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The Lia Fail or Stone of Destiny at The Hill of Tara, Co. Meath, ancient seat of the High Kings of Ireland until the 6th century AD Photo by: Dave Walsh

New High King to be crowned at Tara in lavish spectacle

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The Lia Fail or Stone of Destiny at The Hill of Tara, Co. Meath, ancient seat of the High Kings of Ireland until the 6th century AD Photo by: Dave Walsh

An international competition to find the first High King of Tara in nearly one millennium was officially launched in Ireland's Co. Meath on St. Patrick's Day.

The new King will be crowned on the historical Hill of Tara in a re-enactment of the legendary coronation on Saturday, September 14 next.

Organisers are seeking 13 'worthy' contestants who will vie for the title by completing six quests, all based on the traditional feats of the elite warriors, Na Fianna.

Have you got what it takes to learn twelve books of poetry by heart, stand in a hole up to your waist and ward off nine attackers or while running, pick a thorn from your foot without stopping?

Ok, organisers have changed the challenges quite a bit to incorporate barrels and obstacle courses but contestants will still have to emulate Na Fianna in showing courage, brawn, leadership skills and community involvement. Any chosen contestants from outside the country will have their flights paid for.

Judging will take place by a panel of local celebrities and Meath GAA have offered not to stage any matches in the county on the day.

Aside from the bracing contest, the festival will exhibit traditional craft workshops, dramatic exhibitions, traditional music, food and story-telling.

Meath Travellers Workshops LTD, the Hill of Tara Foundation and a committee of local volunteers are behind the project, which is part of The Gathering Ireland 2013. The contest was launched in Navan by the groups involved.

Gardai expect that the event will draw crowds of up to 4,000 and international PR is being spear-headed by top executive advisor and writer Pino Bethencourt Gallagher from her base in Spain.

It is estimated that 142 High Kings were crowned at Tara in ritual ceremonies around the Stone of Destiny (Lia Fail) which it's said, would cry out when the true King touched it.

Applications to enter the competition and other details of the event can be found at www.tarahighkingsfestival.ie.

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