DRUIDS & ANCIENT SITES IN IRELAND

Druids? Well, they only lived in ancient times, didn't they? Wrong! There are some people living in Celtic Lands today who are trying to follow "The Old Religion" and to respect the land as the ancient Druids did. There are Druid Orders in the Celtic Lands of Britain and France, in Brittany, Wales, Scotland and Cornwall. In Ireland, there is as yet no official Druid Order affiliated to the established Druid Orders, although one person who has very little Druid knowledge did try and set one up. Anyone interested in Druidry in Ireland is recommended to contact one of the long-standing Druid Orders in Britain or France for more appropriate information and details of Druid activities.

Although there are no official Druid organisations in Ireland at present, there are people living in Ireland today trying to keep Druidic traditions alive, and doing what they can to protect the land and heritage of Erin. Unfortunately, the official departments of The Irish Government, who are supposed to be doing the same thing, do not seem always to have the best interests of Ireland at heart. An official in the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht apparently "downgraded" the status of some 2500-year old mounds at Telltown in County Meath and listed them as mere landscape "features" instead of "national monuments". This resulted in a landowner being give permission to bulldoze one of them down, thus irreparably damaging a vital historical site. In good faith, the new landowner had taken the reasonable precaution of taking the trouble to ask officials in advance if the mound was natural or man-made, but was misled by being informed by them that it was a "natural feature" and therefore of "no historical importance".

The Department later issued a public apology for this "oversight", but by then the damage was done. The ancient mound complex involved is at Telltown, County Meath, the ancient Taillteann, where the Taillteann Games were celebrated by the ancient Celts at the Fire Festival of Lughnasadh. The Games and the mounds were named after Tailltiu, who was the mother of Lugh, the Celtic Sun God, who gave his name to the month of August, when the Feast occurs. From the inauguration of the Feast thousands of years ago, for hundreds of years chariot races and horse races were held on a course around the Taillteann mounds at the Fire Festival of Lughnasadh. In the Celtic Coligny Calendar, found in France and dating from Roman times, this time of year at what is now called Lammastide, was called "Horse Time".

It is unbelievable that the importance of this site to Celtic history and legend was not acknowledged by The Department, since it is part of a group of very ancient sites in County Meath which includes Passage Mounds, Stone Circles, Burial Grounds and Cairns at Loughcrew, Dowth, Knowth, Carnbane and Newgrange. This unfortunate demolition just goes to show what can happen to important and priceless items of heritage when officialdom does not seem to care what happens to them. In an instant, important sites and artifacts thousands of years old can be destroyed for ever.

In Ireland, more of the ancient Celtic forts, homesteads, standing stones, stone circles and other places of worship were preserved better, in greater numbers and for a longer time than in the rest of Europe; because the Irish had a respect for them and for centuries would not disturb what they thought to be the "dwellings of The Sidhe" - the Fairy Folk of the Mounds. The small amount of industrialisation and the absence of mechanised warfare in Ireland also helped to preserve the Island's historical sites. Nowadays, with the culture of profit in the ascendancy to the detriment of all else, and the appalling modern idea that the land and Planet Earth is something to be stripped and plundered rather than preserved, the unique historical heritage of the Irish Celtic Nation is under increasing threat.

Following the destruction of ancient earthworks at Telltown, a group of concerned people of varying faiths from the four provinces of Ireland - Ulster, Connacht, Munster and Leinster - led by a Cornish Druid now resident in Ireland, went to the site to conduct a simple Earth-healing ceremony. It is significant that this peaceful and gentle form of protest at the sacrilegious destruction of a key feature of Ireland's history was led by someone from a Celtic land other than Ireland. There seemed to be very little acknowledgment of the site's importance from the Irish people living in Ireland.

People of Irish descent are now spread in their millions throughout the globe, and may not realise that many aspects of the Celtic Heritage they cherish and teach their children about are in danger of disappearing or of being destroyed. If any Celts now living throughout the world, in what Mary Robinson, United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland, called "The Diaspora", deplore the recent unnecessary destruction at Telltown and are concerned that the unique history of their Irish Homeland be preserved and protected for future generations, they can contact The Office of Public Works, (a separate Department of The Irish Government not connected to the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht), by post at the following addresses:-

Heritage Division, Office of Public Works, 51 Saint Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, County Dublin, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND; National Monuments and Historic Properties Division, General Office, Office of Public Works, Phoenix Park, Dublin 8, County Dublin, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND. The OPW Website is at http://www.failte.com/opw/index.htm and the e-mail address is reached via http://www.failte.com/opw/enqu.htm which is an enquiry form through which you can send a message.

The Chairman of the Office of Public Works is Brian Murphy, the Commissioner is Sean Benton, and the Director is Michael O'Doherty.

Your Celtic Heritage is in their hands, ask them to guard it well!

 

To view some ancient Irish sites, go back to the History Index.