The Hill of Tara is large, verdant, level at the top, and extremely beautiful; and though not very high, commands extensive and most magnificent pospects over the great and fertile plains of Meath.

Tara had various names in ancient times. It was first founded as a royal residence by Slainge, one of the Firvolgian kings, and was afterwards called Liath Druim, or the Hill of Liath; the Tua-de-Danan kings next resided there, when it was by them called Cathair Crofin, or the fortress of Crofin, after one of the Danan queens: by the Milesian kings it got the name Teamur. or Teamhair, anglicised “Teamor,” and “Tara,” and Latinized “Teamora,” or “Temoria.”

At Tara, the ancient records and chronicles of the kingdom were carefully preserved; these records and chronicles formed the basis of the ancient history of Ireland, called the Psalter of Tara, which was brought to complete accuracy in the reign of the monarch, Cormac MacArt, in the third century; and from the Psalter of Tara and other records, was compiled, in the ninth century, by Cormac MacCullenan, Archbishop of Cashel and King of Munster, the celebrated work called the Psalter of Cashel.

The triennial legislative assemblies at Tara, which were the parliaments of ancient Ireland, continued down to the middle of the sixth century; the last convention of the states at Tara being held, according to the “Annals of Tigearnach,” A.D. 560, in the reign of the monarch Diarmot, who abandoned that ancient royal palace, A.D. 563.

Legislative assemblies were also held at the Hill of Uisneach, situated a few miles from Mullingar in Westmeath. These assemblies were convened in the month of May, and after the abandonment of Tara, Uisneach was probably one of the chief places for legislative meetings.

Great conventions or legislative assemblies, similar to those at Tara were held in ancient times in the other provinces: the States of Connaught assembled at Croaghan, near Elphin; the States of Ulster, at Emania or Armagh; the States of Leinster, at Naas, in Kildare; and the States of Munster at Cashel.

The last great national convention mentioned in Irish history was that of the states of Leath Cuinn (or Meath, Ulster, and Connaught), convened at Athboy, in Meath. A.D. 1167, by King Roderick O’Connor, to make laws and regulations for the church and state; at which assembly, according to the Four Masters and other authorities, there attended a vast number of the princes, chiefs, clergy, and people of Ulster, Connaught, and Meath, together with the Danes of Dublin, then under subjection to King Roderick.

Amongst the clergy who attended that convention were Gelasius, Archbishop of Armagh; Cadhla O’Duffy, Archbishop of Tuam; and Lawrence O’Toole, Archbishop of Dublin or Leinster; together with great numbers of other bishops, abbots, and clergy. In the whole assembly there were nineteen thousand horsemen, namely six thousand from Connaught, under the O’Connors, MacDermots, O’Kellys, O’Dowds, and other princes and chiefs; four thousand of the men of Brefney, under Tiarnan O’Rorke (prince of West Brefney) and O’Reilly (prince of East Brefney); four thousand of the men of Orgiall, from Louth, Down, Monaghan, and Armagh, under Donogh O’Carrol, prince of Oriel, and MacDunlevy, O’Heochy, prince of Ulidia; two thousand men with O’Melaghlin, King of Meath; one thousand with Reginald, lord of the Danes of Dublin; and two thousand with Donogh, son of Felan, a prince whose territory is not mentioned. It does not appear that those powerful northern princes, O’Neill and O’Donnell, who ruled over Tyrone, Derry, and Donegal, attended this assembly: probably they did not acknowledge the authority of King Roderick O’Conor.