Posted by: mdmusingsie | September 19, 2012

Sacred Sites – Roscommon

Ireland is full of sacred sites, the most well known being Newgrange and the Hill of Tara.  Many more exist in the middle of farmer’s fields in remote areas scattered throughout the country.

Intrigued by a brochure for Rathcroghan Tours, my mother and I booked a tour with Mike Croghan who specializes in tours of sacred sites in Roscommon.  Instead of cookie cutter tours, Mike will tailor the trip to suit your needs, interests, and time limitations.

We visited Ogulla Holy Well, where Saint Patrick is said to have baptized the daughters of Ireland’s High King Laoghaire and the well is reported to have healing properties for the eyes.  While we waited for a storm to blow over before visiting Ráth Cruachan mound, the royal seat of Connacht and home of Queen Medb (Maeve or Meadbh, etc.), Mike filled us in on the local lore including an abbreviated version of the battle of the bulls.

The storm was stubborn so we set off to Uaimh na gCait (Oweynagat, Cave of the Cats or the entrance to the Otherworld).  Guarded by a hawthorn tree, the entrance to the cave is little more than a triangle in the ground, yet it perfectly symbolizes the divine feminine.  To those who can feel such things, the pulse of the land is strong in this place, generating a feeling the nearest I can describe as buoyancy.   Not one to normally crawl around in the dirt and into dark places where bugs and bats like to dwell, I had a strong desire to explore inside the cave but decided to postpone that for another trip due to the muddy ground resulting from the recent rain storm.  To see the inside, check out Mike’s website.

Next on the agenda was Rathra, a multi-ring fairy fort surrounding a Bronze Age mound, then back to Ráth Cruachan mound to finally have a walk up to the site and visit Misgaun Medb, a rectangular stone that aligns with another stone Mileen Meba.  It was said the Kings of Connacht had to pass between these stones to enter the Royal site at Ráth Cruachan.

Most of these places are undisturbed – have never been dug up to see what’s inside.  A certain part of me wants to see the inside of these mysterious mounds and another part prefers to leave them as they are.  There is always a balance to be struck when performing any archaeological dig – how much will you ruin in the quest to discover?  Hopefully with the use of such modern technology as ground penetrating radar and other non invasive techniques, we will one day be able to know what lies beneath the surface without destroying the beauty and mystery these sites contain.

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  1. A sacred site tour is up there on my to-do list….This looked like a lot of fun…

    Somehow some of the character of your tale changed when you mentioned the ground penetrating radar…the mystery is the good part

    Pity the cave had a cave-in due to the installation of electric lights. Is there any desire or a plan to reopen the further reaches of the cave.

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