Tara Hill : A Court Of Justice?

The One Irish Tradition That Connects All Irish Traditions

Where possible, I like to guide tours around some of the “components” of the Tara Hill, Co. Meath, complex of sites. My theme during this tour is always on the balance of justice. I share what I understand and feel was the ancient process of creating balance and justice starting with families and working through tribes, clans, regional kings and through to the high king of Ireland.

It appears that the ancient process of justice was based on beliefs and faiths that we enter the “otherworld” continuing how we left this world. The ancients believed that we sustain the family connections we have here when we enter the next world so if a husband and wife fight here, their fights will continue in the next world. Their resolve for this was to form as many peaceful solutions and treaties her on this earth, ready for the journey to the next “world”.

Samhain, just past, was and still is an important ritual for enacting the passage between worlds. There was once a ritual where frictions, unsolved disputes, debts, and differences created through the previous 12 months were smoothed through discussion, compromise and treaty. It seems these folks were aware this needed to be done in stages through a pecking order of stewardship.

head of the family holding court for the family

head of the tribe doing the same with family heads

head of the clan doing this with tribal leaders

clan leaders doing this regional kings

regional kings finally creating a unity in the court of the high king.

With the whole country finally united and healed with a flow of compromise, treaty and balance it was ready to flow into the birth of the new world of the new year, after Samhain.

Well, that’s the theory. I am sure the ancient people worked so hard to flow with this in respect to their trinity of father (the creator of the universe), son (all of mankind on earth and its stewardship), and holy spirit, guardian or ghost (the goddess and female spirit that gives birth to new life each year or after we sow the seeds).

When people come to Ireland to share its traditions this is the one tradition that all traditions are founded on.

Is Justice Now Owned?

This morning Claire and I were discussing the constant balancing that countries and ourselves engage in with socialism on one side and capitalism on the other. It did not take long for our discussion to enter into this balance being applied to a nation’s health and medical services. This is a common debate between many people.

After Claire left I starting thinking that I have never heard this “socialism vs capitalism” discussion and debate apply itself to our access and rights for justice through our legal systems. In most countries very few of us can afford the services of law courts to air differences and allow a judge to mediate and pass judgment on a fair compromise between the two parties. This is true for both civil and criminal courts.

It does seem that the ancient processes of justice and judgment that were once guided by a sense of “higher” court and judgment have been replaced by a split between who can afford justice and who cannot.

Being Our  Own Cross Of Justice    

Through tours and through writings I tend to approach many things like a tree. Usually, at the point where any tree meets the surface of the land it is central and very centred. It is the meeting point of all branches and all roots. No matter how many branches break off and new branches grow, no matter how many new roots grow and break off the trunk of the tree remains almost the same where it meets the surface of the soil.

I say almost because a tree’s circumference will always enlarge or shrink but circumference is something with no beginning or end while branches and roots do have ends.

I tend to feel that each moment of our days is like the trunk of a tree at the surface point of the earth. Our roots, our past, our ancestry all feed what we are and where we are today and our branches are our future. Both our personal roots and branches are endlessly snapping off while new shoots and roots are being born or re-grown. Meanwhile our trunk circumference on physical, mental and spiritual levels expand and shrink accordingly.

Those who have toured with me know that I try to explain things with images as my memory for facts is not a major talent of mine. I hope you are able to interpret that tree imagery in your own way as it does make a delightful cross image. From roots to branches we have the vertical of the cross. Where the trunk meets the earth we have our horizontal and our circumference with no beginning or end forms a wonderful imagery of the Celtic Cross I feel.


From when mankind were hunter-gatherers to our present era of being permanent residents and farmers (and more recently, shoppers), our pursuits through live have never changed. Food, water, clothing, shelter, comfort, love, faith and knowledge seem to be either our endless pursuits or wishes. Accumulation of these things creates wisdom.

Over time accumulation seems to have transfered us from values and codes of equality, fairness and protection into wealth, fame, recognition, supremacy and false senses of ownership. 

Somehow “justice” also seems to have swung from a a “right for all” into a “property of a few” because through all pursuits we do not seem to instinctively add an element of justice into every pursuit …… and then we find it is taken from us as we never protected it. 

Even worse, today it always seems the lawyers win the prizes of justice rather than a sharing between the two parties coming together before a judge for a fair settlement for a crime or bad deal.

I am not going into the details here, but I feel there is a lot to be learned from the trial of Columcille, St. Columba, on Tara Hill in 563 AD. It is when the priests, druid and early Christian, cleared their presence from Tara and no longer recognized it as a true court of the trinity. Tara Hill did remain an administration centre of the High Kings for another 800 years, but as a court its functioned had changed to how courts are run today.

I believe it may well be when Justice moved from a sacred guided multi-layer system for repairing and restoring co-existence into a system that creates divisions through allowing different levels of freedom according to a person’s position, wealth and influence.

It seems that Justice has moved from being born with us to something we now have to beg and plead for. In ancient times it does appear that justice was hand in hand with accountability for our actions and that judges were our mirror for this when imbalance caused tension, difficult trading and wars.

Today justice seems to be based on what lawyers say and how much they are paid or will earn from their actions. Now that money and justice are bed-fellows justice seems to be delayed by financial negotiations or a network of pre-trial systems that just seem to be there to attract, seize and distribute more funds before the acts of trial and justice take place.

Back To Tara

Tara Hill in Co. Meath is a wonderful place to visit and I always hope that as folks journey around with us they are like the beautiful hawthorn trees around and can spread their own roots over what Tara was and use that absorbed wisdom to a sense of justice they can apply in future.

Justice through homes, neighbourhoods, and local communities can still serve better for both parties than rushing to “sue” through the now money moved courts where only the lawyers “win”

I trust some visitors to Tara will take the spirit of justice that centred at Tara back to their homes and lives 



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