Welcome goes out to the new members who joined TSPG at Sundays AGM :) TSPG also now has a new Secretary, Joanne Corbett and a new Press Relations Officer Pauline Bleach. I have great hopes for where TSPG will go in the future with these two ladies at the helm. All the very best and continued success :)
My last responsibility to TSPG is to publish the submission we made to the OPW Pilot Scheme- many thanks to Pauline Bleach for her considerable contribution to that, and, to publish the submission to the new Conservation Plan for the Hill which is being led up by the Discovery Programme, which I completed earlier this year.
Over and out :)
TSPS Submission to the Hill of Tara Conservation Plan 1-5-12
In response to the recent meeting at the Interpretive Centre on the Hill of Tara, the Tara Skryne Preservation Group would like to take this opportunity to submit suggestions and observations in relation to the conservation and protection on the state owned lands which are the subject of the new Tara Conservation Plan.
We call for greater protection to be given to the sacred wells of Tara.
The Nemnach is in need of protection from the sheep and this has been the subject of previous unanswered complaints to the OPW. Although a water trough was provided for them by the Farmer, it is not maintained. It is constantly filthy dirty and currently it is bone dry. This gives rise to the necessity for the sheep to come to the well for water, wearing down the banks and muddying the well. The Nemnach is the last visible archaeological structure remaining on this part of the Hill and from this beautiful well flows the River Nith which is reputed to have turned the first Mill in Ireland at Lismullin.
Volunteers regularly clean and tidy around it and generally do their best to keep it in better condition than it has seen in recent years, but we do not have the authority to do anything about the sheep damage. This needs to be urgently addressed by those that do.
During the dry periods when the spring ceases to issue any water at all, the sheep have suffered in dire conditions and we have reported rotting carcasses by the stream on several occasions. Besides the damage their presence causes to the structure of the ancient well, the continued cruelty and neglect to animal life on the Hill of Tara is beyond appalling. We suggest that once this is addressed, a gravel path be installed to allow safe access to the Nemnach which is currently treacherous in wet conditions. It should be fenced with a wooden aesthetically pleasing barrier eg. willow or hazel fence which would keep the sheep away from the well itself but still allow them access to the stream.
The Calf Well is another ancient well in need of intervention. TSPG would like to establish who is in ownership of the Fodeen field. This should be taken over by the OPW and an access pathway to the well be installed as it is another important feature in the story of the Hill.
The Pinnacle and Tobar Finn are barely recognisable as wells, especially the Pinnacle which appears as a small swamp with no stone markings to indicate that it is one of the sacred wells of Tara at all.
Tobar Finn is dry since the 1700s and again unmarked but it is still the site of an ancient well and should be recognised as such.
The Mound of the Hostages should be open to the public under supervision at Imbolc and Samhain for the known solar alignments.
Trees Management and Hedgegrows are in need of urgent attention. Many trees are very old and/or diseased. New broadleaf native trees need to be planted as soon as possible to replace them. Hedegrows should be allowed to grow in order to be able to sustain wildlife and protect themselves from infection which could potentially be caused by the unnecessary flailing currently in evidence around the site. This too has been the subject of previous complaints. The barbed wire fencing should be replaced with Blackthorn trees as natural barriers in public places as the use of barbed wire in this manner as is the case at present is dangerous, posing a health and safety risk as well as being an eyesore.
Signage needs to be installed directing people to the various places of interest on the Hill. At the moment it is a regular occurrence to see visitors wandering off in a straight line like sheep into nowhere. Some of the old signs eg Rath Laoighaire and The Banqueting Hall have been stolen. The signage at the entrance to the Hill welcoming visitors to this wold famous place is torn and faded, a shabby welcome at best.
An Art Installation for the Interpretive Centre could be installed to utilise the space better and to encourage community involvement eg photographic exhibitions, Lectures, Poetry and Music events etc..
Access to remain free and unfettered 365 days a year.
Rath Laoghaire is showing alarming signs of deterioration with a huge amount of stonework falling out of the embankment. At the current rate of deterioration it is liable to collapse. Preventative measures and reconstruction is needed here in order to preserve the Rath. This was reported to the OPW over a year ago and nothing has improved since.
We applaud news that a new 1798 Memorial is to be erected on the Hill as a result of a campaign headed up by Mr Paddy Pryle of Navan. The men of 1798 are buried at Rath Laoghaire.
Arising from the initial contact meeting on the 15th of April at Tara, it is clear that there may be an under appreciation of the spiritual significance of the site. It was pointed out by a member of Chairde Gael that 76 different denominations were recorded in a Visitor Book to the Hill during a 3 month period in 2009.
Central to many of these faiths is the concept of Ceremonial Fire. This has always been the case from the Rig Veda to the Aztecs and indeed is well documented in our own indigenous legacy. We reiterate our previous call for Ceremonial Fire to be legitimately allowed on the sacred Hill of Tara. TSPG believes in the rights of people to worship, as is enshrined in Bunreacht na h Eireann.
We again request that an allotted space be provided where Ceremonial Fires may legitimately be kindled during religious/ spiritual festivals throughout the year
TSPG strongly believes that it would be far preferable from an ecological and archaeological point of view, if these fires were controlled. There are acceptable recommended practises such as raising the fire above the ground in a Fire Box.
TSPG would like to specifically engage with the various interest stakeholders and overseeing groups such as the OPW and the Dept. regarding this subject.
We would also like to be involved in a review of the procedures which led to the lack of information and notice given to stakeholders prior to the commencement of archaeological excavations on the Mound of the Hostages this year. This resulted in great upset to many people worldwide who regard this site as sacred, beginning as it did on the ancient High Feast of Samhain and was the subject of a previous strongly worded letter of complaint. There is no doubt that this upset could so easily have been avoided. It is obvious that dialogue between all those concerned could pave the way for better future relations and respect, something which would surely be preferable to all.
TSPG would like to see one overall body in charge of dealing with conservation and maintenance issues as they arise eg stones falling out of the wall in the car park. It is our experience that complaints to the OPW, heretofore in charge of dealing with such issues, have gone unacknowledged, leading to great frustration amongst volunteers who care a great deal about the welfare of the Hill.
Communication has been a huge problem in the past and we sincerely hope that this can be remedied.
Tara Skryne Preservation Group.
TSPG Submission to the OPW Pilot Scheme. Hill of Tara.
1. Documenting, Cleaning and Preservation of the Wells of Tara.
The TSPG will identify, document the wells and create a visitor map of the wells.
In some cases, a small amount OPW work will be needed to fence off wells from sheep.
TSPG will identify this and recommend the size and placement of the fence.
2. Tara/Skyne monuments watch.
Tara Skyrne members will identify issues that may detract from the visitor experience of Tara and keep the OPW informed.
These may be maintenance issues or issues which will detract from specific visitors experience.
In certain cases, Tara Skyrne will attempt to clear up issues that might arise eg Litter Patrols.
OPW and TSPG will each have a dedicated contact person who will speak monthly or as required.
3. Tara/Skyrne Twitter feed.
This feed raises awareness of the Tara Skyrne Landscape, the importance of it and the historical context it exists in. It will keep people up to date with initiatives and issues in the landscape. It will encourage responsible tourism and keep people informed of the do's and don't of interacting with the landscape. It will promote Tara and Meath as a great place to visit,
giving local tips and guides.
DEMONSTRATE THEIR KNOWLEDGE OF THE SITE AND A WIDER KNOWLEDGE OF SIMILAR SITES:
The Tara Skyrne Preservation Group has extensive knowledge of Tara and its relation to its landscape having been involved in the protection of both over the last 13 years. It has extensively interacted with OPW, Coillte, the Heritage Council and other stakeholders to identify issues or problems.
It has a huge store of historical and mythological knowledge that can only enhance a visitor’s trip to Tara.
DEMONSTRATE THEIR COMMITMENT IN TERMS OF TIME AND PERSONNEL :
TSPG has demonstrated commitment by personnel in relation to Tara issues; it has cleared and cleaned wells. We have monitored sites where damage may have taken place to assess and report to bodies such as the OPW. It now has committed personnel to an education process about Tara using a Twitter feed. By following @TaraSkryne and searching for #TaraSkryneHistory tourist can freely find information on Tara.
Supported by a large group, this is a wonderful resource where most questions can be answered. It is likely this will be increased to include Tourist information in the near future. This gives important one to one interaction with Tourists hoping to visit the area.
In terms of time and personnel, TSPG members already commit their time generously by responding to threats and visiting landscape areas to inspect them. TSPG will work with the OPW to identify areas of common interest and usefulness.
OUTLINE THE COMPOSITION OF THE GROUP:
The group is a loose collective of people who are interested in preserving Tara for future generations, while at the same time bringing economic benefits to Meath as we understand that having economic value is probably it’s best protection.
OUTLINE RELEVANT EXPERIENCE POSSESSED BY THE GROUP IN HERITAGE AND TOURIST AREAS:
TSPG became recognized Stakeholders in the Draft Tara Skryne Conservation Area Plan after submitting an in depth detailed submission to Meath County Council.
TSPG also submitted an equally impressive submission to the Unesco World Heritage Tentative List to have Tara enlisted as a place of outstanding universal value. Copies of both submissions attached.
Our members were involved with the organization and clean up of the Aerial Human Harp event on the Hill of Tara in 2007.
Some TSPG members have travelled extensively through out the world and understand the needs of travellers and tourists. One has also worked in the travel industry, organizing flights and trips for people. She has done personal tours of the Hill and has read extensively though the archives and other Tara material. She sees a huge gap in Meath tourism which makes Tara a day trip from Dublin rather than a more economically beneficial stay over.
OUTLINE HOW THE PROPOSAL IS TO BE FINANCED:
The TSPG is a self financed voluntary organization that already devotes much time to Tara. It is likely that any extended projects may be financed by grants. Currently, our activities are supported by members and fundraisers.
DESCRIBE HOW THE PROPOSAL WILL CONTRIBUTE TO THE PRESENTATION AND PROMOTION OF THE SITE:
We propose that the wells be located and identified, and, in the case of the Nemnach that they be protected.
TSPG will continue to be involved in their upkeep eg cleaning and in reporting any other issues to the OPW.
TSPG propose to produce a contemporary and historical map of the various monuments and features on the Hill of Tara which could be sold at Maguire’s Coffee Shop and at various Tourist Offices throughout the country. This would be an invaluable aid to visitors in understanding the story of the Hill as well as being a souvenir of their visit.
Promotion via the Twitter and Facebook TSPG accounts.
DEMONSTRATE HOW THE PROPOSAL WILL SUPPORT THE OPW IN ITS MANAGEMENT AND CONSERVATION WORK:
Tara Skyrne members already inspect the site and report issues to the OPW. We seek to formalize this relationship.
Some Tara Skyrne members have much information on spiritual and energy aspects of the Hill and can identify potential issues that may occur. We are happy to advise the OPW where necessary.
DESCRIBE HOW THE PROPOSAL WILL CONTRIBUTE TO LOCAL TOURISM AND LOCAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT:
Twitter and Facebook are the main medium of communication in the world currently.
Having a Tara Skyrne presence will allow the OPW and Irish tourism to point interested tourists to somewhere where they can get personal advice on aspects of the Hill and surrounds. Knowledge that is not present in the Tourist board can be supplemented here.
Simple mistakes in presentation mean that Meath tourism suffers. Its initial page tells us that Meath is a great place to cycle, but there is nowhere to hire bikes. Meath becomes too-hard to navigate and tourists book onto a one day bus tour from Dublin. Local knowledge can get people around Meath and therefore make it easier and more likely they will visit.
The wells of Tara are a great visiting point but only one of them is visible to the casual tourist. This is an additional off the beaten track for the visitor who wants to do more than hit a checkbox. Tara and its environs are beautiful but the lack of wandering spots and information mean many visitors miss out on a lot. The map proposed above would be of great benefit in this regard.
RE HEALTH AND SAFETY PROCEDURES:
TSPG feels that it is important to build a relationship with OPW. It feels that for the pilot we should initially keep to small specific projects, ie Wells and the already initiated @TaraSkyrne twitter feed. So initially, TSPG will not engage with tourists directly in an official capacity
However we are interested in attending Workshops etc where we can gain the necessary knowledge to make this an option in the future and which will be of benefit in our conservation, preservation and Guide work.
We are willing to engage with OPW on whatever may be necessary.
RE OWNERSHIP OF SITES WILL REMAIN WITH THE STATE:
TSPG believe strongly that heritage land should be owned by the State on behalf of the people of Ireland.
RE OPW WILL RETAIN RESPONSIBILITY FOR INTERPRETATION AND PRESENTATION:
TSPG will provide the information which will then be presented by the OPW.
TSPG will get a credit similar to “Brought to you by the OPW” eg. “Information kindly provided by TSPG.”
Tara Skryne Preservation Group.