Why Visit Rathcroghan

To visit Rathcroghan is to step into a landscape that has avoided the ravages of the celtic tiger and needless commercialism. The integrity of the land remains intact as there has been very little in the way of intrusive archaeology to the mounds.

Although it is fair to say that there are more questions than answers regarding the who, what, where, when, why and how, the fact that the landscape has not been disturbed is refreshing. This means that you can walk in the very footsteps of the ancients. You personally may well manage to step into the same footprints as queen Medb or the Ulster warrior Cu Chulainn.

If you have a desire to connect with the energies of the land then there is no finer place in Ireland.

Another reason to visit is the natural beauty of the area, emerald green fields, beautiful vistas and stunning sunsets.



Davy Patton, a harp maker/carver and  local resident from Rathcroghan puts it this way;

Rathcroghan is a vast and enigmatic ritual landscape. Over a period of at least six thousand years successive generations of inhabitants have moulded and sculpted the very fabric of the land itself into an enduring pattern of earthworks and monuments. These now stand as silent witness's to the mysteries of Irelands past.

To walk this landscape is to follow in the footsteps of countless generations from the Neolithic era when the first stone edifices were erected, through the Bronze and Iron ages, when unknown warriors and kings were laid to rest. With the exception of Daithi the last pagan king of Ireland their names may have been lost, but the monuments erected to their memories remain.

Were the monuments intended to endure, were they a message for future generations like our own? This landscape asks many questions, and Mike Croghan is well placed to answer many of them. Through his connection with the area and his archaeological background Mike can explain how modern science has begun to uncover some of Rathcroghans mysteries. Using non invasive geophysical surveying and other cutting edge technology, research has revealed the hidden structures under the Rathcroghan main mound. Mike can point out the foundations of the great ceremonial structures and ritual avenues that are invisible to the naked eye, but present under the feet of those who stand upon them today.

This is but a small part of the picture, for the history of this place has been preserved not only in the monuments and land itself, but also in the folklore and mythology that was originally part of Irelands great oral tradition, and latterly recorded in the annals and sagas of Irelands vast literary tracts.

Europes oldest epic tale, the Tain bo Cuailnge, begins and ends at Rathcroghan telling of the exploits of Queen Medb her hen pecked husband and the Ulster hero Cuchullain. This tale can still be enjoyed today, both in the original Irish and in modern translation.

But reading of Medb is one thing, standing on the great mound of Rathcroghan and looking out over the same landscapes she once dominated is another experience entirely.

Likewise the great goddess Morrigan stands out from the pages of Irish mythology. Was she a Goddess of War, An Old Queen and consort, an archetype of Female power and authority that has endured to the modern Era?

Such questions will be silenced by the sound of your own heartbeat drumming in your ears, as you crouch in darkness, and slowly descend into Oweynagat, the Cave of the Cats. This is Her traditional home, and one of the most important entrances to Irelands otherworld. Deep in the Earth, when the torches are turned off, it is as if time dissolves, and in the silence and the darkness voices from the past still whisper to those who know how to listen.

Nera embarked on his adventures in the underworld from the Caves at Rathcroghan. If you dare you may follow in his footsteps.

Nearby Patrick himself is said to have ushered in a new era, by baptising the Daughters of King Laoghaire at the Holy Well of Ogulla.

All these tales, all this history; the lives and deaths and loves of generations resonate across this landscape, and all this will come to life in your own minds eye, as you walk in their footsteps and explore the sacred and enduring Landscape of Rathcroghan.

Text by David Patton. www.davypatton.com



Lough key House bed and breakfast in Boyle is a fabulously comfortable bed and breakfast run by Frances McDonagh. Check out www.loughkeyhouse.com or call her on 00 353 (0)87 678757.

It is conveniently located next to Lough Key Forest Park and only 20 minutes from Rathcroghan.