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Established 16/3/2000

Red star Save the Tara-Skyrne Valley Red star

Note: This is an older page. Up-to-date news about the threat of the M3 can be found on our "Sites Under Threat" forum

A group has been formed to try to prevent the construction of a four lane highway through the Tara Skryne Valley. The road will pass between the ancient Hill of Tara and the nearby hill of Skryne, with a floodlit "clover- leaf junction" to be located within a couple of kilometres of the north of the Hill of Tara. The group says two alternative routes were proposed and were more than viable but the Irish government chose the present route.

The Hill of TaraThe group, which contains several Irish notables, has as its goal the prevention the motorway from being constructed through the valley, with a view to obtain World Heritage status for the hill and environs.

The Save the Tara Skreen Valley group believes its major problem is getting the word out to international contacts in an effort to bring pressure and scrutiny upon the Irish Government. Coming with the road is a waste management plant - effectively a municipal incinerator - within view of Brú na Bóinne and a major urban development in the valley itself.

The group believes the Irish Government is ignoring and breaking numerous signed conventions and agreements with the EU, UN and its own national policies and legislation.

Large numbers of commuters who are frustrated by huge delays on the current N3 from Navan to Dublin seem to want to have the new M3 motorway built as soon as possible – even if that means routing it through the Tara-Skryne Valley. Protestors say they are not against the construction of the M3 motorway, but just the 3km section which passes through this valley. They also maintain the new motorway would open up tracts of land for commercial, retail and residential developments, and fear some of this development could be within sight of the Hill of Tara.

A sample protest letter with relevant addresses can be downloaded. A comprehensive list of news articles is also featured on the Save Tara Skreen website.

Visit our "SITES UNDER THREAT" forum for more information.

Letter to the Irish Times, February 23rd, 2004:

Madam, - The Hill of Tara constitutes the heart and soul of Ireland. Our ceremonial and mythical capital, its very name invokes the spirit and mystique of our people, and is instantly recognisable worldwide.

An Bord Pleanála's recent approval of the Government's scheme to divide the Tara/Skryne valley with the M3 motorway spells out a massive national and international tragedy that must be averted.

This narrow valley is one of the most culturally and archaeologically significant places in the world. Many monuments predate the Egyptian pyramids. The chamber within Tara's Mound of the Hostages is perfectly aligned with the full moon of Lughnasa and the rising sun of Samhain and Imbolg.

The Hill of Tara has been a sanctuary for every generation since. It is precisely because it has remained intact, unlike many comparable Continental sites, that it holds a special key to understanding the continuous progression of European civilisation.

We are only just beginning to understand and appreciate how the Mound relates to the hundreds of other monuments in this archaeological complex, many of which will be destroyed if the valley is sliced in two.

Saint Patrick faces Skryne CastleThe Hill of Skryne, containing the 12th-century Skryne Castle, is also a national monument and an early religious and ritual centre. Both Tara and Skryne are part of the same cultural and natural landscape of The Boyne Valley and cannot be separated from the River Boyne, or from each other.

Let us be clear: excavation is destruction, not "preservation" in the true sense. Moreover, serious questions have now been raised in the Dáil as to the standard of "preservation by record", with over 1,500 excavation reports currently missing.

Every effort should be made to preserve national monuments in situ, according to stated Government policy, as well as the Council of Europe's Valetta Convention (The European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage), to which Ireland is a signatory.

The Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, signed by Ireland in Paris, in 1972, resolved to protect parts of the cultural or natural heritage that are of outstanding universal value and therefore need to be preserved as part of the world heritage of mankind as a whole.

Tara warrants UNESCO protection, if ever an Irish site did.

We call on the Government, particularly the Taoiseach, the Minister for Transport and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to review this decision and choose one of the many intelligent options that are still available. These include: improving the existing N3, as per the original advertised scheme; re-opening the Navan-Dublin railway line, which is widely supported in the locality; or simply moving the M3 away from this delicate archaeological landscape.

In the alternative, we ask our public servants to place these viable options before the Irish nation, openly and democratically, and let Irish taxpayers decide for themselves if their money should be spent destroying this singular element of Irish identity. - Yours, etc.,

Dr EDEL BHREATHNACH, Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute, University College, Dublin;
FRANCIS JOHN BYRNE, Early Irish Historian;
NICHOLAS CANNY, Department of History, University College, Galway;
MÁIREAD CAREW, Archaeologist and writer;
PROF THOMAS CHARLES-EDWARDS, Faculty of Modern History, Oxford University;
JULITTA CLANCY MBE, Meath Archaeological and Historical Society;
Prof THOMAS OWEN CLANCY, Department of Celtic, University of Glasgow;
Dr HOWARD CLARKE, School of History, University College, Dublin;
Dr MARK CLINTON, Archaeologist and writer;
Prof CHARLIE DOHERTY, Department of History, University College, Dublin;
Dr SEÁN DUFFY, FTCD, Department of History, Trinity College, Dublin;
MÁIRE HERBERT, Department of Old Irish, University College, Cork;
Prof BART JASKI, Celtic Department, University of Utrecht;
Dr RAIMUND KARL, Department of History and Welsh History, University of Wales, Bangor;
Prof MÍCHEÁL MAC CRAITH, Department of Modern Irish, NUI, Galway;
Prof KIM McCONE, Department of Medieval Irish Studies, NUI Maynooth;
Prof NEIL MCLEOD, Murdoch University, Australia;
Prof JOSEPH NAGY, Department of English, University of California, Los Angeles;
Dr MUIREANN NÍ BHROLCHÁIN, Department of Medieval Irish Studies, NUI Maynooth;
Dr MÁIRE NÍ NEACHTAIN, Department of Irish, University of Limerick;
KENNETH NICHOLS, Retired statutory lecturer, University College, Cork;
Prof TOMÁS Ó CATHASAIGH, Irish Studies, Harvard University;
DONNCHADH Ó CORRÁIN, Department of History, University College, Cork;
DÁIBHÍ Ó CRÓINÍN, Department of History, NUI Galway;
VINCENT SALAFIA, Save Tara/Skryne Valley Campaign;
Prof RUAIRI Ó hUIGINN, Department of Modern Irish, NUI Maynooth;
Prof ALFRED SMYTH, Chair of Medieval History, Canterbury University;
PÁDRAIGÍN RIGGS, Department of Modern Irish, University College, Cork;
Dr NANCY STENSON, Department of Linguistics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis;
Rev Dr R. STIEFEL, University of New Hampshire.

More about the threat to Tara:

Archaeologists concerned: A letter has been issued by leading archaeologists and historians to express their concerns regarding the National Road Authority’s (NRA) plan to construct a section of the M3 toll-motorway through the Tara-Skreen valley.
Charlize and Tara: TheOscar-winning actress Charlize Theron is supporting a campaign against the construction of the M3 motorway, which skirts the Hill of Tara.
Tara success: An Evening of Stone at the Hill of Tara to celebrate the Festival of Lughnasa last Friday turned out to be a bigger success than the organisers had anticipated.

Sites under threat: A section of our Forum is devoted to the perceived threat to ancient sites, and has significant volumes of information relating to the Tara-Skryne threat.

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