In Ancient times the entrance to the Royal City of Tara was much different than it is today. But I shall get to that later in the week. If you visit this fantastic place now, you will enter via a gate by the small roadside car park. One of the first sites that you will come across is a big statue of the man known as St. Patrick. Many of you might know by now that I would not be a big fan of the man that is now known as the patron saint of Ireland. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-religion, I reckon to each their own as long as they don’t force their beliefs on others. So I guess that’s one of the reasons I have a huge dislike for this character. Not only is he not even a saint, but he was a rather nasty piece of work to boot. And to have a great big statue of him planted on top of Irelands Royal city is just one of many insults in my mind. There are countless tales of his disrespectful and nasty actions towards the people of Ireland, far too many to go into here. And yet we call him a saint? It’s actually a fact, that Patrick was never beatified by the Vatican, and so therefore is not an actual Saint. How he became to be known as a saint is actually down to a translation error. There is no word for saint in the Irish language. As Patrick was said to have been known as a man of God, his Gaelic followers called him Naomh, which means holy and not saint. And so some not to clever person over the years messed up the translation and everyone has followed along with the lie ever since. If you look at the position of Patrick’s statue, you will notice that he has his back turned to Tara? Which I see as one final insult to both the sacred site of Tara and the Irish people. I have a small ritual which I perform every time I visit Tara. When I reach Patrick, I turn my back to him. Now I’m not showing any disrespect towards his religion, just evening things up a little. I guess it makes me feel a little less angry and I get to enjoy my time better in the royal city.
Just beyond the statue lies the aptly named church of St. Patrick, which has now been converted into a visitor center. The current church building and graveyard are said to date back to 1822 which aint that old, but it would seem that there were two previous churches on this very site. The first one was built back in the 13th century. The second was said to have been much larger and part of this churches outer wall can be seen near the top of the steps leading out towards the Ráth of the Synods. Sadly some of this Ráth has been encroached on by the churchyard boundary wall. Whilst the earliest grave stone dates from the 17th century there are signs of earlier burials taking place. Inside the church there is a memorial stone of the local Dillan family which is dated 1595. In 1991 the church was taken over by the OPW (Office of Public Works) and deconsecrated. Although once a year it reverts back into use as a church for a once of mass on St. Patricks Day. Today the church serves as a visitor center, with audio/visual presentations for visitors during the Tourist season. If you have never been to Tara before it might be worth a look at to get a feel for the history of the place and it only costs a few euro, but I always find my time better spent exploring the vast expanse of this magical place. There will be more about Tara and even Patricks connection to Tara over the coming days and week so keep in touch.