Two years ago I featured a report on the act of vandalism carried out against the Lia Fáil, the ancient granite monument on Teamahir na Rí that symbolises Ireland’s sovereignty in our native traditions. During that attack one or more individuals smashed the ancient standing stone with a sledgehammer, some of the broken pieces being removed from the scene of the crime. Despite a significant Garda investigation the culprits were never found. Now the monument has been desecrated again with tins of red and green paint poured over its surface, almost certainly by more than one person. From the Journal:
“A FEATURE ON the world famous Hill of Tara was badly vandalised last night.
During the incident, two tins of thick gloss paint were poured over the Lia Fáil.
The Lia Fáil (Stone of Destiny) is believed to have played an important part in Kingship rituals.
When the rightful king placed his foot on the stone it is said to have called out his name, declaring him High King of Ireland. It was said to have originally been positioned next to the Mound of the Hostages, the Neolithic passage tomb at Tara, and was moved to its current position on top of the Forradh in 1824 in commemoration of the 1798 Rebellion.
Sometime between 5pm yesterday evening and 10am this morning, someone accessed the site carrying two tins of thick gloss paint (one red and one green). They seemingly ignored the rest of the monuments on the hill and went straight for the Lia Fáil, emptying first the red, then the thick green paint over the stone pillar.
I condemn in the strongest terms the damage that has been caused to one of our most iconic ancient monuments. This act of mindless vandalism, on one of our premier archaeological sites, is truly shameful.
This same stone pillar was vandalised two years ago. During that 2012 attack, someone struck it a number of times with a hammer. It is still unclear whether the two cases are related.
Our heritage sites are incredibly strong economic, educational and spiritual assets. The Hill of Tara itself was described by William Butler Yeats, George Moore and Douglas Hyde as ‘probably the most consecrated spot in Ireland’, and today it attracts large numbers of visitors from all over the world.
It remains as one of the most instantly recognisable and significant archaeological landscapes in Ireland.
The Lia Fáil will need to be thoroughly assessed in order to develop the safest plan for removing the paint and restoring the stone without damaging it any further.
If anyone was on the Hill of Tara or in the general area, between 5pm yesterday evening and 10am this morning and if you saw anything out of the ordinary or suspicious please do get in touch with Navan Garda Station on 046-9079930.”
“Dr Jonathan Foyle, of the World Monuments Fund, has referred to Tara as “the equivalent of Stonehenge and Westminster Abbey all rolled into one”.
The desecration of the sacred granite stone has sparked outrage, with Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan denouncing the vandals as shameful.
“I condemn in the strongest terms the damage that has been caused to one of our most iconic ancient monuments,” he said.
“This act of mindless vandalism, on one of our premier archaeological sites, is truly shameful.”
Mr Deenihan said the ancient monuments on the Hill of Tara are cherished not just in Ireland but internationally.
“I call for anyone with any information about who may have been responsible to inform the Gardai,” he said.”
Someone somewhere knows who did this. In their mindset these criminals are no different from the Taliban vandals who destroyed the millennia-old Buddhist monuments of Afghanistan or the militant bands who wrought destruction to the ancient libraries of Timbuktu. They are barbarians and they must be stopped before they carry out a far greater act of desecration.