Taking the tourist trail to the ancient landscape of Tara
It is a well-known phenomenon that people like to travel abroad to view ancient monuments and sites of great historical importance.
Hordes of Irish citizens have walked the Camino De Santiago, visited the great cities of Europe and trekked across Peru to gaze in awe at the Inca site of Machu Picchu.
Each year, other tourists in turn come from abroad to Ireland to visit Newgrange and the Hill of Tara. Yet, to my eternal shame, although I live some 20 minutes' drive from Tara, I had never walked around this ancient and world renowned site until a few weeks ago.
February 1 was a cold but sunny Sunday marking the beginning of spring and it was then, without thinking of Tara itself, I decided to revisit Michael Slevin's wonderful book shop that sits on the roadside, right at the hill.
It's a splendid location and many visitors to Tara also call in to browse among the great selection of books, many of which are now out of print and chat to Michael about the area's history.
Having written several books on Tara, Michael has an extensive knowledge of the locality. While sitting warming himself at his wood burning stove, he can point visitors to shelves brimming with books on Irish history and folklore as well as other subjects including hunting, fishing, biographies and material.
Hours can slip by browsing through such fascinating material. But with the sun shining brightly outside, and after a lengthy time spent reading happily, I purchased what I wanted and decided it was high time I visited the hill itself.
The name Tara is synonymous with the history of ancient Ireland and the myths and legends associated with the Tuatha de Danann, the Milesians, the High Kings, the druids and the mystical warriors of old.