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Thread: Wahington Post on Tara Motorway

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    Default Wahington Post on Tara Motorway

    In Ireland, Commuters vs. Kings
    Road Plan Clashes With Protection of Ancient Tara

    By Glenn Frankel
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Saturday, January 22, 2005; Page A01

    TARA, Ireland -- Her name was Tea, and one Celtic legend says an
    ancient Irish king named Erimhon fell madly in love with her in Spain
    and enticed her back to his native land. As a wedding present, he gave
    her the most beautiful hill in all of Ireland and named it after her.

    The Hill of Tara, as it is known today, rises gently from some of
    Europe's richest pastures, an emerald vista dotted with a network of
    man-made burial mounds, earthworks and monumental stones. For people
    who lived here beginning 6,000 years ago, this was the most sacred
    place on Earth, the site of coronations, festivals and myths, and the
    entry point to the netherworld where the dead dwell for eternity.

    These days the Hill of Tara is not only one of Ireland's most legendary
    sites but the focus of one of its most bitter controversies. The
    country's road planners, seeking to ease traffic congestion in the
    booming exurbs of the capital, Dublin, 25 miles away, are preparing a
    four-lane highway through the picturesque Skryne Valley that lies just
    east of the hill.

    Most local residents, frazzled by two-hour commutes down the narrow,
    two-lane rural turnpike that is their only direct route to Dublin,
    passionately favor the highway. But a determined band of opponents,
    spearheaded by archaeologists, environmentalists and preservationists,
    is fighting it every step of the way, threatening legal action that
    could hang up the project for a decade or kill it altogether.

    This is very much a tale of modern Ireland and its new prosperity. Over
    the past decade, an economically stagnant isle has been transformed
    into the Celtic Tiger, with double-digit annual growth fueled by a
    high-tech boom and generous subsidies from the European Union.

    Ireland's population, depleted for more than a century by emigration,
    famine and poverty, has now surpassed 4 million -- its highest level in
    more than 130 years. New housing is mushrooming across the countryside
    and road traffic has nearly doubled in the past 10 years.

    One of the leaders of the Save Tara Skryne Valley Group is Vincent
    Salafia, 39, who left southern Ireland in 1983, as did perhaps half his
    high school graduating class. He went to college and law school in
    Florida and returned home seven years ago when the boom and a sense of
    homesickness proved irresistible. Salafia says he's keenly aware that
    he's fighting the impact of the same prosperity that drew him back to
    Ireland.

    "It struck me things were changing very rapidly and that the Ireland I
    knew was disappearing," he says. "It's beginning to look more and more
    like Florida: a big building boom and no one paying attention to
    environmental or heritage issues."

    The battle for Tara began in earnest two years ago after the National
    Roads Authority proposed the M3 motorway. The 70-mile road is designed
    to ease congestion heading from Dublin to County Meath, a blend of old
    farms and new housing tracts much like Virginia's Loudoun County of
    three decades ago. Meath's population has more than doubled over the
    past decade and is projected to double again during the next. Parts of
    the N3, the sole existing two-lane road to Dublin, carry two to three
    times the traffic it was designed for, and the accident rate is 50
    percent higher than the national average.

    On a typical evening, traffic heading northwest from Dublin slows to a
    crawl from the interchange with the M50 all the way to the burgeoning
    town of Navan 20 miles away. Tommy Reilly, a local politician who runs
    a newspaper shop in Navan, says that when he opens at 6 a.m., the main
    road, which goes through the middle of each town, is already choked
    with traffic and fumes of commuters heading south.

    The national road planners looked at 10 different routes for a new
    motorway and settled on the one they contend would cause the least
    amount of damage -- including not only archaeological issues but impact
    on air and water quality and the number of houses and trees that would
    have to be removed. The state planning board held 28 days of public
    hearings and confirmed the choice.

    There are 120,000 known archaeological monuments in Ireland and
    hundreds of thousands more beneath the surface; road planners argue
    that it's almost impossible to stick a spade in the ground without
    hitting something of value. Excavators marking out the roadway have
    already uncovered 38 archaeological finds.

    Those deemed valuable will be recorded and packed off to the national
    museum in Dublin. "We have to live in the real world," says Michael
    Egan, spokesman for the National Roads Authority. "There's no perfect
    alternative but we've done our best to balance the issues."

    The heart of the conflict is over the size and meaning of the Hill of
    Tara. Proponents of the motorway insist the hill should be seen solely
    as the oval promontory of a few hundred acres currently under state
    protection. By that reckoning, the new motorway would be at least a
    mile away -- in most places, farther than the current N3.

    But opponents contend that a realistic definition of the hill must
    include the adjoining valley and nearby Hill of Skryne, all of which
    formed a coherent civilization from the Iron Age and are honeycombed
    with dozens of invaluable archaeological sites and a rich, if largely
    buried, history.

    "There are monuments and sites throughout the area that define the core
    zone of the Hill of Tara and the royal domain around it, and the
    motorway is literally going right through the middle of it," says Conor
    Newman, an archaeologist at the National University of Ireland at
    Galway, who has studied the region for 13 years.

    On a clear day much of Ireland's heartland is visible from Tara's
    crest. Its features include the Mound of Hostages, which is aligned to
    the rising sun and full moon, and dates to 2500 B.C., and the ancient
    coronation stone known as the Lia Fail, scene of the inauguration of
    the 142 kings said to have reigned here. St. Patrick, Ireland's patron
    saint, journeyed to Tara in A.D. 433 to challenge the power of the
    wizards.

    In more recent times, 400 Irish patriots died in a battle with British
    soldiers atop the hill, and author Margaret Mitchell took the name for
    Scarlett O'Hara's plantation in "Gone With the Wind."

    Opponents have gathered support from dozens of archaeologists and
    historians throughout Ireland and the world, including the
    Archaeological Institute of America and the European Association of
    Archaeologists. Many local residents resent this invasion by outsiders,
    known derisively as "blow-ins."

    Michael Cassidy, president of the Navan Chamber of Commerce, says the
    lack of adequate roads means the area cannot attract new businesses
    that would bring jobs and save many residents from heading south to
    Dublin every morning. He resents campaigners who have moved to the area
    simply to oppose the road. "These people are going on the national
    airwaves claiming to be residents and it's not true," he says.

    Michael Slavin, a local historian who has written about the hill and
    leads a group called Friends of Tara, says that 90 percent of the
    residents of County Meath support the project, but that opponents have
    mobilized the news media and international opposition through distorted
    arguments and use of the Internet. "To say the motorway is going
    through the Hill of Tara is like saying the Washington Monument could
    be destroyed by a highway built two miles away," he says.

    The next decision is in the hands of Dick Roche, the environment
    minister, who has to decide whether to give the excavators permission
    to dig up and move archaeological finds. No matter what he decides,
    both sides expect the matter to wind up in court.

    "We realize we can't freeze-frame the whole country," says
    archaeologist Newman. "But the Hill of Tara has exceptional importance
    and status conferred upon us by our ancestors from pre-history."

  2. #2
    Politics.ie Member jo9jo's Avatar
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    It is supossed to be haunted

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    Politics.ie Member ocoonassa's Avatar
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    By the ghosts of hippies and archaeologists

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    Politics.ie Member owedtojoy's Avatar
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    I never accepted the logic of the motorway being built where it was.

    Old maps can show you that there were once many more monuments around Tara - but they have gradually disappeared though land use and farming. any hope of excavating these is now gone.

    The other point is the modern focus on the hilltop is completely wrong - the evidence indicates that the Tara-Skryne valley was a sacred landscape where the streams and land had a ritual significance.

    I think the motorway was built to give two fingers to anyone who cared about Ireland's heritage. It basically said "We're in charge, and we will build what we like where we like."

    Local politicians who are campaigning for local jobs also supported the motorway that takes the residents of Navan (at least those who have work) to their jobs in Dublin. Navan is Dublin suburbia. County Meath is a characterless parcel of land with three motorways running through it. The county has some interesting sites that tourists take buses out from Dublin to visit. But if you are looking for a tourist industry, you will not find one.
    "A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence" - David Hume

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    Politics.ie Member LowIQ's Avatar
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    N1, N2 & N3 running parallel to each other about 10 miles apart in one of the least densely populated countries in Europe? Back before the N2 was done, people took the M1 to Carrickmacross and cut over to Monaghan. The country is too small for all these roads. Based on our population centres, we need a hub and spoke system. This malarkey of running everything in to O'Connell Street needs to stop.

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    Politics.ie Member dresden8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by owedtojoy View Post
    Local politicians who are campaigning for local jobs also supported the motorway that takes the residents of Navan (at least those who have work) to their jobs in Dublin. Navan is Dublin suburbia. County Meath is a characterless parcel of land with three motorways running through it. The county has some interesting sites that tourists take buses out from Dublin to visit. But if you are looking for a tourist industry, you will not find one.
    You're right, if some fat greedy FF/FG/PD bastard isn't making any money out of it just bulldoze the cnt.

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    Politics.ie Member dresden8's Avatar
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    Goddammit, browser fnck up double post.

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    The interesting thing about that bloody motorway after all the destruction is that is hardly being used. I travelled on it recently at a "busy" time. From the passenger seat, looking at a stretch where you could see a couple of miles either way, I counted six cars. People who use it regularly say it is the same all the time. Even at rush hour it is only slightly busy.

    What a criminal waste building that bloody thing.

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    The only haunting around here is the resurrection of yet another 'dead' thread from the distant past with no reasonable explanation of why it occurred or what prompted the apparition.

    Haunting indeed!

  10. #10
    Politics.ie Member LowIQ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skypeme View Post
    The only haunting around here is the resurrection of yet another 'dead' thread from the distant past with no reasonable explanation of why it occurred or what prompted the apparition.

    Haunting indeed!
    Oh no! Are you upset? What a horrible thing to discover people made some right calls five years ago! Such ancient history. Let sleeping dogs lie. We are where we are.

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