Irish Republican News · January 31, 2008
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: The tide turns at Tara
The tide turns at Tara

by Rob Henderson

I'm sitting in the roundhouse at the camp in Rath Lugh. There are sausages in the pan and tea, sugary tea, in never emptying pots and kettles. I've been drying my socks and boots, the legs of my trousers and my damp feet by a scorching stove. This morning a branch broke by a stream to leave me up to my knees in yesterday's rain. The sun is shining again but the breeze is strong and cold outside. Hearts are warm in the piping shelter - stronger than bedrock.

In amongst the dozen or more friends present as I write are stories and songs, old and new. People are passing each other's knowledge around and asking questions. 'What was found over there?', 'When does it come from?', 'Do you take milk?'. We had set out early this morning to visit the site of an ancient Wooden Henge uncovered during the road works. Our plan was to light a small fire and cook breakfast nearby, and should anyone in uniform wish to approach us demanding answers then we planned to be equipped with full bellies and genuine smiles to greet them. However, on our arrival, work, which had ceased for a period on this site, recently, had resumed with guards and kilometres, hundreds of kilometres, of expensive fencing to forbid our entry. I crouched under a Hawthorn tree and watched for an hour as friends of mine crossed the line to seek answers of their own. We returned to the camp to regroup and eat having dispersed along different routes of appeal in light of such vigorous disregard for common sense.

Right now an old man is telling a story about chests of gold and St. Patrick, of drinking concoctions and magic tricks. In his own words, 'It's a long auld story.' He's claimed everyone's attention in an instant and the room has fallen silent. Spirits are high. An article is being passed around from a recent local newspaper. Someone had written in claiming the campaign to Save Tara and the Gabhra Valley from the M3 motorway was all but finished. From where I sit it's all just beginning. Though numbers are few at present (somewhere, as an optimistic estimate, between 20 and 30 people), that number is strengthening, steadily increasing, and a positive attitude reigns. At the Vigil camp I hear talk of proposed plans for when the TV cameras of TG4 arrive next week. One suggestion made previously, and a pleasant coincidence, is that the camp at Rath Lugh be designated Gaeltacht status and already people of different nationalities have begun to learn and speak basic Irish. There is a magnificent atmosphere all around, but the severity of what is happening with every passing hour is lost on no one.

I have not yet been asked to cast any vote relating to plans for the M3 motorway through Tara. I harbour a belief that the vast majority of the people of Ireland have been disillusioned over the past few years by nonsense, ignorance and confusion surrounding such developments in the name of progress - the corruption clouding the Carrickmines works, the cost of such special beauty in the Glen of the Downs - but had the people on the electorate been considered I sincerely believe this time it would not be happening. Right now it is the very people who feel most powerless that we need so desperately. True progress is being made here at Tara, and you can feel it in our camps, there is a wind of change in the air, but that wind will sweep away our rights and take our ability for self-determination if we do nothing continuously. As strong as we are - and I am a very recent participant, and can only admire and respect the conviction of those that have been on site here for years - it is neither I nor the people around me who will ultimately halt this abomination of assumption on the part of our leaders. It is the people who would normally do nothing that we need most now. Maybe call this strike-three and mark where the aim is, attacking the very heart of our heritage. The M3 motorway will be no little Bothairin. A motorway is no mark of respect; it is a functional expanse of barren wasteland serving soul-guzzling machinery. And no one asked me.

That for me is the essence of the appeal I am making, and the core of my argument. There is little or no forum provided to publicly debate a diversity of solutions on this issue, at least not in the everyday real world of the common person, widespread opinion has not been sought. No one asked me, and no one asked you. I have spoken of it with others, long and short, as much as I can with out wearing out my own moral fibre or the issue at hand. Just about everyone, from all walks of life, who I communicate with directly on a daily basis, and I'm not shy nor limited in friends and acquaintances (and neither am I afraid of making new ones), almost everybody, is against this proposed motorway. Public opinion is on our side. Though it is being built, and rapidly, it has not yet been realised, the M3 motorway is NOT yet built. I don't read papers for my statistics, I base what I say on real life and real people, and I think we're all on the same side here. Forget about the incompetence of politicians, this decision can be reversed, but this time we need to do it ourselves. Our wise leaders have failed us absolutely. Our country has barely known a taste of freedom yet already we are actively complicit in the destruction of the one central, world-renowned and undiluted symbol of our unity and strength. Where are the Fianna buried? This place is special; you can almost pick strands of music from the floor. Stories, poems, music and song draw all who visit here into a desire to reconnect with our history and fading culture, the place is alive. Families are welcome in our camps, old and young, people of all different backgrounds. Sometimes it's a bit rough and ready, but we're not claiming to be angelic, we merely claim an open space. This is the womb of our culture, a magical place with so much to speak of I have to refrain from never finishing. Come and see.

Should you come to visit do not feel obliged to suffer a sentence. You are welcome for a cup of tea, a session, maybe, until night, or longer if you wish. But please come NOW, before it goes further. If you cannot or do not wish to come then please encourage others around you. Talk about it, find out about it, use the Internet, or the Library, and use your initiative. Send your opinion out there. Write to a specific person, be your letter long or short, full of facts or feelings, write in ink or text, newsprint or radio waves. Do Something. Laugh at me in my romantic naivety, but do something. Send us your prayers. Bypass and ignore the politicians they have failed us absolutely, we can only now make our appeals directly to the people on the ground. And keep positive about it, you don't need to let it all get you down. Any person is capable of refusing to accept a detrimental decision with a big beaming smile, and without raising anger, voice or blood pressure. Find out and make your mind up one way or the other, but please do something. If you can come in person then please do not delay, all help is warmly received and greatly appreciated, there is little anger here despite it all.

The work being done is done in haste and is highly destructive, lacking in all care or respect. This is not the workers fault, they are being manipulated and exploited by highly questionable political motives further up a chain of command, and I for one certainly do understand the stressful conditions under which they work. The powers that be would have this desecration realised as soon as possible, to leave you and I with no choice but to roll over and take it. Not only is our heritage being raped, we are being robbed of our democratic right to choose. One short, European kilometre from the summit of Tara work is underway to develop a 52-acre, floodlit intersection. Why not an interpretive centre instead? Work being done need not be wasted but it must be stopped. This place has been celebrated for thousands upon thousands of years and now we have no time to think. There ARE alternatives. Make one telephone call. Call your next-door neighbour, call your mum, call me. Come visit me. I'll sing a song for you, with you, I'll even shut up if you come and ask me to. You need not do much but please do something. Highly significant and unique finds that could rock the world's assumptions about ancient human culture and prehistoric Gaels are being denied public attention to speed the removal of your opinion. No one asked me, but I have a right, sometimes a duty, to answer anyway. There are not many sites like this on planet Earth and the international community stands opposed to its destruction.

As I tap that last full stop, laughter erupts all around me. Someone told a joke. There is a magician here with a mesmerizing sleight of hand. I'm now hearing talk of an extension to some existing preservation orders on some of the sites. Things have changed since I visited last. I was here for less than a week last time, just before Christmas, and merely 2 days of my current visit have passed - yet progress has been made. We are winning. The workers don't need this hassle, and I'm positive the vast majority would rather do something else, they are just doing their jobs, but common sense is winning, and you can see it in their eyes. It is this very moment, as you read, that is critical, and we need help. We need something, anything, from those who would normally do nothing. I have so much more to tell since my recent arrival, so much I cannot begin to explain for fear of not wanting to finish, and I've other things to do, and I'm hungry, and dinner's cooked, besides I've already taken too much of your time. Come see for yourself if you can.

Spirits are high, but we need all the help we can get, please . . .

Our strength is our diversity.

Thanks for your time.

© 2008 Irish Republican News