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Saint Patrick's Church
Tara, Ireland

[Wednesday - 11/13/02]

One of the benefits we had throughout this entire trip was the off-season. As with so many (most, in fact) places we visited, we had this entire monument all to ourselves for the entire time we visited! While it's very likely that the site may have been closed to the public, we simply accessed the Hill of Tara by cutting throguh the churchyard of Saint Patrick's Church and walking out on to the Hill proper. As with many other sites, it was deserted, leaving us to our own devices.

Churchyard standing stones

In the St. Patrick's churchyard at Tara there are two standing stones. The taller of the two stones is thought to feature a figure of the Celtic fertility god Cernunnos. These stones may date to the Neolithic period, although they're more likely to have their origin in the Bronze Age. In early histories, it was noted that on this section of the hill there once stood a monument called "The Cross of Adamnan" commemorating a seventh century saint who called a church synod at Tara to enact laws that gave greater rights to women. Other ancient documents about Tara named many standing stones on this section of the hill: Dall, Dorcha, Maol, Bloc and Bluicna. The Standing Stones of Tara also recall the legend that candidates for the High Kingship of Tara had to drive their chariots toward two sacred stones standing closely together. They remained closed for the non-accepted candidate and opened a path only for the rightful king.

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