In pre-Christian Ireland, Tara was considered the most important center of political and religious power. It is considered the “soul of Ireland” where people have been coming for years and continue to visit today.
Politically, Tara was the site of the High Kings of Ireland. There were 142 kings crowned here. Religiously, the Celts erected some impressive ceremonial monuments when they arrived over 6,000 years ago.
This is an aerial view of the hill of Tara. The very center mound is the Kings Seat where the coronation stone of Tara still stands.
The Lia Fail or Stone of Destiny is said to roar when it was touched by the person who was to be king of Tara. It is believed that the DeDanann people brought this stone which they considered a sacred object. I researched the DeDanann people and cannot rightly say if they were mythical or real. One website says they were a myth, while another claims they were godly people with supernatural powers who ruled Ireland from 1987 BC to 1700 BC.
The Kings Seat was not the original spot for the Stone of Destiny. It originally was just north of the “Mound of Hostages” but in 1789 there was the United Irishmen revolution and 400 brave souls died during that battle. The Stone of Destiny was moved to mark their graves. In 1938, a headstone was erected to also mark the site.
This is an ancient ritual and burial mound that dates from 2,500 BC. To the right of the mound, you can see the entrance where inside there is an engraved stone. There is a gate which keeps the public out and it was too dark to take a photo of the stone. The engraving on the stone were similar to the megaliths seen at Newgrange. It is believed the symbols on the stone were for sacred Celtic festivals. Theory has that the Mound of Hostages was a passage tomb but others believe that it was used for astrology and ceremonial purposes. However, over 200 individual cremations have been discovered here so, I believe, that passage tomb is an appropriate description.
In the photo below, you can see the original wall of the second church that was built in this area. The two stones near it are a reminder of the many Celtic monuments that once dotted the landscape of Tara. The taller stone, on the right, is believed to be have the figure of Cernunnos, the Celtic god of fertility. The smaller stone might possibly be one of the many standing stones named thousands of years ago by the Celts…..Dall, Dorcha, Maol, Bloc, etc.
Legend has it that candidates for the position of High King had to drive their chariots toward two sacred stones, that stood close together. If the candidate was not the accepted person for High King, the stones remained close together. However, it the person was the correct one, then the stones would open to allow “the King” in.
In 432 AD, Ireland was a pagan country and in 433 AD, St Patrick came to Tara and asked the High King permission to spread Christianity. It is said that St Patrick used the shamrock to explain Christianity to the King. The three leaves symbolized “the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost”. Today, as a reminder, there is a statue prominently displayed at Tara.
Tara is indeed a special place among Irish history. I can understand why people consider this area to be the “soul” of Ireland.