Loughcrew Cairns Highlights (5)
The Loughcrew cairns, a complex of 5,000-year-old passage tombs, are some of the country’s oldest monuments. They have dominated the landscape south of Oldcastle for thousands of years and can be seen from a great distance. Cairn T, on Carnbane East, is the best known and the most visited.
The climb to the top of Carnbane East is not an easy one but it only takes about 15 minutes, even if you stop and admire the view as you go up. Take your time as you ascend, and remember that you are walking in the footsteps of those who have climbed these hills over thousands of years.
When you get to the top of the hill, accept the invitation to join a guided tour. Listen as your guide tells you how we know what we know about these mysterious places. Explore archaeology, mythology and art and hear some of the stories people have told about these monuments in an attempt to understand the people who built them.
For example, legend has it that a hag or witch formed the cairns when she jumped from one hill to the next, dropping stones from her apron. In the attempt to get to the last hill, she fell and died. The story says that she is buried where she fell, on the slopes of Patrickstown Hill.
Peer inside a passage tomb and you will be peering into prehistory. Look out for the carved stones in the passage. What would it be like to be present on this hill as the sun rises at the equinox and lights up the interior? Imagine what ceremonies took place on this spot all those years ago.
As you ponder the past, don’t forget to look around at the wonderful views. They say you can see 18 counties from the top of this hill. When you leave to go back down, your body might be tired from the climb, but your head will be full of stories. You are sure to remember this experience for a very long time.
The Office of Public Works will have staff on Carnbane East at Loughcrew on the mornings of 21-23 September 2021 for Equinox Dawn from 07:15 until 08:30.There will be no access to the interior of Cairn T.
If you are planning on being there, please dress warmly and wear sensible shoes. The climb to the top of the hill is steep and may be slippery so please take care.