Our last day of touring together ended up being quite an improvement in weather.
After telling a brief story about Tlachtga, her Fire Temple, and traditions included in Samhain now, a visit to her temple site was now quite essential.
Here is a triple goddess interpretation of her at the highest point here, at the trig point post.
and another turned up too :-)
This is the trig point post
Sadly, the firepit area is no longer cared for, a huge surprise. The entire area was quite densely covered with nettles and thistles. I've never seen this important symbolic site so unkept.
There are 5 rings leading up to the centre of this ancient site, maybe dated 3000 to 4000 years old. Here are a couple of surface shots, not easy with the overgrowth here now
and here's's a pic of a fire festival, sharing of the fire, at Samhain, going away with new fire in Jack O'Lanterns or similar :-)
From here it was off to the Hill Of Tara,
kicking off with the now essential tea and coffee stop
After refreshments, first up an introduction to the Banquetting Hall cursus site
Being the last site this group will visit together their Brighid's crosses of wishes and prayers were left at this tree. It is not the original "wishing tree" here but the place many have been drawn to for many years. I somehow believe in that guidance, despite the many storage things that have been left here.
Looking across to the main court
and then we go there
Always a storyteller up at this stone, and this man tells us about his brother who was thrown off it by unseen forces ... and passed on a few years later due to heart problems.
Looking over to the Cormac's House mound, maybe named after being the residence of Cormac mac Airt, the longest serving high king of Ireland born by where I live in Co. Sligo and transformed how Erin was administered, around 200 AD. He has been the closest to uniting all of Erin, but did not quite make it due to conflict with Ulster chieftains and Munster druids.
From the main court towards the Church is the Mound Of Hostages which I had a dread of visiting since seeing photos of its restoration. The photos I saw gave it the appearance of being like a new bungalow building style, and I have seen some quite awful OPW stone masonry jobs recently.
To my surprise its actually a very good job done here :-)
This has been dry stone walled. Maybe the stones have been machine cut, but they also look rough cut too. Overall, I was surprised and very pleased with this work which I controversially say is an improvement on how it was before.
This especially looks good in the sun ...
It was unlikely that hostages were ever kept here but is symbolic of an ancient political policy that went on here during its ancient times.
When Naill Noígíallach was High King of Tara just before 400 AD, he attempted to unite Erin in peace by swapping one of his sons with a son of a region Chieftain. With the sons under different leaders a trust and bond was formed. However, it was soon a situation where Naill had more sons of other chietains than any other chieftains and this was regarded as a hierarchy status symbol.
Naill had Nine sons of other Chietains in his court and became known as Naill Of The Nine Hostages and there are many tales that followed this ... except being locked up in this ancinet, maybe 4000 to 5000 years old cairn
Inside of this cairn is a fascinating standing stone of carved spirals. If this is looked at closely it looks like a map of the area including the courts, chieftain's raths and ther banquetting hall.
This pic was not taken from today but from the entrance info board.
Here's som more from those info boards including an aerial view of the High King Court and Cormac's House ...
And here is the Banquetting Hall cursus looking over the Rath Of Synods, Patrick's Church, Mound Of Hostages, High King Court and Cormac's House, and the large outer circle around the courts, with the various hawthorn trees on the henge to the right ...
Into the Churchyard, and up to the Adamson's Stone to view the Sheela na Gig there. Unfortunately, light and shadow was not great today to get that clearly.
Here's a black and white of a pic of this I took some time ago, a little clearer ...
And here's a Yew Tree there bearing fruit
After more cups of tea and cofee and browsing around the gifts and bookshops it time for our last site and close of this Pilgrimage.
The White Cow Well
and we share reading a blessing before we close and depart