Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Anthropology


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Matthew L. Murray

Second Advisor

Ahmet Yukleyen

Third Advisor

Jay K. Johnson

Relational Format



A nation is defined by a collective identity that is constructed in part through interpretation of past places and events. In this paper, I examine the links between nationalism and archaeology and how the past is used in the construction of contemporary Irish national identity. In Ireland, national identity has been influenced by interpretation of ancient monuments, often combining the mythology and the archaeology of these sites. I focus on three celebrated monumental sites at Navan Fort, Newgrange, and the Hill of Tara, all of which play prominent roles in Irish mythology and have been extensively examined through archaeology. I examine both the mythology and the archaeology of these sites to determine the relationship between the two and to understand how this relationship between mythology and archaeology influences Irish identity. It is also the purpose of this paper to discuss for what political purpose these sites have been used such as political events or the creation of a collective memory of the Irish people. The mythological stories of Navan Fort and Tara are still very present in Irish society and it is this presence of mythology which has led Tara, in particular, to often be the symbolic setting for political rallies and protests.



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