Lia Fail Vandalized

The Lia Fail with the mound of the hostages in the background.

Sounds like souvenir hunters chipped off some pieces of the Lia Fail recently. Reminds me of the woman said to have stolen enough rocks from the “Quiet Man” cottage to build a fireplace in her house in the US. It’s a shame as well as a crime. It seems as if we enjoy quite unprecedented access to historical sites in Ireland, and actions like this will only encourage the OPW to control access, and remove what can be removed to museums.

LinkInvestigation after Hill of Tara monument vandalised – RTÉ News.

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  1. bloggingfromthebog’s avatar

    This is terrible news! I’m with you, I hope Ireland doesn’t start roping off all its historic sites due to this sort of thoughtless vandalism. I remember being in County Clare during my first visit to Ireland in 1999. I drove into The Burren looking for the Poulnabrone Dolmen and was so surprised and delighted to find this stone age treasure sitting in the middle of a farmer’s field with nothing guarding it except an open gate with a bucket sitting on the ground next to it asking for donations “For the Upkeep of the Gate”! Now it is roped off keeping viewers at a distance and there is a parking lot and landscaped walkway nearby. I’m so glad I was able to experience it before it became so controlled and I would hate to see this happen to other ancient sites all over the country. Access to these sites is what makes visiting Ireland so unique and such a deeply felt experience.

    1. Rich’s avatar

      True enough. The thing I learned about Poulnabrone last year is that it was toppled by eejits climbing on top for pictures more than once (I believe before the OPW bought the site). The new car park and landscaping may be convenient (and safer than everyone parking along the narrow road), but the only real protection it gets is an interpreter there to answer questions and try and direct people away from climbing on it. I believe some people still won’t be persuaded from doing so, but at least it’s something.

      There’s a ring-fort nearby that a local farmer seems to have built awnings and things inside, to which he charges admission. I don’t believe that site has anything to do with OPW management, and I shudder to think what damage they might be doing in order to make some money off tourists. But, I suspect it’s a very tricky dance between ensuring access is provided to sites like this, and trying to ensure damage is minimized.

      There is something wonderful about visiting some of the lesser-known and out of the way sites, isn’t there. You can actually imagine what they might have been like long ago, without car radios spoiling the silence.

    2. Nancy Brock’s avatar

      Very sad news. Recently returned from the French site of Carnac in Brittany. Most of these sites are also controlled, with parking lots and walkway. (Still wonderful experience.) Sincerely hope Eire can maintain and defend with becoming a fenced environment.

      1. Rich’s avatar

        Hi Nancy,
        I just got your postcards from Carnac. Thank you.
        I have mixed feelings about “management” of the sites. Interpretation and protection are very important, and enhance the visit more often than not, but a few key sites get the gold-standard treatment, and so many are left to rot. I understand the role of attention-getting signature sites, but that excessive focus has a cost. Most “ruins” are simply places for teenagers to get together away from parental eyes — the more remote the better. This lack of attention to “lesser” ruins teaches people they have no value next to Newgrange or wherever, and they act accordingly.

      2. Lois Farley Shuford’s avatar

        Heartbreaking. There is such a fine line between protection and access. I have always loved the fact that Ireland hasn’t had to rope off very much of it’s ancient past – but I think that as the loss of rural community life (in Ireland and in the US) accelerates, we’re due for some serious thinking about how to preserve basic respect for the past as well as civic responsibility for the present. Not an easy task.

      3. Alex Jones’s avatar

        I am sorry to hear about what happened at Tara, this monument will need CCTV at least now.

      4. Mairead’s avatar

        If its any consolation the stone that we call the Lia Fail and that these souvenirs hunters vandalised is not actually the original Lia Fail. This was removed i think a few hundred years ago and taken to Scotland.

        The idiots who think they have got away with a national treasure im afraid have already been beaten to it

        1. Rich’s avatar

          Possibly. It is said that the Stone of Scone is really the original Lia Fail, appropriated by the Scots/Scots-Irish at some point. However, there’s no absolute proof of that as far as I’ve read.

          Another possibility is that this “Lia Fail” was simply one of many standing stones around the hill. It used to stand in “front” of the Mound of the Hostages, and was moved to it’s present location as a grave marker in the mid-1800s. So, you’re right that there’s no guarantee that it’s really the true “Lia Fail” at all.

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