Modern Motorway Changes Ancient Tara Landscape

At the height of the Irish economic boom, the country's insatiable hunger for construction, highways, and speed collided head-on with its ancient history when the government expanded the M3 motorway through the middle of the historic Tara Valley. The €1-billion road-building project resulted in passionate protests and extensive legal cases.

From the beginning the project was controversial. In 2007, Ireland's minister for transportation dug a ceremonial shovel of earth at a groundbreaking event, but within weeks, a previously undiscovered ancient archaeological site was found directly in the road's planned path. Many thought that this would stop the government's plans. But it turned out that the government had already amended the National Monuments Act to allow for the demolition of national monuments.

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The Tara valley is riddled with ceremonial sites virtually as old as the land itself. Most have yet to be explored by scientists. Archaeologists believe one of them -- known as the Mound of the Hostages -- dates from 3,000 B.C., making it as old as the pyramids.

It is now alleged that the Irish government has also drawn up plans to expand the N2 highway to within 500 meters of the ancient Newgrange complex. So the protests continue.

In 2010, the Hill of Tara was nominated to UNESCO to be a World Heritage Site, and listed as one of the 100 most endangered sites by the World Monuments Fund.

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You can learn the latest on the battle between progress and history around Dublin by reading Irish newspapers or visiting www.savetara.com.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.