1Woods, James. Annals of Westmeath, Ancient and Modern, Sealy, Bryers & Walker, Dublin, 1907, p. 238.

2For a time, the interest in all things Tara gave birth to well-attended festivals and communal events. But even though the M3 has made travel to the Hill from Dublin less time consuming, the celebratory events, paradoxically, seem to have faded away in the ensuing years. Now only accessible by the Web’s “Wayback Machine” are the Tara High Kings Festival and the Tara Dawn Run. The Tara Celebrations site, however, remains online.

3The link for information about the annual Uisneach Bealtaine Fire Celebration, where tickets may be purchased, is here.

4The uisneach.com website refers to the historic assembly as the Dail Mór Uisneach.

5Binchy, D.A. "The Fair of Tailtiu and the Feast of Tara." Ériu 18 (1958): 113-38.
According to Binchy, "Needless to say, there is not a single reference in the Annals to this alleged septennial (or annual) assembly (or emporium), though such an important and numerous gathering would surely, like the Fair of Tailtiu, have from time to time provoked incidents which the chroniclers would have deemed worthy of recording."

6Schot, R. (2011). From Cult Centre to Royal Centre: Monuments, Myths and Other Revelations at Uisneach. In C. Newman, E. Bhreathnach, R. Schot (Authors), Landscapes of cult and kingship (p. 111-113). Four Courts.
Schot writes, "According to a tract on royal prohibitions and prescriptions, which, in its present form, appears to date from the eleventh century, the kings of Ireland were obliged to purchase their ‘seats’ at the assembly of Uisneach, held once every seven years."
In an earlier publication, she stated, "Possibly the earliest text to portray Uisneach as a place of assembly is a tale known as Tucait Baile Mongáin ('Mongáin's Frenzy') (Meyer 1895, 56-8). Carey (1995) suggests that the text was composed in the latter years of the seventh century." (Schot, Roseanne. “Schot, Roseanne. “Uisneach Midi a Medón Érenn: A Prehistoric ‘Cult’ Centre and ‘Royal Site’ in Co. Westmeath.” The Journal of Irish Archaeology 15 (2006): 39–71. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20650850.)

7Schot, Roseanne. “Uisneach Midi a Medón Érenn: A Prehistoric ‘Cult’ Centre and ‘Royal Site’ in Co. Westmeath.” The Journal of Irish Archaeology 15 (2006) 91. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20650850.
As examples, Schot cites: "C. Doherty, ‘Kingship in early Ireland’ (2005), and the essays in this volume by Marion Deane, ‘From sacred marriage to clientship’, Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin, ‘Death-tales of the early kings of Tara’, and Bridgette Slavin, 'Supernatural arts, the landscape and kingship'."

8Donaghy, Caroline, and Eoin Grogan. “Navel-Gazing at Uisneach, Co. Westmeath.” Archaeology Ireland 11, no. 4 (1997): 24–26. https://www.jstor.org/stable/20562378.

9Duigan, Michael V., and Lord Killanin. The Shell Guide to Ireland. London: Edbury Press, 1967, pp. 89-90.

10Schot, Cult Centre, 92.

11O'Donovan, John, Eugene O'Curry, Thomas O'Connor, and George Petrie. Letters Containing Information Relative to the Antiquities of the County of Westmeath Collected during the Progress of the Ordnance Survey, 1837,. Ed. Michael O'Flanaghan. Bray. 1927, p. 41.
To this, Roseanne Schot adds: "Surprisingly, O'Donovan failed to take notice of the circular earthen bank that surrounds the stone (although the enclosure is shown on the 1838 Ordnance Survey map)...." ( Schot, Roseanne. “Schot, Roseanne. “Uisneach Midi a Medón Érenn: A Prehistoric ‘Cult’ Centre and ‘Royal Site’ in Co. Westmeath.” The Journal of Irish Archaeology 15 (2006): 45-6. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20650850.)

12Ferguson, Samuel. "On Ancient Cemeteries at Rathcroghan and Elsewhere in Ireland (As Affecting the Question of the Site of the Cemetery at Taltin)." Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Polite Literature and Antiquities 1 (1879): 127-28.
Westropp, Thomas J. “The Ancient Forts of Ireland: Being a Contribution towards Our Knowledge of Their Types, Affinities, and Structural Features.” The Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy 31 (1896/1901): 668.
R.A.S. Macalister commented: "Except the fragment of a child's skull found in the Eastern Building, a fragment of a long bone, also of a child, found at the place marked ''bone'''in the Central Section, and the epiphysis of a femur from the Inner Ditch, these were the only human remains. This definitely proved that whatever the Enclosure may have been, it certainly was not the Cemetery of Uisneach..." (Macalister, R. A. S., and R. Lloyd Praeger. “Report on the Excavation of Uisneach.” Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature 38 (1928): 115. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25515935.)

13Macalister, R. A. S., and R. Lloyd Praeger. “Report on the Excavation of Uisneach.” Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature 38 (1928): 71, 81. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25515935.
The author also commented about the Survey Letters (p. 71) : "In fact, having regard to the almost superstitious veneration for the Survey Letters, current among a public that has never had the disillusionizing experience of comparing them with the monuments which they profess to describe, it is well to state that the description of the surface aspect of Uisneach which they contain is of very little value."

14Praeger, R. Lloyd. The Way That I Went; an Irishman in Ireland. Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, 1937. pp. 241-43.
Macalister and Praeger also excavated and published a paper on a ringfort in Togherstown townland.

15Schot, Uisneach Midi, 46-8.
In her critique of Macalister's timeline, Schot wrote: "This chronological framework was clearly fashioned to accord with the traditional 'historical' narrative promulgated by medieval pseudo-historians, and was particularly influenced by the work of Geoffrey Keating (Comyn 1902), who composed an elaborate account of the Beltaine assemblies reputedly celebrated at Uisneach in ancient times, and of the occupation of Uisneach, sometime around AD 150, by the legendary prince Tuathal Techtmar."

16Macalister, Report on the Excavation,127.

17The yet-to-be excavated Carn Lugdach may change that judgment once the site and its subterranean features are fully explored.

18Macalister, Report on the Excavation, 88.

19Schot, Uisneach Midi, 53-4.
Accord to Schot, "More significantly, he concluded, based on the layer where he found the pin, that it was deposited 'when the ditch must have been derelict and was gradually becoming effaced.' Thus he decided that the end of the first stage of occupation, when the ditches suggested a ceremonial use, and the start of the occupation of the ringfort, must have occurred in the Bronze Age."

20Schot, Uisneach Midi, 63-6.

21Schot, Uisneach Midi, 50-3.
Citing as evidence against interpreting the pits as postholes, Schot writes, "...their shape (flat-bottomed?) and the lack of evidence for a construction ramp and formal post pit would seem to argue against their having served such a purpose."

22Macalister, Report on the Excavation, 93.

23Schot, Cult Centre, 94.
Schot writes, "Uisneach’s association with fire, for example, is well known; according to dindshenchas, it is the place where Mide, the chief druid of Nemed, lit the sacred flame that ‘shed the fierceness of fire … [for seven years] over the four quarters of Erin’, while elsewhere we see the landscape shrouded in a ‘cloud of fire’ and ‘five streams of fire’ emanating from its hinterland."

24Schot, Uisneach Midi, 54.
Schot observes, "...on the basis of the large quantities of disarticulated animal bone found in the ditch and in the interior of the Penannular Enclosure,7 it would seem that Macalister and Praeger were correct in their assumption that periodic 'feasting' formed a significant component of activity carried out at the site."
In a later article, Schot wrote, "The tale Tucait Baile Mongáin (‘Mongán’s Frenzy’), for instance, describes how a great hailstorm during an assembly on the hill ‘left twelve chief streams in Ireland for ever’, and is also one of the earliest sources to emphasize the liminal status of Uisneach as a meeting point between the temporal and otherworld spheres." (Schot, Roseanne, Conor Newman, Edel Bhreathnach, and Roseanne Schot. “From Cult Centre to Royal Centre: Monuments, Myths and Other Revelations at Uisneach.” In Landscapes of Cult and Kingship, 95. Four Courts, 2011.)

25Schot, Cult Centre, 108.
The author writes (p. 90), "...this ringfort was built on sacred ground, at a time when contemporary literary sources invest the hill with a potent, ritually charged symbolism. Its construction, therefore, may well have been motivated by a desire on the part of the kings of Uisneach to legitimize their rule by establishing not just an ideological link with the past, but a physical one also."
Also, on p. 99: "...it is clear that those who engaged with, and indeed occupied, Uisneach during the early medieval period were not only aware of their presence, but actively harnessed – and reworked – the significances invested in them."

26Macalister, Report on the Excavation, 96.

27Schot, Uisneach Midi, 57-8.
Schot writes, "...the structural evidence suggests that the two constituent sections of the figure-of-eight are, in fact, contemporary. Moreover, the presence of typologically similar houses, and souterrains, within their interiors, coupled with a finds assemblage dominated by early medieval objects (see below), supports a provisional classification of this monument as a conjoined ringfort."

28Macalister, Report on the Excavation, 85.

29Schot, Cult Centre, 88-9.

30Macalister, Report on the Excavation, 81.

31Schot, Cult Centre, 90.
Schot also writes (p. 50) "...the suggestion put forward here that the roadway was constructed during the medieval period can be independently supported by both topographical and excavated evidence, and yet also accords well with the evidence from the enclosures..."
Caroline Donaghy and Eoin Grogan (1997) wrote that, "A recent and related discovery is the presence of a road leading from the North to the site. This has been traced for a distance of c. 120m and is defined as a straight track c. 5.5m wide with a slightly domed profile. Although both roads run north-south and clearly extend to the edge of the site. the northern one was constructed on line slightly to the west of the southern road." (Donaghy, Caroline, and Eoin Grogan. “Navel-Gazing at Uisneach, Co. Westmeath.” Archaeology Ireland 11, no. 4 (1997): 24–26. https://www.jstor.org/stable/20562378.)

32Macalister, Report on the Excavation,101.

33Macalister, Report on the Excavation, 116.
From p. 123: "We can only assume the presence in Uisneach of a large Dog, for the osteological differences between a large Dog and a Wolf are so slight that only complete skulls would enable us to make an accurate determination. Quite a number of people are endeavouring to find out what the ancestors of the modern Irish Wolf­dog were like. If, as I think, these wolf-like remains from Uisneach were those of a Wolf-dog, a whole skeleton of such a creature or even a skull would be an invaluable treasure to the breeders of Wolf-hounds, and to a great many other' people as well."

34Schot, Uisneach Midi, 53.

35Schot, Uisneach Midi, 63.
The author writes, "This object bears a remarkable similarity to the decorated stone balls of Scotland, which are commonly ascribed to the earlier prehistoric period. Their specific period of currency remains uncertain, however, as very few examples have been found in secure archaeological contexts, and there are indications that they may have continued in use into the first millennium AD."
Macalister described it thusly: "A spherical ball of sandstone, 2" in diameter. It was found in the North Field, close to the large stone on edge. Grooves were cut upon it, which can best be described by likening them to two circles of longitude intersecting at right angles, and two latitude rings corresponding to the Arctic and Antarctic circles of a terrestrial globe. The object has a close analogy to the remarkable balls which are prominent among the prehistoric remains of Scotland.” (Macalister, R. A. S., and R. Lloyd Praeger. “Report on the Excavation of Uisneach.” Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature 38 (1928): 177. https://www.jstor.org/stable/25515935.)

36According to Ireland's Historic Environment Viewer, with information compiled from Schot et al. 2014 and McGinley et al. 2015: "A lake was present here at the end of the last ice age, some 12,000 years ago, but it began to develop into a marsh before 8,000BC. Sometime later, possibly in the late prehistoric or early medieval period, the accumulated sediments were dug out to restore open water conditions. The existing lake, therefore, is the combined result of natural processes and human endeavour and may have been created as a ritual pond and/or as a watering hole for livestock."
The McGinley et al article also made the case for the lake to be considered as a national monument: "Lough Lugh shares many of the characteristics of a monument insofar as monuments are generally manmade; they are related to memory and place-making and are often locales of ritual activity...the conspicuous setting of Lough Lugh within the funerary and ceremonial landscape of Uisneach and its associated mythology and place-name evidence suggest that Lough Lugh was a place of cultural, and probable sacral, significance in the early medieval period, if not indeed earlier." (McGinley, Seamus, Aaron P. Potito, Karen Molloy, Roseanne Schot, Ingelise Stuijts, and David W. Beilman. “Lough Lugh, Uisneach: From Natural Lake to Archaeological Monument?” The Journal of Irish Archaeology 24 (2015): 126-7. httsps://www.jstor.org/stable/90017262.)
It is possible that excavation might one day reveal the lake's role as a ritual site where votive depositions may have been made, perhaps analagous to the King's Stables in Co. Armagh.

37Macalister, Report on the Excavation, 83.

38Schot, Cult Centre, 102-104.
The monument is also known as the Sídán. Schot writes, "The presence of a large-scale enclosure around the summit mound of Carn Lugdach suggests that the assemblies located at Uisneach in the early literature could very well have originated in the religious ceremonies that took place there in later prehistory."
Macalister noted, "We heard a story that this mound had been violated in comparatively recent times, and that a cist had been found within it; but if so, it was utterly demolished; and though we trenched through the mound, no evidence was found by us to shew that such a structure had ever existed.” (Macalister, R. A. S., and R. Lloyd Praeger. “Report on the Excavation of Uisneach.” Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature 38 (1928): 15. https://www.jstor.org/stable/25515935.)

39Schot, Cult Centre, 110.

40Macalister, Report on the Excavation, 69-70.

41Macalister, Report on the Excavation, 73.

42Schot, Cult Centre, 99-101
Schot describes the monument thusly: "...a low, sub- rectangular, partly grass-covered cairn, about 9m in length (north–south), which is delimited in places by low orthostats and appended on its western side by a court-like feature defined by two rows of upright stones.

43Macalister, Report on the Excavation, 78.
Macalister attributes the curse to the Tripartite Life of Saint Patrick (c. 9th-12th century CE). In his telling, the meaning of the curse is further clarified: “’A curse-‘ began Patrick, ‘-be on the stones of Uisneach,’ interrupted his follower Sechnall, hastily. ‘Be it so,’ said Patrick, adopting the correction. Thus a curse fell upon the stones of Uisneach, and from that out they have not been of any use even for ‘washing-stones,’ that is, for stones used to make water warm, by dropping them when heated into it.”
A different version of the curse is also related by Macalister: "...[St. Patrick] remained...at Uisneach, apparently with the intention of there establishing a church; that certain pilgrims were slain there by the son of Fechu mac Neill; and that St. Patrick cursed him, saying that none of his seed should ever succeed to the kingship, but that he should serve the descendants of his brethren."
A sign at the sites suggests that "The name of the site may derive from its use as a mass rock during penal times."

44According to Ireland's Historic Environment Viewer, "The spring formerly supplied water to Lunestown House...It is one of a number of springs and bodies of water on Uisneach which may have been imbued with ritual significance in antiquity (Schot 2011). Today, the well is surrounded by a stone pavement and enclosed within a modern wall of rectangular plan, with iron railings. Next to the well on the NW is a squat, upright stone, which may be of archaeological significance."

45Schot, Cult Centre, 99-101.
Schot noted, "O’Donovan’s remark that the stone had been remodelled to form ‘a splendid cromlech’, on which ‘the pagan Irish … offer[ed] sacrifices’, demonstrates that belief in a human element to its design endured well into the nineteenth century, and is a potent reminder that our tendency to distinguish between ‘culture’ and ‘nature’ – built and natural features of the landscape – is a relatively recent, and mainly ‘western’, departure and represents a way of viewing the world that is unlikely to have been shared by people in the past."

46Jones, Carleton. Temples of Stone: Exploring the Megalithic Tombs of Ireland, 23. Cork: The Collins Press, 2013.

47Macalister, Report on the Excavation, 70-71.

48Sheehan, Jeramiah et.al. Beneath the Shadow of Uisneach: Ballymore & Boher, Co., Westmeath: Ballymore-Boher History Project, 1996.
Although most sources date the photograph to 1926, this book suggests the rally at the Catstone was a 1927 event. The book also identifies the figure standing to the right of Éamon de Valera as Patrick McKenna (1880-1929), a Fianna Fáil Westmeath TD (member of the Irish legislature.).

49Sheehan, Beneath the Shadow, 390.
From "Reminiscences of Jack Stokes (1888-1985)." Elsewhere in the book is the suggestion that Charles Stewart Parnell also attended a political event at Uisneach. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that local lore (as recounted in the book) suggessts that on a clear day the top of Parnell's monument in Dublin may be seen from the apex of the Hill of Uisneach.

50According to Ireland's Historic Environment Viewer, the enclosure is classified as a "Barrow – pond barrow."

51Schot, Cult Centre, 101-102.
Schot also noted, "...the prominence and significance ascribed to the stone in early literary sources of varying date is testimony to its continuing importance, and the possibility that it provided a focus for kingly ritual is certainly worth considering."

52Schot, Cult Centre, 96-7.
Schot writes, "... the stone [was] called umbilicus Hibernie, the ‘navel of Ireland’, by Giraldus Cambrensis, and earlier still described as the meeting point of the five ancient provinces. This stone, which is said to have been divided into five by the points of the provinces running towards it."
And (on p. 93), "Yet, the perception of Uisneach as the centre-point of Ireland could just as well be based on an older tradition that places far greater emphasis on its role as the centre of the cosmos, an axis mundi. It is this concept of centrality that is most pervasive in the early literature, with Uisneach consistently portrayed as a place of origins and beginnings, linked to the Otherworld; as a place where druidic and other divinely inspired judgments and proclamations are made, particularly regarding the cosmological divisions of the island; as a place of assembly, with traditions of a fire-cult; and as the site of an omphalic stone, a mystical well and a sacred tree."
Macalister wrote about the stone: "The separation of Meath as an independent provincial kingdom is prehistoric in its antiquity; and no provincial divisions conceivable could at any time have met all together at [the Stone of the Divisions]...it is not surprising that in time these imaginary geometrical co-ordinates became confused with the actual provincial divisions which were familiar to everyone." (Macalister, R. A. S., and R. Lloyd Praeger. “Report on the Excavation of Uisneach.” Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature 38 (1928): 80 http://www.jstor.org/stable/25515935.)

53AncientPages.com, and Pax Romana: 200-Year-Long Period Of Stability Within The Roman Empire Ancient History Facts | Apr 19. “Eriu: Powerful Irish Goddess and Sacred Uisneach Hill Where She and God Lugh Are Buried.” Ancient Pages, February 26, 2019. https://www.ancientpages.com/2019/02/15/eriu-powerful-irish-goddess-and-sacred-uisneach-hill-where-she-and-god-lugh-are-buried/.
"At different times, each of the names of the three sister-goddesses (Banba, Fótla and Eriu) have been applied to Ireland, of which the last surviving is “Erin” and is related to Eriu, a member of the Tuatha de Danann, Ireland's original gods. Along with her two sisters, Eriu was the Irish goddess of sovereignty and her name has often been associated with soil, earth and land of abundance.

54As described on the Monumental Ireland Facebook page, "In modern day Ireland there are four provinces: Leinster, Munster, Connaught and Ulster. However, the Irish word for province is 'cúige' meaning fifth, and in ancient times there were five provinces: the fifth being the Province of Míde (Meath) meaning; middle. According to the Mythological Cycle, it was the ancient race known as the 'Fir Bolg' who divided Ireland into its provinces. The fifth province Míde, with its centre point being Uisneach, was the place where people from any of the four provinces could come to settle their disagreements as people of the same land, not of different provinces. The 'fifth province' could also refer to the world of the imagination and the magical 'otherworld'. The Ail na Míreann (Stone of the Divisions) was regarded as a gateway to this other world."

55Author's Note: While I've not yet had the pleasure of attending the Bealtaine Fire Celebration on the Hill of Uisneach, living in Nevada I've been to Black Rock City (Burning Man) nearly a dozen times. Thus I know from personal experience the importance of the many manifestations of fire during these events. Click here to see a selection of VR panoramas from the Black Rock Desert.

56Woods, Annals, 238-48.
More information about The Fate of the Children of Tuireann may be found here.