Hill of Tara

Hill of Tara - © Irish Drone Photography
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Adresse Location:
Castleboy, (County Meath)

Tara was the political and spiritual centre of Celtic Ireland and a key place in Irish mythology. Located in County Meath on a hill, it was occupied by the highest rulers of Ireland. Seat of kings, it was until the 11th century the Irish Celtic capital which defined the functioning of the rest of the island, and according to legend, it was the place where Saint Patrick presented the concept of the Trinity to the kings.

Tara’s story

Tara’s Historical Origins

Hill of Tara - © MNStudio

Hill of Tara – © MNStudio

Tara would have been founded at the beginning of the Neolithic period, at a time when the local population erected more and more megalithic constructions (tombs…etc). Tara is no exception to the rule, and many circular enclosures are built at that time.

According to historical texts, Tara became the royal capital of the island of Ireland from the 4th century. At that time, Ireland was divided into several provinces:

  • ulster
  • the Connaught
  • the Leinster
  • the Munster
  • Mide (a province that no longer exists today, but which included Tara)

Tara then became an important political centre: it governed the life of the island of Ireland, collected taxes from the other provinces, and became the official residence of the Ard Ri Érenn (supreme kings of Ireland). Tara is also the place of great ceremonies (political, religious, cultural…etc.) and feasts, where the highest personalities of the Kingdom gather.

It was in the 5th century that Saint Patrick met King Laoghaire, and introduced him to the concept of the Holy Trinity by using a clover… The king is then convinced, and facilitates the work of evangelization of the saint in the rest of Ireland…

Much later, when Tara was no longer active and had been forgotten, Daniel O’Connell organized a large gathering on Tara Hill. More than 250,000 people gathered there to advocate the revocation of the Union with Great Britain.

Tara was only discovered in the 20th century, following numerous aerial photos, where one can clearly discern the presence of hitherto unsuspected archaeological remains (circular enclosures, stone arrangements, etc.). Very quickly, excavations are undertaken, and Tara becomes one of the most important archaeological sites in Meath County…

Visit Tara

An archaeological site spread over 2km…

The Hills of Tara are located in County Meath, in the west of the island’s center. You will discover there a quite exceptional archaeological site, dating from the Neolithic period, and consisting of 5 circular enclosures extending over 2km, on the hillside. The 2 most imposing enclosures are called respectively Rath Lugh and Rath Maeve.

The hill has more than 40 buildings, some of which were destroyed as a result of the misdeeds of an old farm on the land which was carried out for several years before the remains were officially discovered.

Traces of human presence dating back 3,000 years would then have been detected all over the hill.

To discover them, it is compulsory to go there on foot. Don’t be too surprised if you don’t see much at first. The site seems less obvious to grasp from the ground than from the sky: its enclosures and its relief are less discernible.

Head towards the highest mounds and you will discover a Visitor Centre, which will introduce you to the different areas of the site and their respective histories. Among the different places you will be able to visit we can count :

  • Banquet Hall: Huge 228-metre-long furrows had been made to hold gigantic feasts, where more than 1,000 men could stand.
  • Gráinne’s Fort and Sloping Trenches: these are 2 circular terraces where, according to legend, a king of Ulster massacred about thirty princesses.
  • Rath of Synod : these are circles surrounding a fort dating from the Stone Age. It was at this place that archaeologists discovered 2 torches now on display in the Dublin museum.
  • Royal Enclosure: this is the royal enclosure, where the high kings of Ireland used to gather.
  • Cormac’s House: this is actually a burial tomb dating from the Bronze Age.
  • Lialh Fáil: this stone that was raised to the sky was the symbol of Irish Sovereignty. This talisman is actually an elongated stone approaching the menhir, and was planted firmly in the ground. According to the legend, it would hoot if a person destined to become King of Ireland touched it.
  • Rath Laoghaire: This is a fort containing the tomb of King Laoghaire, who is said to have been buried there standing, with his armour on.

Hill of Tara
Practical information

Address Address:
Castleboy, Co. Meath

Coordonnées GPSGPS:
53.578856, -6.611660

Duration of the visit Duration of the visit:
30 minutes
PricesPrices :


Opening hoursOpening hours:

every day from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Hill of Tara : the map

So much more to discover...