Tara - Encyclopedia

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TARA, a village of Co. Meath, Ireland. It is celebrated for the Hill of Tara, well known through Thomas Moore's ballad, and for many centuries a royal residence and the scene of great meetings of the people. The hill, upon which five highroads converged from different parts of Ireland, is about ' S1 o ft. in height, and stands isolated. On its summit or flanks are six raths or circular earthworks, the largest of which, called the king's rath (rath-na-riogh) encloses other works, among which is the forradh or meeting-place, a flat-topped mound. On this (but not in its original position) stands a pillar stone, which has been held to be the stone of destiny on which the Irish kings were crowned. An oblong enclosure, 759 ft. in length by 46 ft. in breadth, formed of earthworks, with entrances at intervals on each side, represents the banqueting hall. In the middle of the 3rd century A.D. King Cormac Mac Art, about whom there are many records in connexion with Tara, is said to have founded here schools of military science, law and literature. In the time of St Patrick Tara is indicated as the chief seat of druidism and idolatry, and in or about 560 it was abandoned as a royal residence, having fallen under the curse of St Ruadan. In 980 the Danish power of Meath was overthrown in battle here; in 1798 a. severe defeat of the insurgents took place here (26th of May); and in 1843 the hill of Tara, as a site sacred to Irish traditions, was the scene of one of Daniel O'Connell's mass meetings in support of the repeal of the legislative union (15th of August).

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