More academics oppose Goverment over Tara

Over three hundred academics have now petitioned the Government to reverse the decision to route the M3 motorway through the Tara/Skryne Valley. They include a large number of prominent academics from Britain, the United States and other foreign countries.


They have sent a letter to the Goverment questioning the routing of a motorway through "the premier landscape within Ireland since the Neolithic period". Since the letter was first published in Village with over 100 names on 2 April, the number of signatories has trebled.

Joe Fenwick, of the Department of Archeology in the University of Galway, said that "the snowball effect of the letter [in the academic world] has been quite remarkable. If you were to show the list of signatories to any academic they would probably recognise many of the names on it.

"The signatories think that the state-sponsored destruction of Ireland's most valuable historical site is absolutely appalling. People who understand the significance of Tara were horrified to hear about [the proposed route]. It would seem impossible for the government to ignore such respected figures."

Dr Stephen Driscoll, senior archeology lecturer at the University of Glasgow, said that the site "is one of the most iconic of the royal centres in Western Europe.

"The proximity of a modern structure [the M3] would be detrimental to the site, particularly for visitors. The surrounding area is very important in terms of the concept of Tara that has existed for milllenia. It should not be messed with lightly."

Thomas Charles-Edwards, Jesus Professor of Celtic in the University of Oxford, said that "to maintain the route when it has been pointed out that Tara is considerably more than the Hill looks like either crude stubbornness or a determination to subordinate cultural to economic considerations.

"It is not in the long-term interests of any European country to downgrade the principal monuments of its history."

The letter states that "anthropological, archaeological, historical and literary evidence proves that Tara is a site of special significance and of international importance from early history to the present."

It questions whether Ireland, as one of the richest countries in Europe, should allow the proposed M3 route to go ahead rather than subjecting the site "to proper landscape management that would change it into an economic asset – as has been done with the comparable landscape of the Boyne Valley".

john byrne

Professor Martin Biddle F.B.A., Medieval Archaeology, Hertford College, Oxford, England

Dr Grigory Bondarenko, Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

Dr Jacqueline Borsje, Celtic Studies Research Institute for History and Culture, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands

Professor Richard Bradley FBA, Dept of Archaeology, University of Reading, England

Professor Thomas Charles-Edwards, Jesus Professor of Celtic Language and Literature, University of Oxford, England

Professor Barry Cunliffe, Professor of European Archaeology, University of Oxford, Institute of Archaeology, England

Professor Wendy Davies, FBA, University College London, England

Dr Nancy Edwards, Dept of History and Welsh, University of Wales, Bangor, Wales

Dr Thomas Finan, Director of The Center for International Education, Webster University, St Louis, Missouri, USA

Professor Roy Foster, Carroll Professor of Irish History, Hartford College, University of Oxford

Dr Inge Genee, Celtic Studies, Dept of Modern Languages, University of Lethbridge, Canada

Professor James Graham-Campbell FBA, Institute of Archaeology, University College London

Professor Jean-Paul Guillaumet, Directeur de Recherche, CNRS, Dijon, France

Professor D. W. Harding, MA, DPhil, FRSE, Abercromby Professor of Archaeology, University of Edinburgh

Professor Michael Herren, Celtic Studies/Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto, Canada

Dr. Susan A. Johnston, Dept of Anthropology, George Washington University, Washington D.C., USA

Professor J.J. Lee, Glucksman Ireland House, New York University, New York, USA

Dr Gary Lock, Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford, England

Professor Daniel Melia, Celtic Studies, University of California, Berkeley, USA

Professor Carol Neuman de Vegvar FSA, Ohio Wesleyan University, USA

Professor Máirín Nic Dhiarmada, University of Toronto, Canada

Professor Breandán Ó Buachalla, Professor of Irish Language and Literature, Keough Institute for Irish Studies, University of Notre Dame, USA

Dr Tomás Ó Carragán, Dept of Archaeology, UCC

Dr Uaininn O'Meadhra, Swedish Church Graffitti Project, Stockholm

Associate Professor Hugh Ormsby-Lennon, Anglo-Irish Studies, Dept of English, Villanova University, Villanova, PA

Professor Charles E. Orser Jr., Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Illinois State University

Dr. Kathleen Ryan, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia

Dr John Sheehan, Senior Lecturer, Archaeology Dept, UCC

Professor Emeritus Bernard Wailes, Dept of Anthropology, University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Professor Geoffrey Wainwright MBE FSA, Chairman Wessex Archaeology

Dr Jane C. Waldbaum, President, Archaeological Institute of America, Dept of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, USA