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Taragh, Tarah or Tara

TARAGH, TARAH, or TARA, a parish, in the barony of SKREEN, county of MEATH, and province of LEINSTER, 3½ miles (N. by W.) from Dunshaughlin; containing 688 inhabitants. Taragh Hill, which was also named Teagh-mor, signifying "the Great House," and frequently called also Temora, derived that appellation from its having been, to the end of the sixth century, the place where was assembled the convocation of the states general of Ireland, held here every three years for the deliberation and decision of civil and ecclesiastical matters, and also for the election and investiture with supreme authority of one chief, who was appointed sovereign of all Ireland. This triennial convocation of the provincial kings, priests, and bards is said to have been originally instituted by the great Ollamh Fodhla, one of the ancient monarchs, celebrated as a great legislator, in the traditional records of the kingdom. Tuathal, a Milesian prince, is said to have convoked an assembly here after his victory over the Firbolgs, when he was recognised by the states as supreme monarch. During the ceremony of inauguration, the monarchs were placed upon the Liafail, or "stone of destiny," which was afterwards removed to Scotland and used for a similar purpose, whence it was taken by Edw. I. as a trophy of his victory over that people, and placed in Westminster abbey, where it is still preserved. The hill of Taragh was also selected by St. Patrick as a convenient spot from which to promulgate the doctrines of Christianity, which rapidly extended to every part of Ireland. In 980, the Danes sustained a signal defeat on this hill, which contributed materially to their final expulsion from the country a few years afterwards, from which period they continued to infest it chiefly by predatory incursions. Roderic, the last native monarch of all Ireland, assembled his forces here while preparing to besiege the English in Dublin; but after the English settlement it was no longer a place of note, except for the assembling of the military within the English pale. In 1539, O'Nial, at the head of the northern Irish, after ravaging the surrounding country, reviewed his forces here with great parade, and during the disturbances of 1798 a numerous body of insurgents was defeated on the hill by a party of about 400 fencibles and yeomanry. It seems very doubtful, notwithstanding the name, whether any building of stone ever existed here; the only traces of fortification are earthworks of considerable extent and of various forms, chiefly circular intrenchments, within which habitations of light materials appear to have been formed.

The parish, which is bounded on the west by the small river Skreen, comprises 2262 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act, of which two-thirds are under tillage; the soil is fertile, the state of agriculture is improving, and there are quarries of lime and black stone used both for building and agricultural purposes. Taragh Hall, the property of Mrs. Barlow, and the residence of P. Lynch, Esq., is a neat mansion; and Riverstown Castle, now in ruins, is the property and was formerly a residence of the Dillon family. The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Meath, united by act of council, in 1680, to the vicarage of Killeen and the rectory of Dunsany, and in the patronage of the Crown. The tithes amount to £200, and there is a glebe of 9 acres, valued at £22. 10. per ann., and one in the parish of Killeen of 57 acres, valued at £171 per ann.: the gross annual value of the benefice, including the glebes, amounts to £521. 10. The glebe-house, in Killeen, was built in 1813 at an expense of £1712 British, of which £100 Irish was a gift, and £750 was a loan, from the late Board of First Fruits; the residue was defrayed by the present incumbent. The church, conspicuously situated on the hill of Taragh, nearly in the centre of the parish, is in excellent repair: it was erected in 1823 at a cost of £700 Irish, of which £500 was a loan from the late Board and the residue was raised by parochial assessment. In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union of Skreen; the chapel is a neat structure. In the parochial school, supported by subscriptions, aided by an annual donation from the incumbent, and in a school towards which -Smith, Esq., contributes £10 per ann., about 40 children are educated. Taragh formerly gave the title of Baron to John Preston, of Bellinter, on whose death it became extinct.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1840 by Samuel Lewis