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Mound of the Hostages, Tara / Duma na nGiall, Teamhair

Cormac and his warriors leave Tara and travel to Clonard. They will set up camp outside Clonard on their first night.
Tara is one of the best known sites in the world and its name is evocative of the Celtic past. There are over thirty visible monuments on the Hill of Tara relating to burial and ritual, spanning 4000 years, from 3500BC to the 6-7th Century AD.

Cormac’s Well. One of the six wells of Tara

Hill of Tara (507 feet) is in Co. Meath, 6 miles SE of Navan, residence of the High Kings of Ireland
Temair, Teamhair, Temuir
Other names are Cathair Crofhind, Druim Léith, and Fordruim.

According to the Lebor Gabála (The Book of Invasions), the Milesians named the site Temair after Éremón’s queen, Téa.

Interpretative Centre at Tara

On a grey morning in early September with the mounds of Tara shrouded in fog, it is easy to imagine the warriors of Cormac Mac Airt training in the surrounding fields, as athletes trained and prepared on Olympus in Ancient Greece. The glory of Tara is that it is saturated with the past, whether reality or fiction.


Tara was an important centre of religious ceremony.
It had been a burial site as early as the second millennium BC.
Tara was the supposedly the seat of the High Kings of Ireland.
Later ‘king of Tara’ was an honorary title for a ruler whose seat was often far distant.
The Uí Néill referred to their kings as ‘kings of Tara’.
Feis Temrach was celebrated on the Hill of Tara

The most important mythical king of Tara is Cormac mac Airt.
Features of the Tara site include:
Adamnán’s Cross. Upright stone attributed to St Adamnán, St Columcille’s biographer, containing vague outlines of a female figure, possible a Sheela-na-gig.

‘Banqueting Hall’
Rectangular earthwork, 750 by 90 feet

Cormac’s House

Cormac’s House
Small earthwork enclosed by the Fort/Rath of Kings, at the centre stands the Lia Fáil
Fort/Rath of the Kings
Large, oval hill-fort, 950 by 800 feet, which nearly encircles three other earthworks (Cormac’s House, the Mound of Hostages, the Royal Seat) and the Lia Fáil.
Rath of the Synods.
Earth-work excavations showed timber palisades from the 1st and 3rd centuries AD. In the late 19th century British Israelites excavated portions of the earthworks looking for the Ark of the Covenant.

Lia Fáil Stone

Lia Fáil (stone of destiny)
Twelve-foot erect pillar-stone, 6 feet above ground, made of granular limestone, not quarried in the district. Found lying horizontally near the Mound of Hostages.

Mound of the Hostages
Small earthworks at the north end of the Rath of the Kings.
Ráth Gráinne
A burial-mound between the Banqueting Hall and the Sloping Trenches

Ráth Lóegaire
Large, ring-fort associated with Lóegaire mac Néill, the king of Tara at the time of St Patrick.

Ráth Maeve
A hill-fort, 750 feet in diameter, half a mile South of the centre of Tara.

Royal Seat
Small earthworks adjacent to Cormac’s House
Sloping Trenches
Two unusual ring-earthworks in the north-west of the site.


Cathal O’Byrne

National Museum Exhibition-Rites of Passage at Tara

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