Tlachtga - Hill of Ward
Tlachtga where the Great Fire Festival at Samhain was celebrated.
Tlachtga (Hill of Ward) near Athboy, Co Meath is 12 miles from the Hill of Tara
The earthworks which are about 150 metres in diameter are most impressive
from the air. Tlachtga dates from approximately 200 AD and was the location of the Great Fire Festival begun
on the eve of Samhain (eve of the 1st November).
The festival probably lasted for least several days and centred on the god Lugh.
The site takes it name from Tlachtga the daughter of the Druid Mug Ruith who died there giving birth to triplets.
Tlachtga is clearly visible from Tara and the fire lit on the eve of Samhain was a prelude to the Samhain Festival at Tara.
With the coming of Christianity the festival was incorporated into the
Christian calendar as a time of remembrance for the holy souls, so the
Samhain festival of the ancestors retained its relevance. The customs of
Samhain that didn't fit into Christianity survived as Halloween
Irish immigrants carried the Halloween tradition to North America in the 19th century.
The Festival of Samhain was the great festival of the dead. It also marked
the beginning of the Celtic New Year. The Winter fires were lighted when
the sun went down on the eve of Samhain.
The earthworks seen on the Hill of Ward today represent the last phase of
development about 2000 years ago. The remains of an older barrow burial
have been incorporated in the earthworks. It is likely that the hill
was the centre of ritual activity long before the Celtic period.
is clearly visible from Tlachtga,
the cairns at Loughcrew are about 5000 years old. At Cairn L the Samhain
sunrise illuminates a standing stone in the chamber of the cairn.
is also clearly visible from Tlachtga and Tara
is also associated with the celebration of Samhain. The Stone Age Mound
of the Hostages is also aligned with the Samhain sun rise. The following
image was photographed by Martin Dier
shows the sunbeam illuminating the back of the chamber. The illumination is
impaired by the modern gate at the entrance of the passage.
Tlachtga: Celtic Fire Festival
Samhain Sunrise illuminates the back of the Mound of the Hostages -
Hill of Tara.
Tlachtga was the centre of the Great Fire Festival that signalled the onset of
winter. The rituals and ceremonies carried out here by the pre-Christian Irish,
offered assurances to the people that the powers of darkness would be overcome,
and the powers of light and life would, once again, be in the ascendancy. This
was the place where the Celtic sungod was celebrated at the year's end.
Boyne Valley Private Day Tours
Pick up and return to your accommodation or cruise ship. Suggested day tour:
Newgrange World Heritage site, 10th century High Crosses at Monasterboice,
Hill of Tara the seat of the High Kings of Ireland and the Hill of Slane where St. Patrick let a Paschal fire in 433