I awoke yesterday morning to fog like none other I had seen and despite it was my second day of driving in Ireland, that even at noon roads could have spots of black ice (temps were only at 42 f) and that I had no map, I was going to explore Loughcrew Cairns.
There is probably no better place in the world to be near any solstice or equinox time of the year than in Meath County Ireland, where one can find at at least 61 Megalithic sites of mystery. One of my reasons for extending my stay in Ireland, especially in the Slane area was due to this weeks Winter Solstice. Near by Newgrange Megalithic Cairns site (along with it’s sister mounds at nearby Dowth and Knowth) is a reconstructed wonder, beautifully preserved and one of the most visited World UNESCO sites. Best known for the illumination of it’s passage and chamber by the Winter Solstice sun.
All along the Boyne River Valley one can find mysterious mounds; some marked with signs, some encircled by tall ancient trees, some with sheep roaming about (few i’m planning to explore over the next few weeks). One of the most overlooked and untouched sites is at Loughcrew. An Irish Heritage site, the country just doesn’t have the funds to maintain and refurbish the thousands upon thousands of designated heritage sites…..but in the case of Loughcrew that is a good thing!
In what feels like a remote and forgotten part of the county, you know your almost there when you feel lost. A lovely desk clerk Mary at the Headfort Arms turned me on to Loughcrew as a local site I could not miss. Directed to go past the site turn off road a few miles to Loughcrew Garden’s Coffee Shop to pick up the key to the gate, I finally made it through a thick blanket of fog missing I’m sure was the most beautiful country side road trip yet. Arriving at the shop Brona the barista was extremely friendly and informative. (more on Loughcrew Gardens and it’s amazing history later….)
Leaving a deposit for the key to the gate with wind up flashlight attached, and heading back to the road I began a steep drive up a one lane road to the parking area. Even though this site is the highest point in Meath County, the visibility was only about 50 yards at best and the sun was a bright fluffy ball in a sky full of fog.
The steep hillside had a defined 4″ rut along it’s self, dotted with an arrow every 150 yards or so, I knew I was getting close because I was feeling even a bit more lost and knew eventually through all this fog I’d find a peak!
Along the way up across the fence I could spot some of the other mounds at this site, with the occasional standing stone. There are at least 26 designated cairn sites at Loughcrew. Cairn T is the one open to explore.
Finally at the top, it was amazing. So quiet, so calm, the thick fog whisping by like a passing stranger, yet the sun trying its best to burn through to no avail.
Despite your beliefs there is no doubting the enormous amount of work for a mysterious purpose that was meticulously laid out with mathematical precision in relation to the earth, the stars and the ancient people that roamed the hills and bogs of Ireland some 5000 years ago.