Pictured here is a group of people standing around the Lia Fáil, a legendary Irish stone which was believed to let out a scream that would be heard across the country when the true king of Ireland touched it. It is positioned on the tip of the Hill of Tara in Co Meath.
The stone can be spotted in the scene as its the slightly shorter silhouette to the left that does not have a head.
The site itself dates back over 5000 years to the Neolithic period with numerous monuments and buildings from this era being excavated. Much of the area still remains unexplored, which helps add to the mystery of this place. I have on occasion come across modern pagans performing ceremonies at this place.
The hilltop that we see here in this shot is an iron age hilltop enclosure 646 feet high. It measures 1043 feet north to south and 866 feet east to west. It is enclosed by a ditch and a large external bank. This hilltop is known as the Forradh (meaning Royal Seat).
Close to this hilltop, there is also a mound known as the Mound of the Hostages. This is a Neolithic passage tomb dating back to approx. 3400 BC. It is known by its current name as hostages would often be taken by the High King of Ireland, normally family members of competing chieftains, and they would be imprisoned in this mound. The imprisonment of family like this meant respect from those who might compete for the title.
In addition to these mounds, the site is also known for several other ringforts such as the Ráith na Seanadh which has on excavation given forth Roman artifacts dating back to the 1st century, as well as Ráith Laoghaire, Rath Maeve, and Grainne's Fort.
The importance and level of usage of the Hill of Tara is something that is much discussed and debated. While it is known that the site has been used by people for over 5000 years, it is not known if it was continuously in use between the Neolithic and the 12th century.
An 11th century manuscript known as the Book of Invasions speaks of the hill as the seat of high kings from times in deepest darkest history, when Ireland was home to the mythological Fir Bolg as well as the Tuatha De Danaan, people who occupied the island before the Celts.
It is believed that the exposed elevated site could not have been a place of continuous year round occupation, and was more likely a symbolic meeting place. Even the name The High King of Ireland is somewhat romantic, as the king here at Tara himself would never have ruled the entire country. It is possible his rule extended only to the center of the country, or at most the northern half. A true high kingship of all Ireland was not properly established until the rule of Máel Sechnaill mac Máele Ruanaid in the 9th century.
Whatever the actual permanent ruling or living conditions here, it is obvious that this place has always had significant royal and religious functions, but the religious side has faded since St Patrick brought Christianity to the country.
The mound of the hostages has a short passage which is aligned with sunrise on the solar cross-quarter-days, which fall at the midpoints between the solstices and equinoxes. Its light effects on these days somewhat resemble those of its far more well known neighbor at Newgrange, but unlike Newgrange whose amazing displays fall on the winter Solstice, this mound displays its Neolithic magic on the ancient Celtic festivals of Samhain and Imbolc which mark the beginning of Autumn and Spring.
Even though the importance of this place is debated, it is without doubt a place of great importance to the ancients of Ireland, and a place which would have at least born witness to ceremony and celebration by the most powerful people in the country. It is somewhat strange to walk up and touch the same Lia Fáil stone today as those ancient people would have done, just as the people in this shot are doing here.
Thanks for looking.
Critiques | Translate
tyro (20958) 2014-02-16 10:37
Crikey, you've done it again - shot directly into the sun and yet not a hint of lens dlare anywhere in this picture! How on Earth do you do it?
An interesting note and clearly you yourself didn't touch that big stone as I'm sure we would have heard its scream here across the Irish Sea.
A lovely picture with a lovely sky and with the Lia Fáil clearly silhoutted, with the little group of people, against it. Impressive light and colours and remarkably good light management considering the huge contrasts here.
batalay (35871) 2014-02-16 10:38
From conception to completion, this is an excellent photo. The composition with the silhouettes of the small group of individuals standing at the crest of the hill is genuinely eye catching.
worldcitizen (7209) 2014-02-16 11:15
This photo has a special feeling to it; the vastness of the sky, and the large burst of sun are beautiful. The tiny silhouettes seem even smaller with so much sky above them. I'm glad you pointed out which one was actually the stone; I didn't notice at first that one of the silhouettes didn't have a head. :-) The clouds seems mystical - maybe it's the ancient setting. Very nice! :-)
photographer_sg (4410) 2014-02-16 11:54
great composition with the atmosphere bordering on the surrealistic with the people silhouetted against the vast sky with the glowing sun. fantastic handling of light. Thanks for sharing and have a great new week ahead.
Silvio1953 (125685) 2014-02-16 12:44
Ciao Noel, fascinating composition with loverly silhouettes, superb sky, wonderful warm colors and splendid light, very well done my friend, ciao Silvio
carlo62 (35300) 2014-02-16 13:40
un altro pezzo di Irlanda che non conoscevo, un'altra leggenda e un'altra storia da leggere e ricordare.
Ma anche un'altra fotografia del tuo paese, un'immagine che si aggiunge alla tua ampia galleria di ricercate curiosità.
Buon inizio settimana
jcpix (13716) 2014-02-16 18:36
Fantastic note to go along with this minimal scene, I've now extracted so much more about this visual than I would have otherwise. Granted, I'm an ocean and country away...but I've been screaming for years, apparently not heard and granted the throne!? :) Maybe it's the American accent??
The obvious contre jour light is one of your trademarks, successful once again...but the palpable atmosphere I perceive from this imagery is outstanding! The first thing that flashed in my mind when I saw this in your gallery was a scene from Saving Private Ryan, where the distant silhouetted servicemen were walking across a field...this has that same type of cinematic quality in a still shot, with the big sky and stripped down contrast.
O.K., here comes more of my juvenile humor, but thinking of your last comment about the ball displacers, the Lia Fáil pictured here sure makes a sensible association with the, shall we say, "region?" Double entendre, check! :) Aaaand I'm done. Enjoy the new week. Take it easy.
Cheers from sunnyville,
Have you sprouted webbed feet yet? Those storms have sounded merciless, one after another...wish we had some here in Phoenix.
holmertz (42815) 2014-02-17 3:14
A very expressive photo accompanied by a fascinating story in the note. There are traces of a quite strong PP but it is nevertheless an impressive composition which really sets my imagination going.
snunney (86484) 2014-02-17 3:33
A moody and mysterious image. Very composed and with excellent control over the backlighting. The clouds contribute much to the overall success in my opinion.
Subhogen (4065) 2014-02-17 4:12
I like the way the photo expresses a lot with out revealing very little. It is atmospheric and mysterious just like the interesting legend attached to it. I do not miss the details at all here, the silhouettes against the backdrop of the beautiful sky says it all. Once against a superb against the light photo accompanied by a well written note. Great job done, thanks for sharing.
Romano46 (18466) 2014-02-17 8:24
ti stai specializzando in controluce ed in questo noto la bellezza della composizione anche se l'impatto del sole potrebbe sembrare un po' eccessivo e troppo invasivo.
Molto belli - al contrario - i colori e le sfumature che assumono il cielo e le nuvole, probabilmnente frutto anche di una buona postproduzione.
Ciao e buona serata
imageme (1790) 2014-02-17 15:00
Hi Noel, Interesting note comes with this image. The vast sky dominates almost the whole frame is great for viewing. The eye catching silhouettes of this individuals add to the mystery. The bright light in the sky add to the scientific atmosphere. Wonderful composed image. Best regards
nikkitta (15334) 2014-02-17 15:38
Hola Noel, shoting at the sun and obtaining such a creative capture of contrasts and dark silhouettes quite interested on the stone
Like the coomposition with the low horizon and the always beautiful sky
Impresive ambience, well done
rigoletto (34269) 2014-02-17 16:47
seeing the star in the sky and your title, i was expecting to read about some "three wise kings of the east" story but "the true king and the yelling stone" story is also nice. i would just add, be careful about the auras around the silhouettes.
delpeoples (53665) 2014-02-17 22:24
Hehehe I'm sl glad you explained that the headless guy in the group was a standing stone. I thought Cousin It from the Addams Family had escaped and was frolicking around Ireland. I love your title and wonder whether you've tried your luck at putting your hands on this magic stone. It's legend is intriguing, reminiscent of King Arthur in England and the Stone of Destiny in Scotland. The sky is beautiful, the way you've used the Rule of Thirds to compose the shot is also very eye catching and the position of the men and the Stone on the right of the frame counterbalance the sun on the other side very nicely.
PS: Brownie points for no wheat juice on a school night. I have been known to have a grape juice or 3 on the odd school night, but for medicinal purposes only
danos (88303) 2014-02-18 6:08
nice the view of the plack silhouttes of the group of people standing near the Lia Fáil during the sunset.I like the beautiful event as the excellent presentation with the group of people to are placed perfect in the frame.Well done.
photoray (12797) 2014-02-18 8:03
Intriguing horizon view of Lia Fail, mystic in the dark along with its Neolithic history, and perhaps some reality to back the legends.
But then "I am turned on by rocks" and history.
Thanks for sharing,
Sonata11 (33298) 2014-02-19 11:56
Hello Noel, wonderful captured this scene of silhouette people in the sun rays and the beautiful sky. I like it a lot. Very beautiful picture and wonderful information note. Tfs and have a wonderful day.
Best regards, Barbara
Apurba20 (984) 2014-02-20 0:07
Magnificent capture. The silhouettes are great.
Can't get enough of the sky.
berek (40511) 2014-02-20 3:46
direct sunlight oncoming very effective. been different and successful photographs. congratulations.
macjake (57888) 2014-02-20 20:12
so what happens when I touch the stone!? haha
and here you are again shooting into the sun, you're going to go blind my friend! :)
so is that rain coming down on the right? looks like it but i'm not sure.
and for obvious reasons the people and their silhouettes really work well as a focal point. It makes us wonder what they're looking at, and the note provides all the rest.
a classic Noel Post!
krzychu30 (15510) 2014-02-21 10:39
this scene has magnificent mood and these silhouettes it takes on a special,kind of mysterious character.It´s quite difficult to explain,but it has definitely that "something" that makes some of the pictures unforgettable.
Excellent work my friend!
Wish You a nice weekend
mirosu (15066) 2014-02-21 23:18
Excellent historical informative note, nice image. Excellent exposing for the sky has nicely captured the sky colors and clouds patterns and made a good silhouette of the stone and people.
Very well done
Wish you a very nice weekend.
Fis2 (87403) 2014-02-22 10:22
Your photo is interesting,
I like POV and composition.
Difficult light, good effect.
Have a nice evening.
omid266 (5888) 2014-02-23 19:49
Dear friend , Noel,
This is one another excellent omage in your gallery,
Useful and important document from ancient periods,
very nice captured with nice text and these people
who like History,
Thank you for sharing this Heritage ,
Best Wishes from I.R.Iran,
COSTANTINO (57295) 2014-02-27 13:00
amazing shot with the sunrays like a big star
the human fugures add life
its an artistic beautiful shot
with useful notes
a lovely picture with a lovely sky
ourania (33535) 2014-02-28 8:20
this picture is striking for its simplicity and suggestion. I like very much your distant point of view, the tiny but captivating focal point of the silhouettes, the colours and random patterns that seem to be flying in the sky. The bright sun (that looks like a hole in the sky, as I mentioned before:) is becoming a recurring pattern in your photos, a sort of signature that also connects your alluring subjects from different parts of Ireland. The allusion to the amazingly long history of this place is very effective, permanent and transient blend in such an evocative way. Congratulations and thank you!
All the best, have a lovely weekend,
fabbs99 (16783) 2014-02-28 21:25
Excellent silhouette shot.Great clarity and sharpness.Very well done. TFS.
- Copyright: Noel Byrne (Noel_Byrne) (25748)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2009-12-27
- Categories: Nature, Ceremony, Ruins, Decisive Moment
- Camera: Canon EOS 60D
- Exposure: f/16, 1/400 seconds
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Theme(s): Celtic Standing Stones, Dolmens, Ruins [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2014-02-16 9:50