Guest blogger for this post is Mike Croghan, owner of Rathcroghan Tours. He’s from Bellanagare in County Roscommon. Mike is an artist as well as a guide will be leading our group through the Rathcroghan sites on day 6 of the Thin Places 2012 tour.
A Croghan on Rathcroghan
I’m the luckiest man in the world – I really am, I’m a Croghan and I live on Rathcroghan.
To those who may not have heard of Rathcroghan (that would be 99.9% ), it is one of Ireland’s greatest hidden gems, a landscape that is both physical and mystical, the Tara of the west, home to the goddess Medb, the epicenter for Celtic spirituality……and more.
I clearly remember sitting at the window looking over at a nearby hill whilst eating my dinner – I was 7 years old. What had my attention was a ring fort on the hill top, I can remember wondering what it was before turning my attention back to the spuds.
Over 40 years later I still wonder about that ring fort, what was it used for, why was it placed there, who lived there; my problem is that I am asking the same question about the other 140 monuments on Rathcroghan and it has taken over my life. You see Rathcroghan has the highest density of earthworks in Europe and they sit on the landscape, untouched in their original state teasing me with their enigmatic presence.
The monuments are wrapped in myths and legends, some are named after long dead kings or heroes, others hold the secrets to the otherworld, more have names associated with ancient tales and stories.
For the archaeologist Rathcroghan is a gold mine of monuments dating from as far back as the Neolithic period all the way through the bronze age, iron age, right through the medieval periods to today, so many different styles of monument – raths, cairns, barrows, ring forts, ceremonial mounds, caves and standing stones.
If you approach Rathcroghan as a spiritual pilgrim looking for a connection then you have hit the mother load. The integrity of this landscape has remained intact over the millennia as have the energies within the land. In fact the area only really makes sense when viewed as a ritual landscape.
While other Celtic capitals hit the headlines and receive thousands of visitors each year Rathcroghan sits and waits for the inquisitive pilgrims to search it out, allowing only the true path walker to find it, this may sound poncy but it really is true.
The greatest thrill for me is to be able to introduce these seekers to the area and let them see for themselves just how special the area is, as I said, I’m the luckiest man in the world.
And I still love the spuds.
Learn more about Rathcroghan at Mike’s website – Rathcroghan Tours. His website includes some video and audio with photographs and text. It’s a great resource for those wanting to know more about this remarkable complex of sites.