13 Jul Citations M – R
1‘Donovan, John, and Eugene O’Curry. Letters Containing Information Relative to the Antiquities of the County of Clare, Collected during the Progress of the Ordnance Survey in 1839. Ed. Michael O’Flanagan. Bray, 1927.
O’Donovan is here quoting from the 14th-century text Cathreim Thoirdhealbhaigh, or Triumphs of Torlough. See more here. See O’Grady’s translation here.
The full text of this poem, as translated by O’Donovan:
Let us give the title of King,
(Which will be of much fame
To the land which has chosen him)
To the valorous griffin [warrior]
The son of the fair-formed Donogh
Of the sealed secrets
Generous heir of generous Blood
The puissant Dermot of fortresses.
he is kind to the Church,
He is head over all,
The heart (centre) of the territories,
A tree under blossom.
Dermot of Dun Mor
The mild, lively, fierce,
Received the hostages
Through his wisdom and sword
His gracious smile and pomp (pride)
He exhibits with grace
And since he has commenced his career
His fame has spread afar
Momonia of Bards
Is his principality
Proclaim we him A King
Of his tribes with great joy.
2Westropp, Thomas J. "Magh Adhair, Co. Clare. The Place of Inauguration of the Dalcassian Kings." Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 1889-1901 4.1896 – 1898 (1896): 55-60.
The derivation of "Magh Adhair" from "Adhar’s plain," is mentioned in connection with the hero Adar in the legend of Cam Conaill in the 12th-century MS Rawlinson B 502. (FitzPatrick, Elizabeth. Royal Inauguration in Gaelic Ireland C. 1100-1600: A Cultural Landscape Study. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Boydell, 2004. 52-59.)
3O’Donovan, John, and Michael O’Flanagan. Letters Containing Information Relative to the Antiquities of the County of Clare, Collected during the Progress of the Ordnance Survey in 1839. Vol. 4. Bray, 1927. Web. 22 Apr. 2014. <http://www.clarelibrary.ie/eolas/coclare/history/osl/clooney_bunratty2_magh_adhair.htm>.
4FitzPatrick, Elizabeth. Royal Inauguration in Gaelic Ireland C. 1100-1600: A Cultural Landscape Study. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Boydell, 2004. 52-59.
5O’Brien, John. Focalóir Gaoidhilge-Sax-bhéarla; Or, An Irish-English Dictionary. Dublin: Hodges and Smith, 1832. 311.
This book may be read in its entirety here.
Here is the full text of O’Donovan’s statement, from a letter dated December 4th, 1839:
"What are we then to think of etymological investigators? They can take words asunder as they please, and give to each component part whatever meaning will best answer the historical theory to be established! Nothing amuses me more than the barefaced effontery with which they urge their silly conjectures as valuable truths, and there is no class of men I hold in greater contempt than those who attempt to build a false system of history on their own etymological speculations. I respect O’Brien’s learning, but I laugh at his knowledge of Irish history and topography; I despise Vallancey as having no definite knowledge at all, for having published in his own name the MS., productions of others, and for having forged originals and given garbled and false translations of genuine historical documents…
The etymological antiquists of the last century have attempted to erect a visionary fabric of history with materials derived from false derivations of words, and I think it my duty to do my utmost to pull down their foolish systems, convinced that no nation ever derived honor from any history but that which is demonstratively true."
The author considers the name of the small stream at the edge of Magh Adhair: "The ‘Hell River’ (Abhann Ifrinn) acts as a natural boundary to it on its west side. There is no available explanation of the origin of the name of this river, but it evokes Otherworld connotations, recalling the portrayal of the ‘Cave of Cruachain’ as one of the entrances to the Otherworld…The Hell River flows due southeast to join the Boolyree River just south of Hell Bridge." The "Cave of Cruachain," also known as "The Cave of the Cats," or "Hell’s Mouth Cave" is explored here in Voices from the Dawn.
8Brenneman, Walter L., and Mary G. Brenneman. Crossing the Circle at the Holy Wells of Ireland. Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 1995. 66.
Lady Gregory recounts another tale of fairy enchantment at a fort in Co. Clare: "There is a fort in Clare, and two or three men went down it one time and brought rushes and lights with them. And they came to where there was a woman washing at a river, and they heard the crying of young lambs, and it was November; for when we have winter here there is summer there. So they got afraid, and two of the men came back but one of them stopped there and was never heard of after." (Gregory, Augusta. "Legends of the Raths, as Narrated to Lady Gregory." Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society 2 (1902): 116-17.)
10Curiously, the 1896 drawing of Cahercalla by Westropp was the sole graphic representation of the fort we could locate on the web, nor were there modern references to the fort, nor could we find it indicated on modern maps. We were about to conclude that it had been destroyed at some point after Westropp’s visit. But an April 2014 query to the very capable reference staff at the Clare County Library resulted in locating the fort just where Westropp said it would be, somewhat obscured by vegetation, in a Bing satellite view.
Duffy, Seán. Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 2013. 94-5.
12"Proceedings: Fourth Excursion: Magh Adhair." Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 10 (1900): 440.
More details may be found here. According to Professor Duffy, the Flan Sunagh chessboard story is likely a later romantic invention with no basis in fact. (Duffy, Seán. "Beal Boru and Magh Adhair on Voices from the Dawn." Message to the author. 1 May 2014. E-mail.)
14Newman, Roger Chatterton. Brian Boru, King of Ireland. Dublin: Anvil, 1983. 106-7.
After the insult of the cutting of the sacred tree, Brian marched out into Leinster, and, it was reported, "’All Lynster was preyed and destroyed’ by the army."
15Duffy, Seán. Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 2013. 94-5.
Westropp, Thomas J. "County Clare Folk-Tales and Myths: The Danish Wars and King Brian." Clare County Library. Web. 25 Apr. 2014. <http://www.clarelibrary.ie/eolas/coclare/folklore/folk_tales/chapter6.htm>.
Minard Castle Sites
1Ashe, John. Annascaul: Revisited and Reviewed. Melbourne: St. Finbar’s Presbytery, 1949. 35
"Minard Castle," by Ted O’Donnell:
There’s a Castle below by the waters,
Where the wild waves they croon all the day,
And their song is of sorrow and laughter
As they kiss the brown rocks of the Bay.
And my thoughts fly away o’er the long years,
O’er the years to a far yesterday,
And I picture an old-world glory
Where the walls now are broken and grey.
From the Castle the sweet notes are stealing
Of music far over the Bay.
The harpers are softly beguiling
Dull care and dull sorrow away.
The soldiers within they make merry
And they drink to the long, long ago,
The toast is ‘The Kingdom of Kerry’
‘Benburb’ and ‘The Gallant Owen Roe.’
But a black shadow fell on the water
On the summer that Cromwell came o’er
When the gay songs of music and laughter
Would throb in the breeze never more.
Long they fought ‘gainst the might of the Saxon,
‘Gainst the musket and dread cannon-ball.
They fell ‘neath the flag of the country
And they sleep near the old Castle wall.
And now there is left of its glory
The walls and an old-world air, —
The old folk will tell you the story
Of sieges and battles that were, —
And they say when the great storms are breaking
And the winds blow in from the sea
You can hear mid the roar of the tempest
The voice of a lost chivalry.
2Tanner, Michael. Troubled Epic: On Location with Ryan’s Daughter. Wilton, Cork: Collins, 2007. 153.
Ryan’s Daughter. Dir. David Lean. By Robert Bolt. Perf. Robert Mitchum, Trevor Howard, John Mills, Sara Miles, Christopher Jones. MGM, 1970.
In the brief video clip included, Rosy Ryan (Sara Miles), a married but frustrated Irish woman, will consummate her infatuation with the brooding British army officer
Randolph Doryan (Christopher Jones) after their silent meeting at "the Tower" (Minard Castle).
Click here for a VR panorama of Coumeenole Bay, one of the locations most used in the making of the film.
3Kenny, Niall. "Dingle’s Minard Beach." Archaeology Ireland 20.4 (2006): 16-20.
From the article: "The stones that are still being rolled on the beach today are freshly pink, devoid of lichen growth, and are quite dark in appearance because they are wet. This is how such ogham stones would have looked when they were first procured from the beach, and makes one wonder whether the shape, colour and texture of the stones might have been important factors in the choice of material to be inscribed. The use of the water-rolled pulvinar stones from Minard Beach as ogham monuments at various locales in the surrounding area suggests possible links between different places in the early historic landscape. We can begin to see how people sourced this particular material, the places they brought it to and the contexts in which they erected and used such stones…Identity Ogham stones are culturally fixed and enduring points in the landscape. They were almost certainly intended as permanent markers of place that would fix in the soil a part of the identity of those who erected them. This identity would have been evident in the inscriptions through the use of an individual, family or group name. Considering that most people at this time would not have been literate, however, we can say with confidence that this identity would also have been bound up with, and in some ways more potently expressed in, the type, colour, shape and material properties of the actual stone upon which the ogham was inscribed."
More information and an example may be found here. Others sites in Voices from the Dawn feature ogham inscriptions, including the Kilmalkedar and the Ballycrovane stones.
4Hitchcock, Richard. "The Castles of Corkaguiny, County of Kerry. No. II." Proceedings and Transactions of the Kilkenny and South-East of Ireland Archaeological Society 3.2 (1855): 388-92.
From the author’s description: "We now come to the interior of the castle. At the southeast corner there is about half, up to the top, of the circular inside of a turret in the thickness of the wall, in which a spiral staircase appears to have existed, the ends or places for two flights of the steps being still visible. Besides two windows looking from this interior…it has also the remains of a circular-headed doorway leading to the interior of the castle, and, over this, another perfect circular-headed doorway looking west. A space appears to have been walled off from the interior of the castle at the east side, but…this side is unfortunately the most ruined. Remains, however, of two arched ceilings, and other accommodations, may still be seen in this part. The three windows next the ground at the south, west, and north sides have, at the inside, the form of large fire-places, each 5 feet 8 inches in breadth. One of the arch stones of the west recess has rudely carved on it the form of a human face; but it is probably a modern production. Similar recesses are at the insides of the two windows over these in the west and north sides, and another recess is at the inside of the centre window in the south side. This side of the castle, like the east, is walled off from the interior, and between the two walls are several small apartments, inaccessible, however, to me. Over the centre window in the south side, just mentioned, is a doorway leading into some of these chambers, and it was probably into them that one of the circular-headed doorways at the south-east comer of the castle also led…Portions of two arched ceilings are to be seen in the castle…From the west wall, beneath the first or lowest arch, two stones, like corbels, project; but they do not seem to have been used for this purpose. The corresponding holes in the north and south walls, or similar projecting stones in the opposite east wall, do not appear; but the latter may have been pulled away…Above the first ceiling at this side are the remains of a fire-place, still exhibiting some traces of ornament."
A comprehensive description and a plan of the castle may be found in Cuppage, Judith. Archaeological Survey of the Dingle Peninsula: a Description of the Field Antiquities of the Barony of Corca Dhuibhne from the Mesolithic Period to the 17th Century A.D. Ballyferriter: Oidhreacht Chorca Dhuibhne, 1986. 375-78.
5"Irish Confederate Wars." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 04 Aug. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Confederate_Wars>.
"The conflict in Ireland essentially pitted the native Irish Catholics against English and Scottish Protestant colonists and their supporters. It was both a religious and ethnic conflict – fought over who would govern Ireland, whether it would be governed from England, which ethnic and religious group would own most of the land and which religion would predominate in the country."
7MacDonogh, Steve. The Dingle Peninsula. Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland: Brandon, 2000. 60-62.
The author states that Lewis, in his Topographical Dictionary (1837), claims that the fortification on the eastern cliff was built specifically for the bombardment of the castle.
Ashe (ibid) notes that the cannons on the cliff were augmented by those of British naval forces in the bay.
8Hussey, Samuel Murray. The Reminiscences of an Irish Land Agent: Being Those of S.M. Hussey. London: Duckworth, 1904. 4-5.
This book may be read in its entirety here.
9Fisher, Mary Jane Leadbeater. Letters from the Kingdom of Kerry, in the Year 1845. Dublin: Webb and Chapman, Great Brunswick St., 1847. 76-78.
In the author’s interview with the customs agent, he goes on to remark on the shell-heaps found around the castle ruins: "…he believed the people in those times lived very much upon ‘bornocks, ‘Anglice,’ ‘limpets,’ for they had found wagon loads of these shells in one corner, under the rubbish of stones and mortar. Poor feeding for such giants! Perhaps the castle was besieged, that the defenders had only those shell-fish for food, and that, while they lasted, they held out against the foe till grim hunger carried the day…"
This book may be read in its entirety here.
11Williams, John. "Removing Stones from a Fort." Personal interview. 22 June 1979.
A photograph of the foundations of the Church of St. Mary may be seen here.
13Ó Danachair, Caoimhín. "The Holy Wells of Corkaguiney." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 90.1 (1960): 76.
MacDonough (op cit) explains: "In the past the pattern was an occasion of great entertainment as well as devotion. Penny stalls were set up on the level triangle of grass near by, and at the top of the slip beside the coastguards’ boathouse there was music and dancing into the night. But the authority of the church was brought to bear and the pattern was suppressed in all but its devotional aspect; even that, with its evidently pagan origins, was looked on with no great favour. A particular association of the well which has contributed to the long survival of religious observance here is the legend connecting St John the Baptist with the Corea Dhuibhne people. This legend asserted that John the Baptist was beheaded by an Irish druid called Mogh Roith (the Slave of the Wheel) from Valentia Island on the other side of Dingle Bay, and prophesied that the Irish people – and especially the Corea Dhuibhne – would be called upon to pay for the crime at a date when certain time divisions coincided. In 1096 it was thought that the appointed time was approaching, and Ireland was seized with a panic, similar to the millenialist hysteria that had gripped many in Europe a century before. Rigorous fasting and prayer were undertaken, and it is probably from this date that the well derived its importance, along with many others dedicated to St John the Baptist."
The Mound of Down
1Allcroft, A. H. The Circle and the Cross a Study in Continuity. Vol. 2. London: Macmillan, 1927. 57-58.
2Buchanan, R. H., and Anthony Wilson. "Downpatrick." Irish Historic Towns Atlas. Vol. 8. Dublin: Royal Irish Acad., 1997.
3The Mound of Down. 12 June 2001. Information sign at the site. Downpatrick.
New excavations commencing in 2012 will likely provide a more comprehensive history of the site.
4Halpin, Andy, and Conor Newman. "Downpatrick." Ireland: an Oxford Archaeological Guide to Sites from Earliest times to AD 1600. Oxford: Oxford Univ., 2006. 81.
5"Downpatrick." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 18 Feb. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downpatrick>.
6"Down Cathedral." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 18 Feb. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_Cathedral>.
7Harbison, Peter, and Peter Harbison. "Downpatrick." Guide to National and Historic Monuments of Ireland: including a Selection of Other Monuments Not in State Care. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1992. 109.
8Down Cathedral : The Burial Place of St Patrick. Web. 18 Feb. 2011. <http://www.downcathedral.org/index.cfm?do=page&id=17>.
9Allcroft 5, 75
10"Saint Patrick and the Spring Equinox." Newgrange Stone Age Passage Tomb – Boyne Valley, Ireland. Web. 23 Feb. 2011. <http://www.newgrange.com/saint_patrick.htm>.
11Edward T. "Myths of St. Patrick’s Day." History News Network. Web. 18 Feb. 2011. <http://hnn.us/articles/623.html>.
12Austin, C. "St. Patrick: The Man and the Myth." The Celtic Connection. Web. 18 Feb. 2011. <http://merganser.math.gvsu.edu/myth/patrick.html>.
13Wood-Martin, W. G. Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland. Vol. 2. London: Longmans, Green, &, 1902. 311-14.
14Brash, Richard Rolt, and George M. Atkinson. The Ogam Inscribed Monuments of the Gaedhil in the British Isles. London: G. Bell and Sons, 1879. 95.
15Bonwick, James. Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions. London: S. Low, Marston & Co., 1894. 12.
16"Battle for the Body of St. Patrick." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 18 Feb. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_for_the_Body_of_St._Patrick>.
17"Downpatrick, County Town of Down." Irish Artists – Irish Art. Web. 18 Feb. 2011. <http://www.loughcuan.com/Pages/downpatrick.htm>.
18McKay, Patrick. "Downpatrick." A Dictionary of Ulster Place-names. Belfast: The Institute Of Irish Studies, 1999
1Russell, George William (Æ). Imaginations and Reveries. Dublin: Maunsel & Roberts, 1921. 136-37.
The text may be read in its entirety here. Æ was the nom de plume of the Irish writer, poet, and painter George William Russell (1867 – 1935). A mystic who also considered himself a clairvoyant, Russell was part of a group of Dublin theosophists that included William Butler Yeats.
Russell uses some of the same phrases at the end of his poem, "Content:"
Come away, O, come away;
We will quench the heart’s desire
Past the gateways of the day
In the rapture of the fire.
(Russell, George. (A.E.). Collected Poems of A.E. London: Macmillan and Co. Ltd., 1927. 297.)
Later in his life Russell gave a further explanation of how he came to imagine the dialogue inside Newgrange:
"To one who lay on the mound which is called the Brugh on the Boyne a form like that the bards speak of Angus appeared, and it cried: ‘Can you not see me? Can you not hear me? I come from the Land of Immortal Youth.’ And I, though I could not be certain of speech, found the wild words flying up to my brain interpreting my own vision of the god, and it seemed to be crying to me…"
(Russell, George. (A.E.). The Candle of Vision. London: Macmillan and Co., Ltd., 1919. 168.)
2O’Kelly, Michael J., and Claire O’Kelly. Newgrange: Archaeology, Art, and Legend. London: Thames and Hudson, 1982. 24.
3The World Heritage Site listing (UNESCO) is for the entire Brú na Bóinne complex of ancient monuments.
"Newgrange is unhesitatingly regarded by the prehistorian as the great national monument of Ireland; in the words of the late Sean O Riordain, ‘one of the most important ancient places in Europe’…each generation finds in it something new and interesting." (O’Kelly, Michael J., and Claire O’Kelly. Newgrange: Archaeology, Art, and Legend. London: Thames and Hudson, 1982.7.)
4Lhwyd, Edward. "Several Observations Relating to the Antiquities and Natural History of Ireland, Made by Mr. Edw. Lhwyd, in His Travels Thro’ That Kingdom. In a Letter to Dr. Tancred Robinson, Fellow of the College of Physicians and Royal Society." Philosophical Transactions (1683-1775) 27 (1710-1712): 503-06.
Some 70 years later Thomas Pownell described his difficulty in entering Newgrange, with its cairn partially collapsed into the entrance of the passage: "Four of the side stones, beginning from the fifth on the right hand, or eastern side, stand now leaning over to the opposite side; so that here the passage is scarce permeable. We made our way by creeping on our hands and knees till we came to this part. Here we were forced to turn upon our sides, and edge ourselves on with one elbow and one foot. After we had passed this strait, we were enabled to stand; and by degrees, as we advanced farther…"
(Pownall, Thomas. "A Description of the Sepulchral Monuments at Newgrange." Archaeologia (1773): 2, 236-75.)
According to O’Kelly: "Most of the other writers attributed Newgrange to the Danes and influences were also invoked from Egypt, India, Ethiopia, Phoenicia, Celtic Gaul, and soon; in fact, almost any race under the sun was considered eligible save for the natives themselves."
It is ironic that the eighteenth-century authors could have considered that the Vikings might have constructed the monuments. As George Petrie put it in 1834, "That the Danes, far from being the erectors of the sepulchral mound at New Grange, and the others contiguous to it, were, on the contrary, the very first that violated them…" (Petrie, George, and D.J.S. O’Malley. "Aspects of George Petrie. V. An Essay on Military Architecture in Ireland Previous to the English Invasion." Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature 72 (1834 (1972)): 262-63.)
The impetus to credit the ancient tombs of Ireland to other races may have derived from a conviction by the ascendency that the natives could not be capable of building these monuments. Also, according to David McGuinness,"…this speculative and uncritical approach begun in the first decades of the eighteenth century, combined with the new ideals of Romanticism, was responsible for the excesses of [Vallancey] that saw its close. All the way through to the 1830s, writings on the megalithic tombs of Ireland are dominated by a non-archaeological approach. The spurious philology and etymology of Rowlands, whereby the origins and purpose of megalithic tombs were derived from the meanings and connections of their local names, in conjunction with an almost scholastic obsession with the writings of the ancients and those of modem authors from Rowlands onwards, stifled the ability of most to examine the monuments in the field afresh and without preconceptions." (McGuiness, David. "Edward Lhuyd’s Contribution to the Study of Irish Megalithic Tombs." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 126 (1996): 82.)
About the coins found buried at the monument which Lhuyd cites as evidence that Newgrange pre-dated the Danes, Carleton Jones wrote, "This is a practice that has been documented at ancient sites in Roman Britain and it is possible that the Newgrange offerings were made by visitors from Roman Britain. It is also quite possible, however, that the offerings were made by Irish returning home from raiding or trading excursions to Britain. Whoever made the offerings, it is clear that Newgrange was still a respected and powerful place in the landscape almost three millennia after it had been built." (Jones, Carleton. Temples of Stone: Exploring the Megalithic Tombs of Ireland. Cork: Collins, 2007. 249.)
7Herity, Michael. "From Lhuyd to Coffey: New Information from Unpublished Descriptions of the Boyne Valley Tombs." Studia Hibernica 7 (1967): 128-29.
8Boate, Gerard, and Thomas Molyneux. A Natural History of Ireland; in Three Parts. Dublin: Printed for G. Ewing, 1725. 204.
This account may be read in its entirety here.
9Pownall, Thomas. Archaeologia; Or, Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity. London: Printed by J. Nichols [etc., 1789. 258.
Pownall tempered his crediting of Newgrange to the Phoenicians with this proviso: "’Thofe whom this conjecture cannot perfuade may, however, profit by the hint, and poffibly amufe themfelve if fuggefting fome more rational account of the matter."
This text may be read in its entirety here.
10Vallancey, Charles. Collectanea De Rebus Hibernicis. Vol. 4. Dublin: Luke White, 1783. 211. This text may be read in its entirely here.
As an example of Vallancey’s interpretation of a Newgrange engraving: "[Stone #3] is found on the front of the covering stone of the east tabernacle, and is written in symbolic characters, signifying the House of God. It is remarkable that all the ancient altars found in Ireland, and now distinguished by the name of Cromleachs or Hoping stones, were originally called Bothal or the House of God; and they seem to be of the same species as those mentioned in the book of Genesis, called by the Hebrews Bethel, which has the fame signification as the Irish Eothal. The tabernacles in the mount of New-Grange have an exact conformity to the Cromleachs, found in different parts of the kingdom." (Vallancey. Vol. 2, 200.)
11Hall, Samuel C. Ireland – Its Scenery, Character Etc. Vol. 2. London: How and Parson, 1841. 382.
According to O’Kelly, "It is probable that the labourers who were instrumental in uncovering the entrance were more attuned to this aspect of Newgrange than the scholars who came to marvel at it or the landowner Charles Campbell.."
13The Tuatha Dé Danaan ("People of the Goddess Danu") were thought to be a god-like race who ruled Ireland before the coming of the Milesians (Celts). After the Tuatha Dé Danaan were defeated in battle they retreated underground, and were thought to live in "fairy fort" mounds such as Newgrange.
"Aengus Óg" is also spelled "Óengus," or "Aonghus."
14O’Laverty, James. "Newgrange Still Called by Its Ancient Name, Brugh-na-Boinne." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland Fifth 2.4 (1892): 430.
Brú na Bóinne actually refers to the entire complex of Boyne tombs, including the other major sites of Dowth and Knowth. Newgrange itself was known in the ancient tales as Sí in Bhrú, the "Fairy Mound of the Brú." The name "New Grange" was given to the townland when in 1142 it was incorporated into the holdings of the Cistercian monks of nearby Mellifont Abbey as a new farm, or "grange." After the confiscation of church property that followed the 1690 Battle of the Boyne, just a couple of miles downstream from the mound, the land was deeded to Charles Campbell.
15Jackson, Kenneth Hurstone. The Oldest Irish Tradition: A Window on the Iron Age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1964. 44.
The Dagda was called the "Good God" not because he was "good" in the sense of beneficent, but because he was considered "good for everything." The Dagda, who defeated Lugh at the Battle of Uisneach, was ultimately "one and the same" as his son Aengus Óg.
18MacCana, Proinsias. Celtic Mythology. New York: Hamlyn, 1970. 33.
Fráech, the son of Boinn’s sister, is buried at the Carnfree inauguration mound at the Rathcroghan Royal Site.
19Ó hÓgáin Dáithí. Fionn Mac Cumhaill: Images of the Gaelic Hero. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1988. 19.
20O’Grady, Standish. Early Bardic Literature. London: Sampson Low, Searle, Marston & Rivington, 1879. 71.
According to archaeologist Carlton Jones, the name Aengus can be translated as "real vigour."
(Jones, Carleton. Temples of Stone: Exploring the Megalithic Tombs of Ireland. Cork: Collins, 2007. 198-204.)
21Carey, John. "Time, Memory, and the Boyne Necropolis." Proceedings of the Harvard Celtic Colloquium 10 (1990): 24-36.
Carrey suggests that the meaning and usage of Newgrange was passed down through legend and practice for 5,000 years. "On the literary side, the earliest of the tales may go back to eighth-century originals, but the high degree of variation between them suggests that the legend continued to have an oral basis throughout the medieval period. Even if we posit extremely early written sources for all of the versions, however, we are still left with an oral tradition spanning approximately four thousand years. Besides the sheer duration of this interval, we must reckon with the momentous cultural developments which it included: the conversion of the Irish to Christianity and also, almost certainly, the arrival of Celtic language in Ireland. Could an idea survive such far-reaching changes, and so many centuries? No a priori dogma can settle such a question in advance: the evidence must be considered on its merits. In my own opinion the specific localization of the legends, taken together with the apparent uniqueness of the design of Newgrange, cannot reasonably be dismissed as mere coincidence."
Aengus’ semantic trickery involving time that gained him the possession of Newgrange from his father is analogous to his father’s manipulation of time that contracted Aengus’ gestation and birth into a single day. This emphasis on the passage of time in the legendary tales of the monument is given a astronomical resonance in the yearly appearance of the sun through the roof-box on the morning of the Winter Solstice. As authors Brendan Purcell and Dorothy Cross put it, "Far more than words, our deeds reveal and communicate who we are. In a gigantic drama between stone and sun, re-enacted every year, the neolithic people who built Newgrange expressed their grasp of the mysterious answer to their quest for the meaning and order of their existence. They deployed all their technological, architectural, artistic, astronomic and mathematical skills to elevate midwinter sunrise into a cosmic YES at the zero point of cosmic forsakeness." (Purchell, Brendan, and Dorothy Cross. "Newgrange: Between Sun and Stone." The Crane Bag: The Other Ireland 2.1/2 (1978): 89-95.)
Within her poem "Carnival,"
Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill deals with a this theme, but on an more personal, and mortal, level.
If we were gods
here at Newgrange—
you Sualtam or the Daghda,
myself the famous river—
we could freeze the sun
and the moon
for a year and a day
to perpetuate the pleasure
we have together.
Alas, it’s far from gods
we are, but bare, forked creatures.
The heavenly bodies stop
only for a single, transitory moment.
(Ní Dhomhnaill, Nuala, and Paul Muldoon, trans. The Astrakhan Cloak. Winston-Salem, NC: Wake Forest UP, 1993. 13.)
22"Aengus." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 29 Jan. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aengus>.
According to the "Death Tales of the Tuatha de Danaan", Aengus killed his step father Elcmar for killing Midir.
Aengus also slew the poet of Lugh Lamfada for lying about his brother Ogma an Cermait. The poet claimed that Ogma was having an affair with one of Lugh’s wives. Aengus killed the poet in front of Midir.
In "The Wooing of Etain," Aengus was able to partially lift Fuamnach’s spell against Etain, the horse goddess he had won for his brother Midir. Fuamnach in a jealous rage had turned the girl into a butterfly. Turning her into a woman at night, Aengus made her his lover until Fuamnach found out about it and drove her away.
Four bright birds that ever hovered about his head were supposed to be his kisses taking shape in this lovely form, and at their singing love came springing up in the hearts of youths and maidens.
In the "Tale of the Two Pails," a sidhe woman and foster daughter of Aengus gets lost and winds up in the company of St. Patrick. The girl converts to Christianity, and Aengus can not win her back. He leaves, and she dies of grief a few weeks later.
23Gregory, Lady Augusta, and W. B. Yeats. Cuchulain of Muirthemne: the Story of the Men of the Red Branch of Ulster. London: J. Murray, 1902. 145-46.
An interesting aside to this tale of Aengus and the swans is the fact that the area near Newgrange is a wintering ground for the Whooper Swan, which take up residence in Iceland every October to April. ("101 Facts about Newgrange." Mythical Ireland. Web. <http://www.mythicalireland.com/ancientsites/newgrange-facts/>.)
25Cross, Tom Peete, and Clark Harris Slover. Ancient Irish Tales. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1936. 374
In one of the Fenian tales, "Fort of the Rowann Tree (Bruighion Chaorthainn), a poet puts Fionn Mac Cumhaill under a taboo in which he must answer this poetic riddle:
I saw a house in the country
Out of which no hostages are given to a king,
Fire burns it not, harrying spoils it not.
Fionn replies, "I understand that verse, for that is the Brugh of the Boyne that you have seen, namely, the house of Aengus Og of the Brugh, and it cannot be burned or harried as long as Aengus shall live." (Evans-Wentz, W. Y. The Fairy-faith in Celtic Countries,. London: H. Frowde, 1911 .410-416.)
According to O’Kelly, this is a Christian interpretation of an old tradition in an effort to add status to the kings of Tara.
27Eogan, George. "The Archaeology of Brugh Na Bóinne during the Early Centuries A.D." Seanchas Ardmhacha: Journal of the Armagh Diocesan Historical Society 14.1 (1990): 20.
As George Petrie retold the story in 1845: "…he came by his death at the house of Cletech, the bone of a salmon having stuck in his throat. And he (Cormac) told his people not to bury him at Brugh, (because it was a cemetery of Idolaters,) for he did not worship the same God as any of those interred at Brugh ; but to bury him at Ros na righ, with his face to the east. He afterwards died, and his servants of trust held a council, and came to the resolution of burying him at Brugh, the place where the kings of Tara, his predecessors, were buried. The body of the king was afterwards thrice raised to be carried to Brugh, but the Boyne swelled up thrice, so as that they could not come ; so that they observed that it was ‘ violating the judgment of a prince’ to break through this Testament of the king, and they afterwards dug his grave at Ros na righ, as he himself had ordered." (Petrie, George. The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland: An Essay on the Origin and Uses of the Round Towers of Ireland. Dublin: Hodges and Smith, 1845. 100.)
28Evans-Wentz, W. Y. The Fairy-faith in Celtic Countries. London: H. Frowde, 1911. 416.
Dalton, John P. "Who Built Dun Aengus? (Continued)." Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society 14.3/4 (1929): 110.
29Pownall, Thomas. "A Description of the Sepulchral Monument at New Grange, near Drogheda in the County of Meath, in Ireland. By Thomas Pownall, Esq. in a Letter to the Rev. Gregory Sharpe, D. D. Master of the Temple." Archaeologia: Or Miscellaneous Tracts, Relating to Antiquity. London: Published by the Society of Antiquaries of London. Sold at the House of the Society, 1770. 236-239.
This text may be read in its entirely here.
The Newenham sketch of Newgrange with the prominent stone atop the mound (see gallery) was accompanied by a note: "’This stone was undermined and thrown down the mound by men seeking for hidden money." The author suggests that Newenham may have been "sketching his guess at the restoration of the original position of a large stone found at the spot…and that he is not sketching something he had actually seen."
O’Kelly believed that Lhwyd saw a stone on top of the cairn, "but it must be questioned if it was a pillar-stone and even if it was, whether it was an original feature of the monument or not." (O’Kelly, Michael J., and Claire O’Kelly. Newgrange: Archaeology, Art, and Legend. London: Thames and Hudson, 1982. 26-27.)
32Stout, Geraldine. "The Vallancey Triangle." Archaeology Ireland 7.3 (1993): 8-9.
An Ordnance Survey Letter entry (1836) states, "Tradition exists in the county that the caves in these mounds were hiding bars of gold, but they couldn’t be removed as dangerous evil spirits were watching over the treasure." (O’Donovan, John, Thomas O’Connor, P. (Patrick) O’Keeffe, and Michael Herity. Ordnance Survey Letters Meath: Letters Containing Information Relative to the Antiquities of the County of Meath Collected during the Progress of the Ordnance Survey in 1836. Dublin: Four Masters, 2001. 120.)
34Candon, Anthony, and Claire O’Kelly. "An Early Nineteenth Century Description of Newgrange, County Meath." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 114 (1984): 24-27.
An author in 1827 reported that, "All the roads in the neighbourhood are paved with its stones; immense quantities have been taken away." (Higgins, Godfrey. The Celtic Druids. London: R. Hunter, 1827. xli.)
The Irish farmer in the modern era is a partner in the effort to preserve the nation’s heritage. An article entitled "The tombs of our ancestors," in the "Farmers Journal" section of Country Living, January, 28, 2012 mentions the word "farmers" eight times. The article concludes: "While the Stone Age farmers may have constructed these monuments over 4,000 years ago it is the 21st century farmer who is now their custodian, preserving them for future generations and providing the dead with the respect they deserve."
35"Newgrange." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newgrange>.
37Westropp, Thomas J. "Newgrange." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland Fifth 3.2 (1893): 213.
Even once in state care, Newgrange was largely unsupervised and independent investigators, or vandals, could enter at will during some hours. One amateur sleuth thought that he had discovered a new passage within the tomb. He wrote to Westropp: "" I got my head and shoulders so far in that I was able to see that the passage turned towards the middle of the mound. It is nearly filled to the top with small broken stones and the parts of the large stones forming its sides are covered with carvings and spirals; it evidently leads to another chamber within the mound. Its exploration would probably result in an interesting discovery, and valuable arms and ornaments might be found."
39Eogan, George, and Eoin Grogan. "Prehistoric and Early Historic Culture Change at Brugh Na Bóinne." Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature 91C (1991): 110.
The authors state that there may also have been a fourth large site, at Ballincrad (site G), not much survives, but there is evidence that the main mound might have been about 70m (230 ft) in diameter.
Throughout history there have been different accounts of the number of stones in the incomplete "Great Circle" around Newgrange, since some stones have been broken or removed. O’Kelly, however, concluded that there was "very little evidence…in the excavated areas for the original presence of these ‘missing’ stones…One must be prepared to accept the thesis that the circle may never have been completed." The dating of the monument was made possible because the spaces between the slabs of the roof were caulked with a mixture of burnt soil and sea sand, from which two C14 readings, each of 2500 BCE, could be obtained. (O’Kelly, Michael J., and Claire O’Kelly. Newgrange: Archaeology, Art, and Legend. London: Thames and Hudson, 1982. 79, 22.)
40Herity, Michael. Irish Passage Graves. New York: Harper & Row, 1975. i.
41Ó Ríordáin, Sean P., and Marcus P. Ó HEochaidhe. "Trial Excavation at Newgrange." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 86.1 (1956): 55.
The excavation that first uncovered some of the inscribed kerbstones was done June, 1928 (Praeger and Macalister), and only lasted a couple of weeks.
The authors conclude their discussion of the "lost romanticism" of the restored monument with this: "We have come to equate the monuments of the past with ruins and forget that the ruin is the corpse, not the living body. We hope that as a result of our work and that of our many and devoted collaborators and helpers over a period of almost twenty years, we have succeeded in breathing some faint spark of life into Newgrange so that it now justifies in some part its ancient claim to be the Brú or mansion of the Good God, the Dagda of early Irish tradition."
Geologists have suggested that much of the Newgrange slabs were collected from a rocky beach approximately 20 km (12.5 mi). These blocks were likely brought to the construction site by sea, and then up the Boyne by securing them to the undersides of small boats at low tide. Then they may have been brought uphill to the site by using ropes and log rollers. The stones used for the cairn were from the nearby river terraces. The figure-eight shaped pond below the tomb may have been the site of an ancient quarry.("Newgrange." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newgrange>.)
44O’Kelly, Michael J., and Claire O’Kelly. Newgrange: Archaeology, Art, and Legend. London: Thames and Hudson, 1982. 74.
About his decision, at the conclusion of his fieldwork in 1975, to leave much of the tomb unexcavated, O’Kelly wrote: "By 1975 the objectives originally outlined had been achieved and we felt it desirable that the remainder of the site should be left for future generations of archaeologists who, presumably, would have newer and better techniques and fuller knowledge at their disposal." (p. 67)
The "closing stone," was used in an experiment by the excavators to determine how well it would serve to cover the opening of the tomb. They discovered that "with the curved end on the ground and the straight one uppermost it fitted exactly under the overhang of RS1, closing the passage perfectly."
48Wilde, William Robert. The Beauties of the Boyne, and Its Tributary, the Blackwater. Dublin: James McGlashan, 1850. 193.
Wilde’s account of this stone may be read in its entirety here.
Michael Herity observes that the decorated stone that forms the exterior edge of what we now call the "roof-box" was not noted by Petrie, in 1833. Thus Herity suggests "we can limit the date of its discovery to a period of, at most, 15 years (1833-48). It may have been that it was the work of the Ordnance Survey in this area in 1836 that brought [the stone] to light or, alternatively, the work recorded by Lord Albert Conyngham in 1842 which revealed further gold objects." (Herity, Michael. "From Lhuyd to Coffey: New Information from Unpublished Descriptions of the Boyne Valley Tombs." Studia Hibernica 7 (1967): 136.)
Cairn G at Carrowkeel, in the Bricklieve Mountains in County Sligo, has a roofbox above its entrance, similar to the one at Newgrange. ("Carrowkeel Cairn G Summer Solstice." Newgrange Stone Age Passage Tomb – Boyne Valley, Ireland. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://www.newgrange.com/carrowkeel-solstice-08.htm>.)
In an interview, O’Kelly’s daughter described accompanying her father to a Winter Solstice sunrise inside the tomb still under excavation: "I still remember just being all alone with him in the tomb in pitch dark, none of the television cameras and all of the things that there are now, then suddenly the light come in and touched the back wall it was incredible…When you went there in the early days it was like 5,000 years ago was speaking to you, now everyone knows about and it’s still wonderful but earlier on you had the feeling that you were having the same experience that they had back then." ("Newgrange Still Subject to Irish Weather." Newgrange Neolithic (Stone Age) Megalithic Monument. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://www.newgrange.eu/solstice_2008.htm>.)
52Jones, Carleton. Temples of Stone: Exploring the Megalithic Tombs of Ireland. Cork: Collins, 2007. 199.
Dr. Jones imagines the Neolithic Winter Solstice event: "As the sun’s rays moved across the front of the cairn the white quartz facade would have glowed as if lit from within and when the rays reached the roof box, an angular design, composed of triangles, would have been picked out on the stone that forms the top of the roof box. Although those outside would not be able to see it, similar angular designs composed of triangles would have been illuminated deep within the tomb chamber at the same time." Jones suggests that there was likely a morning ritual at Newgrange and an evening ritual at Dowth and on the equinoxes a morning ritual on the east side of Knowth and an evening ritual on its west side. "Only a handful of people can fit inside the chambers of these passage tombs to observe their illumination by the rays of the sun, but large crowds could certainly be accommodated just outside the entrances. Perhaps we should envisage a select group of priests/priestesses within the tomb emerging just after the sun’s rays had penetrated the chamber and displaying to the congregation ‘proof’ of what had just occurred inside the chamber." (p. 186)
O’Kelly also discovered, in the same layer as the white quartz, small "grey granite boulders" that he later interspersed with the quartz in the vertical facade that he constructed at the front of the tomb.
The author states, "It had become obvious that the quartz/granite made up this surface at the front of the mound and that elsewhere selected boulders of the normal cairn material had been used, that it had been built on top of the kerb as a revetment and that when it fell there was nothing to hold the cairn behind it in place."
55McManus, Ruth. "Heritage and Tourism in Ireland -an Unholy Alliance?" Geographic Society of Ireland. University College Dublin. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://www.ucd.ie/gsi/pdf/30-2/heritage.pdf>.
Within the heading " Question of ‘Authenticity’, Interpretation, Destruction of Heritage," the author argues that a cultural or historic landscape must be seen as one that embodies different values, and that the "heritage industry" too often does not take into account the existence of contradictory views of historical events, perhaps for fear of confusing its audience. "There is a danger that what will be dressed up for consumption through the heritage industry will be the ‘attractive side of events and life in the past, aspects that will not disturb the visitors or cause them to leave the park, interpretative centre or museum before they have hit the gift shop and the restaurant facilities’ (Cooney, 1991: 23)."
See also: "Newgrange." Irish Megaliths: Field Guide & Photographs by Anthony Weir. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://www.irishmegaliths.org.uk/zNewgrangeCircle2.htm>.
56Giot, P.-R. "Book Review of "Michael J. O’Kelly ‘Newgrange Archaeology, Art and Legend’" Antiquity 57.220 (1983): 149-50.
The author added, " I don’t like either the rather artificial arrangement at the entrance so that the ingoing and outgoing flocks of visitors don’t collide. 70,000 intruders a year, most of them philistines, is of course quite a tribulation for such a sanctuary."
57Hutton, Ronald. The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy. Oxford, UK: B. Blackwell, 1991. 59.
In his comments on O’Kelly’s choices made during the restoration of the tomb’s facade, Hutton says, "There is a possibility that at times the statements made by the tomb-builders (to spirits as well as to posterity) may be getting scrambled by their most careful interpreters."
In support of the reconstruction decisions made by O’Kelly, Jones reports that similar near-vertical passage tomb walls are known on such monuments in Brittany.
The author credits some of these ideas here to sources including: Lewis-Williams, D. and D. Pearce (Inside the Neolithic Mind: Consciousness, Cosmos and the Realm of the Gods. 2005), Bergh, S. (Landscape of the Monuments —A study of the passage tombs of the Cúil Irra region, Co. Sligo, Ireland. 1995.) Darvill, T. ("White on Blonde: Quartz Pebbles and the Use of Quartz at Neolithic Monuments in the Island of Man and Beyond." In Jones, A. and G. MacGreror (eds) Colouring the Past — The Significance of colour in archaeological research. 2002), and O’Brien, W. ("Sacred Ground: Megalithic Tombs in Coastal South-West Ireland." Bronze Age Studies 4, Department of Archaeology. 1999).
On the subject of the triple-spiral Jones writes, "If it was envisaged as a connecting vortex by the Neolithic people, it is possible that it only ‘opened up’ for these few days each year. Who might have traveled along this vortex when it did open? Two likely possibilities are shamans and the dead."
Celtic Christians have sometimes used the triple spiral to represent the Christian Holy Trinity. Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism and Wicca use it to represent a number of three-fold concepts in their belief systems, such as the "three realms" of Land, Sea and Sky.("Triple Spiral." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_spiral>.)
61Megalithic art motifs are often divided into "ten categories: five of which are curvilinear (circles, spirals, arcs, serpentiniforms and dot-in-circles) and the other five of which are rectilinear (chevrons, lozenges, radials, parallel lines and offsets)." ("Newgrange." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newgrange>.)
Jones suggests that the inspiration for many design elements of megalithic art may have began with induced hallucinations, interpreted by the Neolithic perspective of their otherworld beliefs (p. 160).
Poet Robert Graves explained, within his own belief system, that, "…the sacred kings of Bronze Age Ireland, who were solar kings of a most primitive type…were buried beneath these barrows; but their spirits went to ‘Caer Sidi,’ the Castle of Ariadne, namely Corona Borealis. Thus the pagan Irish could call New Grange ‘Spiral-Castle’ and, revolving a fore-finger in explanation, could say, ‘Our king has gone to Spiral Castle’: in other words, ‘he is dead.’" (Graves, Robert. The White Goddess. New York: The Noonday Press, 1966. 103)
63Coffey, George. "On the Tumuli and Inscribed Stones at New Grange, Dowth, and Knowth." The Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy 30 (1892): 21-22.
65Vallancey 210. This section may be read in its entirety here.
The author’s "translations" for the inscriptions on the Newgrange stones (see illustration on the page): "No 1… Supreme Being or active principle; No. 2…three symbols represent the Supreme Being, or first cause; The Ogham… inscription is To him who is the universal Spirit; No 3 is written in symbolic characters, signifying the House of God; No. 4 Is found on the south side of the east tabernacle, written in the Ogham and symbolic characters. The symbol is that representing the earth and universal nature, and with the Ogham which is written from the left to the right, makes a mor an Ops, that is, to the great mother Ops, or to the great mother Nature; No. 5 Is found on the front stone of the north tabernacle; and represents chance, fate or providence; No. 6 Is found on the north stone of the west tabernacle, written in the Ogham…that is, the sepulchre of the hero; No. 7 Is…written in the Ogham…probably specifying the several species of victims sacrificed at this temple, in honour of universal nature, providence and the names of the hero interred within."
66Tuffy, Clare. "Newgrange: A Passage to the Afterworld." World of Hibernia 22 Dec. 1997.
67Hoare, Sir Richard Colt. Journal of a Tour in Ireland, AD, 1806. London: Printed for R. Phillips, 1807. 257.
This may be read in its entirety here.
The author’s estimate of the number of years required to build the tomb presumes that they were able to work for two months each year, after the spring planting season. His figures are based upon the earlier work of Frank Mitchell. (Mitchell, Frank. The Irish Landscape. London: Collins, 1976. 130.)
Carlton Jones suggests that the evidence of small hut found just outside the entrance to the monument, contemporary with its construction, may indicate that the hut played an important part of the rituals that took place in front of the tomb. (Jones, Carleton. Temples of Stone: Exploring the Megalithic Tombs of Ireland. Cork: Collins, 2007. 198.)
71Condit, Tom. "The Newgrange Cursus and the Theatre of Ritual." Archaeology Ireland (Supplement: Brú Na Bóinne) 11.3 (1997): 26-27.
The author describes what remains of the original, much larger ritual pathway: "The Newgrange cursus, located c. 100m east of the great passage tomb on a north-south axis, consists of two parallel banks 20m apart, the southern end closed off by a V-shaped terminal."
72"The Ancient Astronomers of Newgrange." Mythical Ireland- Newgrange, Ancient Sites, Myths, Mysteries, Tours and Astronomy. Web. 31 Jan. 2012. <http://www.mythicalireland.com/astronomy/ancientastronomers.html>
This website is a good starting point for the discussion of ancient astronomers: "There is a dim light which shines from the remote distance of the Neolithic past. It carries a message of wisdom, of understanding, of cosmic awe and inspiration, and astronomical mastery of the highest order. We have regrettably looked upon the ancient people of this land as being primitive, and in some quarters we are told that these awesome constructs with their dazzling size and arcane symbols, are merely tombs, used to bury the dead. Even today, archaeology calls Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth "passage-tombs". I would like to see that title removed, and to install a more accurate and fitting description – something like ‘astronomical timepieces’ or ‘Stone Age observatories’."
In a completely different, passionate and idiosyncratic vein, another website seems to channel Vallancey.
73"Uriel’s Machine." Knight-Lomas.Com. Web. 31 Jan. 2012. <http://www.knight-lomas.com/uriel.html>.
Knight, Christopher, and Robert Lomas. Uriel’s Machine: Uncovering the Secrets of Stonehenge, Noah’s Flood, and the Dawn of Civilization. Gloucester, MA: Fair Winds, 2001.
74Brennan, Martin. The Boyne Valley Vision. Portlaoise: The Dolmen Press, 1980. 1.
From the author’s preface: "What was previously considered the dawn of civilization may in fact have been its high noon. In spite of refinements in the techniques and tools of modern archaeology, we will never be able to fathom the achievements of a people whose primary tools were stone unless we rid ourselves of preconceived ideas about the origins and development of science and art." More information on Martin Brennan is available here.
Mainstream archaeologists and other scientists are usually more skeptical about the claims of a precise Neolithic astronomy. Ronald Hutton writes, "The bold attempts of Martin Brennan to combine the orientations, the art and the settings of the County Meath tombs in order to explain the theology behind them have produced no more than conjectures. His confident tone and refusal to recognize the limitations of his evidence reduce the value of his declarations in the eyes of prehistorians as they may increase it in the estimation of a less wary public. Certainly, the wonderful phenomenaon of the solstice at Newgrange at present offers us puzzles, not answers." (Hutton, Ronald. The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy. Oxford, UK: B. Blackwell, 1991. 59-60.)
76Aviva, Elyn, and Gary White. Powerful Places in Ireland. Santa Fe: Pilgrims Process, 2011. 39-40.
77Russell, George William (Æ). The Candle of Vision. London: Macmillan and Co., Ltd., 1919. 168.
1Westropp, Thomas J. "Cists, Dolmens, and Pillars of East Clare." Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy XXIIII.C (1903): 130.
2"Poulnabrone | Fieldnotes by CianMcLiam." The Modern Antiquarian.com. Stone Circles, Megalithic Remains, Prehistoric Sites. Web. 27 May 2011. <http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/post/38103/fieldnotes/poulnabrone.html>.
3Harbison, Peter. Guide to National and Historic Monuments of Ireland: including a Selection of Other Monuments Not in State Care. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1992. 68.
4Aviva, Elyn, and Gary White. Powerful Places in Ireland. Santa Fe: Pilgrims Process, 2011.
Aviva and White’s book explores, from a spiritual perspective, many of Ireland’s ancient sites.
5Lynch, Ann. "Poulnabrone: A Stone in Time…" Archaeology Ireland 2.3 (1988): 105-07.
6Carleton Jones is a Lecturer in Archaeology at NUI Galway. He is the author of a well-received field guide to Ireland’s megalithic monuments and has done his own archeological excavations in the Burren. He explained this research for an interview in Voices from the Dawn.
7Jones, Carleton. "Poulnabrone – Prehistoric Billboard or Ancient Church?" Ireland Fun Facts. Web. 27 May 2011. <http://www.ireland-fun-facts.com/poulnabrone.html>.
1Cole, Grenville A. J. "Proleek Cromleck." Journal of the County Louth Archaeological Society 5.1 (1921): 24. Quoted from his essay, "Ireland the Outpost."
2"Golf Card & Rules." Ballymascanlon House Hotel. Web. 01 June 2011. <http://www.ballymascanlon.com/html/golf_card.htm>.
The hotel warns its golfers, "THE DOLMAN PATHWAY Fence which runs on the left hand side of the 6th, 7th, 13th & 14th holes is deemed to be an integral part of the course, the ball must be played as it lies or declared unplayable – Rules 24 Def.C."
3Borlase, William Copeland. The Dolmens of Ireland, Their Distribution, Structural Characteristics, and Affinities in Other Countries; Together with the Folk-lore Attaching to Them; Supplemented by Considerations on the Anthropology, Ethnology, and Traditions of the Irish People. With Four Maps, and Eight Hundred Illustrations, including Two Coloured Plates. Vol. 1. London: Chapman & Hall, Ld., 1897. 305.
4"Proleek Dolmen’s Summer Solstice Alignment." MYTHICAL IRELAND – Newgrange, Ancient Sites, Myths, Mysteries, Tours and Astronomy. Web. 01 June 2011. <http://www.mythicalireland.com/ancientsites/proleek/proleek-summer-solstice-alignment.php>.
5Evans, E. Estyn. Prehistoric and Early Christian Ireland; a Guide. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1966. 158.
6Morris, Henry, and Peter P. MacDonnell. "Notes and Queries." Journal of the County Louth Archaeological Society 2.3 (1910): 323-25.
Lloyd, J. H. "The Legend of Proleek." Journal of the County Louth Archaeological Society 1.3 (1906): 46-48.
7"Proleek Dolmen." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 18 (1908): 318.
9Wright, Thomas, and Paul Foudrinier. Louthiana: Or, An Introduction to the Antiquities of Ireland. In Upwards of Ninety Views and Plans: Representing, with Proper Explanations, the Principal Ruins, Curiosities, and Ancient Dwellings, in the County of Louth. Divided into Three Books. Vol. 2. London: Printed for T. Payne, 1758. 11.
10"Louth Ordnance Survey Letters (Continued)." Journal of the County Louth Archaeological Society 7.1 (1929): 65-66.
T. O’Conor and J. O’Keeffe were credited as the authors of these letters.
11Wood-Martin, W. G. Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland. Vol. 2. London: Longmans, Green, & Co. 1902. 29.
12Wood-Martin, W.G., The Rude Stone Monuments of Ireland: Co. Sligo and Achill Island. Dublin: Hodges, Figges and Co., 1888. 87-88.
Rathcroghan Royal Site
1Gregory, Lady Augusta, and W. B. Yeats. Cuchulain of Muirthemne: the Story of the Men of the Red Branch of Ulster. London: J. Murray, 1902. xvii.
2Waddell, John, Joe Fenwick, and K. J. Barton. Rathcroghan: Archaeological and Geophysical Survey in a Ritual Landscape. Dublin: Wordwell, 2009. 198.
3Waddell, John. Archaeology and Celtic Myth: An Exploration. Dublin, Ireland: Four Courts, 2014. 56-7.
According to the author, the name Crúachan may actually mea "place of burial mounds."
4Waddell 2009, 34.
The author is quoting from Charles O’Connor’s first edition (1753) of Dissertations on the ancient history of Ireland.
5Waddell 2009, 18.
The techniques employed include: magnetic susceptibility, magnetic gradiometry, electrical resistivity tomographty, and ground penetrating radar.
6Killanin, Michael Morris, and Michael V. Duignan. The Shell Guide to Ireland. London: Ebury P. in Association with George Rainbird, 1967. 408-09.
The ancient ruling family of the O’Conors of Connacht (in 1967) still had a descendent with an estate at Clonalis, Castereagh, 12 m. S. of Rathcroghan. The current holder of the title "O’Conor Don" (since 2000) is Desmond O’Conor Don (Deasmumhain Ó Conchubhair Donn) of Horsegrove House in Sussex, England. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ó_Conchubhair_Donn)
7Waddell, John. "Rathcroghan – A Royal Site in Connacht." The Journal of Irish Archaeology 1 (1983): 21.
The quotation is from the Tain Bo Fraich: "This was the arrangement of the house: seven partitions in it, seven beds from the fire to the wall in the house all around. There was a fronting of bronze on each bed, carved red yew all covered with fair varied ornament. Three rods of bronze at the step of each bed. Seven rods of copper from the centre of the floor to the ridge-pole of the house. The house was built of pine. A roof of slates was on it outside. There were sixteen windows in it, and a shutter of copper for each of them …" (Byrne and Dillon 1937, 3)
Waddell’s journal article may be read in its entirety here.
8Jackson, Kenneth Hurlstone. The Oldest Irish Tradition; a Window on the Iron Age. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1964. 5.
"We know that the latest archaeological expression of the pre-Roman European Iron Age, the so-called La Tène culture, lasted in a vestigial form in Ireland, where there was no Roman occupation to swamp it, until at least the time when the introduction of Christianity in the fifth century brought its considerable changes in intellectual and to some degree social organization and particularly in art styles and motifs. I shall attempt to show that the background of the Irish epic tales appears to be older than these changes, and hence that when all due allowance is made for later accretions the stories provide us with a picture — very dim and fragmentary, no doubt, but still a picture — of Ireland in the Early Iron Age."
Waddell, however, offers a much more nuanced view: "It is questionable whether early Irish epic literature is a window on a prehistoric Iron Age, as Jackson once claimed…for…some descriptive detail of motifs such as the sword [and chariots-ed.] and the use of silver and other precious metals in the tales of the Ulster Cycle reflects the contemporary world of the later redactor." (Waddell, John, Joe Fenwick, and K. J. Barton. Rathcroghan: Archaeological and Geophysical Survey in a Ritual Landscape. Dublin: Wordwell, 2009. 28.)
In his 2008 translation of the Tain, Ciaran Carson argues "Whether or not it is an Irish Iron Age is another question. For instance, it is undeniable that the social and warfaring practices embedded in the narrative bear remarkable similarities to those of the Gauls or ‘Celts’ of continental Europe, as described by Diodorus Siculus in around 60 BC…" (Carson, Ciaran. The Táin: a New Translation of the Táin Bó Cúailnge. New York: Viking, 2008. xx.)
9Waddell 2009, 39-40.
According to Rathcroghan guide Mike Croghan, the ogham stone is only partially translatable, as much of the markings are obscured. It may be more accurately translated as "Fráech…son of Medb."
10Waddell 2014, 25.
11Duke, Sean. "The Balance of Power in Ancient Ireland." Science (New Series) 278.5337 (1997): 386.
John Waddell and his team from NUI Galway used techniques such as ground-probing radar and magnetic gradiometry, which measures the magnetic properties beneath the ground, as well as electrical tomography. For this, metal electrodes are placed into the ground and a current passed between them measuring its resistivity, which varies depending on what the substrata is composed of. A large number of such measurements taken in different directions and at various depths allowed them to use computer modeling to construct a three-dimensional image of the interior of the mound.
12Waddell 2009, 174.
In another statement, Waddell refers to "A bewildering complexity of overlapping linear, arcuate and annular anomalies occur in the surface layers beneath the summit…" (168).
The magnetic gradiometry image on the page (color added) has revealed pits, ditches and palisade trenches. The great mound is in the center, ans seems to have various structures entombed within. "On the east it is approached by a trapezoidal avenue in which two burial mounds are visible. Immediately to the north a northern enclosure has its own eastern avenue. All these features are encircled by a very large ditched enclosure 360m in diameter." (Waddell, John. Archaeology and Celtic Myth: An Exploration. Dublin, Ireland: Four Courts, 2014. 17.)
As would be expected with an emerging technology, the ability of archaeologists to accurately interpret the meaning of geophysical measurements continues to evolve. In the humorous feature "Spoil Heap: A ‘Dictionary’ of Irish Archaeology," the word "Geophysics" is defined as a "method of survey based on spiritualism where archaeologists gather around a table placed over a suspected underground structure and contact the spirit world in an effort to determine the shape of the monument below…" (Archaeology Ireland, 10:1 (Spring, 1996) 36.)
13Waddell 2014, 16.
14Waddell 2009, 191-95.
15"Rath Cruachan." Cruachan Aí Heritage Center pamphlet.
16Waddell 1983, 21.
17Knox, H.T. "Ruins of Cruachan Aí." Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 44 (1913): 1-50.
The author also speculated, about Misgaun Meva, that "it is probable also that the block was kept in the King’s Fort as long as he lived in Rathcroghan, as the Lia Fail was kept in Tara."
Waddell noted from Brash (Brash, Richard Rolt, and George M. Atkinson. The Ogam Inscribed Monuments of the Gaedhil in the British Isles. London: G. Bell and Sons, 1879. 300) "a local tradition that the stone was brought from Elphin by Oisin." (Waddell, John, Joe Fenwick, and K. J. Barton. Rathcroghan: Archaeological and Geophysical Survey in a Ritual Landscape. Dublin: Wordwell, 2009. 242.)
18Waddell 1983, 21.
19Ferguson, Samuel. "Account of Ogham Inscriptions in the Cave at Rathcroghan, County of Roscommon." Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 9 (1864): 161.
20Waddell 2014, 58-65.
21Stokes, Whitley, ed. "The Prose Tales in the Rennes Dindshenchas." Revue Celtique 15 (1894): 470. (electronic edition: http://www.ucd.ie/tlh/trans/ws.rc.15.002.t.text.html)
22Waddell 2009, 37.
The painter Gabriel Beranger (1779) described his visit thus: "We found there some men waiting for us; and having lighted some candles we descended first on all fours through a narrow gallery, which for the length of 12 or 14 feet is the work of man, being masonry said to be done by the Druids, who performed here some of their secret rites."
Author Elyn Aviva has a blog entry about her modern descent into the cave.
23Waddell 2014, 58-65.
In an alternate conclusion to this story, "’Thereafter the men of Connacht and the black host of exile went into the fairy-mound, and destroyed it, and took out what there was in it." (Cross, Tom Peete, and Clark Harris Slover. Ancient Irish Tales. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1936. 248-53.)
24Ní Chatháin, Próinséas. "Sir Samuel Ferguson and the Ogham Inscriptions." Irish University Review 16.2 (1986): 160.
Ferguson was fortunate that his wife lit a candle as she waited for him to emerge from the interior of the cave; otherwise he might never have seen the ogham inscriptions.
"When Ferguson returned to Dublin, having made a record of the Rathcroghan inscriptions, he found ‘that one letter in the inscription was uncertain, indistinct, and blurred.’ He rushed and caught the night train back to Roscommon and "’y twelve o’clock next morning he was again at work in the cave.’"
25Waddell 2009, 221.
The author speculates: "It is an interesting possibility that some of these legends may provide a clue to some of the uses to which the cave was once put. The legend of Nera, who had a vision of the destruction of Cruachain, might suggest that oracular and prophetic practices took place here, and, as befits a point where two worlds meet, the cave had ambivalent functions. It evidently had negative and monstrous aspects as well as being a place of refuge and protection." Waddell suggests (p. 68) that heroic warriors connected to the cave suggests "the interesting possibility that such activities were once part of the cults performed here. A part of the ritual could have involved the introduction of the initiate to the spirits of the warrior dead and the Fraoch inscription may have had a role in this."
26Farrell, Tom. "The Long Stone." Personal interview. 27 June 1979.
27Waddell 1983, 25.
28Waddell 2009, 39.
The author’s 1981 excavations resulted in radiocarbon findings suggesting a late prehistoric (Iron Age) date for the erection of the stone.
A brief journal article in 1933 quotes a local farmer, "My father said he heard wailings regularly around the red stone to the north side of Croghan’s Hill, and saw lights on several occasions. Queen Maeve-I know the spot she was killed in at the lochán, and she was waked at the red stone at Rathcroghan. (Mac Coluim, Fionán. "A Tradition about Rathcroghan, Co. Roscommon." Béaloideas 4.2 (1933): 130.)
29Waddell 1983, 22.
30O’Curry, Eugene. On the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish. London: Williams and Norgate, 1873. II, 70-71.
31De Vismes Kane, William F. M. "The Black Pig’s Dyke: The Ancient Boundary Fortification of Uladh." Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature 27 (1908-1909): 323.
32Waddell 2009, 247.
33Zucchelli, Christine. Stones of Adoration Sacred Stones and Mystic Megaliths of Ireland. Doughcloyne, Wilton, Cork: Collins, 2007. 100.
34Wilde, W.R. "Memoir of Gabriel Beranger, and His Labours in the Cause of Irish Art, Literature, and Antiquities, from 1760 to 1780, with Illustrations." The Journal of the Royal Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland 1.1 (1870): 249-50.
35"Carnfee." Cruachan Aí Heritage Center Guide. Cruachan Aí Heritage Center. Tulsk.
36Waddell 2009, 77.
The author reports, "The earthwork was subjected to detailed topographical survey and a suite of geophysical techniques, including magnetic susceptibility, fluxgate gradiometry, twin-probe electrical resistance and electrical resistivity tomography surveys. The geophysical survey has identified a number of interesting anomalies that are undoubtedly of archaeological significance. These anomalies, for the most part, have no visible surface expression and were unknown prior to the present study." (66)
37Carson, Ciaran. The Táin: a New Translation of the Táin Bó Cúailnge. New York: Viking, 2008. 206.
38Connellan, J.J. "Where on Cruachain Was Seandomnach Maighe Ai?" Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society 25.3/4 (1953-1954): 78.
The author submits his rationale for another location for the "Spring of Clébach" rather than Ogulla. "There is only one such place known to the writer that meets all the requirements, namely Kilnanooan. It is but half a mile from the royal rath, and is directly east of it. Further, it is on the slope of the hill. In the immediate vicinity of Kilnanooan, there is a number of copious fountains, that go to feed the river Cammoge."
39Wakeman, W.F. Graves and Monuments of Illustrious Irishmen. London: Evening Telegraph Reprints #1, 1886. 10.
40Waddell 2009, 244.
41Waddell 2014, 57-8.
42Waddell 2014, 25.
43Waddell 2009, 1.
44Meyer, Kuno. The Triads of Ireland. Vol. XIII. Dublin: Figgis, &, 1906. Todd Lecture Ser. 5.
"The ancient name Cruachain may mean ‘place of burial mounds’. In several tales it is also depicted as a kingly settlement." (Waddell, John. "Rathcroghan, Co. Roscommon: Where the "Táin Bó Cúailnge" Began." Archaeology Ireland: Heritage Guide No. 44 (2009): 1.)
45Herity, Michael. "A Survey of the Royal Site of Cruachain in Connacht: 1. Introduction, the Monuments and Topography." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 113 (1983): 124.
The quotation is from The Middle Irish tract Senchas na Relec (Burial Ground Lore). Translation by George Petrie, The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland, 1845. 102.
46Waddell 2009, 210.
The author is confident that although the ceremonial use of Rathcroghan was principally in the late prehistoric Iron Age, that its significance would have extended into the start of the Christian era in Ireland in the fifth century CE. He suggests that the "various mounds span one or even two millennia." (p. 222)
47Waddell 2009, 222-23.
48Waddell 2009, 208.
The author quotes from Giraldus Cambrensis’ observation of a pagan rite in Donegal: "When the whole people of that land has been gathered together in one place, a white mare is brought forward into the middle of the assembly. He who is to be inaugurated, not as a chief, but as a beast, not as a king, but as an outlaw, embraces the animal before all, professing himself to be a beast also. The mare is then killed immediately, cut up in pieces, and boiled in water. A bath is prepared for the man afterwards in the same water. He sits in the bath surrounded by all his people, and all, he and they, eat of the meat of the mare which is brought to them. He quaffs and drinks of the broth in which he is bathed, not in any cup, or using his hand, but just dipping his mouth into it about him. When this unrighteous rite has been carried out, his kingship and dominion has been conferred." (O’Meara, J.J. 1951 The first version of the Topography of Ireland by Giraldus Cambrensis. Dundalk. 94.)
Ronald Hutton provides more detail: "During the sixth century, Irish paganism seems to have collapsed. The last king to celebrate a feis, the symbolic marriage to a tutelary goddess, was Diarmait Mac Cerbaill at Tara in 560…His death in 565 removed the last figure in Irish history (or semi-history) who might have professed the pagan Celtic religions." (Hutton, Ronald. The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy. Oxford, UK: B. Blackwell, 1991. 262-63.)
50O’Curry, Eugene. On the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish. London: Williams and Norgate, 1873. lxxiv.
51Sullivan, Mark. "Divine Appetite:." The San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal 20.2 (2001): 57-58.
The author quotes Sylvia Perera: "…the word Maeve (written Medb in Irish) . . . means ‘the inebriating one,’ ‘she who is the nature of mead.’ Maeve personifies the honey-based power that inebriates, inflames, expands, dissolves, and radically transforms consciousness." (Perera. Sylvia Brinton. Queen Maeve and Her Lovers: A Celtic Archetype of Ecstasy, Addiction, and Healing. New York, Carrowmore Books, 1999. 62.)
52Waddell 1983, 23.
In his 2014 book, Waddel further explores the symbolic significance of Medb: "This Medb of medieval times was not, in all probability, a historical person for while there were powerful and influential women, they did not inherit political power and the annals record no example of a female political or military leader. Her promiscuity is an echo of an older and much more significant mythic figure. As Maire Herbert has said, ‘in early Ireland women were not sovereigns, but sovereignty was conceived of as female.’"
(Waddell, John. Archaeology and Celtic Myth: An Exploration. Dublin, Ireland: Four Courts, 2014. 111.)
53Kinsella, Thomas, and le Brocquy, Louis. The Tain. Oxford UP, 1969. 53.
Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin observes that "Medb’s apparent promiscuity must not be judged in the context of today’s morality. Rather, she must be seen as the personification of the goddess of sovereignty with whom the king must be united in order to justify his kingship." (Ní Bhrolcháin, Muireann. "Women in Early Irish Myths and Sagas." The Crane Bag: "Images of the Irish Woman" 4.1 (1980): 13.)
55A tale that usually precedes the Táin Bó Cúailnge, "The Debility of the Ulstermen" (Ces Noinden Ulad) explains the curse as a weakness that came upon the Ulstermen whenever they were in peril. This was because the wealthy Ulsterman Crunnchnu forced his wife Macha, a goddess-like creature of great speed, to race against the king’s horses even as she was about to give birth. Because of her subsequent weakness at birth she made a curse on the Ulstermen for nine generations. The twins she bore gave their name to what would become the palace of the Kings of Ulster, Emain Macha (the Twins of Macha.) This legend is considered in more detail in our entry on Emain Macha, also known as Navan Fort. "The Debility of the Ulstermen" may be read in its entirety here.
56Kinsella, Thomas, and le Brocquy, Louis. The Tain. Oxford UP, 1969. 251.
Waddell elaborates on this: "As the instigator of th e[cattle] raid, however, [Medb] has arrogated power, status and a male role to herself. In usurping a man’s function, she effectively doomed the expedition from its inception." (Waddell, John. Archaeology and Celtic Myth: An Exploration. Dublin, Ireland: Four Courts, 2014. 110-11.)
Kinsella explains, "The Tain and certain descriptions of Gaulish society by Classical authors have many details in common: in warfare alone, the individual weapons, the boastfulness and courage of the warriors, the practices of cattle-raiding, chariot-fighting and beheading. Ireland, however, by its isolated position, could retain traits and customs that had disappeared elsewhere centuries before, and it is possible that the kind of culture the Tain describes may have lasted in Ireland up to the introduction of Christianity in the fifth century.
Waddell cites the literary antecedants of The Tain, from Virgln to the themes of the Bible: "…aspects of Cu Chulainn’s story should also appear to echo features of the life of Christ is not surprising either, since this literature was very much the product of a literate and consciously Christian environment." (Waddell, John. Archaeology and Celtic Myth: An Exploration. Dublin, Ireland: Four Courts, 2014. 10.)
60Waddell 1983, 23, 26.
The author observes, "Indeed a measure of the change in general opinion is the difference between Ferguson’s Medb, whom he compared to Helen of Troy, and the intoxicating fertility goddess of more recent scholarship."
Just prior to appending his Latin inscription, the monk admonishes in Irish: "A blessing on everyone who shall faithfully memorize the Táin as it is written here and shall not add any other form to it."
62Waddell 2009, 215.
63Waddell 1983, 44.
Text transcription from the 1779 Gabriel Beranger watercolor of Rathcroghan: "Rath Craughan or Croghan, County of Roscommon, on which the ancient Kings of Connaught were inaugurated and on which they kept their Provincial assemblies, it is an artificial mount made of Earth and of a circular form all covered with grass and in very good order, it stands in a large field and has a gentle slope of an easy ascent all round it. The diameter at the Top is 400 feet, and at bottom 450 being 1350 in Circumference. The Slope is 33 feet, it has in the Center of the Top, a small mount whose Top has only 6 feet diameter, on which it is supposed The King had his station. There is no sign of remains of any stone buildings on the whole spot of ground."
Harbison, Peter, and Josephine Shields. Our Treasure of Antiquities’: Beranger and Bigari’s Antiquarian Tour of Connacht in 1779. Bray: Wordwell in Association with the National Library of Ireland, 2002. Pl. 21.
Rathgall Hill Fort
1Williams, W. H. A. Tourism, Landscape, and the Irish Character: British Travel Writers in Pre-famine Ireland. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin, 2008. 69.
2Kelly, Tom, and Christy Owen. "The Ring of the Rath." Personal interview. 13 June, 1979.
3"Archaeological Finds during Excavation." Display card. The National Museum of Ireland, 14 July, 1998.
4"Unpublished Excavations." The Heritage Council. Web. 07 Apr. 2011. <http://heritagecouncil.ie/unpublished_excavations/section6.html>.
5Orpen, Goodard H. "Rathgall, County Wicklow." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland Sixth 1.2 (1911): 142-43.
6Kelly, Tom, and Christy Owen.
7Dorson, Richard M. Folklore and Fakelore: Essays toward a Discipline of Folk Studies. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1976. 6
8"An Academic (P)Review of Akins’ Lebor Feasa Runda." Community Center. Web. 07 Apr. 2011. <http://community.livejournal.com/cr_r/318578.html>.
99Šmidchens, Guntis. "Folklorism Revisited." Journal of Folklore Research 36.1 (1999): 52+.
An earlier definition (Moser, 1962): "Second-hand mediation and presentation of folk culture." Šmidchens also offers his own definition: "The conscious recognition and repetition of folk tradition as a symbol of ethnic, regional, or national culture."
10Hall, S. C., and S. C. Hall. Ireland, Its Scenery, Character, etc. London: How and Parsons, 1841. 224.
11Thackeray, William Makepeace. The Irish Sketch Book. 1843. 43. Cited in Williams, W. H. A. Tourism, Landscape, and the Irish Character: British Travel Writers in Pre-famine Ireland. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin, 2008. 79.
12Binns, Jonathan. The Miseries and Beauties of Ireland. London: Longman, Orme, Brown, and, 1837. 249. Cited in Williams, W. H. A. Tourism, Landscape, and the Irish Character: British Travel Writers in Pre-famine Ireland. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin, 2008. 79.
13Thackeray, William Makepeace. The Irish Sketch Book of 1842. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1904. 43.
The Rock of Doon
1Mac An Bhaird, Ferghal Óg, and L. McKenna. "Poem to Aodh Ruadh ó Domhnaill." The Irish Monthly 48.567 (1920): 481-85. The text quoted is an excerpt.
2The plaque commemorating the traditional site of the inauguration stone on the Rock of Doon had been vandalized when we made our visit in 1999. The plaque that appears in the VR tour is a composite image in which the damage has been repaired.
3"O’Donnell Coat of Arms and Family History." Araltis – the Internet Heraldry Store. Web. 06 June 2012. <http://www.araltas.com/features/odonnell/>.
See Wikipedia for a listing of the Kings of Tír Chonaill. The earliest printed account of the association between the Rock of Doon and inauguration ceremonies is found in the Post Chaise Companion of 1803. (FitzPatrick, Elizabeth. Royal Inauguration in Gaelic Ireland C. 1100-1600: A Cultural Landscape Study. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Boydell, 2004. 185.)
4"O’Donnell Coat of Arms and Family History." Araltis – the Internet Heraldry Store. Web. 06 June 2012. <http://www.araltas.com/features/odonnell/>.
"Like many of the ruling families at that time, they occupied themselves in tribal conflict, mostly attacking their kinsmen, the O’Neills."
5Gerald of Wales (Giraldus Cambrensis), and John J. O’Meara. The History and Topography of Ireland. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985. 110.
Giraldus was no friend of Ireland, being from a prominent settler family, and his Topographia Hibernica was filled with many fanciful and derogatory references to the native Irish. In the seventeenth century, scholar Geoffrey Keating called it "’a malicious unwarranted lie." However some modern scholars have a more receptive view of the Cambrensis account of the inauguration rite, as they’ve found "the horse sacrifice associated with kingship rituals among many of the Indo-European peoples [and] … there is evidence to suggest that even at this late date  a symbolic bath may have formed part of the ceremonies…" (Ó Canann, Tomás G. "Carraig an Dúnáin: Probable Ua Canannáin Inauguration Site." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 133 (2003): 43-44.)
FitzPatrick claims that reported folklore of the described ritual "is probably a grambled version of Gerald of Wales’ written account, but the association of that rite with Carraig an Duin is solely the outcome of local tradition." (FitzPatrick, Elizabeth. Royal Inauguration in Gaelic Ireland C. 1100-1600: A Cultural Landscape Study. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Boydell, 2004. 184.)
6O’Donovan, John, and Michael O’Flanagan. Letters Containing Information Relative to the Antiquities of the County of Donegal, Collected during the Progress of the Ordnance Survey in 1835. Vol. 5. Bray, 1927. 53+.
O’Donovan was told by an old O’Donnell gentleman that the inauguration stone in the Kilmacrennan church was "destroyed by a Mr. Mac Swine, who having changed his religion, became a violent hater of everything Irish. He tore down a great part of the old Church to obtain building materials and destroyed all the ornamented stones in the neighbourhood."
Another author suggests that the most significant medieval O’Donnell inauguration site was not The Rock of Doon but rather was at Carraig an Dunain, close to Donegal town. (Ó Canann, Tomás G. "Carraig an Dúnáin: Probable Ua Canannáin Inauguration Site." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 133 (2003): 42.)
Elizabeth FitzPatrick notes that traditions of the Rock of Doon’s use for royal ritual are "based on complex local folktales recorded and reiterated from the beginning of the nineteenth century onwards." ( (FitzPatrick, Elizabeth. Royal Inauguration in Gaelic Ireland C. 1100-1600: A Cultural Landscape Study. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Boydell, 2004. 184.)
More details of the inauguration rite may be found here.
7Archdall, Mervyn. Monasticon Hibernicum, Or, An History of the Abbeys, Priories, and Other Religious Houses in Ireland…. Dublin: Printed for Luke White, 1786. 201. Read online here.
8FitzPatrick, Elizabeth. Royal Inauguration in Gaelic Ireland C. 1100-1600: A Cultural Landscape Study. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Boydell, 2004. 111-112.
The author believes that the Rock of Doon may well have served for the inauguration of the O’Donnells, at least until 1258 when the bishop of Raphoe summoned Domhnall Og Ó Domhnaill to be inaugurated in Raphoe cathedral. In subsequent years the ceremony was transferred, at least in part, to the church of Kilmacrennan.
9"Sir Cahir O’Doherty’s Rebellion 1608." Ask About Ireland. Web. 07 June 2012. <http://www.askaboutireland.ie/reading-room/history-heritage/history-of-ireland/the-ulster-plantation/sir-cahir-odohertys-rebel/>.
O’Doherty’s original English patron was a military officer, Sir Henry Dowcra. He was replaced by Sir George Paulet, who mistrusted O’Doherty, and enraged the Irishman by punching him in the face. Paulet was killed during O’Doherty’s siege of Derry.
10Ó Canann, Tomás G. "Carraig an Dúnáin: Probable Ua Canannáin Inauguration Site." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 133 (2003): 55-57.
The author quotes O’Donovan, whose informant "’shewed us the very spot where Sir Cahir O’Doherty was killed, and the rock at which his members [body parts] were boiled in a cauldron!’"
Another account holds that Sir Cahir’s death was due not to battle but to the treachery of his own companions. (Archdall, Mervyn. Monasticon Hibernicum, Or, An History of the Abbeys, Priories, and Other Religious Houses in Ireland…. Dublin: Printed for Luke White, 1786. 201.)
11Kinahan, G.H. "Donegal Folk-Lore." The Folk-lore Journal 3.3 (1885): 276.
12Gallagher, Charles, "Rock of Doon and Doon Well." Personal Interview. 28 June 1999.
13Hutton, Ronald. The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy. Oxford, UK: B. Blackwell, 1991. 173.
The Brennemans have described such a sacred marriage to the land by the ruler: "The king or chieftain, then, was married to the goddess of the place, his tuath, through ritual acts at the well. This place" was defined by its natural configurations, through which its power emanated. Because the chieftain was married to this actual place, it was not possible to take land from others through warring activities. Rather, he could take hostages in the form of powerful persons; but the marriage of chief to place is never broken, and its center remained the sacred spring, site of the inauguration ritual." (Brenneman, Walter L., and Mary G. Brenneman. Crossing the Circle at the Holy Wells of Ireland. Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 1995. 36.)
14"Doon Mass Rock In County Donegal." Your Irish. Web. 07 June 2012. <http://www.yourirish.com/doon-mass-rock>.
Caesar Otway’s nineteenth-century informant at the Rock of Doon spoke of the "difficulties the friar encountered in his attempts to bless the well and how its sanctification ensured that the fairies of the Rock would never return." (FitzPatrick, Elizabeth. Royal Inauguration in Gaelic Ireland C. 1100-1600: A Cultural Landscape Study. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Boydell, 2004. 186.)
15"Doon Well." Finn Valley Places. Web. 07 June 2012. <http://www.finnvalley.ie/places/doon/well.html>.
The author writes, "Up to four decades ago, whole train-loads of pilgrims for Doon Well were there every Sunday throughout the summer months, from places as far apart as Derry and Burtonport, and all points in between. To be there on such an occasion, with hundreds of all ages, engaged devoutly in the turas [procession], was to see an impressive and devotional spectacle."
16Brenneman, Walter L., and Mary G. Brenneman. Crossing the Circle at the Holy Wells of Ireland. Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 1995. 48-52.
The authors describe the Doon Well "rag tree" as "small, only five and one-half feet tall, but it is completely covered with all manner of clooties so that it appears to be bending under the pain and sickness of all the world." The items left on a rag tree are also referred to as "clooties." Charles Gallagher, in the video interview on the page, notes that pilgrims no longer leave their crutches and canes (sticks) at the well: "There’d be more crutches and sticks there in my young days. They’d be over as far as your car. But, crutches and sticks! There’s nobody on crutches and sticks anymore. They’re gettin’ their hips done, and their legs done, and their ankles done. They don’t need sticks anymore."
Rosdoagh Court Tomb
1Fergusson, James. Rude Stone Monuments in All Countries Their Age and Uses. London: J. Murray, 1872. 1-2.
3Molyneux, Thomas, and Gerard Boate. A Natural History of Ireland in Three Parts. Dublin: George Grierson, 1726. 189-90.
To some, it was inconceivable that the Irish, seen by these observers to be little more than savages, could have had ancestors in prehistory capable of constructing such sophisticated monuments as the passage tombs.
4Burl, Aubrey. A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany. New Haven: Yale UP, 2005. 242.
The Shell Guide to Ireland (1967), and Harbison’s Guide to the National and Historic Monuments of Ireland (1992) also refer to the monument as a "stone circle." According to "TomFourwinds," (Megalithomania) the confusion may have originated with the 1840 OS maps. where the monument was labeled "Stone Circle."
5Daniel, Glyn Edmund. The Origins and Growth of Archaeology. New York: Crowell, 1968. 33.
Stukeley, for all his eccentricities—he considered himself the "Chief Druid" of his circle—was actually a careful and skilled field worker.
6Vance, Rob. Secret Sights: Unknown Celtic Ireland. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 2003. 133.
7"County Mayo – Selected Monuments." Irish Megaliths: Field Guide & Photographs by Anthony Weir. Web. 29 Sept. 2011. <http://www.irishmegaliths.org.uk/mayo.htm>.
According to the author, "The site with fine views has been ruined by the usual hideous bungalow plonked right beside it."
9"Corrib Gas Pipeline: Environmental Impact Statement." Web. 29 Sept. 2011.
The "non-technical summary" of the EIS may be read here.
1Yeats, W. B. The Celtic Twilight. London: A.H. Bullen, 1902. 148-49.
2"Rosses Point." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 27 Feb. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosses_Point>.
6Guy, Francis. Francis Guy’s Illustrated Descriptive and Gossiping Guide to the South of Ireland. Cork: Francis Guy, 1884. 56.
9Hirschberg, Stuart. "Art as the Looking Glass of Civilization in W.B. Yeats’s ‘Under Ben Bulben’." Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review. Vol. 71, No. 284 (Winter, 1982). 401.
11Yeats, W. B. Last Poems and Two Plays. Dublin: Cuala, 1939.
The unattributed photographs of W. B. Yeats featured in the video are from the Library of Congress, and University College, Cork.
1Yeats, William Butler. The Collected Poems of William Butler Yeats. London: Macmillan, 1955. 38.
The poem may be read in its entirety here.
2"Rostellan Portal Tomb" Megalithic Monuments Of Ireland. Web. 14 Dec. 2011. <http://www.megalithicmonumentsofireland.com/COUNTIES/CORK/Rostellan_PortalTomb.html>.
Due to its unusual orientation, and also due to its being repaired by Dr. Wise in the middle of the nineteenth century, some have suggested that the dolmen may be a fake, of entirely of modern construction. Others have described it as resembling a kist, rather than a portal tomb. An article in The Irish Naturalist following the account of the exploration of the Rostellan Dolmen describes a similarly submerged specimen near Etel, Morbihan, in NW France. ("A Parallel to the Submerged Cromleac of Rostellan, Co. Cork." The Irish Naturalist 19.3 (1910): 49.)
3Killanin, Michael Morris, and Michael V. Duignan. The Shell Guide to Ireland. London: Ebury P. in Association with George Rainbird, 1967. 166.
According to this online forum, Mhaistin may also derive from "Mastiff," or "unruly child," or "large ugly thing." Some claim that the name Rostellan comes from Ros (headland) and dallan or dolmen.
4"Rostellan Castle/House | Housetorian." Housetorian | The Story behind the House. Web. 15 Dec. 2011. <http://gatecottages.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/rostellan-castlehouse/>.
The 5th Earl of Inchiquin Murrough O’Brien named the tower in honor of actress Sarah Siddons who apparently visited the Rostellan House. She was a British actress, a tall figure with "expressive eyes and a solemn dignity."
5The Rostellan Dolmen History 4 June 2010. Information sign at the site. Saleen.
The sign indicates that the stones on the shore are a themselves a megalithic tomb. Others believe them to be a quarry from which the dolmen’s stones originated.
6Borlase, William Copeland. The Dolmens of Ireland… Vol. 1. London: Chapman & Hall, Ld., 1897. 16.
This volume may be read in its entirety here.
7Welch, R. "Further Note on the Rostellan Cromleac." The Irish Naturalist 16.9 (1907): 267-69.
The Dr. Wise mentioned in the article was a Scotsman who lived in Rostellan House from 1855-1879. According to the author, there was a Mrs. W. H. Johnson in the party of explorers "who stated that she had visited the cromleac some years previously, and that there was then a portion of a stone circle (three stones, which have since disappeared), and she was then informed that the circle was complete within the memory of persons then living."
8O’Sullivan, Sean. The Folklore of Ireland. London: B.T. Batsford, 1974. 30.
9"A Folklore Survey of County Clare: Rocks, Caves and Stones." Clare County Library. Web. 15 Dec. 2011. <http://www.clarelibrary.ie/eolas/coclare/folklore/folklore_survey/chapter18.htm>.
Some have suggested that the origin of the Diarmuid and Gráinne tale’s connection to portal tombs may be the linguistic confusion arising from the word leabaidh, which was understood in its literal sense of a "bed," whereas it was intended to convey the sense of a "tomb."
10Cross, Tom Peete, and Clark Harris Slover. Ancient Irish Tales. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1936. 374.
"The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne" as translated in Ancient Irish Tales may be read in its entirety here.
Gráinne’s name may come from that of the sun goddess, Grian. Diarmuid’s full name is usually given as "Diarmuid Ua Duibhne," but some
credit an ancient source for his alternate name of Diarmaid Donn, derived from Donn, the Celtic god of the dead. (Ó hÓgáin Dáithí. Fionn Mac Cumhaill: Images of the Gaelic Hero. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1988. 166-75.)
Some have suggested that "The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne" had some influence on the Tristan and Iseult legend. Although that story developed in France during the 12th century, it is set in Britain. There are also parallels to the story of Lancelot and Guinevere.
11Grinsell, Leslie V. Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain. London: Newton Abbot, 1976. 42-3.
Some wedge tombs are also associated with Diarmuid and Gráinne. According to DáithíÓ hÓgáin, "the implication of associating huge landmarks in stone with the Fianna is that they were able to construct them due to their enormous strength." (Ó hÓgáin Dáithí. Fionn Mac Cumhaill: Images of the Gaelic Hero. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1988. 308.)
12Borlase Vol. 2. 845.
According to T.J. Westropp, "In Hely Dutton’s time (possibly on the same account) some sense of indecency attached, and a girl refused to guide him to those of Ballyganner in 1808, till she was assured that he was a stranger and ignorant of the local beliefs John Windele in July 1855 notes of the Mount Callan Dolmen ‘fruitfulness of progeny in that.’ I learned of an indecent rite taking place about 1902 at a dolmen for the same purpose." (Westropp, Thomas J. "Prehistoric Remains (Forts and Dolmens) in Burren and Its South Western Border, Co. Clare: Part XII: North Western Part (Continued)." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland Sixth 5.4 (1915): 267-68.)
14Evans, E. Estyn. Irish Folk Ways. New York: Devin-Adair, 1957. 283.
15Boland, Eavan. The Journey and Other Poems. Manchester: Carcanet, 1987. 322.
The poem "Listen. This is the noise of myth." may be read in its entirety (with annotations) here.
A short biography of Eavan Boland may be read here.