Irish Times (front page), 1 March 2008 Heaney claims motorway near Tara desecrates sacred landscape POET AND Nobel laureate Séamus Heaney has described the M3Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2008View SourceIrish Times (front page), 1 March 2008
Heaney claims motorway near Tara desecrates sacred landscape
POET AND Nobel laureate Séamus Heaney has described the M3 motorway as a
ruthless desecration of the sacred landscape around the Hill of Tara, in
a BBC documentary to be broadcast today at 11.30am on Radio Ulster,
writes Frank McDonald , Environment Editor
In the same programme, Dr Jonathan Foyle, British chief executive of the
World Monuments Fund, which placed Tara on its endangered sites list
last year, likened the motorway to the destruction by Afghanistan's
Taliban regime in 2001 of the Bamiyan Buddhas.
In his interview with BBC reporter Diarmaid Fleming, Prof Heaney said
the motorway "literally desecrates an area - I mean the word means to
desacralise' and, for centuries, the Tara landscape and the Tara sites
have been regarded as part of the sacred ground".
Referring to the 1916 Proclamation having summoned the Irish people "in
the name of the dead generations", he said: "If ever there was a place
that deserved to be preserved in the name of the dead generations from
pre-historic times . . . it was Tara".
Prof Heaney added: "I suppose Tara means something equivalent to me to
what Delphi means to the Greeks or maybe Stonehenge to an English person
or Nara in Japan . . .It conjures up what they call in Irish dúchas, a
sense of belonging a sense of patrimony, a sense of an ideal.
"The traces on Tara are in the grass, in the earth. They aren't
spectacular like temple ruins in Greece but they are about origin,
they're about beginning, they're about the mythological, spiritual
source - something that gives the country its distinctive spirit."
He recalled that WB Yeats, George Moore and Arthur Griffith had written
a letter to The Irish Times complaining that the British Israelites, who
thought the Ark of the Covenant was buried at Tara, were desecrating a
"consecrated landscape" by digging there.
"So, I thought to myself, if a few holes in the ground made by amateur
archaeologists was a desecration, what's happening to that whole
countryside being ripped up [for the M3] is certainly a much more
ruthless piece of work," Prof Heaney said.
According to Dr Foyle, the entire Tara complex "is the equivalent of
Stonehenge, Westminster Abbey for its royal associations and Canterbury
for its Christian associations all rolled into one" yet it was being
destroyed "to shave 20 minutes off a journey time".