(Located in Tulsk, County Roscommon, about a 10 minute drive from Roscommon Town)
This is the royal site of the great kings of the Connaught (Connacht) Region (Western Ireland) and sacred center of the Goddess/Queen Medb (Maeve). This is a huge complex that includes an inaugural site, a great cemetery, ring forts, earthen works and the home of Queen Maeve, Earth Goddess and Warrior Queen. Although it was believed that this was not her principle residence, she came here at Samhain to confer with her magicians and her poets. This area is considered to be the Tara of the West where the Kings of Connaught ritually married with the ancient spirit of the Goddess.
This is one of the major centers of ancient Ireland and is the largest complex of a Celtic Royal Site in Europe, spanning about ten square miles. 70 prehistoric monuments have been identified by Archeologists. In addition to the 70 prehistoric monuments, there are over 80 ring forts. Those of residential/settlement origin, date from the first millennium AD. Comparisons have been made between this site and other royal sites such as Tara as well as Tailteann, Dún Ailinne and Eamhain Macha. Similarities have been noted in structures and their relationship with each other. All these locations became abandoned with the onset of Christianity.
This Royal Complex is also called Cruachain, which derives from the Goddess Crochen Croderg, the ancient Goddess who is said to be the mother of Medb. Her name means ‘cup’ or ‘drinking vessel’, the sacred center of Cruachain being her mystical cauldron in which she gave birth to Medb, the ‘Intoxicating One’.
The Táin Trail and Rath na dTarbh
This is the legend of Queen Maeve and her husband Ailill. Queen Maeve was a very proud and wealthy woman who excelled at everything. One day, she and her young husband, Ailill, got into an argument. He challenged her by saying that he had more riches than she. So they matched and measured all their possessions and found them to be the same in number and size, with only one exception. Ailill owned a great white horned bull named Finn Bennach for which no equal was to be found. The only match in all of Ireland was the brown bull, Donn Cuailgne, owned by Daire MacFiachna in the province of Ulster. Maeve assembled a great army and marched towards Ulster to claim the bull.
Cú Chulainn was the great warrior of Ulster and he came to defend the bull and fight against Queen Maeve’s army. There were many great battles fought along the way but Maeve prevailed and managed to steal the bull and bring it back to Connaught. The bull was accidentally put in the same pasture as Ailill’s white bull and once the white bull saw the brown bull, a great bull fight occurred. (The site of the bull fight is at Rath na dTarbh). Ulster’s great brown bull defeated Ailill’s white bull killing him. The brown bull was so home sick and missed his owner terribly that he walked all the way back to Ulster. Once he returned to his owner, he collapsed exhausted and died. (The Táin Trail is marked by signs so you can see the path that Queen Maeve and her army took towards Ulster. Many people have walked this same trail).
Rath Cruachan Mound
This is the focal point of the royal complex. It’s a ceremonial mound believed to also contain a passage tomb.
King Daithi Stone
This marks the grave of the former King and High King and nephew of Niall of the Nine Hostages. Daithi (405AD – 426AD) was the last Pagan King of Ireland.
Miscaun Medb Stone
This sandstone slab is believed to cover the grave of Queen Medb (Maeve). However, it is also believed that she's buried on the top of Knocknarea in County Sligo.
(Pronounced Oen-na-gat), also known as Cave of the Cats (from a legend where a Great female Warrior killed a Monster Cat that dwelled in the cave). This is believed to be the entrance to the Otherworld and home of the Morrigan, where it is believed she arose at the beginning of the wars related in the story of the Taín. When she emerges from Oweynagat, the Morrigan is the earth spirit aspect of Medb and as the fearsome ‘War Trio’, she becomes the Morrigna or Morrigu. The name is generally taken to mean “Great Queen”. She is generally accepted as a Triple Goddess, but there are disagreements about how specifically this works. The most common ‘threesomes’ are Aná (pronounced Anya), Badb (pronounced Bave) and Macha as well as Badb, Macha and Nemain. Her triple form has also been referred to as Morrigna, Badb and Macha. Inside the cave are two ogham stones which translate to mean ‘the pillar of Fraech son of Madb’. Here it is believed that the spirits emerge at Samhain to mingle with the human world.
All wells are sacred to the Goddess and the belief is that they’ve always possessed magical healing powers. At this particular well, St. Patrick Christianized it and here’s where we have the story of Eithne and Fidelma. They were the daughters of Tara’s High King, Laoghaire (pronounced Lehry), and were sent to this region for their education because this area was known to be an important learning center. One morning the two sisters were bathing in the well and St. Patrick came upon them. He began to speak to them about Christianity. They became interested and asked how they could see God. St. Patrick answered that the only way to see God is after death. They listened to him some more and decided to become Baptized and leave their Pagan ways behind. St. Patrick then baptized them after which they both died and met God.