At the Beltany Circle conference at Raphoe, Co. Donegal, this coming weekend, October 5th, 6th and 7th, Dr Brian Lacey, an archaeologist and head of the “Discovery Programme”, will present his case for suggesting why Donegal Men were the first high kings of Ireland.
The Discovery Programme, of Ireland, is an archaeological research institution dedicated to investigating Ireland's past from earliest times and presenting the results to as wide an audience as possible.
Dr Lacey explains, "From 500 to 1,000 AD the Kings of Tara are said to have belonged to the Ui Neill Dynasty".
"However there is strong evidence to suggest that the first two or perhaps three kings of Ireland actually came from Donegal, from the Cenel Conaill. The traditional belief that the northern branch of the Ui Neill Dynasty ruled from Tara was merely a propagandistic construction of the eighth century".
The writings of monastic scribes, based on the aural tradition of bards, indicates a string of high kings from the days of the Firbolgs. However, it seems that the Tuatha De Dannan’s arrival introduced a culture of courts, law, treaties, trade and currency, all things that we associated with royalty and government today. The word Donegal is said to have come from a phrase meaning “land of the Dan” so I wonder if Dr Lacey’s discoveries are linked to this.
Perhaps the current, more topical and most interesting part of Dr Lacey’s presentation will be his linking of the Cenel Conaill to Tara Hill.
This will lead into the the keynote speaker and presentation, Conor Newman of NUI Galway who will present, "Tara, an examination of an exceptional landscape"
According to Dr Newman: "Tara is greater than the sum of its parts in every respect and the monuments that define Tara extend across the Hill and into the surrounding landscape. This was the premier cult centre of prehistoric Ireland and later the seat of its High Kings. It's a landscape rich in monuments, mythology, place names and history. These are footprints of the past and have given Tara its iconic status in Irish history and culture."
Dr Newman will also address the issue of the how the M3 proposed motorway will impact on this landscape.
The entire conference, with the keynote presentations on Saturday, October 7th, is called “From Croaghan to Tara, Uncovering Ancient Tirconnaill’s Royal Legacy”.
You can phone the number on the web site booking form and reserve your ticket to pay on arrival.