I'm going to this reading today at Tara Hill, which is organised as part of Ireland's National Heritage Week. Paul Muldoon and Michael Longley are reading there, with music from Susan McKeown with Laoise Kelly, Steve Cooney, Aidan Brennan, with perhaps more performers on the day.
I've loved Tara Hill a long time. When I lived in Drogheda, it was in easy reach and often on a Sunday we'd go there as a family and wander over the hill, past the Mound of Hostages, and the Rath of Cormac , the Lia Fail - the stone of destiny, and we'd always finish with a digression over to the lonely Rath of Diarmaid and Grainne; me imagining the two fugitive lovers of Irish legend spending some time there, and finally go back round and cut through the Banqueting Hall to the exit gate.
Of course it sounds like there are buildings on Tara, but there aren't. What there are instead, are shapes in the ground, which have acquired names through folklore and legend glosses. There are mounds, and circles of ridges - to keep someone or something in, or possibly out. And usually on Tara there are sheep grazing. Lucky sheep to be wandering around on the hill where it is thought High Kings and courtiers might have gazed out over the plains of Meath at the distant blue and purple mountains to the North and West and South.
Today, we're going back there after an absence of about two or three years. I'm wondering what it will look like, since the-powers-that-be decided that it was a good idea to build a motorway just below it. And I know my kids will enjoy going to the place with the sheep - perhaps they might enjoy the poetry and music too. After all, "The harp that once through Tara's halls /The soul of music shed / Now hangs as mute on Tara's walls / As if that soul were fled ..."
Not today though. Not today.