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Photographer's Note

Pictured here is another scene from the top of the Hill of Tara, in County Meath.

Pictured to the right of the scene are two raggedy trees, also known as raggy trees. These are invariably hawthorn trees from which people hang rags, strips of clothing, jewels, medals and all kinds of emblems in the hope of a wish to come to true or an illness to fade.

Among some members of Irish society it is believed that if a rag is hung from a raggedy tree with a good wish for a person who is ill, as the rag rots so the illness will pass and the person will restore to good health. Similarly, some hang personal artifacts from the branches in the hope that some dream or hope will come to them or a loved one. This tradition is particularly strong in members of Irelands travelling community, but not reservedly so.

The small mound on which they grow is called Teach Miodhchuarta, or the Banqueting Hall. This is a long linear earthwork running north to south which dates back to the Iron age. It is thought by some that this was the ceremonial entrance to the ancient place which stood here and that it is where the roads to Tara met. Others believe it to be the remains of the banqueting hall where the legendary high king feasted hence its name today, but this is unlikely.

In this scene, the Lia Fail stone which I uploaded a couple of days ago is positioned off screen to the left of this scene, up the slight rise of the hill. The raggedy trees sit north west of that location.

I spent a while looking at the various items that are tied to the trees, and if you look closely at the picture you will see that there are thousands. Among them were items of clothing, jewelry, combs and hair bands, holiday mementoes and even hospital ID wrist bands. The items were for people of all ages, from small woolly hats and mittens for new born babies to the caps of old men and silk scarves. They were in various stages of decay, some there a long time and some only brand new. Minutes before I took this picture there were a group of people adding something of their own.

It is staggering to think that every one of these items has been placed here in the hope that somebody loved will find some dream or better health.
There is something humbling about standing in the presence of the physical representation of the dreams of thousands of people.

The one thing that strikes me about the raggedy trees in Ireland is that as much as the country has moved with the times and become a hub for IT and finance, everyone has a smart phone and tablet and fiber optic broadband is a must - some traditions die hard. It is not hard to understand why when you are at Tara, as the place does feel very ancient. Added to that the fact that this is not really a popular place with tourists, and it does feel quite desolate too. If the ancient ways are to survive anywhere, this is as good a place as any.

Thanks for looking!

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Additional Photos by Noel Byrne (Noel_Byrne) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2219 W: 8 N: 4925] (17203)
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