“I think it literally desecrates an area..”

It might not constitute the “change in material circumstances” that the Republic of Ireland’s Environment Minister, the Green Party’s John Gormley, eventually said he required, but the criticism of the road building through the Tara valley by Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney will likely reverberate throughout government. He’s not the first poet to point out the implications of that development, but he is the most influential. The Irish Times front page highlighted his comments today, and the BBC report has more quotes from the radio documentary.

“I mean the traces on Tara are in the grass, are in the earth – they aren’t spectacular like temple ruins would be in the Parthenon in Greece but they are about origin, they’re about beginning, they’re about the mythological, spiritual source – a source and a guarantee of something old in the country and something that gives the country its distinctive spirit.”

And from the BBC report

“I think it literally desecrates an area – I mean the word means to de-sacralise and for centuries the Tara landscape and the Tara sites have been regarded as part of the sacred ground,” he said.

“I was just thinking actually the Proclamation of the Irish Republic in 1916 summoned people in the name of the dead generations and called the nation, called the people in the name of the dead generations.

“If ever there was a place that deserved to be preserved in the name of the dead generations from pre-historic times up to historic times up to completely recently, it was Tara.”


But whatever the views now, those who want to see the motorway come to Tara have won the day.

Future generations studying Tara will see the 21st century’s major contribution to an area charting thousands of years of civilisation in Ireland was the new M3 motorway and its associated development.