I have been to Tara before but somehow was unaware that there is the most wonderful clootie tree there.
I've blogged before about a clootie tree we found in Connemara and St.Aiden's clootie well in Benevanagh but this is the most magical one yet.
Lone hawthorn trees are usually known as fairy thorns in Ireland and those which are associated with a nearby sacred spring sometimes become 'clootie trees'. The branches are adorned with rag votives as an offering to a local deity, or more often in today's Catholic Ireland to accompany a prayer.
This tree is covered in the biggest array of objects I've ever seen, I suspect mostly left by tourists who have no knowledge of the age-old pagan practice they are taking part in! There are strips of material, hair bobbles, jewellery, christmas decorations, bits of plastic, cuddly boys and empty baggies all adorning this fairy thorn.
Another practice seen on trees in Ireland and Scotland and is to wedge coins into grooves in the bark of the tree and this thorn also has holy medals tucked away in the crannies of branches. It really is a wonder to behold. Here's the 10p offering we left.
The Hill of Tara itself is a sacred place which served as the spiritual and political capital of Ireland until at least the 6th Century. It was important since neolithic times and is part of the Bru na Boinne area which encompasses the nearby 5,000 year old passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. It can be hard to distinguish the true history of Tara from the many mythological stories about it, but why should we want to ruin that romance; the truth about what went down there in the past would probably turn out to be just as mind-blowing as the folklore associated with the site.