Tara’s Significance

The old Irish name for Tara, Temair, has been interpreted as Tebe-mur, the wall of Thebes or Tea. Tea appeared in the Leabor Gabala Eireann, the book of the taking of Ireland. Thea is reputed to have been an Egyptian from Thebes who married Erimon. To cure her homesickness, he promised to build a dun for them on the loveliest hill in Ireland. In reality the name, Temair, probably means something like a sacred space or sanctuary, which is what it was until the coming of Christianity.

Tara was an important site long before the High Kings. A passage tomb known as Dumha na nGiall, The Mound of the Hostages, is the oldest visible monument and dates from around 3,000 BC.

Described by Muirchú as caput Scotorum, ‘capital of the Irish’, the royal political authority of Tara grew as older pagan traditions were woven into the new religious beliefs and new powerful dynasties such as the Uí Néill organised Irish kingship on a more national scale. Tara was a royal city, the seat not only of the high kings of Ireland but a cultural landscape in which archaeology, history, religion, mythology, folklore, literature, language, the study of place names, heritage and national identity coalesce. If Ireland has a heart, it beats here at Tara. For some 3,500 years this was a pagan sanctuary and burial ground. Tara dominates the Annals and all of the earliest Irish historical record.

A meeting of several prominent Anglo-Irish Catholic families of the Pale, held on the Hill of Tara on Christmas Eve 1641, led to the creation of the Irish Confederation of Kilkenny in 1642. Over one hundred and fifty years later Tara was again chosen as a rallying point, this time for a force of United Irishmen, who were subsequently defeated in a battle at the hill by Crown forces on 26 May 1798. The anniversary of the 1798 rebellion was marked at Tara twenty-five years later with a ceremony which involved moving the supposed Lia Fáil from the Dumha na nGiall to the Forradh, where it still stands today.

As part of his campaign to repeal the Act of Union in 1843, Daniel ‘The Liberator’ O’Connell once more evoked the highly symbol qualities of Tara by holding a monster meeting at the hill, attended by an estimated crowd of 750,000. Griffith, Maud Gonne, WB Yeats and Douglas Hyde saw Tara as a potential capital of an independent Ireland.

Today the site remains as a series of earthworks and mounds. Edel Bhreathnach, Patron of the Meath Archaeological and Historical Society, said “the study of Tara is the study of the history of Ireland”.

Mound of the Hostage 1900

Tara – A Ramble round the hill

The Hill of Tara at 159 metres provides a spectacular and unmissable landmark within the local hinterland. The Hill of Tara on a clear day provides views south to Dublin and Wicklow, south-west across Meath to Offaly and Laois, west across Westmeath, north-west to Longford and Cavan, north to Monaghan, and north-east to Louth – ten counties in all.

The Hill of Tara is one of the special places in the county. Open free to the public and a great wide open space for kids to run wild on, Tara is a magical place – you can walk in the footsteps of saints and heroes. 

Known primarily as the seat of the High Kings of Ireland, Tara has been an important site from the late Stone Age.

A modern statue of St. Patrick greets the visitor outside the Visitor Centre. This is a very traditional view of St. Patrick complete with bishop’s mitre, an article of clothing not used until hundreds of years after Patrick’s death. According to tradition Patrick lit the Pascal fire on the Hill of Slane to the north-east and came to Tara to explain Christianity, using the shamrock to explain the concept of the Trinity. The visitor centre is a converted church dedicated to St. Patrick. The Church which dates to 1823 has a wonderful stained glass window.

Plans of the Banquet Hall were included in the Book of Leinster almost 1000 years ago but the monument was more likely a ceremonial entrance to the holy site of Tara. To the west lie the Sloping Trenches and Rath Grainne. The Sloping Trenches are a set of forts erected on the side of the hill. Rath Grainne recalls the love story of the Celts when Princess Grainne refused to marry Fionn MacCumhaill and set off on her escapades with Diarmuid.

The Rath of the Synods was the site of three meetings of churchmen who made changes to the laws of Ireland. At the final synod held here St Ruadán cursed Tara – “May Tara be desolate forever.” Tara was such a significant pagan centre the only way to prevent its influence continuing was to curse it.  In 1899 the Rath of the Synods was excavated by a group called the British Israelites who thought the Ark of the Covenant was buried there. It was re-excavated in the 1950s when Roman remains were uncovered. The presence of exotic Roman material from across the sea further emphasises the importance of Tara. 

Crossing the boundary of the royal enclosure, Rath na Ri, a visitor comes to the oldest monument on the hill. The Mound of the Hostages is a megalithic passage tomb, similar to Newgrange. Dating from 3,000 BC, the mound has a modest passage. It was at this mound that the original Lia Fáil, Stone of Destiny, stood.

One of the most famous names associated with Tara is Niall of the Nine Hostages. Hostages were treated as honoured guests provided their political grouping behaved. The passage has two decorated stones with Neolithic art forms. The passage is aligned to the rising sun on 8 November. A collection of burnt and unburnt human bone representing hundreds of individuals was uncovered during the archaeological investigation in the 1950s.

Cormac’s House and the Royal Seat or Forradh make a figure of eight feature at the southern side of the hill. Cormac Mac Airt, as a young prince, gave a famous judgement when sheep belonging to a local farmer broke into the Queen’s garden. The Queen demanded that she receive the sheep in recompense for the damage caused. The king as judge agreed but then Cormac spoke up  – “Shear the sheep and give the wool to the Queen, the queen’s garden like the sheep’s wool will grow back.” 

At the centre of the Royal Seat lies the Lia Fáil, the Stone of Destiny. It is said to be the stone of the coronation of the kings of Ireland and to roar when touched by the rightful king of Tara. Other legends say it was the pillow of Jacob or the coronation Stone of Scone of Westminster Abbey. The stone was moved to its current position to commemorate the rebels who died at the Battle of Tara in 1798. In 1843, Daniel O’Connell held one of his monster meetings on Tara. In the churchyard at Tara there are two standing stones, one said to be a sheela na gig, a rude portrayal of a man. Two Bronze Age torcs or collars were discovered here in 1910 and are now on display in the National Museum.About 1,500m to the south of the mound is Rath Maeve, named in honour of a goddess of Tara.

Tara is a wild spot and when the wind is blowing make sure to wrap up warm. And don’t forget a visit to the bookshop and Café. The Book of Tara by Michael Slavin is the best book on the history of the hill and who knows you might just meet the author in the bookshop..

Lia Fail and 1798 Memorial on the Forradh

St. Patrick at Tara

St Patrick

St. Patrick’s Well, Tara

Patrick is one of the few personalities of the fifth century whom we do know anything about but there is still much ambiguity with regard to his actions and the time period in which he worked.

The earliest surviving lives of Patrick provide a strong connection between Patrick and Tara. Patrick worked in areas where there were no Christians ‘where no one else had penetrated’ according to his Confessio. He came to the Irish who were pagans rather than the British Christians who lived in the country. It is likely that he was active in Ulster and Connacht but there are strong traditions which link him to Midhe.

Tírechán said that Patrick arrived at some islands of the coast of Dublin and then immediately proceeded to Tara whereas Muirchú said that the Patrick went to the north first and then Midhe.

Muirchú and Tírechán both give accounts of the confrontation between the high king Lóegaire and St. Patrick on the hill of Tara. In Muirchú’s account Patrick decided to celebrate Easter in the great plain of Brega because it was there that the greatest kingdom existed and the pagan religion was centred. Lóegaire was celebrating a pagan feast and no one was to light a fire before a fire was lit in the house of the king. Patrick lit a fire on the hill of Slane which shone out like a beacon and was seen by almost all the people of the plain. The king was enraged as were his druids and they proclaimed that unless the fire was extinguished on this night, it would never be extinguished at all.

Erc, one of the king’s retinue, became a follower of Patrick who is said to have described him as ‘his sweet spoken judge.’ Patrick entered the feast of Tara although the doors were closed and preached Christianity. A druid tried to poison Patrick. There followed a contest where the druid brings down first snow and then a thick fog on the plains but is unable to remove it. But Patrick could. The druid refused a challenge by water but accepted a challenge by fire. The druid perished in the fire while Patrick’s servant emerged from the fire unhurt. The burning of a human could have been part of a pagan ceremony or a human effigy. The druids are depicted as having major powers so when St. Patrick triumphs, he has overcome powerful and dangerous enemies and displayed his capabilities of overcoming evil with the use of miracles.

Muirchú concluded his account with the conversion of Lóegaire while Tírechán recorded that Lóegaire refused baptism so that he could be buried standing up facing the Leinstermen.

In his own writings Patrick makes no mention of the encounter with the king. There was no high king of Ireland at the time of Patrick, however Lóegaire could have been an important local king. Muirchú relocates the fire rituals of Beltaine from Uisneach to Tara and makes it coincide with the Christian Easter.

A stone covered well stands by the roadside on the eastern slopes of Hill of Tara.  This well is one of the sources for the Gabhra stream. The well recently named St. Patrick’s Well was originally a pagan well. Conor Newman, the noted archaeologist, suggests that it may have originally been called Liaig. There were a number of wells on the Hill of Tara, most of which retained their pre-Christian names. According to a plaque at the site the well is described in the Dindsenchas as the Caprach of Cormac, eastward from the Rath of Kings. It was also known as the Well of the Numbering of the Clans. Dark Eye, The Healer, the Well of the White Cow. It was later called King Cormac’s Well and then St. Patrick’s Well. 

Mosaic plan of Tara on old school in Navan

Evie Hone

In the Visitor Centre on Tara the stained glass East Window, with images of Pentecost interspersed with images of Saint Patrick on the Hill of Tara is by Evie Hone and was erected to mark the 1,500th anniversary of Saint Patrick’s arrival and his mission to Ireland.  It was one of her earliest commissions.

Evie Hone Window, Tara.

Evie Sydney Hone was born into a distinguished Church of Ireland family on the 22 April 1894 at Roebuck Grove, Dublin. The family name, Hone, is of Flemish origin and stretches back as far as the mid-seventeenth century when the wool trade between Dublin and Flanders was flourishing. Apart from merchants, her ancestry included malsters and bankers; her father Joseph was a malster and a director of the Bank of Ireland; railway directors and artists. Among the artists were portrait; John Camillus and Samuel Hone and landscape; Nathaniel Hone; painters and a minituarist of fashionable Dublin; Horace Hone. The energy, initiative and versatility of her family became apparent in Evie’s own unique artistic vigour and creativity.

Polio, contracted at the young age of eleven years, robbed Evie of a normal childhood. It came upon her all of a sudden when, in a fit of infantile paralysis, she fell across the altar of her parish church in Taney which she was decorating for Easter. From that moment on, she would be relatively dependent on others for support. Her indomitable spirit and deep faith would not only sustain her but would in time lead her to the heights of self-mastery and artistic achievement.

One of the great blessings of her life was her life-long and loyal friendship with Mainie Jellett with whom she studied painting in London and then in Paris. For ten year they vigorously and tenaciously pursued their artistic studies together under various tutors. Over the years Evie became more attracted to stained glass and worked with Michael Healy at An Tur Gloine, remaining there until it was dissolved in 1944. Then she set up her own studio in Marlay Grange, Rathfarnham. She was thirty eight when she became enchanted with stained glass.

“My Four Green Fields” 1938/39 was commissioned by the Irish Government for the Irish Pavilion at the World’s Fair, New York, now forms the centre piece in the entrance hall of Government Buildings in Upper Merrion Street.

Evie Hone died suddenly on the 13th of March 1955 as she entered her parish church at Rathfarnham. Hone completed more than fifty stained glass windows – forty in Ireland, ten in England and one in Washington D.C. The one at Eton College, begun in 1947 and installed in 1952, is an acknowledged masterpiece. Her own favourites were The Beatitudes which is in Manresa, and The Ascension, which is in Kingscourt, Co. Cavan.

My Four Green Fields

The Harp That Once Through Tara’s Halls

The harp that once through Tara’s halls
The soul of music shed,
Now hangs as mute on Tara’s walls
As if that soul were fled.
So sleeps the pride of former days,
So glory’s thrill is o’er,
And hearts that once beat high for praise
Now feel that pulse no more!

No more to chiefs and ladies bright
The harp of Tara swells;
The chord alone that breaks at night
Its tale of ruin tells.
Thus Freedom now so seldom wakes,
The only throb she gives
Is when some heart indignant breaks,
To show that still she lives.

Thomas Moore

The Harp that Once (Music with thanks to Aine Kerr)

What did the Romans ever do for Meath?

The Roman’s never came to Ireland or did they? In recent decades there has been discussion as to whether the Romans came to Ireland or not. A lot of significance is given to a fort in north county Dublin called Drumanagh or Loughshinny. Ireland was not isolated from the Roman world and there must have been interaction on a number of different level – trade, culture, religion, agriculture and warfare. The development of Irish culture from the first to the eighth centuries AD owed much to the imperial Roman and Christian empires respectively.

Agricola, the Roman governor of Britain from 78-84 AD entertained an Irish royal, with the intention of using him as a pretext for the invasion of Ireland. It has been suggested that the Irish prince was Tuathal Techtmhar who ruled Ireland from Tara in the first century.  Tuathal may have received Roman assistance in regaining his throne.  Tuathal’s father was overthrown and killed. His mother was a native of Britain and so Tuathal may have returned to his mother’s home to organise a campaign to regain his kingdom. Tuathal returned to Ireland and carved out the province of Midhe, Meath, from the other provinces. Excavations at Tara have uncovered Roman material from the first and second century which would prove a connection between the royals of Tara and the Roman world. Lead sealing from box and shreds of Roman pottery were discovered at Tara.

Roman merchants would have been familiar with the east coast of Ireland, facing across the Irish Sea to Roman Britain. In the second century the Greek geographer prepared a map of the world which included Ireland. Coordinates for the Boyne river, called by Ptolemy Buvinda, were marked on the map.  Obviously the Boyne and its estuary were known by Roman traders. There have been numerous Roman items discovered in Meath. The items uncovered may have come from trade or raids, from returning mercenaries, refugees or adventurers.

At Newgrange coins and jewellery have been uncovered. It is thought that the items were deposited as votive offerings to the god, Daghda. Coins from first, third and especially fourth century have been uncovered. The first Roman coins uncovered at Newgrange were discovered about 1699 when the tomb itself came to light. Coins from various emperors were unearthed –  Domitian AD 81-96, Postumus AD 260-168, Probus 276- 282, Maximian 286- 305, Constantine I 308-337, Constantine II 337- 340 and later emperors. The wide date range, high value and quantity rule out casual loss. The suggestion is that they were grave goods or votive offerings. The likely depositors are the native Irish rather than Romans.  In 1842 five gold items were uncovered at Newgrange  near the entrance –  a gold chain, two bracelets and two finger rings. In 1967 the hook end of a gold torc with an inscription SCORNS.MB was discovered at Newgrange.

At Lagore crannog, near Dunshaughlin, various Roman items were uncovered in the dig in the 1930s. Sherds of Samian ware, a fine bright red pottery originating in Gaul, were found at Lagore. This type of pottery was created in France in the middle of the second century. Sherds of this type of pottery were also uncovered at Tara and Knowth. A number of chains and collars uncovered at Lagore have been interpreted as slave chains or chains for dogs. Roman toilet articles were uncovered at Lagore, Knowth and Tara.

At Knowth a bronze spoon was discovered. A bronze ladle was uncovered at Bohermeen but its find details are not known. It has a round bottom and a long winged handle. It is of a kind found widely and commonly throughout the Roman world and is now in the National Museum. A coin of Younger  Faustina 161-175 was uncovered at Navan but the site of the find is not located.

Water mills had a long history in the Roman World. Could Lismullen have been the first Roman water mill in Ireland? The mill was reputedly built by the High King of Tara to relieve his concubine of the arduous task of grinding by quern stone.

Ogham stones and the use of the Roman alphabet was a fourth and fifth century introduction into Ireland. Meath had its own ogham stone at Painestown.

While the Romans never conquered Meath or Ireland their religion did. The Roman Briton, Patrick, was the most influential missionary to introduce Christianity to Ireland.

So the Romans did influence Tara and Meath in a whole variety of ways.

Plan of Tara

The British Israelites on Tara

Arthur Griffith, William Butler Yeats, George Moore and Douglas Hyde campaigned against the British-Israelites when they sought to destroy the Hill of Tara in search of the Ark of the Covenant between the years of 1899 and 1902. In a letter published in the London Times on June 27th, 1902, and signed by Douglas Hyde, George Moore and W.B. Yeats, the trio voiced objections “All we can do now under the circumstances, is to draw the attention of the public to this desecration. Tara is, because of its associations, probably the most consecrated spot in Ireland and its destruction will leave many bitter memories behind it.”

Arthur Griffith protested on Tara in the company of William Butler Yeats, George Moore and Douglas Hyde, despite being ordered off the site by a man wielding a rifle.

The British Israelites were founded in the 1850s, by John Wilson, a “linguist”, who was of the opinion that the English language was descended from pure Hebrew. The group believed they were the lost tribe of Israel, that they were the chosen people. At the time Britain had colonies all over the world and Britain was one of the strongest countries in the world.

The British Israelites believed that the Ark of the Covenant was buried on the Hill of Tara. The Ark of the Covenant contained a copy of the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God.

In June 1899, Walton Adams and Charles Groom arrived at Tara to commence explorations. They approached the landowner of the Hill who was Gussy Briscoe of Bellinter House and he allowed them to rent part of the Hill from him on a weekly rent.

Lady Gregory and William Butler Yeats objected to the Hill of Tara being destroyed by these religious maniacs and serious archaeologists also objected but there were no laws which could have prevented the dig going ahead. On Christmas Day 1900 Maud Gonne in the company of Arthur Griffith, editor of the United Irishman and future co-founder of Sinn Féin, inspected the damage done to Tara. Maude Gonne subsequently wrote an article, describing a vision she had of a procession of strange people, walking on the hill to the accompaniment of harp music. Griffith, in common with other nationalists, believed Tara was “a living reminder of the former glory of an enslaved and half-debased nation.” William Bulfin, a close friend of Griffith, viewed the destruction of Tara and wrote “Men have been sent to prison for less. But in Ireland there is no plank bed and hard tack for such offenders. They sleep upon the safest mattresses in the country and feed on the fat of the land.”

Destroying the Rath of the Synods all the diggers discovered were some rock trenches and a number of bracelets which they threw into the Boyne. They also uncovered a number of wooden boxes buried by Gussy Briscoe. Apparently there was a curse on whoever found the Ark of the Covenant and when a digger came upon one of these wooden boxes everyone scarpered and only came back when they thought it was safe. Briscoe would also go up and bury pieces of coal for them to find. Each time they found something it meant that they would stay for longer and Gussy Briscoe got another week’s rent.

In 1902, Maude Gonne organised a children’s excursion to Tara. In a letter to W.B. Yeats in August of that year, she wrote: “It was a great mistake I think to have abandoned the public meeting at Tara. I don’t think Groom & Brisco are really beaten at all. In a few weeks I expect they will be digging away as merrily as ever. Griffith doesn’t share my views on this subject.

Our Children’s excursion was a great success, & everybody enjoyed the day immensely.

Brisco had prepared an enormous bonfire to be lighted in honour of the king of England’s coronation – We felt it would serve a better purpose if burnt in honour of an Independent Ireland so lighted it & sang A Nation once again. The Constabulary didn’t like it at all & danced & jumped with rage – they added greatly to the fun.”

The excavations came to an end in 1903, largely due to the pressure exerted in the media by Maude Gonne and other nationalists. The story of the British Israelites on Tara is told by Mairéad Carew in Tara and the Ark of the Covenant.

About 1999 John Hill, who was living in Kells, said the Ark was located in or under the Mound of the Hostages. He was refused permission by the OPW to dig on the Hill.

Gussy Briscoe lived at Bellinter Hosue, a very large Georgian mansion on the banks of the River Boyne, which can been seen from the Hill. There is a basement, then the next floor is the main family living area and then the next floor is the bedrooms and then the top is the attic where the servants and the children lived.

Gussy Briscoe was well off – he sold his land to the tenant farmers and received a large amount of money; so much it was like winning the lottery. He bought an ocean going yacht which he had tied up at Drogheda.

One evening he had a bit too much to drink and someone made a wager with him. “I bet you – you will not ride that chestnut horse of yours up that spiral staircase. You’re not a good enough rider to do that” Gussy got his chestnut mare and brought her into the house up the front steps and into the front hall, he mounted the horse and faced her towards the stairs – it was a tough and frightening climb but the horse and rider made it to the attic. “I won the bet” crowed Gussy and collected his winnings but when he faced the horse for the downward journey the horse refused to go down. The horse had to be fed and watered in the attic for two weeks before a beam and pulley could be erected to lower the horse back down to the ground.

British Israelites on Tara

Letter to The Times

The Battle of Tara 1798

1798 Commemorations 2008

The Battle of Tara was fought on 26 May 1798 between British forces and Irish rebels involved in the United Irishmen’s Rebellion, resulting in a heavy defeat for the rebels and the end of the rebellion
in County Meath.

In 1828 Charles Hamilton Teeling recorded what had happen on Tara thirty years earlier in History of the Irish Rebellion of 1798; A Personal Narrative: “Admirably posted on the princely hill of Tara, and with a force sufficient to combat twice the number of their assailants, they had not an officer who knew the advantage of the ground, or to whose sole authority they acknowledged obedience. Each separate leader of division, looked only to those who were under his immediate control; and though many were qualified for inferior command, none assumed that superiority, so essential to the direction of the field, in the arrangement of forces, who had no combined system of action.

Had they marched under men who possessed the talents of Fitzgerald, of Redmond, of Clony, of Roche, or a hundred others, whose names are conspicuous in the Wexford campaign, Tara would not have been the field of an easy bought victory, where courage was abundant, and arrangement only deficient.

Tara had been the seat of the ancient grandeur of our country, the theme of her poet, and the strain of her bard. It was the splendid court of her kings and the hospitable hall of her chiefs. In the heart of Leinster, and the most fertile district of the province, surrounded by inexhaustible supplies, and commanding rich and flourishing towns within two hours’ march of its summit, Tara presented a station for an army, which being once concentrated, the capital could not have maintained itself eight and forty hours.

That Tara should have been selected as the theatre of national contest, associated with the proud remembrance of ancient greatness, and combining, from local situation, every advantage for defence, evinced a mind capable of much discernment, and not unacquainted with the powerful feelings which stimulate the human breast. But the very advantage of situation tended to facilitate defeat. Had the united forces been less confident of their ground, they would in all probability have proceeded with less temerity.

On the advance of the enemy they quitted their strong position, and descending from the summit to the lower declivity of the hill, rushed with impetuosity on the British troops who were advancing. The infantry fled, unable to resist the charge of the pike, but they were quickly supported by cavalry and cannon; and while the apparently victorious troops were pursuing their success, they were alternately charged by the horse, and raked by a galling fire from the artillery.

The phalanx being broken, they had no rallying point nor reserve; no hand to retrieve the error which their impetuosity had occasioned. Encompassed by a brave and disciplined army, exposed on the wide grassy plain, which presented no interruption to the movement of the cavalry, or the deadly action of the cannon, the united forces were completely routed.

Many returned to their homes; the most determined remained in arms, and proceeded to join the ranks of the brave and persevering Aylmer (The leader in Kildare).”

An account of the battle of Tara in 1844 described how the engagement had taken place: “This action was fought on the 26th of May Gordon and Musgrave allege that there were 4,000 of the insurgents who are admitted, however, to have been in a state of great disorganization. The force opposed to them are said to have been only 400, but there were three companies of the regiment of Reay Fencibles, with a piece of artillery, under the command of Captain McLean, Lord Fingal’s troop of yeoman cavalry, Captain Preston’s troop, the Lower Kells troop, and Captain Molloy’s company of yeoman infantry. It has been observed that the position of this hill, placed as it is in a widely surrounding plain, is well adapted for defence against an attacking foe, but ill for escape from victorious cavalry, from whose pursuit they could only be protected by the enclosures of the field, so that many doubtless were killed and wounded on this occasion. The insurgents received the King’s forces in a very defying manner, and were the assailants. It is stated that they made ‘three desperate onsets, and in the last laid hold of the cannon; but the officer who commanded the gun having applied the match before he could be completely surrounded, prostrated ten or twelve of the assailants, and dispersed the remainder.’ Notwithstanding their victory the King’s troops retired from the field. The reason stated is, that they had not a single cartridge left, which shows the obstinacy with which the battle was contested. Musgrave was of opinion that affairs were in such a position when this action occurred, that if it had ended in favour of the insurgents they would have speedily been in possession of the entire kingdom. The Earl of Fingal who commanded the cavalry in this important and eventful engagement, is described even by Musgrave as having acted with ‘great spirit and courage.’”

Originally, the Lia Fail would have stood before the Mound of Hostages, it was moved to its current site to commemorate the rebels who died in the Battle of Tara.

A good book for further reading on this subject is The Battle of the Hill of Tara. 26th May 1798. by L.J. Steen.

Paud O’Donohue Memorial

One of the favourite recitations of P.H. Pearse.

The Yeos were in Dunshaughlin,
And the Hessians in Dunreagh,
And spread thro’ fair Moynalty
Were the Fencibles of Reagh,
While Roden’s godless troopers ranged
From Skreen to Mullachoo,
When hammered were the pikeheads
First by Páid O’Donoghue.

2. Young Páid, he was as brave a boy
As ever hammer swung,
And the finest hurler that you’d ever find
The lads of Meath among;
And when the wrestling match was o’er
No man could boast he threw
The dark-haired smith of Curroghá,
Young Páid O’Donoghue.

3. So Pádraig lived a happy life
And gaily sang each day
Beside his ringing anvil
Some sweet old Irish lay,
Or roamed light-heartedly at eve
Thro’ the woods of lone Kilbrue,
With her who’d given her pure heart’s love
To Páid O’Donoghue.

4. But Ninety-Eight’s dark season came
And Irish hearts were sore;
The pitch-cap and triangle
The patient folk outwore;
The blacksmith thought of Ireland
And found he’d work to do:
“I’ll forge some steel for freedom,”
Said Páid O’Donoghue.

5. Tho’ the Yeos were in Dunshaughlin
And the Hessians in Dunreagh,
Tho’ spread thro’ fair Moynalty
Were the Fencibles of Reagh;
Tho’ Roden’s godless troopers ranged
From Skreen to Mullachoo,
The pike-heads keen were hammered out
By Páid O’Donoghue.

6. And so in Curroghá each night
Was heard the anvil’s ring,
While scouting on the roadways
Were Hugh and Phelim King,
With Gillic’s Mat, and Duffy’s Pat,
And Mickey Gilsenan, too,
While in the forge for Ireland
Worked young Páid O’Donoghue.

7. But a traitor crept amongst them,
And the secret soon was sold
To the captain of the Yeomen
For the ready Saxon gold;
And a troop burst out one evening
From the woods of dark Kilbrue,
And soon a rebel prisoner bound
Was Páid O’Donoghue.

8. Now Pádraig Óg pray fervently,
Your earthly course has run;
The captain he has sworn
You’ll not see the morrow’s sun.
The muskets they are ready,
And each yeoman’s aim is true;
Death stands beside thy shoulder,
Young Páid O’Donoghue.

9. “Down on your knees, you rebel dog,”
The yeoman captain roared,
As high above his helmet’s crest
He waved his gleaming sword.
“Down on your knees to meet you doom,
Such is the rebel’s due;”
But straight as pike shaft ‘fore him
Stood bold Páid O’Donoghue.

10. And there upon the roadway
Where in childhood he had played,
Before the cruel yeoman
He stood quite undismayed
“I kneel but to my God above,
I ne’er shall bow to you;
You can shoot me as I’m standing,”
Said Páid O’Donoghue.

11. The captain gazed in wonder,
Then lowered his keen edged blade,
“A rebel bold as this,” he said
“tis fitting to degrade.
Here men!” he cried, “unbind him,
My charger needs a shoe;
The King shall have a workman
In this Páid O’Donoghue.”

12. Now to the forge young Páid has gone,
The yeomen guard the door,
And soon the ponderous bellows
Is heard to snort and roar;
The captain stands with reins in hand
While Pádraig fits the shoe,
And when ‘tis on full short the shrift
He’ll give O’Donoghue.

13. The last strong nail is firmly clenched,
The captain’s horse is shod!
Now rebel bold thine hour hath come,
Prepare to meet thy God!
But why holds he the horse’s hoof
There’s no more work to do?
Why clenches he his hammer so,
Young Páid O’Donoghue?

14. A leap! a roar! a smothered groan!
The captain drops the rein,
And sinks to earth with hammer-head
Sunk deeply in his brain;
And lightly in the saddle
Fast racing towards Kilbrue
Upon the captain’s charger
Sits Páid O’Donoghue.

15. A volley from the pistols,
A rush of horses’ feet
He’s gone! and none can capture
The captain’s charger fleet;
And on the night wind backwards
Comes a mocking loud “Halloo!”
That tells the yeomen they have lost
Young Páid O’Donoghue.

16. Young Páid fought at Tara,
You know the nation’s tale;
Though borne down in that struggle,
Not hopeless is the Gael,
For still in Meath’s fair county,
There are brave lads – not a few
Who would follow in the footsteps
Of bold Páid O’Donoghue.

Patrick Archer

When Tara Greeted The Liberator – Daniel O’Connell

On Tuesday morning, the 15 August 1843, most of the population of Meath, with many thousands from the four counties round, were pouring along every road leading to Tara. Daniel O’Connell organised a rally on the Hill on 15 August 1843, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to support his call for the repeal of the Act of Union.

Having achieved Catholic Emancipation in 1829 Daniel O’Connell turned his attention to repeal of the Act of Union. This act was passed in 1800 removing Ireland’s right to have a parliament of its own and the country was ruled from London. Daniel O’Connell wanted an independent parliament for Ireland under the crown and blamed the Union for all the ills of Ireland. Daniel O’Connell was intimately connected to Meath.

A repeal meeting was held in Trim in 22 November 1840. Bishop Cantwell of Meath joined the Repeal association in 1840 and with his support the organisation blossomed. Repeal rent was collected in various parishes. Repeal reading rooms were set up in Kells, Navan and Trim. In 1841 O’Connell lost his Dublin City seat to the Conservatives but was returned for both Meath and Cork counties and chose to sit for the latter.

A monster meeting was held in Kells in December 1841. O’Connell invited the police in the crowd to come forward and sit near the stage so they could take their notes for the British authorities more easily. The crowd loved it. The Moynalty poet, James Tevlin, wrote a number of poems in honour of O’Connell and his activities.

At the start of January 1843 O’Connell announced that 1843 would be the Repeal year. The strategy was to have monster meetings in each county to bring pressure to bear on the British government. Now aged sixty eight O’Connell spoke at thirty-one major outdoor meetings.

The first public meeting took place in Trim on 16th March 1843. There was an attendance of thirty thousand people. Henry Grattan M.P. acted as chairman of the Trim meeting. Grattan was the son of Henry Grattan who had fought for the independent Dublin parliament in the late eighteenth century.  Grattan was one of the few Protestants who supported Repeal. Grattan said that the British parliament was too busy to attend to Irish matters and had passed only a small number of bills relating to Ireland. Grattan said “The Union has produced nothing but ruin and misery in the land.” O’Connell praised the young Grattan at the Trim meeting  and described him as “the worthy son of a worthy sire”.  At the dinner afterwards O’Connell asked the men of Meath “Are you slaves, and will you be content to be slaves?” Pointing towards the women present he said they were too good-looking and too pure to ever be mothers of slaves.  The second M.P. for Meath Matthew Elias Corbally, of Corbalton Hall, Skryne, was against the Repeal movement. Henry French said that Mr. Corbally had offered a great insult to O’Connell by opposing Repeal.

On 2 April 1843 Daniel O’Connell addressed a meeting at Bellewstown to petition for the repeal of the Act of Union.

Daniel O’Connell held one of his largest Repeal meetings on the Hill of Tara on 15 August 1843. O’Connell had breakfast in Lower Baggot Street before departing for Tara. He travelled through Dunshaughlin to loud cheers and music. The procession from Dunshaughlin occupied a mile of road and included a trumpeter on horseback, drummers, a harper on an open carriage drawn by six grey horses playing ‘The Harp That Once Through Tara’s Halls’, horsemen four deep, footmen six deep and flags and banners carrying the emotive word ‘Repeal’. At Dunsany the lines of vehicles were densely wedged together. At Belper O’Connell was met by the men of Trim, Navan and Kells with their bands. The Trim band was dressed in a white uniform faced with brilliant green. Father McEvoy of Kells carried a large banner.  A great number of Dublin bands were present and people came from as far away as Roscrea, Nenagh and Clonmel in Tipperary. Fr. Francis Flynn of Navan erected a temporary altar near the summit of the hill to offer Mass.

From early Monday morning people were arriving in the vicinity of Tara and erecting tents to provide overnight accommodation. Navan was the rendevous for the groups coming from the North and North West. The Temperance Band from Drogheda arrived the night before and they were accommodated by local supporters. At three o’clock in the morning the people of Navan heard the music of the various temperance bands who were marching to Tara. The bands included those from Moynalty, Mullagh, Nobber, Ballyjamesduff, Kells and Drogheda. At half past five the first Mass of the day was held in the church. At the end of the Mass Fr. Keely gave an address. At eight o’clock the Kell’s Temperance Band marched out followed by the Navan Band and then by the band made up of the operatives of Mr. Blundell’s factory. At ten o’clock the Drogheda band accompanied with twenty banners passed through the town. Shortly afterwards the bishop of Meath, Dr. Cantwell, departed for Tara, leaving the town deserted. Cars and horse were abandoned on the road to Tara. 

At Tara the multitudes assembled were estimated in the Nation at 750,000; an exaggeration, certainly. But they were at least 350,000. Two bishops and thirty five priests were present as, soon after midday, O’Connell’s carriage made its way up to the top of the hill through an archway that included the words ‘Tara of the Kings hails the Liberator with 100,000 welcomes’. The mounted escort, told off in lines of four by volunteer Repeal ‘police’, was estimated at 10,000 horsemen. It took O’Connell’s open carriage two hours to make its way through the vast crowd.

The carriage was preceded by a car on which a harper sat on a throne playing Thomas Moore’s ‘The Harp that once through Tara’s Halls’. Vigilant laymen and priests made sure that there was no disorder, no shillelaghs, no strong drink. The vast audience shouted, laughed, groaned and exulted at appropriate moments during O’Connell’s stentorian oratory – including those who were too far away to hear what was being said.

O’Connell  spoke “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. We are standing upon Tara of the Kings, the spot where the monarchs of Ireland were elected, and where the chieftains of Ireland bound themselves by the solemn pledge of honour to protect their native land against Dane and every stranger. This was emphatically the spot from which emanated every social power and legal authority by which the force of the entire country was concentrated for national defence. On this important spot I have an important duty to perform. I here protest in the face of my country and my God against the continuance of the Union.”  There were huge cheers for O’Connell’s words. O’Connell described the assembly “an august and triumphant meeting.”

Nicholas Boylan, Bellewstown, proposed the first motion. He said the men of Meath had their heart in the right place. He said the question was one in which Protestants, Presbyterians and all classes of religionists were as deeply involved as those of the Catholics. Mr. Bryan, Spring Valley, Summerhill proposed the second resolution. Henry Grattan, M.P. said he was committed to the Repeal cause and that his father had always been a friend to that cause. Mr. Barnewall of Bloomsbury, Kells, proposed the third motion and this was seconded by Mr. Murphy of Breemount, Trim. The meeting concluded with three cheers for the Queen, three cheers for O’Connell and three cheers for the Repeal of the Union. 

A local magistrate from Trim was particularly concerned and reported to his superiors in Dublin and London on the Tara meeting. “Mr. O’Connell, accompanied by a large cavalcade, arrived on the hill shortly after one o’clock,” he wrote. “He was received with loud cheers. No-one could contemplate the display made on this occasion without having the conviction forced on his mind that the very excitement caused by such a meeting must, in all human probability, eventuate in some attempt at a subversion of government of the country – which will involve us in all the horrors of a civil or either a religious war.” The likelihood is that O’Connell also feared the same outcome, for as an aside during his address he said: “What could England effect against such a people so thoroughly aroused they rose out in rebellion? While I live such an uprising will never occur.”

The British government banned the next monster meeting set for Clontarf. O’Connell cancelled the meeting and lost a huge amount of support for doing so. O’Connell returned to Tara for another monster meeting in May 1845 but the Repeal movement was running out of stream. There was none of the excitement of the meeting two years earlier.

Repeal Meeting on Tara

Notice for Repeal Meeting in 1845

1938 Commemoration

1938 Commemoration courtesy of the Meath Chronicle

1938 Memorial to 1798

1948 Commemoration

1948 Commemoration Photo: Taoiseach John A. Costello, President Sean T. O’Ceallaigh and Eamon de Valera

1948 Booklet

Ceremonies on Tara

1948 Monument to 1798

Donal O’Hannigan, Commander of the Louth /Meath forces for the 1916 Rising, was ordered by Padraig Pearse, three weeks before the Rising, to mobilise all the Volunteers on the Hill of Tara on Easter Sunday at 7.00 p.m. and he was to read a copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic on the Hill. Later on Good Friday O’Hannigan pointed out that Tara was an inconvenient place for mobilisation but Pearse said that Tara was all important for historical reasons and he wanted a copy of the Proclamation read there.

The Volunteer companies of Carnaross and Drumbaragh, Kells, arrived on the hill of Tara on Easter Sunday night 1916 but there was no-one from Louth or the rest of Meath there. The men were sent home by Sean Boylan. O’Hannigan and the Louth men did arrive at Tara later that week and went on to join the Dunboyne men at Tyrrelstown House at Blanchardstown. The Proclamation was not read on Tara in 1916 as Pearse had meant it to be.

The members of Comhaltas Ceolteóirí Eireann from County Meath are to finally carry out the wish of Pádraig Pearse on Easter Monday, 28 March2016.

An Aeríocht has been arranged  on the hill which will include Irish music and dance, a teach Gaeilge, a demonstration of Gaelic games skills, historic talks and even some artefacts from the 1916 period. The highlight of this event will be Ann Finnegan, Uachtarán CCE, with Donal O Hannigan, grandson of the man who received the orders from Pearse in 1916, reading the Proclamation to all assembled. 

Plans to have Proclamation Read on Tara 1916

Planning the Rising –Donal O’Hannigan, an IRB man, was made the commander of the Louth /Meath forces for the 1916 Rising. Two weeks before Easter O’Hannigan met Padraig Pearse at St. Enda’s where Pearse outlined his plans for the rising. Seán Boylan also attended the meeting. O’Hannigan was ordered to mobilise all the Volunteers on the Hill of Tara on Easter Sunday at 7.00 p.m. He was to read a copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and then march to Dunshaughlin and on to Blanchardstown where they would meet Boylan and the Dunboyne men. They were to seize the railway at Blanchardstown and cut the line to prevent English artillery coming from Athlone.

On leaving Tara O’Hannigan was to place some officer in charge of the forces while he went to Oldcastle to release the German prisoners in the internment camp.  Some of the men in the Oldcastle camp were German reservists and others were artillery experts which was important as artillery was expected to arrive from Germany.

Pearse explained the importance of organising the lines around the city to prevent attack from the rear, to prevent reinforcements reaching the city, to maintain a supply of food for the Volunteers and the people of the city and to allow for an evacuation of Volunteer forces from the city if needed. Pearse said adequate arms and ammunitions would be supplied to the men at Blanchardstown.

O’Hannigan went to Dundalk and various other areas of the north-east to commence making preparation for the rising. On Good Friday O’Hannigan returned to Dublin and made a report to the Executive Council of the IRB. O’Hannigan was told he was in charge of the area and made Commandant. O’Hannigan pointed out that Tara was an inconvenient place for mobilisation but Pearse said that Tara was all important for historical reasons and he wanted a copy of the Proclamation read there.

Drumbaragh (Kells) Volunteers mobilised after lunchtime on Sunday and assembled outside the chapel at Kells and proceeded on foot towards Navan. Seven men had reported: Garry Byrne, Willie Byrne, Hugh Smith, Frank O’Higgins, Joseph Power, Seán Dardis and Seán Hayes.  Garry Byrne was in charge. On the outskirts of Kells they acquired cars which took them to Navan and then they started off on foot towards Tara. The Drumbaragh Volunteers arrived on Tara at 7.00 p.m. just as night was falling. Byrne put the men into hiding and ordered them to be quiet. They obtained some refreshments from the local shop and could see lights in the direction of Slane, perhaps it was the Dundalk men coming to Tara? About midnight Seán Boylan and a man named Beson arrived and immediately afterwards the Volunteers were ordered to return home. Some walked while others travelled in cars.

Carnaross Volunteers – On Good Friday 1916 an order arrived from headquarters to mobilise the men on Easter Sunday and march to the Hill of Tara  to meet other units from the area. The major concern of the men was to ensure they would not be watched by the RIC as they made their way to Tara. Three jaunting cars were procured and a few footballs and all set out, to all appearance to a football game. The RIC remained at home unaware of the Volunteer activity. The Volunteers who stayed at home organised a fundraising dance at Bryan Daly’s loft at Loughan on Easter Sunday night. The drivers of the three jaunting cars deposited their men at the foot of the Hill of Tara and returned home to the dance. At midnight when the dance was in full swing the men who had gone to Tara came through the door. A messenger had arrived at Tara to say that the mobilisation was cancelled.  The dance went on until seven in the morning.

The Louth Volunteers arrive at Tara – About one hundred and sixty men mobilised in Dundalk on Easter Sunday. They marched to Ardee where they fell out. They reached Slane by 7.00 p.m. where they were to meet the men from South Louth and Meath. The Drogheda and Meath men did not arrive. O’Hannigan was given an order from Eoin McNeill calling off all activities. O’Hannigan said he could not obey the order without confirmation from Pearse and the IRB. A number of men returned to Dundalk. After the Louth men arrived at Slane it started to rain. Seán McEntee was dispatched to Dublin to find out what was happening. At 3.00 a.m. on Monday morning the men fell in and began to march back to Collon. About four miles from Dundalk a girl from Cumann na mBan met them and said there was a danger that if the Volunteers marched into Dundalk they would be attacked by the Home Defense forces in the town. Seán McEntee returned with news that the Rising had commenced in Dublin. Donal O’Hannigan told the men that the rising had started in Dublin and he and other men were going to travel to Dublin and invited other men to join them. On Tuesday morning the marching began again. The force stopped at Tara but there was no other men there to meet them. They came to a stop at a big house and remained there for a number of days. The Louth men were then assembled and marched back to the old barn they had sheltered in. They dumped their arms and the Dunboyne men went home.

Tara Village 1900

Donal O’Hannigan

By Sean Collins

Donal O’Hannigan was born on the 14th of December 1884 in Anglesboro, Co. Limerick. His parents were James O Hannigan and Honora Cleary and he was one of six children: Seamas, Patrick, Michael, Donal, Mary and Donnachadh. His parents were native speakers so he grew up in an Irish speaking household. In his early years he attended Gougane Barra Irish College in Cork and became active in the Gaelic League and the GAA. Donal’s strong nationalist family background hugely influenced his involvement with the Volunteers. When Donal was sixteen he first met Sean McDiarmada at his parent’s home in Angleboro. McDiarmada was staying there at the invitation of Donal’s older brother, Seamas, who was an advanced nationalist. McDiarmida was in the area organizing and recruiting for the IRB.

In 1909 Donal and his brother Donnachadh, who had graduated from Glasnevin Agricultural College were asked by Countess Markievicz to manage the land she had leased at Belcamp House in Dublin. Following his time in Belcamp, Donal was initiated into the Irish Republican Brotherhood and became full time organiser in Dublin for the secret oath bound society. He was present at the first gathering of the Irish Volunteers at the Rotunda Rink in 1913.

In 1914 Donal became involved in the Howth Gun Running and was a member of the party that assisted in the removal to Dublin of guns and ammunition taken from the boat. He later became employed by Guinness Brewery where he recruited many employees into the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

Donal O’Hannigan was called to a meeting with Tom Clarke and Sean MacDiarmida, three weeks before the Easter Rising. Tom Clarke instructed him to give up his position in the Guinness Brewey where he worked. Clarke advised him there would be something happening around Easter and the I.R.B would need him full time. O’Hannigan was then sent to Louth/Meath area to train and organise the volunteers for the proposed Easter manouveres.

On the Tuesday of Holy Week Donal went to meet Padraig Pearse in St Endas at Rathfarnham. Pearse informed O’Hannigan that he was been made Commandant of the Louth/Meath area and would have the responsibility of mobilizing all the volunteers there on Easter Sunday. He was also ordered to take over the prison camp at Oldcastle and release the German internees there and finally he was to read the Proclamation on the Hill of Tara on Easter Sunday at 7pm. Having worked through the plans and received his orders O’Hannigan was introduced to Sean Boylan from Dunboyne. Pearse told them to mobilize their men on the Hill of Tara in County Meath. Donal argued that this would be very inconvenient for his men. Pearse insisted that for the  historical significance of the site  he was to read the Proclamation at the Hill of Tara. Pearse warned Donal that under no circumstances was he to allow himself to be arrested by the police. He also told him that no offensive action to be taken before 7 p.m. on Easter Sunday evening, this was all important so that no information would reach the British authorities. Having received his orders O’Hannigan then met with the members of the IRB Executive Council, the seven men who signed the proclamation, Pearse, Plunkett, Clarke, Connolly, Ceannt, and McDonagh. To quote O’Hannigan; “I said goodbye to all present, each standing up and shaking hands with me individually, Cathal Brugha the last as I left the house”. O’Hannigan was not content with his orders, so he explained; “As I went down the street it occurred to me that I could not carry out the orders I received about not being arrested and at the same time not to have any shooting before 7 p.m. on Easter Sunday night. I returned again to the house and explained my position to them. They had a consultation and Clarke said I could use my own discretion as regards shooting, but on no account to be arrested. All were in very good spirits and laughing and talking with each other”. O’Hannigan was now satisfied, Eamonn Ceannt walked him to the gate “as we shook hands, he said “Don’t let yourself be arrested or you will never forgive yourself”.

On Easter Sunday morning Commandant O’Hannigan mobilized in Dundalk and headed for Dublin with upwards on 160 men following him. Just before they reached Slane in County Meath, a messenger from Dundalk caught up with them with the countermanding order from Eoin McNeill. Unlike many other units on receipt of the order O’Hannigan did not allow the Louth Volunteers disband. He decided they should camp at Slane until messengers could clarify the situation. The first messenger sent did not return adding further to the confusion and disappointment of the Louth men.

 In the early hours of Easter Monday, O’Hannigan instructed Sean McEntee to travel to Dublin on the 4am mail train from Drogheda, He gave McEntee directions to his uncle, Daniel Cleary, who lived in Dorset St. At 4.30 a.m. O’Hannigan instructed the remaining Volunteers to set out for home. They left Slane accompanied by two R.I.C constables who had followed them, from Dundalk the day before. By noon they had reached Ardee and O’Hannigan told the Dunleer contingent to return home and await further orders. At about 3.30 p.m. on Easter Monday the volunteers arrived at Lurgan Green outside Dundalk. Here Sean McEntee caught up with them with instructions from Padraig Pearse to carry out their original orders as instructed. They returned to Castlebellingham to re-organise, and there having held up cars returning from the Fairyhouse Races, they commandeered some of the cars and drivers and decided to leave for  Meath once again.

The convoy became separated on route to Tara and when O’Hannigan arrived there at dawn on Easter Tuesday, he was now down to ten men, with three military drivers. Through Tuesday other volunteers joined them and having occupied the vacant Tyrellstown House, he now had 23 men under his command. On Wednesday they were joined bySean Boylan and the Meath Volunteers. Through the week O’Hannigan tried to link up with Thomas Ashe and the Fingal Volunteers but to no avail. He realized it was all over, Pearse had surrendered and Ashe was a prisoner. On Monday May 2nd, O’Hannigan decided to break camp. He instructed the Dundalk men to go home although some of them were billeted around Dunboyne. He acquired a bicycle himself and headed for Galway where he believed the rebels were holding out. In Mullingar he learned it was all over with rebels being arrested everywhere. So he then decided to go to Mitchelstown where his brother, Jim, lived.

After the Rising, Donal immediately set about re-organising for the future. In August he travelled to New York to meet with John Devoy and over the following three years moved back and forth to the U.S. In that time he successfully transported Eamon de Valera after his escape from Lincoln Jail to America and a number of other Republican V.I.P.’s including Harry Boland to the same destination. Posing as a seaman and using false passports on a number of occasions he set up a supply line from New York to Liverpool and then to Dublin for arms. Procuring arms for the I.R.A. he travelled to Norway and England as well as the U.S.

In 1921 Michael Collins instructed him to come back to Dublin, where he was involved in operations in the city until the Truce in 1921. Donal decided to take no part in the Civil War. He helped set up the Non-Violent I.R.A. Organisation to try and broker a peace between the two sides in the conflict.

Donal O’Hannigan worked at the Four Courts until he retired. In 1959 he died suddenly at his home on St. Jarlath Road, Cabra, Dublin and is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Sean Collins M.A.

Donal O’Hannigan

On the road to Tara to read the Proclamation

On the road to Tara : Noel French, Ann Finnegan, Donal O’Hannigan.

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann na Mí presented an Aeríocht on the hill of Tara on Easter Monday, 28 March 2016.

Donal O’Hannigan, Commander of the Louth /Meath forces for the 1916 Rising, was ordered by Padraig Pearse, three weeks before the Rising, to mobilise all the Volunteers on the Hill of Tara on Easter Sunday at 7.00 p.m. He was ordered to read a copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic on the Hill. On Good Friday O’Hannigan pointed out that Tara was an inconvenient place for mobilisation but Pearse said that Tara was all important for historical reasons and he wanted a copy of the Proclamation read there.

The Volunteer companies of Carnaross and Drumbaragh, Kells, arrived on the Hill of Tara on Easter Sunday night 1916 but there was no one from Louth or the rest of Meath there. These men were sent home by Sean Boylan. O’Hannigan and the Louth men did arrive at Tara later that week and went on to join the Dunboyne men at Tyrrellstown House at Blanchardstown. The Proclamation was not read on Tara in 1916 as Pearse had meant it to be.

The members of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann from County Meath finally carried out the wish of Pádraig Pearse on Easter Monday, 28 March2016. An Aeríocht was held on the hill which included Irish music and dance, a teach Gaeilge, a demonstration of Gaelic games skills, historic talks and even some artefacts from the 1916 period. The highlight of this event was Ann Finnegan, Uachtarán CCE, and Donal O Hannigan, grandson of the man who received the orders from Pearse in 1916, reading the Proclamation to all assembled. 

On the Road to Tara: Proclamation erected on Tara – 24th April 2016 Paddy Allen, Trim CCE, Paddy Pryle and Joe O’Brien CCE Tara Summer Festival. One hundred years to the day to the outbreak of the Rising.

Comhaltas group on Hill of Tara: Ann Finnegan, Ann Mc Dowell,  John Marron,  Iris Douglas,  Joe Conlon,  Carmel Murray,  Joe and Tilly O Brien with grandson, Luke Hanlon,  Catherine Murray, Bill Slattery, Noel French, Michael McMahon, Paddy Pryle, Tom Byrne, Martin Hanley, James Linnane  and Pat Farrelly