THEY came as usual to the Hill of Tara, the former seat of the High Kings, to mark the summer solstice.
The M3 motorway could not be seen or heard from the hill, but the controversy has created negative energy at the site in Co Meath, according to a number of pagans who gathered there yesterday.
Among them were three generations of the Kelly family from Templeogue in Dublin. "I have been coming here on the solstice nearly every year for 20 years. I know some people who have been coming here for 50 years," said Eilish Kelly.
Her daughter Aoife led her own daughter, three-year-old Sophia, around the Lia Fail, or Stone of Destiny, which is the focal point for many of the ceremonies and rituals on the hill.
Aoife and Sophia danced around the stone and then Eilish sprinkled a bottle of oil and water around it.
The contents were plant based and "because it is organic the bottles change colour and when that happens we return the oil to the earth", she explained.
Both women were worried about the possible effects of the M3.
"I thought it would be noisy and there is no noise, I am delighted," said Eilish.
Aoife added: "I brought my daughter here to introduce her to something that is uniquely Irish."
Kishore Kamath travelled from New Orleans to holiday in Ireland and was impressed by the folklore and druidic traditions attached to Tara.
"I felt drawn here. I am big on history and preservation of the past that links us to the present. Anyone who is willing to give up on its past is wrong."
Planes were the only sounds interrupting the rhythmic drumming of pagan Aileen McKerr, who travelled from Tyrrellspass in Co Westmeath.
She said that "the drumbeat is earth energy so this is just raising the energy. The M3 motorway created a lot of negative energy. It was the motorway itself and the controversy around it and Tara doesn't seem as peaceful to me".
The coffee shop at the bottom of the hill was opened by Michael Maguire at 6am yesterday to provide refreshments to those who camped there to see the summer sun rise on the longest day of the year.