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I know. At this stage it’s like a broken record; cronyism, corruption, Celtic Tiger, cronyism, corruption. You’d imagine that there’s little more that you could read about it, without your sore head splitting open. This week Taoiseach Brian Cowen finally admitted what has been obvious to the rest of us for a very long time – that we’ll never again see the €22 billion that is being used to prop up Anglo Irish, the former ‘developers bank‘. What next,  Mr. Inevitability? Only, (don’t they bother with ‘spin’ any more?) a new property tax, in which each ordinary homeowner both pays the charge and pays for their own assessment – it might raise a couple of billion against our budget deficit. Thank you very much politicians, bankers and former developers, assorted incubi and succubi, hope you enjoyed your stay and don’t worry, we’ll pick up the tab (and live with the wreck).

If you want to get, or if you want to get more of, an idea of what went on in just one Irish County, the site of the Tara ‘job’; Meath – then Frank McDonald’s feature in Tuesday’s Irish Times will present all the symphonic score for you. It’s an absolutely riveting, horrific read. It’s like Mahler. Read it here;

In the meantime, here’s an aperitif;

“…It was the board’s approval for the route proposed by the National Roads Authority that gave Dick Roche cover for declining to intervene as minister for the environment in 2005. Declaring that there was “no way” he could revisit the board’s decision, he issued the licences for archaeological excavations, thus allowing the M3 to proceed.

…Roche’s decision – made just before the Fianna Fail-Green Party coalition took office in June 2007 – effectively let his successor, John Gormley, off the hook. By that stage, despite all the protests and even clashes between activists and security personnel hired by the road builders, construction of the M3 was well under way; the game was up.

…Meath on Track campaigned for a reopening of the railway line to Navan but this only developed legs when Fianna Fail had to fight a by-election there in 2005. Martin Cullen approved phase one of the project, from Clonsilla to Pace (Dunboyne), which is due to open in October

…In Trim, there were question marks over how permission came to be granted for a 68-bedroom hotel across the road from the most important Anglo-Norman fortification in Ireland – Trim Castle. The Heritage Service of the Department of the Environment had objected to it but was prevented from appealing by its political boss, Martin Cullen.

…“Facilitating development” in Meath was the priority, no matter what the context. That explains why councillors were quite willing to rezone land for housing in known flood plain areas in Dunboyne and Bettystown. Many new homeowners in Dunboyne feared their houses would be unsaleable after severe flooding there in November 2002.

…The councillors proceeded with rezonings despite being warned of “grave repercussions” by county manager Tom Dowling. In March 2007, they adopted a new county development plan, ignoring a call from the Department of the Environment that they should “de-zone” some of the excessive amounts of land then designated for development.”

Read it.

Most of the following first appeared on The Modern Antiquarian and we have reproduced it here, with the author’s permission, as everyone agrees it is well worth as wide an exposure as possible.

Just back from Derbyshire, spent a fantastic solstice morning on Stanton Moor. Whoever it was that suggested the Birchover camp site on my ‘just bought a tent’ thread last year, thank you thank you thank you. I’ve been back many times & love it!

There were perhaps fifty tents at the Nine Ladies stone circle when we got there about ten past four AM.

We chose to watch the sunrise from Stanton Moor South as you could actually see the horizon from there. We were treated to a magnificent sunrise. A pure clear horizon, and a breathtaking thing to see. We were so lucky. I hope the rest of the UK had similar clear views. We drank champagne as we watched it rise and I played my flute.

Not many at the Nine Ladies saw the sunrise. Most of the people camping at the Nine Ladies stayed there in the wooded area. I think I could see eight or nine people on the open Moor. But there was a good vibe as people cheered as the first slither of sun rose above the hills.

I didn’t spend much time at the Nine Ladies to be honest. One stone had someone’s jumper draped on it, people camped right by the stones. To give you some idea of the scene.

We walked to the Fiddler’s stone (the outlier) and there were ‘offerings’ on top of it. Some flowers, some ‘tat’, and a slice of take-away pizza.

Now even to me, someone who doesn’t really care or get annoyed at ‘offerings’. I didn’t like that cold slice of pizza being there. It seemed a piss-take. (A pizz take?).

Anyway, after a while I got more niggled and vowed to remove it. I marched up to the stone, and there were a bunch of monged-out lads lying by it. They were camped right next to it. “What’s that bloody pizza doing there?” I asked. “It’s an offering” they laughed. And I stood there thinking “if you knock it off it might just create a scene’, and I didn’t want bad vibes on such a peace morning… so I made it clear I thought it was a pretty naff thing to do, in a joking way, and went on my way. To be fair, the lads seemed a decent bunch, they were in no way ‘Chavs’ (and I should know, I’m from Wolverhampton!) and the pizza slice will do no harm to anyone other than provide a high calorie snack for a lucky squirrel.

One girl told us how great the English Heritage people were. “They come along after us with their black bags and clear it all up the day after” she said. That’s alright then, I suppose.

A few more thoughts. Have you been to the Druid’s circle of Ullverston? I have. It’s a mess. Paint all over stones, Lager cans everywhere. Well this morning I had to clear wine bottles from Stanton Moor South. Though I doubt anyone would know it was a sacred site, it’s quite hard to find if you don’t know where to look. But anyway, it illustrates to me the importance of keeping an eye on these sites.

I think the whole issue of partying at sites is quite interesting. The last thing I’d want to see is police or ‘officials’ at a site during celebrations. I’ve been to Stonehenge on solstices and seen the antagonistic way they treat people. At the 2008 Winter solstice they were barking “don’t stand here, stand there, keep this way clear, stand in line” as if we were all football louts. Most people were ageing druids, half asleep teachers types, megolithoraks or mashed hippies, I’ve never felt less intimidated by a crowd!

What I’d like is a bit more ‘respect’ for the stones. And respect in the proper sense. Don’t camp right by them, don’t put your jumper over them and don’t ‘decorate’ them with take-away food you’ve got no more room in your belly for. I know it’s not vandalism, but it really is very, very naff,

Especially on a day that’s supposed to be important to the other people visiting these sites.


June 2010

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