Cormac’s House

Crown of High Kings of Tara (Petrie)

The royal name most associated with Tara is that of King Cormac Mac Airt. Topping his mound at one time would have been an oblong building made of large posts, wattle and thatch. It bears the name Cormac’s House.

Cormac’s reign is said to have lasted some 40 years between 220 A.D. and 260 A.D. His time coincides with the legends of the great Finn Mac Cool and his warrior band the Fianna.

In the written accounts this king hovers between legend and history; between deity and humanity. His reign was termed "a golden age of plenty". One description of him drawn from oral tradition and written in a 10th century poem said, "When Cormac was in Tara, a kingly equal of his was not to be found in all the world."

Cormac is credited with composing the ancient Brehan Laws of Ireland. He is also said to have established the first water-driven mill in Ireland. It was on the river Gowra that flows out of a well on the south east corner of the hill and was created for use by Cormac’s lover Cernaith.

The Banqueting Hall

Banqueting Hall ancient floor plan

Between Rath Grainne and the entrance you cross a long rectangular monument named The Banqueting Hall. Up until recently it was thought that this was the site of the great hall mentioned in the legends related to the triennial festival feasts at Tara.

The Banqueting Hall was described in The Book of Leinster as being three hundred feet in measurement and that it had 150 sections with 50 heroes in each. Great detail was also given as to the portion of food that should be given to each category of guest.

However, it is now thought that the Festival of Tara to which the kings and princess of Ireland came was held in a more temporary structure somewhere else on the hill and that this monument is indeed the ceremonial entrance to Tara.

The legends also note that the five great roads of Ireland had their junction here at Tara: The Asail Way to the north west; The Great Way to the west that divided Ireland into two; The Dhala Way to the south west; The Cualann Way to the south by Dublin and Wicklow Mountains; The Mhidh-luachra Way to the north and Ulster all fanned out from here at Tara.

From The Tara Walk by Michael Slavin, edited for emphasis