Meath County Council officials and Irish Transport Minister Noel Dempsey, who is also from Meath.

A group called is running a worldwide campaign for St Patrick’s Day in conjunction with the Save Tara campaign in Ireland. Convenor Mairéid Sullivan, who is based in Melbourne, has told the Irish Echo of the group’s plans to attend events in their bid to promote awareness of ongoing resistance to the planned routing of the M3 motorway through the historic site.

Sullivan, and Co Louth native Pauline Bleach, who runs the Tara Appreciation Society in Sydney, have plans to make their presence felt at a host of events that will be attended by the visiting Irish politicians, including the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Sydney.

The Melbourne group will be targeting specific events in the city where the councillors and minister will be in attendance, while the Tara Appreciation Society has even entered a float into the Sydney St Patrick’s Day Parade to promote awareness about the Hill Of Tara and the Skryne Valley.

“We’re putting in a parade entry called Tara – 7,000 Years Of Irish History as part of the Tara Appreciation Society,” Bleach said. “It’s a non-political event so we will be making no mention of the Save Tara campaign. We want to celebrate the history of this valley where so much of our history took place,” Bleach told the Irish Echo.

“We’re not rabble rousers,” Mairéid Sullivan said. “We just want to bring attention to this very important matter. We’ll be there at everything the politicians are at to get our point across. There’s still time to save Tara.”

Still crying 'Save Tara' – its not over yet!

Over the past decade, we’ve all much too slowly become aware of the considerable controversy regarding construction of the M3 Motorway along the valley between the Hill of Tara and the Hill of Skryne in County Meath. This ancient landscape is over 7000 years old and considered the cradle of Irish civilization. Yet the construction of the M3 tolled motorway has unrelentingly cut through it, with the proposed opening date set for July 2010.

For many long years the battle to save Tara has raged on as ordinary Irish people have tried in vain to defend this sacred valley.

The Celtic City of Tara was a royal astrological and ritual centre. The planned
road cuts through the centre of this city. If the road goes ahead we will loose
this world heritage site forever.

Tara is believed to be 6000 years old, and predates the pyramids.
Dr. Muireann Ní Bhrolchain, Historian, NUI, Maynooth, and founder of

Tara is central to the cultural heritage of the Irish people. Many of its complex archeological monuments, numbering at least 141, known, identified sites such as Baronstown, Rath Lugh, Roestown, Lismullin and Soldier Hill, and including newly discovered underground chambers and passages possibly belonging to the Early Christian period, have been destroyed by a government entrusted with protecting them.

In a late 2007 Irish Times Poll on Tara, 82% voted YES! to the question: ‘Do you think the Hill of Tara should be added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites?’ The European Union says the decision to place the M3 freeway along this route was flawed and flouts directives designed to protect our heritage. Now it is feared that this move is a first step to opening this previously untouchable protected area to development. By contrast, governments of third world countries are going to great lengths to restore and preserve and protect their monuments.

What’s more, a shorter, cheaper and archaeologically superior route lies outside the historic valley, along the old Navan rail line to the West of the Hill of Tara, which would be a straight run, rather than the circuitous and in this case unnecessarily LONGER route around the Hill of Tara.

This area, to the west of the hill of Tara, is a much more environmentally friendly location (if such a place can be said to exist in all of Ireland) for a new roadway, and would make for a shorter commute and less traffic through an already congested convergence of roadways.

Two-thirds of the Irish public when polled supported this alternative route. The existing N3 is an average two-lane road, built within the existing contours and shape of the valley. However, the M3 is radically different.

Unlike the current and established road system the four-lane motorway and major floodlit interchange will not respect the topographical contours of the landscape but will be ramped or gouged through the valley as required to meet motorway construction standards. And, in subsequent years, industrial parks and housing estates will inevitably spring-up around the purpose built interchange.., a little over 1.5km to the north of Tara's 'Banqueting Hall'. (The Geophysical Survey of the M3 Toll-Motorway Corridor, from Journal of the Meath Archaeological and Historical Society, 2005).

Tara, at present, is surrounded by green fields in the heart of rich farming land. The impact of building the M3 through Tara is truly irreparable, because settlement and industrialisation will inevitably follow, since Tara is so close to Dublin. If the National Roads Authority (NRA) has its way Tara will be a tiny hill, surrounded by spreading urbanisation. It is also important to note that the major floodlit interchange, only 1.5 km from the hill itself, would take up more than 25 acres (10 hectares) in size. We already know that a shopping mall developer purchased 200 acres on all four corners of the proposed interchange, long before the M3 go-ahead.

Suffice it to say, many laws have been broken in planning for this route, including Meath County Council planning guidelines. The National Monuments Amendment Act 2004 was passed to support the construction of PPP (Public Private Partnership) toll roads, destroying historic places of great natural beauty.

Many share the suspicion that developers are behind many inexplicable development decisions. The Irish Government's refusal to discuss the flaws in the planning process and purchase of lands by developers along the many new freeway routes crisscrossing Ireland helps fuel rumours that developer's money is behind the government's intransigence. The expectation is that developers will be ready and waiting to pounce with plans for development along the route when the current real estate boom-bust cycle runs its course. According to a 1980 Lincoln Institute of Land Policy report Land into Cities it takes 15 years between speculative purchase of land, at farm prices, and sale of land to developers at inflated prices. This time-line takes us right up to the next expected real estate boom in the mid 2020s. The Chairman of the NRA, Peter Malone is also Chairman of one of the biggest Real Estate Development company in the world:
CB Richard Ellis, Ireland.

On Feb. 1, 2010, an Irish Independent report revealed a fine example of PPP rorting:

A PRIVATE company is set to reap a massive €1.15bn windfall from the M50 West-Link toll bridges it built for just €58m, the Irish Independent has learned. National Toll Roads (NTR) almost recouped the entire construction costs in 2007 alone, when it took in €46m in tolls from motorists. And it is going to get up to €50m per year for the next decade in compensation from the State, which bought out the notorious tolled link in 2008.

The article revealed that the State did not insert a termination clause in the West-Link contract, and as a consequence was in a weak position when it wanted to buy out NTR in 2008. National Roads Authority (NRA) chief executive Fred Barry said he agreed the contract had led to a "windfall situation" for NTR, while a spokesperson for the Department of Transport said it was akin to "winning the lotto". According to the Independent report, at the time of the State’s buyout of the West Link Toll Bridge in 2008, the chairman of NTR, Tom Roche Jnr commented that the buy-out had decimated the company's Irish toll business "albeit at a good price".

The Irish Government's ongoing Tribunal of Inquiry Into Certain Planning Matters and Payments, commonly known as the Mahon Tribunal in honor of its chairman, and previously as the Flood Tribunal, which was established in 1997, continues to hear evidence that political donations have been paid, in cash and via deposits to offshore bank accounts, to several named Irish politicians, who’ve since become known as the Thieves of Tara. An excerpt from the first Flood Tribunal report, page 2, reveals how the Tribunal came to be established:

On the 3rd July 1995, a notice appeared in two Irish daily newspapers offering a £10,000 reward to persons providing information leading to the conviction of persons involved in corruption in connection with the planning process. Donnelly Neary Donnelly, Solicitors of Newry, Co. Down, placed this notice on behalf of unnamed clients. This notice was the subject of much public comment at the time of its insertion, and subsequently, both in the print media and in Dail Eireann."

The Irish government has yet to explain why they selected the Tara route when it is widely known that:

• An argument by the Project Archaeologist, based on archaeological information by Tara world expert Conor Newman that the route chosen was the least desirable and most disastrous for the Tara landscape;

• The Council decision not to supply the details or the information that was needed by objectors was wrong. The Planning Board agreed it had a ‘customer service’ problem but that was not its concern;

• The dismissal of the public consultation section because ‘it was not a legal requirement’ after it was proven that the Council's figures were rigged and the public chose a route outside the valley.

Internationally, climate change and energy commentators are calling on governments to scrap all airport and road network expansion forthwith, because there will be plenty of spare capacity when we reach Peak Oil, in the near future!
American energy economist Dr. Roger Bezdek had this to say,

I recommend that any proposed improvement or expansion projects (airports and roads) be subject to oil vulnerability analysis. How viable are these plans, not next year or the year after, or five years from now, but 10, 15, 20 years or in 30 years does it make economic sense to invest billions and billions of dollars. The point is that you have to do a vulnerability assessment as due diligence.
(More information on this is available from the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas.)

Yet, there is hope!
This may not be a Great Depression, but it is a good one! Perhaps the Irish will learn something from the hard lessons associated with the current recession, their first direct experience of Real Estate Boom Bust Cycles. A more enlightened Irish government could reclaim the land surrounding the Hill of Tara and the M3 under ‘Just Terms’. In support of this possibility, an alternative proposal to development along the route of the M3 double-tolled freeway has been put forward - the imaginative, far-seeing and visionary Meath Master Plan.

The long-term benefits of a Meath World Heritage Site should be weighed against Ireland's reputation as a Heritage tourist destination. Issues surrounding the building of the M3 double-tolled freeway through the Tara/Skryne valleys is more than about preserving Ireland's unique cultural heritage. It is also about making sound judgments on issues of sustainability for Ireland's future!

Tara quotations

It appears that Tara has been sold to the highest bidder, a business consortium that will stand to reap a substantial profit at our inestimable loss. To add insult to injury, each time we pass through the M3's toll-plaza barriers, we will do so in the knowledge that part of our money will be used to offset the costs of this cultural desecration.The real toll will be more than monetary; it will be at the expense of our self-respect as a people and dignity as a nation.
– Joe Fenwick, Department of Archaeology,NUI, Galway

We have pledged ourselves to the dead generations who have preserved intact for us this glorious heritage that we, too, will strive to be faithful to the end, and pass on this tradition unblemished.
– Eamon de Valera, who served in public office from 1917 to 1973, holding prime ministerial and presidential offices.

Tara is surrounded by historical reminiscences which give it an importance worthy of being considered by everyone who approaches it for political purposes and an elevation in the public mind which no other part of Ireland possesses.
– Daniel O’Connell, speaking to more than a million people converged on Tara. He is remembered as the founder of a non-violent form of Irish nationalism.

Mairéid Sullivan

Mairéid launched the Anam Cara for Tara international 'arts action' campaign in 2007, under the auspice of the

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