Summer Solstice, Hill of Tara, Ireland- 2004

My pilgrimage to Ireland, and the Summer Solstice Festival at the Hill of Tara seems clear in my mind still, but it was back on June 20, 2004. For this international event we joined Pagans from many nations at Tara, and even the cold misty weather couldn’t hold sway for too long. As I remember this event again this solstice, it’s time to share the events I was privileged to take part in at Tara nine years ago.

Hill of Tara (Temair)

 

The Hill of Tara (or Temair in Gaelic) is located near the River Boyne, and is an archaeological complex in County Meath, Ireland. It sits at the center of a number of ancient monuments, and according to tradition was the seat of the High King of Ireland- it has been an important site since the late Stone Age. Temair was renowned as the ‘sacred place of dwelling for the gods’, and it is said you can see half of the counties of Ireland from atop the grassy mounds of Tara.

The Hill of Tara, County Meath, Patrick Brown

Original 21 June 2004 Festival Schedule (with links added)

Summer Solstice 2004 festival list of events:

4:30am Celebration of Sunrise (facilitated by Gina McGarry)
6:00am Ceremony of Water (Yamann Brady)
9:00am Ceremony of Earth (Queen Tephi of Tara Grove)
10:00am Well Talk (Mischa)
11:00am Ceremony of Ethers (Martin Dier)
12:00pm Ceremony of Air (Michael Gorman)
2:00pm Norse Sumbell (Nichole Brunk)
2:30pm Dowsing (Adge the Druid)
3:30pm Faery Stories (Janet Farrar)
5:00pm Goddess Walk (Gina McGarry)
6:45pm Astronomy Talk (Richard Moore and Anthony Murphy)
8:00pm Harp Music (Clare Roche)
9:00pm Irish Music (Coscan)
10:00pm Ceremony of Fire (Janet Farrar, Gavin Bone and
Adge)

The actual Solstice falls on the 21st of June but as that is a Monday, the festival is being held on Sunday 20th.

Ceremony of Air

Celebration-of-Air-Tara.jpg

http://www.ianmiddletonphotography.co.uk/Ireland/ireland-tara.html

Our event at the Festival was the noon ‘Ceremony of Air’ led by OBOD Druid Michael R. Gorman. (We were part of a pilgrimage group from the Sacramento Grove of the Oak in California, USA.)

Our Grove had good luck with weather during many years of large public rituals in California, and the weather also cleared for this ritual around the Lia Fail (Stone of Destiny). We had wonderful participation, including strong and ethereal vocal chanting from a woman traveling on her own from Santa Cruz, California!

Dowsing Workshop

With the cold weather returning, the next event I went to was the Dowsing workshop with Adge the Druid (Stephen Hobbs). Adge – also known as the ‘Fluid Druid’- was great interacting with people in small groups, and many who who had been hanging back stepped up to talk with him.

Adge immigrated to Ireland from the UK, and discovered his calling as a Druid. He was a gifted carver of bog oak staves and active in the fight against a motorway that has since been built near the Tara complex.

Adge went missing about 2005 or so, and is presumed dead. I remember him fondly this solstice, and pray he has found joy in the Summerlands.

Faerie Story

Janet Farrar (a renowned Wiccan based in Ireland) told a tale of a selkie (creatures who live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land) , recited in traditional style. She held the attention of a large number of people as the weather changed again, but we didn’t care. Janet had a bad cold, but you couldn’t tell with her excellent story telling.

[text_output]Janet Farrar, Summer Sostice 2004 Ireland[/text_output]

Harp Concert

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Church_of_the_Hill_of_Tara.JPG

There was a lovely harp concert by Clare Roche in the visitor center (the ‘unused’ church onsite).

Ceremony of Fire

California flagFor the final ceremony participating groups carried banners and flags representing their countries. We had the California State flag rather than our US one- a good idea as President G.W. Bush was actually in Ireland in the time, and his war in Afghanistan was not popular. When we were all lining up, people in our group had to state loudly that ‘California didn’t vote for Bush’ to try and defuse things. Gavin Bone was good at stepping in to help (with a cheery ‘where’s that bear flag’), but the ill will being directed towards our small group was an unfortunate start to this working.

Everyone did pull together, and the ceremony started with us all following fire torches and those in the ritual singing as we walked in a procession to where Tara’s two main mounds meet. We formed a large circle, a torch was lit in the center, with each group announcing where they were from, and giving prayers.

(Our group was in colored robes; we had earlier tried to explain the negative connotation of white hooded robes with the Ku Klux Klan hate group in the US. I don’t think the locals grokked this; it’s also why I made my current robe off-white.)

Surprisingly there were many more members of the public than participating groves, covens, and the like- and they were very eager to participate. (Though, if memory serves, participants were in the circle with the public well behind them.) We were all exhausted as the event ended, but it seemed a huge success.

This was a memorable festival at a special sacred spot. The people- including the general public- were generally courteous and involved. Members of the public seemed very responsive, and I hope they connected with the overall spirit of the ceremony and this special place.

There was an undercurrent of unease about the then planned M3 toll road which was likely to be built close to all of the archeological sites at Tara (similar to building a road through the Valley of Kings in Egypt). I told the Irish government I wouldn’t go back to Ireland if the road was built, and my worst fears were realized on that front.

I heard that only one other Summer Solstice festival was held the next year (in 2005) – I am happy that our group was able to contribute a ritual to the 2004 Festival. The 2004 festival predates other events on a list of Tara celebrations, and other festivals happen all year long at Tara now. I am retired now, and don’t do much airplane travel – I felt really fortunate to be at this Summer Solstice festival all of those years ago. Blessings on all those who continue to work so hard for Paganism and the sacred sites in Ireland!


Also see photographer Ian Middleton’s blog on the Festival and his photos of the event.


Revisions April 21, 2015

About the Author

Retired from an environmental protection career in California, and letting my forested land in the Southeast heal itself, I traveled throughout North America for 4 years. As an OBOD Druid, I enjoy building connections - keeping seasonal festivals (the Wheel of the Year), honoring places and spirits, connecting with plants (using the Ogham), and visiting with other Druids.

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2 Comments

  1. I knew Adge (the Fluid Druid). He made for me a Staff from Bog-Oak with two ogham. Since he was closer to where the Bog-Oak could be found (it came from nearby Lough Beg), I asked him to carve it so that it looked like a snake was curling up it. I ended up with a Staff five foot long – jet black and I frequently oil and polish it Since Lough Beg is close to Sidhe Beg (little fairy Hill), it may have acquired similar associations to the Fae and the Tuathe De Danaan that originally lived in this area. When I recieved it I was so over-joyed that I put a full-page advert for Adge in our magazine for a year (now online from May 2014) at touchwoodmagazine.co.uk . I have not heard from Him for some time or another Gael, Sammy McSkimming of Clan dalriada – who I believe has passed on. I am sad that he (Adge) may have passed on, but like yoursel, I hope he is happy wherever he is now. FFFF Jeremy

  2. Adge went missing in 2005 and has not been heard of since. I have to think he may have passed on by now. He had a reputation for being grumpy betimes, but he was nothing but kind to me. And yes, he was a carver of great skill – I still have my wand here, too.

    Anyways – a dearly missed brother. Not forgotten!

    Beir bua,

    — Allie

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