What do elephants and henges have in comon?

The campaign to save the historic artefacts in the Tara Skryne Valley continues unabated. I met the Director of the National Museum of Ireland, Pat Wallace at the weekend and he looks like a man who hasn’t had to seek his sorrows. He embodies the kind of fulcrum that Ireland faces today, how to proceed yet how much to preserve. I had no intention of engaging him on the subject of Tara, although when we parted, I left him with the Irish blessing ‘Go n-éirigh an bóthar leat’. (May the road rise with you….)

When I was a child, we used to have a fairy fort in a nearby field, and it was understood without question that it was never touched or damaged. To do so would be to incur great wrath and bad luck. Much is now being made of the symbolic importance of the latest find on the site, and the implied importance of having to remember Ireland’s past while ensuring its future. I was more than a bit shocked to learn that all this conversation about building the M3 is proceeding while there are still no rail or reliable, modern public transport links from Navan to Dublin. That seems immoral to me. One of the latest suggestions is that the baby elephant recently born in Dublin Zoo should be named Tara. One of the Tara Watch contributors listed the following reasons for such a move:
1. In parts of Asia, elephants have royal connections, so it is fitting
that the new calf be linked to the Irish royal seat.
2. The name Tara features in Indian mythology, as a deity that is
revered in both Hindu and Buddhist traditions.
3. The elephant was born within days of the announcement that the new
monument had been discovered.
4. Like the Hill of Tara, wild elephants face many threats.

A little bit of a stretch on some of those reasons, but it’s meant well no doubt!

I would have linked you to some news about the baby elephant on the zoo web site, but it seems nothing important has happened in the zoo since January 2006. Or at least thats the last time the site was up dated.

It’s a pity, because Berlin zoo were able to utilise the birth of a baby polar bear to improve their fortunes enormously. Baby Knut became quite controversial at one point, but the zoo skillfully managed the controversy and attracted record numbers of visitors. The pregnancies of Giant Pandas are so fascinating that you can actually engage in a pregnancy watch. Unless I am looking in the wrong place, it seems that Dublin zoo is missing out on some great opportunities to promote themselves and provide an educational service for the public using the internet.

In an area rich with antiquity such as the Tara valley, there will always be a great tension between progress and respect for the past. Ireland is a growing country with a complex past, and it is hard not to feel sympathy for commuters who apparently face up to 3 hours on the road to Dublin. Maybe there really is a lesson to be learned from the past. The architects who created the monuments of the past used their imagination and creativity in doing so. The challenge now is to use the same level of imagination and lateral thinking to ensure we do not lose something precious in the headlong rush to solve a possibly short term problem.

  • hotdogx

    the m3 is a FF dream for money-making and nothing must stand in its way. It is for this reason the government have been dragging their heels on the reinstatement of the navan line and reopening of broadstone stn. lifting railway lines was a disaster, and it should never been allowed to happen. What was the advantage in it? I understand that the navan line when it was lifted and the land sold buyback clauses were included in the sale for future reinstatement of the line.

    can anyone tell me if this was the case with the sligo-enniskillen line, was this lines land protected with buyback clauses when the abandonment order was granted, how would reinstatement of this line or the cavan line happen as a cross border body, has anyone any answers?

  • merrie

    This can be a green issue too with global warming. Do you know if any of the other parties are opposing the location of the new road?

    Is the road necessary? I did not find the road north of Dublin to be particularly busy, but then I wasn’t commuting regularly from there and locals would know more about it. As Miss Fitz has mentioned if public transport were improved then there may be no need for the road at all.

    What I would not mind is a better road/public transport/cycle path network(s) in Dublin. Getting around Dublin is shockingly slow – a result of the quantum leap growth in the last decade.

    I think it is a real shame that they are going on building the road around Tara regardless and it is ironic that as as soon as they started they found another archaeological site. I hope they are dogged by archaeological discoveries by the square metre.

    Hotdogx: the rail you mention is in Armagh? Maybe better rail links will be discussed by one of those all-Ireland bodies and you never know what the outcome may be.

  • joeCanuck

    Elephants are gray.
    Preserving henges or building a new road is a gray area.
    I’d prefer preservation.

  • joeCanuck

    Elephants have a trunk.
    Is the new road a trunk one?

  • joeCanuck

    Elephants have a tail.
    This is a sorry tale.

  • Gerry Kelly

    Why not call the elepahnt Mary after Mary Harney who faces the loss of her job. Or Bertie/Gerry after those with elephantine memories. Or Miss Big Poo as elephants do crap on a lot.

  • hotdogx

    Merrie, thats right but there was a line running from former inny junction on the sligo dublin line, it was a mgwr branch line that went north to cavan, i think you are thinking of the great northern? anyhow a rail revival would be great repairing damage done by the border and old stormont

  • Miss Fitz

    Someone told me at the weekend that the rail lines in that area had not been lifted, and that many of them were used for the mines that operated there. I have no way of substantiating that, but it seems the general feeling up there is that there is some element of infrastructure left that could be built upon.

    Merrie, I have never driven from Navan to Dublin, but I have been told it is a horrendous journey in the morning. If you leave home at 6am, you are fairly certain to be in the office for 9, but not guaranteed.

  • merrie

    Miss Fitz: a clarification – do you mean Tara rather than Navan? AFAIK Navan is in Armagh in which case 3 hours would be a fast drive. There might be a Navan near Tara which I don’t know about.

    With regard to that horrendous commute from Tara (or Navan?) to Dublin, most of the delay is likely to be in Dublin rather than on the road to Dublin. If the rail lines were restored then most people would have a much faster journey in, avoiding all that road congestion and the hassle of driving. I am really surprised they haven’t been aiming for that. If the infrastructure is still there, surely rail restoration would be much cheaper than building a new road?

    I was contacted a couple of years ago by a save Tara group and I did not keep in touch. I’ll have to follow up what’s happening.

    A correction: I meant “.. dogged by archaeological discoveries **every** square metre” rather than “by the square metre” in my earlier post.

    By law the road builders have to stop when there is an archaeological find. Good old Irish law.

  • Miss Fitz

    The town of Navan is in County Meath, and is about 30 miles or so from Dublin. With light traffic, its about a 40 minute drive, but this is increased to the 3-4 hour commuter journey that has prompted the proposed M3 motorway.

    The Navan in Armagh is Navan Fort, or Eamain Macha, an ancient Fort that is reputed to have been home to Concobhar Mac Nessa and the Red Branch Knights.

  • merrie

    Thank you, Miss Fitz, I am much more familiar with Emain Macha and Craobh Ruadh and when I visited Tara I forgot about all the newer places around there.


  • I Wonder

    Miss Fitz
    I think “merrie” is having you on. Navan town is hardly a “newer place.”

  • merrie

    I wonder

    >> Navan town is hardly a “newer place.”<

  • I Wonder

    Fair enough.

    I do agree with you about the railways though.

    I doubt that clawback provisions featured in all of the arrangements that transferred the rail-land to farmers, though others may know better?

  • Betty Boo

    The most disheartening aspect of the destruction of the unique historic complex in the Tara Valley is the utter impracticality and unsustainability of the proposed motorway. Not only will be the new motorway insufficient within five years, nevertheless double tolled, it also brings up a most worrying suspicion, that those in charge of this country enriching themselves while treating their own citizen as fools.

    The immense centralisation of jobs and better paid work over the last decades in the ever growing capital has bled most of the surrounding counties dry since barely any effort and investment has been made to sustain or create employment opportunities in these areas, although any government should have felt obliged to provide these all over its constituency. As a result employees are forced to commute over ever increasing distances. But public transport throughout Ireland is a laughing matter compared to other European states. Planned railways are 20+ years in waiting, the development of a system at least as many years behind and bus timetables and connections force even the strongest amongst us into an early grave.

    Within a few years a new tax will be introduced to each household. A tax free limit will be set and everything above will be penalised with an additional carbon tax. Around 90% of Irish houses have no adequate insulation. Fuel prices keep rising and with no independent, alternative or renewable energy supply to speak of in sight, one company in particular might be found exploring were no profit has gone before. Under such circumstances it is highly questionable , that it will be still affordable to commute over wider distances for most of the year and specifically on a double tolled road.

    On May 3, 2007 the European Court ordered Ireland to pay the cost for “failing to adopt within the period prescribed the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2003 on public access to environmental information and repealing Council Directive 90/313/EEC” *

    “Knowledge is power” A government found denying public access to information could be seen as feeding ferocious pet projects and ambitions instead of providing public services to its electorate.
    The latter of course will have to pick up the above bill as well.

    * http://curia.europa.eu/jurisp/cgi-bin/form.pl?lang=EN&Submit=Rechercher

    Case C-391/06