Hello and welcome to this weekend’s virtual walk.
I am sure that you know about the famous megalithic monument at Newgrange in County Meath, but just up the road is the less visited megalithic site at Loughcrew, so please come along with me for a walk to see this ancient place.
Let’s drive north from Dublin for about an hour and head towards the town of Oldcastle . Not far from the town we turn right and up the windy road to reach the carpark.
Having parked the car our walk will begin up a set of stone steps before we head out onto the mountain. It’s about a 20 minute walk to the top, at least the day is dry and the path is well marked.
As we go along let me tell you something about this place.
Loughcrew comes from the Loch Craobh, meaning “lake of the tree,” is an area of historical importance and is home to a group of ancient tombs from about 3300 BC that sit on top of a range of four hills.
There are 32 cairns in total and we are hiking heading up Slieve na Calligh, which is the highest point in the county.
There is a total of 32 separate tombs , each slightly different in construction and alignment . They were discovered in 1863 by Eugene Conwell whist on a picnic in the hills !!
As we make our way to the top we can take in the scenery around us, and as we pass through the kissing gate we can see the largest cairn in front of us standing on the hilltop. It’s amazing to think how these structures were built so long ago. .. let’s take a look around.
The place is totally deserted and the gateway leading inside the tomb is firmly locked . Pity that, hopefully once restrictions are fully lifted there will be a guide in attendance and we can go inside. Peeping through the bars we can see the passage leading to the centre of the mound. I have been inside before and can tell you that the passage leads to a cruciform chamber where the remains of the dead along with treasure such as pottery, jewellery and weapons were laid. The other interesting thing is that on the back wall of this tomb there is a richly decorated stone that is aligned to the rising sun on the spring and autumn equinox. Don’t you think that it’s amazing how these ancient peoples had such and understanding of the movement of the cosmos and the passing of time ?
Before we leave the hilltop lets walk around for a few minutes and take a look at some of the satellite tombs that encircle the largest one. Many have been destroyed or eroded over the thousands of years, but by looking at them we can understand how they were constructed and the huge undertaking that went into their building and alignment with the heavens.
Take a close look at some decorated stones that stand inside one of the tombs .Don’t you think it’s amazing to be able to touch the same stones that were carved over five thousand years ago ??
All we can hear is the wind and the occasions birdsong. Its slightly eerie to be totally alone amongst the spirits of the Ancient peoples that preceded us so many years ago, and a wonderful thing that they have left their legacy for us to experience.
Despite what I said earlier about the fine weather, I can see clouds gathering not far away, so best head back down to the car.
It’s an easy route back, and we can see a fairy tree in bloom just beside the path.. who can guess what mischief the fairies and the ghosts of our ancestors get up to at night ??
Safely back to the car just as the rain arrives it’s time to head homewards. I do hope you enjoyed this walk with me and stay well until next time.