But there has been nothing yet about the occult significance of what is unfolding at Tara. In the past fortnight, more than half a dozen large nests of wasps have been encountered in the valley.

In Celtic lore, the wasp is associated with the anger of Mother Earth at man’s wrongdoing. Its unexpected appearance in a given location was believed to portend disaster or ill fortune for anyone messing around with fairy forts or fairy rings.

In African culture, the wasp embodies powers of sublimation and transmutation. It was, and still is in many parts of the continent, believed to make its appearance to “transform the profane into the sacred”.

But what can a stupid old insect do? The answer is that this depends very much on context. Remember what became of Lord Carnarvon in 1922 when he helped open Tutankhamun in Egypt? The age-old curse of the pharaohs caught up with him!.

A few months after his well-publicised intrusion into forbidden territory, he cut an infected mosquito bite on his face while shaving. He became violently ill. The moment he died in a Cairo hospital, all the lights in the city went out. And at the precise moment of death, his dog back in England emitted an ear-splitting howl and also dropped dead.

The curse of the pharaohs claimed quite a few other victims, too. Which brings me back to Tara. An expert on folklore and mythology warned recently that the “curse of the fairies” might be invoked by the building of the M3 in the Tara Valley. He may have been only half serious, but if I were a road builder, or one of those politicians behind the project, I’d be getting quite edgy.

John Fitzgerald
Lower Coyne St
Co Kilkenny