On the 4th June this last Friday the M3 motorway was officially opened by the Transport Minister Noel Dempsey to the sound of pomp and praise and much patting of backs! There has been a long and hard battle fought against the construction of the motorway through County Meath, which reduces the time to travel between County Cavan and Dublin. The road was of course constructed below the Hill of Tara, through the Skryne valley, forever blighting a very sacred space of Ireland’s past history. Many, many people protested against what was happening, writers, environmentalists, ordinary Irish people, even UNESCO deplored it, but ‘Celtic Tiger’ Ireland at the time had its tail swishing violently and went ahead, oblivious to the fact that economies also go down. So here is a personal version of what happened on the day by Carmel Diviney, one of the leaders (and there are many more) who worked so hard in the background of protest against the desecration of prehistoric sites.
Let us raise a glass to all those that would protest and make visible their anger, and for their dedication to a cause that although lost was in the end a triumph of human spirit battling the odds; the following is a personal viewpoint of the day of the opening of this motorway…
The last few days have been very calm, serene even, but what little sleep I got last night I awoke from crying. I guess it had to come out somewhere. This morning that old familiar rush of adrenaline replaced any sadness felt as we gathered at the Car Park with a Garda helicopter circling overhead. They circled Rath Lugh too. I don’t know what they expected but we heard through the reliable grapevine that the Politicians were nervous.
From there we went on up to the Athboy Roundabout where about 20 of us stood with banners and costume ( I was relishing my role as the Grim Reaper and had a lovely coffin with FF and Greens emblazoned on it LOL .On a day such as this we had to have some craic and we surely did have that. We had a mandolin, fiddle and tin whistle player to entertain us too, God bless the Musicians . We stayed there for over two hours-during the whole time that the opening ceremony was held further on up the road – we did’nt have a chance to get any nearer to it as the cars that passed us on their way all had special passes and were inspected by Gardaí. The whole operation must have cost a pretty penny. While there, we were interviewed by several film crews and newspapers. I wonder how much of it will make it to mainstream media – but sure what of it.
Eventually we headed up to the car park at the Hill and held another protest there. Vincent Salafia of Tarawatch did a good interview with TV3 and while I hope that sound bite made it to air we were told that there was no guarantee our background visuals, which included the Grim Reaper complete with scythe, a coffin (as already mentioned) and a gallows with Noel Dempsey’s head hanging from it, would make it to air. Go figure. The group outside the Athboy Hotel stayed longer in their positions to welcome in the workers and whoever else was invited to the free nosh up there and they got interviewed by even more press.
Maybe we had more coverage today than any other day in this long saga, I don’t know. We all met up again after lunch and moved to our next positions, Rath Lugh, Collierstown and Lismullin. More banners were erected, songs were sung, we made the most of it. Cars passing by beeped in support which perplexed me as I wondered what the hell were they doing on the goddamned Motorway!?! Others gave us the fingers, at least I could understand them!
Some still remain now at Lismullin Bridge but most of us finished our day by steeping our feet in the Gabhra at late evening. It was a lovely end to the day. I am so glad we did that. The communal gathering had a very healing effect as we let the intense heat of the day and all its emotions be washed away in her cooling Sacred waters. Bless each and every one who turned up today in those soaring temperatures and those that couldnt make it but had us and Tara in their thoughts.
Thank you. Go raibh míle maith agaibh. Carmel Diviney