Ireland's Shame: A Superhighway across the Hill of Tara
By T.S. Kerrigan
Los Angeles, California
16 February 2008
LOS ANGELES -- Just when you thought the Celtic Tiger economy had done it worst, there's news that the Irish Government - in the name of progress, of course - is implementing a plan to build the M3 freeway through the Hill of Tara, the ancient seat of the high kings of Ireland.
This would seem to be the worst news to befall that lovely site since medieval times, when Irish ecclesiastics, locked in a struggle with the lay authority of the times, put a curse on the place and destroyed all secular power in the land of saints and sages until the coming of Brian Boru.
'What's next, a shopping center connecting the Lakes of Killarney? A strip mall in Dingle? Unprincipled people seem to be in charge of Ireland's cultural future... .'
Will romantic Ireland be "dead and gone," as poet W.B. Yeats contended, when that location is straddled with a four-lane toll road and a 50-acre interchange? Will this obvious playing to the whims of the Irish motorist result in yet another desecration of the values of the past?
Work has, unfortunately, already begun despite an outcry which has spread beyond the borders of the country. William Harding, Professor of Archeology at Edinburgh University, has claimed that "it is an act of cultural vandalism as flagrant as ripping a knife through a Rembrandt painting." Government owned forests in Rath Lugh are being systematically decimated as part of the project.
Poorly supervised digging at nearby Baronstown has produced bones in various and random parts of that area, with no attempt to mark or number these finds. At Roestown, a complex of beehive souterrains (Bronze Age condominiums) has been removed by workers, promptinmg its nomination by the respected World Monuments Fund to the lost of 100 Most Endangered Sites.
Destruction is also taking place at Collierstown, even before the Public-Private Partnership has entered into a contract to build the M3 Highway. The bureaucrats of the nation seem to be in a great hurry to complete the planned highway before public opposition grows too strong.
The insensitivity of the government to the beauties of the west of Ireland has been apparent before in places like Bantry Bay and Bellanboy, but this surely is its most momentous outrage in recent years. What's next, a shopping center connecting the Lakes of Killarney? A strip mall in Dingle? The possibilities are only limited by the imaginations of the unprincipled people who seem to be in charge of the country's cultural future.
Those who are not indifferent to the destruction of Irish culture are being advised to write to the Taioseach, Bertie Ahern, to Dick Roche, the Minister for the Environment, and Sean Haughey, Chairman of the Environmental Committee of the Irish Dail.
Tourism being one of Ireland's major industries, those who oppose the project want to enlist the voices of people conscious of their Irish heritage in places like the United States and Australia.
It has also been recommended for dissenters to this project write to the major Irish newspapers. Further information is available through the Global Arts Collective and a useful blog, Tara Watch. A quick response is needed if these geographical treasures of Ireland are to be preserved.