IRISH: "pleasant hill"?
Anglicized as "Tara"
Temair Breg, whence is it named?
declare O sages!
when did the name part from the stead?
when did Temair become Temair?
Was it under Partholan of the battles?
or at the first conquest by Cesair?
or under Nemed of the stark valour?
or under Cigal of the knocking knees?
Was it under the Firbolgs of the boats?
or from the line of the Lupracauns?
tell which conquest of these it was
from which the name Temair was set on Temair?
O Duban, O generous Findchad,
O Bran, O quick Cualad,
O Tuain, ye devout five!
what is the cause whence Temair is named?
There was a time when it was a pleasant hazel-wood
in the days of the noble son of Ollcan,
until the tangled wood was cut down
by Liath son of Laigne Lethan-glas.
Thenceforward it was called Druim Leith--
its corn was rich corn--
until there came Cain free from sorrow,
the son of Fiachu Cendfindan.
Thenceforward it was called Druim Cain,
the hill whither chieftains used to go,
until Crofhind the chaste came,
the daughter of all-famous Allod.
Cathair Crofhind ('twas not amiss)
was its name under the Tuatha De Danand,
till there came Tea, never unjust,
the wife of Eremon lofty of mien.
Round her house was built a rampart
by Tea daughter of Lugaid;
she was buried beyond the wall without,
so that from her is Temair named.
The Seat of the Kings was its name:
the kingly line of the Milesians reigned in it:
five names accordingly were given it
from the time when it was Fordruim till it was Temair.
I am Fintan the poet,
I am a salmon not of one stream;
it is there I was exalted with fame,
on the sod-built stead, even Temair.
--"The First Dindsenchas of Temhair"
Translated by Edward Gwynn
The Metrical Dindsenchas1
The hill of kings in Ireland. The residence of the ard righ, inaugurated by the Milesians. According to the Book of Invasions, it was the druid Morfessa who brought the Lia Fail to Temhair at the time of the invasion of the Tuatha de Dannan. Other texts say it was brought by an old man named Ollam Folla at the time of the Milesian invasion. It was restored to its former glory by King Cormac mac Airt, who as an orphan stepped upon the Lia Fail and caused to to cry out his right to kingship. (Imprecation has a really wonderful w/u about this!)
Some hold that it was Tea-mur, home of Queen Tea, wife of the Eremon, one of the first Milesian kings of Ireland. Other sources give that there were two sisters, Tea and Tephi, and that the hill was named for these sisters, who are buried there. This is a type of land-goddess myth, common to Irish mythology.
In later texts, it was believed that Tea and Tephi were the daughters of King Zedekiah, sent to Ireland by Jeremiah the prophet (grandfather of Zedekiah?) in the year 583 BC, who gave them the stone upon which Jacob used as a pillow and saw the stairway to heaven. This is meant to explain the Liath Fail or Lia Fail, the Stone of Destiny upon which the true king of Ireland was to step; the stone would cry out if he was the true king. (It was not uncommon for both Irish and Welsh texts to try and force a connection between their histories and those of the Bible.)
Some people--like the British-Israelites2--hold that the hill was named "Torah," which was corrupted to "Tara":
"But the modern school of Anglo-Israel attach other ideas to that ancient seat of sanctity. Heber of the bards is to them Hebrew. Tara is named from Torah. Jeremiah fled thither after the siege of Jerusalem, carrying away the treasures of the temple; as, the ark, the sceptre of David, the Urim and Thummim, and others. Some persons at this day affect to believe that in the Hill of Tara might yet be found these memorials of Judaism, and hope to recover thence David's harp, carried to Ireland by Jeremiah and the Princess Scota, daughter of Pharaoh."3
They identify Ollam Folla with Jeremiah, using faulty etymology to derive a Gaelic name from Hebrew. The wonders of creativity.
1. My website has all four metrical dindsenchas for Temhair: http://www.geocities.com/branwaedd/temair.html
2. The British-Israelites, for those who don't know, are a rather odd group of people--still around--who believe that the British, Irish, and Saxons are the Lost Tribes of Israel. Utter shit, of course. There is a spurious "Book of Tephi" for purchase at http://jahtruth.co.uk/tephi.htm. I haven't exactly laid out any money for this.
Frankly, I'm having trouble finding an original source material for their dating and reasoning--which only makes it that much more ridiculous. It does say in Jeremiah 43.5-7 that Jeremiah and (possibly) the family of the king escaped to Egypt; it also says in the Book of Invasions that the Milesians originated in Egypt. However, that doesn't mean the Milesians actually did come from Egypt. Most archaeologists identify the Milesians with the final Goidelic wave, who either came from the Iberian peninsula or from Belgium.
3. Bonwick, James. Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions. 1894. Online at http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/idr/idr30.htm. Not a great book, but it does show the odd concepts of Victorian Celticism.