September 1st 2004 11:54:25 PM
Name: Stuart Townsend

Hey everyone. Sorry I haven't written for a while. I was in Berlin with Charlize. Yes she has been injured but she's going to be fine. About all the rumors, i'll say it again: We are not getting married and no, Charlize isn't getting implants. And any other rumor you've heard probably isn't true either!

I will be in Toronto on the 12th for the premiere of "Clouds". I hope you all like it. After that I will be in London for a few months, but I promise to try and keep in touch with all of you. Thanks for the King David idea. I'm going to read it when I get a chance. Lindsay, if you read this I just wanted to say sorry we didn't get to chat. It was pretty crazy in the airport and I was looking for a freind of mine.

To webmaster Lara: I wanted to say thankyou for all yours and Greg's hard work. Vanessa keeps asking me am I posting, and I keep telling her, yes. So hopefully she is relaying my answers to you. And to everyone who writes in-Thankyou. I am starting to get to know all the regulars!

Love to you all.

PS. Love the Atlantis/Ireland connection. I knew it. If anyone is interested, I am trying to help an organization that is trying to save one of our greatest national treasures, the hill of Tara, from being destroyed by mindless greed. The more people who sign the petition the better. And you will be helping to preserve Irelands spiritual heart. The web site is Ta.

link to the site above -

Tara News

Dedicated Save Tara Sites:

added 2009:
history, literature, archaeology and litigation information
An Activists Site

15 January 2006:
Thanks to Sioux

Meath Chronicle: M3 case opens in High Court

Issue Date Sat, Jan 14 06

THE High Court case being taken against the National Roads Authority (NRA), Meath County Council, the Minister for the Environment and the Attorney General by campaigner Vincent Salafia against the routing of the M3 motorway through Skryne opens tomorrow (Thursday).

On 4th July last, Mr Justice Liam McKechnie granted leave to Gerard Hogan SC, for Mr Salafia, of Dodder Vale, Churchtown, Dublin, to bring proceedings challenging directions given by the Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, regarding the treatment of 38 known archaeological sites along a stretch of the proposed M3 motorway.

Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan had been waiting for a Supreme Court judgement in the Carrickmines motorway case, which would have a bearing on the Tara proceedings, and was to be delivered in October. This has not yet been delivered, so the judge decided to proceed with the M3 case, which will be heard before Mr Justice Thomas Smyth.

The legality of the planned M3 route will be debated in the hearing, which is expected to last six days.

Campaigners, led by Mr Salafia, claim the route runs directly through a national monument, which should be given constitutional protection.

Sunday Tribune 08 January 2006

Campaigners claim the government failed in its constitutional duty to protect Irish heritage

Eoghan Rice

THE Government deliberately watered down legislation governing the protection of national monuments and failed in its constitutional duty to protect Irish heritage, Tara campaigners will claim in a landmark legal challenge this week.

The constitutionality of existing legislation on the protection of national monuments will be the subject of a High Court case that may force the government to rewrite legislation and ultimately re-route the M3 motorway planned to run through the Tara valley.

The legality of the planned M3 route will be debated in a hearing, which begins Thursday and is expected to last six days. Conservationists, led by Vincent Salafia, claim the route runs directly through a national monument, which should be given constitutional protection.

They also claim that the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 2004 is unconstitutional as it weakened the role of the Oireachtas in debating the protection of national monuments, and centralized all decision-making in relation to the protection of such monuments to the environment minister.

Regardless of the outcome of the hearing it seems likely that the construction of the motorway in Co Meath may face delays of up to two years due to conservationists determination to take the case to the Supreme Court if necessary. This would be a major blow to the government, which had initially planned that the road would open later this year.

In affidavits supplied to the court by leading Irish archaeologists, it is claimed that the route of the motorway runs directly through the series of national monuments making up the Tara valley. However, the government, Meath County Council, and the National Roads Authority (NRA) argue that the national monument is located at the Hill of Tara and that the surrounding areas are not part of the monument.

The absence of legislation governing archaeological landscapes has been criticized by groups such as the Heritage Council, which argues that legislation in other countries protects the landscape surrounding a national monument and not merely the monument itself.

The High Court will hear claims that the motorway will cut the landscape of Tara in two by going through the valley which separates the hills at Tara and Skryne. The NRA argues that the national monument ends at the Hill of Tara, which will not be affected by the road.

Aside from the protection of landscapes, conservationists will argue that the amended National Monuments Act is unconstitutional because it centralized decision-making into the hands of the Minister for the Environment, weakening the role of the Oireachtas.

The Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, currently has sole discretion to define the importance of national monuments, although he is obliged to take advice from the Director of the National Museum, Dr Pat Wallace.

Earlier this year Wallace stated his belief that the Tara valley "constitutes an archaeological and cultural landscape which deserves the fullest and most generous protection". He said that the region was the most important of its type in Ireland, "if not in Europe".

That view was challenged by the Government's chief archaeologist, Brian Duffy, who contended that it was not possible to link the surrounding areas with the Hill of Tara because the various archaeological sites were not all from the same period.

NUI Galway archaeologists Conor Newman and Joe Fenwick, who both worked on the government-funded Discovery programme which investigated the area, will testify in the High Court that the landscape must be viewed as an archaeological area. Newman and Fenwick will state that the planned route should never even have been sonsidered for the motorway, given the immense importance of the area.

2 January 2006:
Thanks to Sioux

Meath Chronicle, Sat 31st December 2005

SEVENTEEN unknown Bronze Age burnt mounds, plus evidence of prehistoric occupation and building on a further 40 sites, are the finds to date on the Navan-Kells, Kells-Cavan border digs, carried out ahead of the M3.

Most of the sites will be investigated further. But indications of cremation, Neolithic pottery and even a post-medieval brick-built kiln were among the finds.

Six sites were dug at Derver, Carnacross, all indicating prehistoric occupation. Two in the Pottlebane showed bunt mound spreads. The three Castlekeeran sites indicated possible cremation.

One Drumbaragh dig indicated a Bronze Age Burnt mound, while there were extensive postholes found in the other two.

The five Chapelbridge sites yielded both Neolithic pottery and Bronze Age burnt spreads. The latter find was also made at the Boolies 1A/1B site. Similar finds were made in the three Calliaghstown digs. But the greatest concentration of Bronze Age burnt mounds were in the Kells. Townparks/Loyd, Newrath Little and Townparks yielded those finds, at seven out of 10 sites.

Further prehistoric house building was indicated in the two Gardenrath, three Kilmainham and two Cookstown Great excavations. The two Ballybeg digs yielded a Bronze Age spread and a possible early modern building.

Pheonixtown's six digs extended from a prehistoric curved gully, to a Medieval road and ditches grouping. The five Grange sites indicated prehistoric occupation and building. The three Ardbraccan sites north of Nava indicated a prehistoric hearth/industrial activity; two slot trenches from the same period, and a Bronze Age burnt mound.

Dig at Tara

13 December 2005:
Thanks to Sioux


All those involved in the campaign to save Tara are disturbed by the information on Brian Duffy, Chief State Archaeologist, as revealed by Frank McDonald (Irish Times, 5^th December, 2005). Disturbed but not particularly surprised. Once again the credentials of a government advisor are questioned and questionable.

Within two months of his appointment Mr Duffy dismissed the evidence for Woodstown as a Viking town as a: ‘speculative notion … with absolutely no archaeological evidence to support it’. He was proven entirely wrong.

On the proposed chosen route of the M3, he advised the Minister to proceed and said that: ‘ the M3 will be a monument of major significance in the future’.

His nine pages of advice to the Minister for the Environment (3^rd December 2004) concentrate on the engineering aspect to the near exclusion of archaeology and heritage. He defends the EIS, the An Bord Pleanála Hearing and the chosen route. He does concede that the section between Dunshaughlin and Navan will be ‘costly and time consuming to excavate’. This last remark is a direct contradiction of the NRA’s position that the excavations will only take 12 months. (Meath Chronicle 17.09.05)

He downplays the importance of the Gabhra Valley saying: ‘None of these 38 sites is a National Monument within the meaning of the Act.”

He seems unaware of the fact that a National Monument is not just confined to an archaeological site and of the judgement of Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh in the 1970s where Chief Justice Ó Dálaigh said:

‘The expression ‘national monument’ means a monument or the remains of a monument, the preservation of which, is a matter of national importance by reason of the historical, architectural, traditional, artistic or archaeological interest. A monument, among other things, is anything that by its survival commemorates a person, action or event’.

Mr Duffy and Ms Deevy, the NRA archaeologist, have consistently downplayed the importance of Tara’s landscape ­ and as if to confirm this, one of the two sites excavated in the area are a post office that still stood there in the 1950s. The bronze age prehistoric mound and burnt pits in the same area have been given little or no attention.

In view of the gravity of this situation and the importance of the archaeological decisions that must be taken within the Department at present, the Government should take immediate action and ensure that the Minister has the best possible academic and professional expert advice available to him.

Dr Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin


29 November 2005:
Thanks to Sioux



The Save TaraSkryne Valley Campaign is hosting a public meeting in the Ashbourne House Hotel in Ashbourne, Co Meath, Tuesday 29th November 2005 at 8 pm. This will be another presentation of the successful showcase event held in Kilmessan in September - an alternative transport and heritage vision for Meath, a constructive and imaginative choice instead of the proposed twice-tolled M3.

The Campaign welcomes the Meath MultiWay project as an alternative to the proposed M3 motorway. The MultiWay is a state-of-the-art integrated transport solution for Meath that incorporates rail, coach and car modes in the existing Kells Navan Dublin corridor, and which generates significant economic, social and environmental benefits for the region. The MultiWay is an evolved approach to Meath’s transport needs and is based on new data and techniques previously unavailable. The Campaign is pleased to invite the independent Transport Researcher Mr. Brian Guckian to publicly present the results of the research programme into the Meath MultiWay, and to give a detailed account of the proposal and its implementation.

The second related vision is that of the Meath World Heritage Park. This has been developed as a major social and economic initiative for the county. It embraces the major centres of Navan, Kells, Trim and Dunshaughlin, and linked to the Boyne Valley, with the ancient capital of Ireland, the central, sacred area of kingship at Tara as the focal point.

Mr. Percy Jordan, committee member of the Save TaraSkryne Valley Campaign and co-ordinator of the Meath World Heritage Park project will outline the potential and benefits of this initiative.

There will also be an exhibition relating to the projects as well as the wider work of the Save TaraSkryne Valley Campaign.

All are welcome to what promises to be a most interesting and positive evening.

Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin PRO, Save the TaraSkryne Valley Campaign

Contact: Brian Guckian 087-9140105 Muireann 087-9249510

4 October 2005:
Thanks to Sioux!

Survey of attitudes to current M3 route conducted by Red C commissioned by Sacred Ireland

1 in 3 of all adults 18+ claim to have 'No knowledge before today' of the proposed new M3 tolled Motorway routed through Tara's Gabhra Valley. This increases to 2 in 3 females under 25, those who are unemployed and 1 in 2 of all those who are single and those aged 18-24.

Over 1 in 2 (55%) agree that the proposed new motorway 'Should not go through the Tara/Skryne (Gabhra) Valley'. However only 1 in 4 disagree with this statement, those aged 55+ particularly males, those retired and those aware of the proposal are more likely than the average to be in favour of the motorway with a higher proportion disagreeing with the statement.

NRA distorting the facts on M3 excavation


(Editor, Meath Chronicle)

Dear sir - I was somewhat perplexed by the Meath Chronicle's recent front-page headline declaring that `The M3 motorway digs reveal nothing remarkable so far' (17th September).

This non-news story seemed to confirm everything that the National Roads Authority/Meath County Council have been saying all along and, in so doing, appeared to undermine the position held by the expert opinion on Tara.

I note, however, that the small print does state that only two of the 38 sites and monuments so far identified have been fully excavated and work is continuing on a further three. What is truly remarkable though, is one fact that was not revealed in this article.

Ms Daire O'Rourke, Chief Archaeologist with the National Roads Authority, has stated elsewhere that a decision was taken to "phase" the archaeological excavations so as to commence first with the sites of "least archaeological interest."

These include the 19th century building foundations of a post office and smithy (Philpotstown 1) and a possible burnt mound (Blundelstown 2), both now fully excavated, in addition to the building foundations of a 19th century vernacular building (Roestown 3), a stone spread associated with a possible 19th century structure (Cooksland 4), debris and adjacent field system associated with the 19th century Dillon's Bridge National School (Philpotstown 3) and the building foundations and a laneway associated with a 19th century vernacular building (Dowdstown 1), some of which are currently under excavation.

The remainder of the 38 sites and monuments, largely of prehistoric and early historic date (as identified in the geophysical survey in 2000/1 and verified in the more recent test trenching undertaken in 2004) are, however, of far greater significance. These have yet to be excavated.

It is these remaining monuments - some of which are large archaeological complexes covering several hectares - that may justifiably be described as remarkable. These are remarkable, not by the `treasures' that may yet be revealed during salvage excavation, but by the simple fact that these constitute an integral part of what was perceived to be Tara by those people who inhabited this landscape in the distant past: a fact that can be verified on both archaeological and historical grounds.

One wonders if Dick Roche, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, would consider the NRA/MCC's omission of fact in this instance as yet more evidence of deliberate `disinformation' misinformation and downright distortion? Yours sincerely, Joe Fenwick, Department of Archaeology, National University of Ireland, Galway.

Trim Council becoming foolish laughing stock

(Editor, Meath Chronicle)

Dear sir - I would like to make a few points, regarding Trim's Castle Street car park issue, in relation to the two meetings held by Trim Town Council about the refund of e63,500 to the Department of Environment.

I have, as a member of the public, attended some of the monthly meetings of the council in the past few years. I have never experienced the amount of animosity shown by some Trim councillors towards Councillor Cantwell as I witnessed at the two meetings. They did their best to ridicule his defence of the right of the Department of Environment to claim back the money given to purchase and develop a car park for the town.

The following points are important considerations in the whole issue: The Dept of Environment agreed to pay the £50,000 to the council when they were sent detailed plans and designs of the proposed car park on Castle Street.

The design showed a detailed layout of the number of car spaces and bus spaces that the area would cater for.

It was on this basis that the Department of Environment sent its one- third contribution for the development of the car park. It doesn't seem to bother the majority of councillors that £150,000 of ratepayers and taxpayers money was spent on the purchase and development of land for a car park and soon after it was sold to a developer for the construction of a hotel.

It would be negligent on the part of the Department of Environment not to claim its contribution back. At the meeting, many of the councillors stated that to pay the money back would make it possible for councils up and down the country to be put in the same situation.

It is long overdue that councils were required to use the limited funds at their disposal to the best advantage of the people they serve and not to be adopting short-term solutions that waste scarce resources.

If the Trim councillors persist with their heads-in-the-sand attitude, they will fool only themselves and become the laughing stock of the country.

Instead of condemning Councillor Cantwell, they should be supporting him and ensuring that no more waste of ratepayers or taxpayers money takes place in the future.

When the hotel development on Castle Street, on a large part of the car park site, was granted planning permission by Meath Co Council, there was little opposition by the Trim councillors.

Councillor Cantwell has built up an incredible amount of information in relation to the car park issue. At considerable expense to himself under the Freedom of Information Act, he has managed to get this information. He wanted to go through the information accumulated at council meetings, but has always been ruled out of order.

There has been an attitude of wanting to ignore the issues in the hope that they will miraculously go away.

It is time for the full facts to come to the attention of the public and let them judge who is correct.

Yours sincerely, SEAN FOLEY, 14 Cluain Ri, Trim.

27 September 2005:
Thanks again to Sioux!

Dead link removed

15 September 2005:
Thanks to Sioux!


The planned M3 route will prevent the development of any Clonsilla- Navan rail link, since no provision is being made for a railway bridge over the motorway, according to Damien Cassidy of the North- South Rail Initiative.

Promises have been made of a Clonsilla-Dunboyne link, followed by a later Dunboyne-Navan rail line, he said, but no provision has been made for a bridge on the latter route.

There was therefore no route for a rail line to take, he added, saying his organisation had been campaigning for 10 years to have the Navan-Dublin rail link restored. He said they had raised the matter repeatedly with Iarnród Éireann.

Mr Cassidy said he feared they would have to go to Europe to ensure that provision was made for the rail link. "We're in the position where the EU is prepared to give funds for this link, but the Minister for Transport, Deputy Martin Cullen, has to make an application. To date, no such application has been made," he said.

Mr Cassidy said he was at a loss to understand Minister Cullen's previous promises to restore the Clonsilla-Dunboyne-Navan rail link.

A Department of Transport spokesman said the option for a Clonsilla- Dunboyne-Navan rail link was being actively investigated under the Government's 10-year (2005-2015) Transport Strategy. Full details would be announced within the coming two months, he said. Until this was outlined, the Department will be making no further announcement.

The spokesperson, however, took issue with suggestions that EU structural funding was not being drawn down by the Government.

Government Departments continued to seek to access to such funds for transport projects, he said, but the proposed Clonsilla-Navan line did not come under that heading, he added.

Tara SOS - M3 to the West - 3.5km shorter - 5km away from Tara - E50m cheaper

M3 motorway digs reveal nothing remarkable so far

Mary Deevy, project archaeologist on the M3 excavations.

John Donohoe

ARCHAEOLOGICAL sites uncovered and excavated along the route of the proposed M3 motorway close to Tara are no different than any other sites across the county or country, according to the project archaeologist, Mary Deevy.

Full excavation of two of the 38 sites along the route have been completed, including that at the controversial Blundelstown interchange, and digging work has been carried out on three other sites.

"None of the sites are any different to any other sites because of where they are, either in the type of site or in the number of sites," she said, adding that she in no way wanted to denigrate the finds along the route.

Huge controversy has surrounded the plan to route the motorway through the Tara-Skryne Valley, with opponents claiming the plan would desecrate an archaeologically rich area of the country.

The excavations at the bottom of Soldier's Hill, at Blundelstown, and Philpotstown, have so far revealed a post office and blacksmith's building at the former and a bronze age prehistoric mound at the latter.

It is believed that the post office premises stood until the 1950s, and may have been abandoned due to its proximity to the Lismullen river and possible flooding. At Blundelstown, the remains of an area used for heating water was discovered.

At one site at Dowdstown, the floor and remains of walls of a house have been unearthed, as well as the remains of an old roadway. The brick-floored house is obvious on the first Ordnance Survey map of 1836. Among the artefacts discovered here was a 19th century pot of green paint, and a lace-making bobbin. The home seems to have been that of a well-to-do occupant.

Also at Dowdstown, an early medieval enclosure, which forms a D- shape, has been uncovered by the geophysical survey. The multi- enclosure site seems to have originally been a circular enclosure, later enlarged to a D-shaped enclosure. A number of these types of enclosures have recently been discovered and offer the opportunity to explore the relationship between ring forts and later D-shaped enclosures. They were usually farmsteads.

At Ardsallagh, a typical ring ditch of probable Bronze to Iron Age has been identified with cremations and extended inhumations identified both inside and outside the enclosure.

It is hoped that the study of a disused field boundary close to the enclosure will give an idea of when it still stood, as the boundary goes around the ring-ditch.

Extensive archaeological work has taken place on the entire M3 route, including desktop surveys, field surveys, geophysical surveys, aerial surveys and test excavations. A total of 160 sites were identified along the complete route from Clonee to Kells. Part of the recent order by Environment Minister Dick Roche instructed topsoil excavation, which has been done manually by the archaeologists.

"While the sites along the route are no different to other sites, our approach has been different," Ms Deevy explained. Geophysical surveys were carried out long in advance, highlighting 160 sites along the 60 kilometres of motorway and 700 hectares of land.

These sites are fairly evenly distributed along the length of the route and range from the Neolithic period to modern times, ranging from settlements to cemeteries and from burnt mounds to brick kilns.

"The topsoil excavations, as directed by the minister, is something that's never been done before on a project," she explained. "And we are publishing the findings as we go along - that is something else that hasn't been done before," she added. An information pack has been produced and a website set up:

Following the topsoil excavations, it is envisaged that full excavations will be completed in about a year. Excavations have been ongoing on the Clonee-Dunshaughlin section, while the Navan by-pass section is due to start soon, with the Navan to Kells section beginning after Christmas.

Dalgan Park conference on empowering citizens in planning process

A GROUP campaigning for the preservation of Tara is to stage a major conference entitled `Empowering the Citizen: Do you feel you have a voice?' in Dalgan Park, Navan, next month.

The Tara Heritage Preservation Group will hold the conference on 8th October and the guest speaker will be Martin Kay, researcher at the University of Limerick, an expert on public/private schemes and the sociological implications of the planning process.

Among those invited are the Taoiseach, Ministers for Environment and Transport, national and local politicians, the Irish Planning Institute, An Bord Pleanala, Meath County Council, the National Roads Authority, An Taisce, the Heritage Council, along with civic interest and campaigning groups involved in the planning process.

The Tara Heritage Preservation Group comprises members of local groups and residents, most of whom have been involved in the entire planning process for the M3 since 1999. They represent St Columban's Dalgan Park, Meath Archaeological and Historical Society, Bellinter Residents' Association and local residents.

Last June, Martin Kay told a seminar at Dalgan Park: "Ireland has a serious infrastructure deficit and yet also a preoccupation with remaining competitive."

The Tara preservation group said this week that this simple sentence masked a profoundly serious threat to democracy in our nation. "This is because it rests upon absolute certainty at the heart of public decision-making that anything done by way of infrastructure procurement has lawful authority is undertaken in the name of `competitiveness'."

The group said that the immediate consequences were that things which were in the way of new projects fell easy victim to the urgency of getting those projects underway as quickly as possible; power attached itself to those charged with delivering new projects as quickly as possible; those charged with delivery were only contractually accountable for project delivery; they were not accountable for the power which now surrounded them.

Those who tried to point out that destroying things in the way of new projects would diminish the heritage, were transformed from being normal to being abnormal. The group said that the name for this effect was `discourse'.

"It is a discourse of power in which unaccountable people progressively dominate those to whom accountability is due. This is both a moral domination and a legal one: accusations of being `extremist' go hand in hand with excavation or compulsory purchase orders."

One of the side effects of discourse was that it controlled what could be said and by whom, the group added. "This is why unaccountable people begin to strengthen the grip of power as well as their own grip on it. In this way, discourse creates a regime which appears to promote the `truth', but doesn't. What looks like truth could be called propaganda or dogma. But the real point is that discourse presents it as if it were the truth - and very decent people, often working in the public sector of our country, begin to believe what is said."

The organising committee for the conference - Fr Pat Raleigh, Julitta and John Clancy, Martin Dier, Kathryn Walley, Susan Brennan, Reggie and Anne O'Reilly, Tommy Hamill, Claire Oakes, Jimmy Rafter, Brendan Ferris and John Rooney - said that the discussion on 8th October would explore what legitimacy and accountability means; why the reaction of those who rejected an infrastructure project could be called stewardship; and also why stewardship was crucially important when confronting unaccountable power.

Navan park `n' ride bus service proposal

NAVAN Town Council is to consider providing a subsidised bus service for `park and ride' facilities around the town.

At a meeting of the council last week, members backed a motion by Colr Joe Reilly calling for a percentage of the funding received from car parking charges to be used to provide a subsidised bus service.

A report will now be drawn up on the proposal, following consultation with property owners and bus operators.

Colr Reilly pointed out that Navan is clogged with traffic to the detriment of the public and business community and he said his proposal was aimed at addressing the problem that hundreds of workers face on a daily basis of getting parking spaces during working hours.

"On a wet October morning, will people leave their cars at car parks at the edge of town and walk into the town centre?" he asked. "We need to provide a reliable service from the car parks to the centre of town."

Colr Reilly added it would have to be provided by tender or contract to the council and there would be a small charge for using the service.

"A number of areas around the town have been identified as possible `park and ride' facilities. These will not be used by people working in town unless an efficient and cost-effective bus service is in place to bring them to and from their place of employment at the proper time. The service could be provided at morning and evening hours at a low cost to the user," he added.

Colr Reilly urged the business community, CIE and other transport providers to seriously look at the proposals.

Colr Padraig Fitzsimons said it was a good proposal. He said motorists should be surveyed to see if they would use it. Colr John Duffy said that there was no point in having long-term car parks around the town unless they were connected to the centre of town.

Colr Tommy Reilly recalled that a pilot scheme was supposed to start 18 months ago and he asked for an update on that. He warned that there would be a major pile-up at Kilcarn some day unless the problem was sorted.

Colr Christy Reilly said it was important that the bus service was subsidised so it was to be attractive to people.

Navan Area Manager Jackie Maguire said that Bus Eireann had looked at re-routing services some time ago, but didn't come back with anything worthwhile. The council had also approached a number of private operators, she said.

Govt must fund rail link to avoid massive rezoning: colr

THE Government must "stump up the cash" to fund the Navan-Dublin rail line for Meath if county councillors are not to be forced to rezone thousands of acres of land for housing to fund the project, Fianna Fail councillor, Shane Cassells, has declared.

The Government must deliver funding over and above that given to other counties to fund the Meath transport link, he said.

Colr Cassells was a member of a delegation from Meath County Council and Navan Town Council to Middleton, Co Cork, where they met local councillors and officials to explore the approach taken in the opening of the Cork to Middleton railway.

Colr Cassells, who is also the Mayor of Navan, said that for the Cork/Middleton link, the Government was providing 50 per cent of the s156 million cost. The remainder would be raised from special levies on thousands of new homes, which would be built purely to fund the project.

He added that three new Local Area Plans (LAPs) had been approved recently in Cork. These effectively would "create three new towns out of existing small villages."

He was concerned it would be a mistake for Meath to replicate the scheme exactly as in Cork because this would worsen the problems of lack of services and congestion, purely to fund the rail line. Meath must not be turned into a huge housing estate, purely to fund the rail line.

The two cases are different, he believes. In the case of Cork, it already has a thriving city with an expanding industrial base. "They could afford to zone all this land because, by doing so, they were solving existing social problems in their city," said Colr Cassells. In Meath, on the other hand, the houses already are in place - the battle is to bring in industry so that people will not have to commute to work in Dublin.

Just because Cork accepted a Government contribution figure of 50 per cent did not mean that Meath had to follow suit, he said, calling on the Government to deliver on its by-election and 2002 general election promises.

Another member of the delegation, Fine Gael county councillor and Navan Town councillor, Jim Holloway, said that planning along the route of the proposed line must be addressed in the new county development plan. If the elected members wanted the line to advance to Navan, as people clearly did, any development over and above that already planned for must be along the route that a railway line would probably take.

"A scattergun approach to land development must not be a feature of the new development plan," he remarked.

Colr Holloway said that "great swathes of land" would be developed on presently zoned land and would not be subject to special development levies that would fund the railway line to Navan. If the project to take the line to Navan was not to be written into the history books as a lost opportunity, the feasibility study to take the line to Navan must begin immediately, he said.

He believed clarity was needed on the level of development necessary along a selected route to ensure the viability of such a railway line. "It is this concrete data that must be available to councillors when they deliberate and conclude on a new development plan for the county," he said.

Meanwhile, Meath East FG TD, Shane McEntee, has demanded an urgent review of the proposal to toll the new M3 motorway.

The Drogheda bypass and its toll bridge was an example of tolling not being the right way forward in Ireland, said Deputy McEntee. "The reality of tolling the Drogheda bypass is that it has forced thousands of cars and heavy trucks onto the roads of Drogheda, Julianstown and Slane," he said.

Julianstown, which runs alongside the M1 motorway, now caters for traffic volumes in excess of 20,000 vehicles per day, 1,500 of which are heavy goods vehicles. A significant percentage of those vehicles using Slane and Julianstown are choosing to avoid the tolls on the M1 motorway, he added.

He predicted that when the M3 is completed, cars and, more particularly, heavy goods vehicles in an attempt to avoid tolls would use the already over-stretched roads through towns like Dunboyne, Ratoath and Dunshaughlin.

6 August 2005:
More links by Sioux:

17 July 2005:
The following links by Sioux:

14 May 2005:
'Politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs which properly concern them.' ~ Paul Valery (1871-1945)

Roche clears way for M3's construction

11 May 2005 15:15 (video)

The Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, has cleared the way for the construction of the M3 motorway by issuing directions to Meath County Council on how archaeological work is to be conducted.

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Mr Roche said that stringent conditions would apply.

Commenting on a controversial interchange 1km north of the Hill of Tara, the minister said the National Roads Authority was putting in an alternative lighting scheme and extensive landscaping.

He added that in order to protect the landscape around Tara he told Meath County Council to ensure that the new development plan protected the rural character and archaeological heritage of the area.

Given concerns that massive developments would take place along the new motorway, the minister said he would consider using his powers to direct the council to amend its plan if it was not up to standard.

The controversial project was approved by An Bord Pleanála two years ago, but many archaeologists and historians have argued that part of Ireland's most important heritage site will be destroyed.

The Director of the National Museum, Dr Pat Wallace, had submitted a report to the Environment Minister in which it is reported he opposed the routing and, in particular, an interchange north of the hill.

Govt gives final approval to controversial Tara motorway

10 May 2005 - Minister Roche will give directions for the treatment of archaeological remains at the Hill of Tara, which lie in the path of the current route of the M3 motorway, tomorrow noon in the Government Press Room, Government Buildings.

Members of the public will be gathering at 11.30 am, at the Kildare Street entrance to the Dail, in anticipation of the decision.

Info kindly submitted by Sioux.

26 April 2005:
Will Ireland Slice Up Its Most Mythical Site?

Academics Petition Govt Over M3 plans

Roche to Decide on Archaeological Licences

06 April 2005:
Campaigners Vow Legal Action if Roche Approves Tara Plans

Minister to Press Ahead with Tara Route for Motorway

Irish Road to Progress Jams at Ancient Hill

10 March 2005:
Motorists Want M3 built on Route Past Hill of Tara

Excavation to Get Tara Road Under Way,,2091-1513611,00.html

Info kindly submitted by Sioux:
No Tolls, No Delays - Build the M3 Now (Online petition for the M3 Toll Protest)

Roche to Receive Archaeological Reports by End of Month

Ambassador Call in M3 Dispute

Trash Can for Election Hopes of 'Pots and Pans' Reilly

Tommy 'Pots and Pans' Reilly and Frank Dunlop Made Land Deal in Tara/Skryne Valley

10 February 2005:
Tara Decision Due Within Three Weeks

Artists' Help Raise Funds for Tara Campaign

Tara Campaigners Win Chance to Address Committee

03 February 2005:
Tara Campaigners Brand Oireachtas Committee 'sham'

Next Exit: Food, Gas and the Burial Place of Irish Kings
*Please note you may need to sign up for a free NY Times on the Web account to see this article

31 January 2005:
Committee to Discuss Controversial Tara Motorway

Battle Rages Over Irish Celtic Site

17 January 2005:

Meath Chamber of Commerce Backs M3 at Tara

12 January 2005:

Info kindly submitted by Sioux:
Though the deadline has passed to send letters to the Joint Committe of Transport, you may continue to write letters of support for Tara to the Environment Sub-Committee at the address below. Also note that the website has been updated and includes a link to the suggested letter to send to the subcommittee:

The Clerk
The Environment Sub-Committee
Dail Eireann
Leinster House
Dublin 2

10 January 2005:

M3 Motorway Protestors Take to the Streets

06 January 2005: This page now administered by Alexandra

Picture submitted by Sioux.
Picture of Tara taken on Christmas Day overlooking the valley, sent by a friend who lives in Navan.

29 December 2004:

This link submitted by Sioux.
Please visit and send your objections to the politicians. Deadline is January 11th 2005
"The Irish Government have opened a window of opportunity at a time when they are hoping everyone is too busy with the holiday season to notice." (This is a favoured covert way for politicians to pass through bills people [would] object to). Please note that the M3 will be a TOLL ROAD, with toll booths at *both ends* of the road... pay to get on, pay to exit... people traveling it from, say, Navan, to Dublin will pay FOUR TIMES to go to and come home from work."

26 December 2004:

Dead links removed.

Alexandra in Savannah

25 December 2004:

Another link on Tara by Alexandra.

22 December 2004:

More Hill of Tara links by Alexandra;

17/12/2004 - 08:18:21 Roche says he has no power to alter Tara motorway

18 December 2004:

News on Tara!
Links kindly submitted by Alexandra.

14 October 2004:

Townsend A Skryne Legend...

Irish actor Stuart Townsend took a short break from the Hollywood Hills to come home to the Hill of Tara to protest against the new motorway which could destroy one of the most archaeologically significant places in the world...

Hill of Tara: Stuart Townsend

When we turn on the news and see a bunch of new-age hippies tied to trees trying to stop the never-ending progress of tarmacadam through our dwindling green and cultural areas we all too often take no notice.

Hill of Tara: Stuart Townsend

But with An Bord Pleanála's recent approval of the Government's scheme to divide the Tara/Skryne valley with the M3 motorway we will see an area, which predates the Egyptian pyramids, altered forever.

Hill of Tara: Stuart Townsend

So it was great to see Stuart Townsend (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Queen of the Damned) leaving his Oscar winning girlfriend Charlize Theron in Hollywood and coming home to Ireland to join the protest and hopefully change our government's mind.

Hill of Tara: Stuart, Chloe & Dylan Townsend

Townsend, and the group of protesters, want to propose alternatives to the M3 plan such as improving the existing N3 motorway, reopening the Navan-Dublin railway line, or simply moving the M3 away from this delicate archaeological landscape.

Stuart joined the protest at Tara yesterday along with his younger brother and sister Dylan and Chloe aswell as Shane McGowan's girlfriend Victoria Clarke.

Stuart also appeared on The Late Late Show on Friday night along with Eddie Izzard, Lulu, Chris Tarrant, and UK chart topper Lucie Silvas.

If you would like to sign the petition to help save the Hill of Tara from the M3 motorway madness please do so here

12 October 2004:

10/10/2004 - 17:09:50

Actor Stuart Townsend joined environmental campaigners today in a bid to stop the construction of a major motorway close to the historic seat of the High Kings of Ireland.

The accomplished movie star had invited dozens of Irish celebrities and politicians to attend todays celebration at the Hill of Tara in Co Meath.

Townsend, 31, has joined a local action organisation, Save Tara Skryne Valley Group, to oppose the building of the M3 motorway, which the National Roads Authority plans to route close to the site.

The actor, who flew in from filming in Germany, said: “Someone really seems to have it in for our heritage. This is a matter of national importance and I would urge as many people to attend as possible.”

He added: “Barely anyone has tried to stop what surely will be one of the greatest archeological travesties of our time. We here in Ireland seem to just be happy to let road builders dig up and tear through the most ancient and sacred place that exists in our land.”

The campaigners are looking for the NRA to move the route further away from the acclaimed area.

People first inhabited the Tara-Skryne valley during the Stone Age and there are passage tombs on the site dating back to around 2000BC.

The site was considered the capital of Ireland, when it became the seat of the High King, who would rule the dozens of kingdoms that had emerged across the country. The seat stayed at Tara until the sixth century.

Historians, including Dr Muireann Ni Bhrolchain of the National University of Ireland in Maynooth, and archeologists attended the event, called Feis Tara Skryne, to lead people on a guided tour of the historical sites and point out their significance.

Environmental campaigner, Vincent Salafia, said: “We are delighted that this issue is finally getting the attention it deserves. This event will give the new Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, a chance to understand what is at stake here at Tara.”

The Wicklow TD is due to make a decision later this month on whether the route, as currently planned, should go ahead.

The campaign group have threatened to take the case to the High Court if the route goes ahead as planned and an excavation of the site is ordered.

The NRA have already faced court battles over the finishing of the construction of the M50 motorway.

The route has already faced two-year delays after the foundations of a castle were unearthed at Carrickmines in Dublin, and environmentalists objected to the continued construction of the road.

Mr Salafia warned: “Carrickmines Castle is still in the courts after two years, due to the mismanagement of the former Minister, Martin Cullen. We want to avoid a repeat of that here, and make this a win-win situation.”

In a statement on his website, Townsend, who starred in Queen of the Damned, said: “The development in Tara represents in microcosm what is happening in the country as a whole.”

Dr Ni Bhrolchain began the guided tour at 1pm at the abbey on the Hill of Skryne, which lies around one and a half miles to the east of the famed ’seat’.

Campaigners, poets and religious leaders told the crowd of the hill’s importance this afternoon.

Artist Jim Fitzpatrick, members of the Irish traditional band Kila, including Ronan O’Snodaigh, joined Townsend on the tours.

The speaker’s corner held next to the Lia Fail stone, or the Stone of Destiny, attracted dozens of onlookers.

The first Feis which began around 1300 BC by Ollam Fodla enacted new laws and discussed the disputes of Ireland’s tribal chieftains.

The campaign group said the discussions followed the original purpose of the seat of the High Kings of Ireland, with debate on an issue of national importance.

11 October 2004:


The Sunday Times September 26, 2004 By Scott Millar

Actress Charlize Theron has joined the campaign against the M3 at Tara. Click for larger version. Image copyright © Charlizeonline

THE Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron is supporting a campaign against the construction of the M3 motorway, which skirts the Hill of Tara.

Theron is to have a specially commissioned portrait of herself auctioned in order to raise funds for the campaign against the Clonee-Kells motorway through the Tara Skryne valley.

The South African actress, who won an Academy Award for her portrayal of a serial killer in Monster, is the girlfriend of the Irish film star Stuart Townsend who has also become a vocal supporter of the anti-motorway campaign.

Townsend said: “Barely anyone has tried to stop what surely will be one of the greatest archeological travesties of our time, second only to the ancient artifacts stolen in Iraq. But they had to start a war to get away with that one. “We here in Ireland seem to just be happy to let road builders dig up and tear through the most ancient and sacred place that exists in our land.”

The 29-year-old actress’s portrait is to be painted by Jim Fitzpatrick, an artist whose work is inspired by Celtic mythology and who is best known for his print of the revolutionary Che Guevera. Fitzpatrick hopes to begin the painting next month and expects it will take him at least six weeks.

“The idea is to auction it to raise money for the campaign,” he said. “I was a strong supporter of saving the remains of Carrickmines castle. What happened there was unfortunate but the emotional connection was not the same. The Hill of Tara is the Vatican as far as I’m concerned. I understand the significance of these things, every schoolchild does too, but unfortunately minister Martin Cullen seems not to.”

Fitzpatrick considered painting Tara but says Theron is “a very beautiful woman and if we want to get international attention a portrait of her would be 10 times better. Stuart approached me with the idea and I thought it was the only thing to do.”

Townsend, 32, who starred in About Adam and appears in the upcoming Head in the Clouds, is expected to visit Ireland with Theron in the next few weeks. “Tara is a place I hold very dear to my heart. Every Irish person should. I have gathered for the solstice both in Tara and at Uisneach many times,” he said. “We are potentially having an event at Tara in the near future. This is also to raise awareness and attract some press for what I consider to be a defining issue in the current state of affairs in Ireland.”

The campaign to stop the M3 road has drawn support from a wide range of historians, archeologists, artists and politicians as well as local people. A geophysical survey carried out in 2000 identified nine sites of archaeological significance in the area that would be disturbed by the proposed motorway, which excludes the Hill of Tara and its immediate environs. Continuing archeological surveys commissioned by Meath county council at the behest of the National Roads Authority (NRA) have now discovered 26 more.

Among the more significant finds along the 32-mile route of the M3 are three large enclosed settlement sites or medieval farmsteads, four prehistoric burial sites and one Bronze Age house. A range of other archaeological features have also been found, including a medieval house and field system, two pit kilns and several prehistoric burnt mounds.

The foundations of five early modern houses including a post office and a cottage dating from the early 19th century were also uncovered. The NRA says that up to €20m will be spent on surveys and protection costs along the route. What most upsets some historians and environmentalists is the disturbance to the serene nature of the Hill of Tara area. The hill was the ancient site of enthronement of the high kings of Ireland and was the centre of ceremonial political control from mythological times till the Tudor invasions.

The spiritual significance of Tara was first challenged by St Patrick, who on the evening before Easter in AD433 is said to have lit a fire on the nearby hill of Slane to illustrate the power of his religion. At the time, Easter was not celebrated. The Irish marked the Beltaine festival, which celebrated the coming of spring, and it was the tradition that only the high king could light the first fire on that evening.

A spokesman for the Department of the Environment said: “The proposed route of this road is actually further away from the Hill of Tara than the existing road. The decision on the route is really a planning matter to be dealt with by the local council and the NRA. The only role the minister plays is making judgments based on archeological concerns. Any decision by the minister on this will be based on independent archeological advice.”

The Save Tara Skryne Valley Group is run by Vincent Salafia, an American-trained lawyer who has put his name forward as a presidential candidate in order to highlight the environmental campaign. Salafia says his nomination is currently being considered by a number of independents and the Green party.

“The fact that we are now getting an even wider support group including people like Fitzpatrick, Stuart and Charlize really brings the campaign to another level,” he said.

“The legal ruling on Carrickmines castle also gives us a new legal stance, not that it is accepted that there is a constitutional onus on the government as regards protecting the nation’s heritage.”


Though best known as the seat of the High Kings of Ireland, the Hill of Tara has been an important site sine the late Stone Age when a passage-tomb was constructed there. Tara was at the height of its power as a political and religious centre in the early centuries after Christ. Attractions include an audio-visual show and guided tours of the site.

Exciting new research and excavations by the Discovery Programme team continue to add to our understanding of the site.

As much of the tour is outdoors, visitors are advised to wear protective clothing and shoes suitable for walking over uneven terrain.

Restricted access for people with disabilities.


IF EVERYBODY who has been invited to next Sunday’s protest against the proposed M3 motorway through the Tara-Skryne valley attends, then there will be an eclectic mix of politicians, singers, actors, pop stars and movie-makers rambling around the plains of royal Meath.

The Dublin actor Stuart Townsend, who recently joined the campaign to prevent the motorway, has invited a host of celebrities to take part in the protests.

Invited guests include all of U2, Sinead O’Connor, Marianne Faithful, Liam O Maonlai, Jim Sheridan, Neil Jordan and Lainey Keogh.

According to Vincent Salafia of the Save Skryne-Tara Valley campaign, Ronan O Snodaigh has already agreed to attend. The musician and Kila member is a brother of Sinn Fein TD Aenghus O Snodaigh. There is no indication of how many of the other invitees will attend.

National politicians, including the new Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dick Roche, are also being invited, as are local councillors and groups such as Meath Archaeological and Historical Society. The public is welcome to attend, Mr Salafia added.

The event, called Feis Tara Skryne, will begin at Skryne Abbey at 1pm, on the Hill of Skryne. Leading Irish historians and archaeologists will be on hand to give a guided tour of the historical sites. The programme will move from Skryne to the Hill of Tara at 3pm, where the historical/archaeological tour will continue.

Stuart Townsend, who will be filming in Germany during October, is flying in this Friday to appear on ‘The Late Late Show’. He has written a letter in support of the campaign to reroute the M3 away from the Hill of Tara.

THE North-Eastern Health Board’s executive board has welcomed a s100 donation from Ms Anna Lydon, Patrickstown, Crossakiel, Kells, towards Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan.

6 October 2004:



1 October 2004

‘Stuart Townsend Invites U2, Sinead, Marianne & Other Celebrities To Hill of Tara Event – Sunday, 10 October’

Stuart Townsend, who has formally become a spokesperson for the Save Tara Skryne Valley Group, is inviting celebrities to the Hill of Tara on Sunday 10th October, to oppose the planned M3 motorway which will pass through the Tara archaeological complex.

Invited guests include all U2 members, Sinead O’Connor, Marianne Faithful, Liam O’Maonlai, Jim Sheridan, Neil Jordan and Lainey Keogh. Ronan O Snodaigh of Kila has already agreed to attend.

National politicians, including the new Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr. Dick Roche, are also being invited, as are local councillors and groups such as Meath Archaeological and Historical Society. The public is welcome to attend.

The event, called Feis Tara Skryne, will begin at Skryne Abbey at 1.00 PM, on the Hill of Skryne, approximately a mile and a half from the sister Hill of Tara. Leading Irish historians and archaeologists will be on hand to give a guided tour of the historical sites.

The progamme will move from Skryne to the Hill of Tara at 3.00 PM, where the historical/archaeological tour will continue. Speakers, poets, religious leaders and musicians will address the crowd, and everyone will have an opportunity to participate. It is hoped that public outcries will lead to a change in the motorway plans.

Mr. Townsend, who will be filming in Germany during October, is flying in on Friday 8th October to appear on the Late Late Show. He has written a letter in support of the campaign to save the Hill of Tara (attached). In it he writes:

“Someone really seems to have it in for our heritage. This is a matter of national importance and I would urge as many people to attend as possible.”

Vincent Salafia, Public Relations Officer the group said:

“We are delighted that this issue is finally getting the attention it deserves. This event will give the new Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, a chance to understand what is at stake here at Tara.

“Carrickmines Castle is still in the courts after two years, due to the mismanagement of the former Minister, Mr Martin Cullen. We want to avoid a repeat of that here, and make this a win-win situation.

Vincent Salafia

22 September 2004


By Stuart Townsend

The history of Tara, and the Skryne valley goes beyond St Patrick, beyond the high Kings of Ireland, even beyond the Druids and the Tuatha De Dannan. And now we want to put a motorway through it. Barely anyone has tried to stop what surely will be one of the greatest archeological travesties of our time. Second only to the ancient artifacts stolen in Iraq. But they had to start a war to get away with that one. We here in Ireland seem to just be happy to let road builders dig up and tear through the most ancient and sacred place that exists in our land. Never mind the fact that in 50 years time there won't be any oil left to fuel our motorway-cruising mobiles.

The development in Tara represents in microcosm what is happening in the country as a whole. Another example is the proposed powerline route from Carrick-On-Shannon to Sligo. The 220 kilovolt pylons will create a sterile corridor through rural countryside and affect an area filled with megalithic importance. Someone really seems to have it in for our heritage.

The ESB could technically put these cables underground but well...they won't. Which has provoked the response "Bury the line, not the people". So now not only the east coast is under threat, but the west coast too. North and south anyone? But of course there are those who say" it's just a hill", or" a bunch of old stones". These people have one word for everything- Progress.

"More jobs will be created, a better standard of life, more things to buy", the usual prosperity tag-lines get thrown about. To those I say; take a look at our neighbours in England who have carved up their land with motorways and pylons. We in Ireland are lucky because time is still on our side. We have not devastated most of our rural beauty as England has done, yet.

But in the name of progress- we will. And what standard of life will we have then? And where's the Government in all this? Why is there no-one protecting our most precious sites? Did we forget to hire a Minister for the Environment? Or is he just taking a holiday at Crawford Ranch?

The much-heralded "Celtic Tiger" is now ravaging the Irish countryside. If you believe, like me, that without our rich past we have no future, please save Tara and the Skryne Valley.

You can sign our petition or donate on the web site at

Stuart Townsend.

1 October 2004:

Irish Hollywood star backs Aras bid by environmentalist Salafia From: The Irish Independent Sunday, 26th September, 2004.

IRISH Hollywood star Stuart Townsend has offered to campaign on TV for presidential election hopeful Vincent Salafia. The environmental campaigner, who is currently seeking nominations to contest the presidency, was contacted by the Irish-born actor.

Townsend and his wife, South African actress Charlize Theron, have also offered to join Salafia's campaign to stop a motorway passing by the Hill of Tara. Theron has agreed to let artist Jim Fitzpatrick paint her portrait, which will be auctioned to raise money for the Tara campaign.

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