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D.G.Rossetti and B.Jowett at the Oxford Union
And what exactly were they going to do with this Grail when they found it, Mr. Rossetti?




Five roads


The Annals of the Four Masters says that five roads to Tara, which had never been seen before were discovered on the night of Conn's birth.[1]








From A Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland by P. W. Joyce

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SECTION 1. Roads, Bridges and Causeways.

Letter R

The five main roads leading from Tara are mentioned in our oldest authorities, as, for instance, in the story of Bruden Da Derga in the Book of the Dun Cow. They were all called slige.

1. Slige Asail [slee-assil] ran from Tara due west towards Lough Owel in Westmeath, and thence probably in a north-westerly direction.

2. Slige Midluachra [meelooghra] extended northwards towards Slane on the Boyne, through the Moyry Pass north of Dundalk, and round the base of Slieve Fuaid, near the present Newtown-Hamilton in Armagh, to the palace of Emain, and on to Dunseverick on the north coast of Antrim: portions of the present northern highway run along its site.

8. Slige Cualann ran south-east through Dublin, across the Liffey by the hurdle-bridge that gave the city the ancient name of Baile-atha-cliath (the town of the hurdle-ford: now pron. Blaa-clee): crossed the Dodder near Donnybrook: then southwards still through the old district of Cualann, which it first entered a little north of Dublin, and from which it took its name (the slige or road of Cualann), and on by Bray, keeping generally near the coast. Fifty years ago a part of this road was plainly traceable between Dublin and Bray.

4. Slige Dala, the south-western road, running from Tara towards and through Ossory in the present Co. Kilkenny. This old name is still applied to the road from Kells to Carrick-on-Suir by Windgap.

5. Slige Mór ('great highway') led south-west from Tara till it joined the Esker-Riada* near Clonard, along which it mostly continued till it reached Galway. Portions of this road along the old Esker which raised it high and dry over the bogs are still in use, being traversed by the present main highway.

Besides these five great highways, which are con-constantly referred to, the Annals and other old documents notice numerous individual roads. In the Four Masters we find thirty-seven ancient roads mentioned with the general name bealach [ballagh], nearly all with descriptive epithets, like Ballaghmoon near Carlow.

In old times the roads seem to have been very well looked after: and the regulations for making and cleaning them, and keeping them in repair, are set forth with much detail in the Brehon Laws.








An Analysis of Pre-Christian Ireland Using Mythology and A GIS


What is GIS?

GIS is a collection of computer hardware, software, and geographic data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information.



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This paper synthesizes cultural anthropology and archaeology: it promotes mythology as a historic source for archaeological research, and uses GIS to help interpret mythological and geographical data relevant to the Celts of pre-Christian Ireland. The ArcView program establishes correlation between geographic characteristics and pre-Christian Ireland's mythology, recorded in the dindshenchas - a collection of legends describing the origins of Irish place-names. Routes are predicted by ArcView using a cost analysis query procedure and sites from the dindshenchas known to associate with the roads, thus providing archaeological reference to the Five Roads of Tara, the ancient Seat of Ireland's High Kings.~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The dindshenchas data illustrate sites reflecting many feature types. There are a variety of geographic feature types (identified by reviewing the dindshenchas and Focl�ir P�ca, an Irish/English dictionary): stones, rocks, heights, fords, passes, peaks, assemblies, cairns, enclosures, woods, pools, mounds, trees, provinces, bogs, palisades, estuaries, rivers, fairy mounds, mountains, roads, houses, ramparts, and swimming places (see Table 1).

Table 1: dindshenchas site feature types.

Irish English
adhlacadh (modern) burial
ail stone, rock
ard height
ath ford
belach pass
benn, bend peak
bile tree
bri hill
brug palace, mansion
caisel stone fort
carcar prison
carn, cairn cairn
carraic rock
cenn head, mountain
chaill woods
cliath hurdle
clocha, cloch stone
cluain meadow
cness side of hill
cnoc hill
coi path, road
coire cauldron
coirthe, coirthi standing stone
crich boundary, region, territory
cruachan rounded hill
cuan harbor, bend, curve
cuil corner, nook
daire oak wood
derc grave
druim ridge, hilltop
dubthir thicket
duma mound
dun fort, fortress
iamh, fail (modern) enclosure
fert grave
fich town land
fid wooded
glais stream, greensward
glen glen, valley
gort field of battle
grellach clay
inber estuary, river mouth
inis island
lia stone
lind pool
loch lake



rushes, reedy place
lecc stone
mag plain
moin bog
mur rampart
oenach assembly
port harbor
cuige (modern) province
rath, raith ringfort, rampart wall
rinnd top, promontory point
ross wood, headland
sce slant, slope
sid fairymound
sliab mountain
slige road
snam swimming place
tighi house
tir country
tond wave
tor brush, shrub, tuft
tul, tulach low hill
uaig grave


Anthropology brings the past alive, and presents the possibilities for the future. The persons who created the Pyramids, the Temple of Kukulcan, and the dindshenchas did so with the future in mind; humans want to be more than a brief blip in time. Establishing connections to the past and the future gives the illusion of immortality.

The people who produced pre-Christian Ireland's Celtic worldview of heroes, gods, and belief systems, and named Ireland's landscape features accordingly continue to exist and are connected to modern people by projects like this one.

Slige Midluachra is the northern road that extended from Temair (Tara) through Emain Macha and on to Dunseverick (in present-day Northern Ireland).

It is described in the literature as passing on or near Drogheda, Dundalk, Sliab Fuaid, Moyra Pass, Cell na Sagart (Kilnesagart), Druim Cain (in Louth), Clogher (north of Dundalk), and Loch Trena (some of these locations are in the dindshenchas database). Slige Cualann met Slige Midluachra at Tara; the two roads are extensions of one another. Map #11 shows Slige Midluachra highlighted in yellow:

One hundred years from now, someone will connect to data and research being produced today, continuing the cycle of connection. Anthropology is a way to experience what it means to be human - to study what we as the human species have created as our world and to recognize our own connection to the past and the future by developing our knowledge in the present.






Slige Midluachra

From Wikipedia,

Slige Midluachra is the old northern road sometimes known High Kings Road that ran in ancient times from Tara to Dunseverick on the north coast of Ireland.

It was one of the legendary Five Roads of Tara, site of the ancient Seat of Ireland's High Kings. The legendary Five Roads of Tara, described in the Dindshenchas of Slige Dala, are named Slige Dala, Slige Assail, Slige Midluachra, Slige Cualann, and Slige Mor.

General road routes are described in the Dindshenchas, with mention of a few reference locations along each road. Three other ancient roads, referred to as "cow" roads, were found in Lady Gregory's Irish Myths and Legends. Lady Gregory relates the legend of how Manannan's three cows (one white, one red, and one black) created the first three roads in Ireland.



Route of Midluachra

N. Ireland - Belfast - South Armagh

South Armagh

Known as The Gap of the North, South Armagh has a culture and beauty all of its own. Now emerging from decades of conflict, the area is increasing its tourism potential and establishing itself as a new highlight for visitors keen to explore beyond the obvious.~~~~~~~~~~~~


Kilnasaggart Pillar Stone
The stone marks the site of an ancient cemetery on one of Early Christian Ireland's great main roads running from Tara to Dunseverik, Co. Antrim through the Moyry Pass.

A long Irish inscription records a dedication by Tenroc, son of Ceran Bec, placing the site under the patronage of Peter the Apostle. Thought to be a local of some importance, Ternoc's death is recorded as 714 or 716, dating the stone at around AD700 and making it Ireland's earliest dated cross-carved stone.

other cross-carved stones







Dunseverick Harbour  

Holiday Accommodation
North Antrim Map
North Antrim Main Menu
North Antrim Locations
Dunseverick Castle   North Antrim Gift Shop  Portmoon

Part of a tower is all that remains of Dunseverick Castle  which was destroyed  by a Scottish army sent here in 1642 under the command of General Munro to combat the rebellion by Rory O'More, Lord Maquire and Sir Pheilim O' Neill which started in  1641. The ruin you see today dates to the mid 1500's and was probably built by the  MacDonnell clan who had establish a power base along the north coast. Surrounded by the ocean on three sides,  Dunseverick was a key ancient site in Ireland, one of the royal roads from Tara, seat of the Kings of Ireland ended here. It was originally founded by Sobairce, one of the Kings of Ireland who built a fortress  here in 1525BC to rule the ancient Kingdom of Dariada, the location is named after him - Dunsobairce (Fortress of Sobairce) now Dunseverick. Many  heroes of Irish legends such as Cuchulain, Queen Maeve and Turlough are associated with the area. Another fact for anyone walking up to the castle and taking in the breathtaking view to Portmoon - if you do, then you can rest safe in the knowledge that you have walked in the footsteps of Saint Patrick. It is known he visited Dunseverick on several occasions and on one of these occasions  he baptized  a local man called Olcan, who  became Bishop of Armoy and later a Bishop of Ireland, Olcan died in 480AD.  A well which existed a few feet from the cliff edge is named after St. Patrick  and  reputed to be be one of the 'holy' wells of Ireland, though sadly, the christening stone and the seat he used still lie unfound in the waters below, having been tumbled there during a time of upheaval. 





THE chiefs and clans in Dalriada were as follows:--The O'Cahans, and MacQuillan, who held the territory of the Routes , and had their chief seat at Dunluce. The MacDonnells of the Hebrides invaded, A.D. 1211, the territories of Antrim and Derry, where they afterwards made settlements.



In the reign of Elizabeth, Somhairle Buidhe MacDonnell or "Sorley Boy," as he was called by English writers,-- a chief from the Hebrides, descended from the ancient Irish of the race of Clan Colla, came with his forces and took possession of the Glynns.



From Wikipedia,

Sobairce, son of Ebric and a great great grandson of Míl Espáine, was, according to medieval Irish legend and historical tradition, joint High King of Ireland with his brother Cermna Finn.[1] The pair came to power after Cermna killed the previous incumbent, Eochaid Étgudach, in battle at Tara. They were the first High Kings to come from the Ulaid. They divided the country between them, the border running from Drogheda to Limerick.[2] Sobairce ruled the northern half from Dún Sobairce (Dunseverick in County Antrim), Cermna the southern half from Dún Cermna (which Keating identifies as Downmacpatrick in Kinsale, County Cork). They ruled for forty years.



Stones of Giants

A stone's throw from Dunseverick Castle, capital of the ancient kingdom of Dalriada, Cliffs overlooking Port Moon looking towards Dunseverikand nestled amongst the majestic basalt cliffs of the Giants Causeway lies the Port Moon Fishery. For hundreds if not thousands of years the men of the Causeway Coast have used Port Moon Bay to harvest the Atlantic Ocean  ~~~~

http://schwang.co.uk/portmoon/index.htm   Salmon


Dunseverick Dunseverick (Dún Sebuirge)

From Wikipedia,

Dunseverick is a hamlet located near the Giant's Causeway in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Dunseverick Castle and the peninsula on which it stands were given to the National Trust in 1962 by local farmer Jack McCurdy. The Causeway Cliff Path also runs past on its way to Dunseverick Harbour to the east and to the Giant's Causeway to the west.

The castle was occupied until its capture and destruction by Cromwellian troops in the 1650s, and today only the ruins of the gatelodge remain. A small residential tower survived until 1978 when it eventually surrendered to the sea below.


Dunseverick Castle  

Dunseverick Castle


It was a 'key' ancient site in Ireland. One of the royal roads from Tara, seat of the Kings of Ireland ended at Dunseverick castle. This ancient road was known as Slige Midluachra or High Kings Road.

The castle had a well that existed on the north side, about three yards from the edge of the cliff, which is over one hundred feet above the sea. The well was called Tubber Phadrick, or St. Patrick's Well. It is reputed to be one of the 'holy' wells of Ireland. St. Patrick, apparently, visited Dunseverick on several occasions on his travels through the North.




Annals of Ulster


Dates in Irish History





Finn MacCool / Fionn Mc Cumhail

The Finn MacCool Story

There are many heroic legends surrounding Finn MacCool, comparisons have been drawn between him and the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.  Finn was reputed as being the leader of the Fianna, the guardians of the King of Ireland whom he formed from a rough bunch of warriors in an elite group of men who transformed under his command into the manifestation of justice and honour, they were the people's heroes. Finn's famous son whose mother was the goddess Sadb, is said to be  buried in Glenaan. It is worth noting that many of the great legends of Ireland are based or linked to the north coast of Ulster, There must be some  correlation between this and the fact that Whitepark Bay was where man first settled in Ireland.

However in this section we will concentrate on his role in building the Giants Causeway. The story goes thus:-

Finn a renown warrior was going about his daily duties on the north coast when one of his adversary, a Scottish giant called Benandonner started shouting and ridiculing Finn's fighting prowess. This angered Finn who lifted a lump of earth and pelted it to Scotland  as a challenge to this giant.  The Scottish giant retaliated with a rock back  to Finn shouting that if he could get his hand on him, he would make sure that Finn would never fight again adding that unfortunately he could not swim the short distance across the Channel, so Finn would be spared that fate. Finn got enraged by this and tore large pieces from the cliffs,  he worked for over a week pushing these into the ocean bed and made a sturdy causeway to Scotland, when he had finished he shouted 'Now you'll had no excuse' to come over and do your best.  Fearing to lose his own reputation and pride the Scottish giant had no alternative but come over the causeway.  Finn was tired, having not slept for the week he worked on the causeway and did not feel ready for fighting. He thought about how he could buy some time and recuperate to face the Scottish giant and came up with an ingenious plan. Quickly he made a large cot and disguised himself as a baby ...... and waited.  The Scottish giant arrived at Finn's house shouting, 'Where is that coward MacCool', Finn's wife said the he was away but sure sit down and have a cup of tea, he'll not be long. the tea arrived with a cake in which Finn's wife had placed some stones. Benandonner took a bite and broke one of his teeth, and thought to himself,  this Finn must be a tough boyo to eat cakes like this, not to be outdone,  he finished off the cake and tea, breaking two more teeth in the process. 

He noticed the baby cot and the baby inside it and his eyes widened in fear, he thought to himself, my goodness if this is the size of the baby? What size is the Father?  He reached his hand in to touch the sleeping baby, half out of curiosity and half  as a sign of affection, Finn bit the tip of his finger off.  Benandonner was shocked by this and thought to himself, if this is what the baby is capable of, what must the father be capable of and what could he not do! This thought terrified him, the fear got the better of him and took to his  heels and ran like he had never ran before, back across the causeway to Scotland destroying it as he went.  Well.....that is one version of the story, there are many more to choose from, including one of love and romance.






http://www.tw.taramagic.com/map.html   Aerial view



Oisin / Ossian

Ossian's Grave , co Antrim


Irish Dalriada

"Ossian's Grave" (Clach Oisein), An Caol-Ghleann, Scotland



Calum Colvin



James Macpherson and the Ossian Poems

Works of Ossian James Macpherson, 1736-1796.
The Works of Ossian, the Son of Fingal, translated from the Galic language by James Macpherson .... The third edition. London: Printed for T. Becket and P.A. Dehondt ..., 1765.


Episode 28. In Ossian's Cave

Sunday, 22nd July 2007, 5.05pm, Radio Scotland

Portrait of James MacPherson
 (C) scran.ac.ukJames MacPherson’s romantic retelling of the tales of Ossian was the literary toast of Europe, and in the inevitable critical backlash that followed, it was also derided as fake Celtic culture. As John Purser discovers, the truth is somewhere in the middle.





Dál Riata

From Wikipedia,

Dál Riata (also Dalriada or Dalriata) was a Gaelic kingdom on the western seaboard of Scotland with some territory on the northern coasts of Ireland. It was situated in what is now Argyll and Bute, Lochaber, and County Antrim. Dál Riata is commonly viewed as having been an Irish Gaelic colony in Scotland, although some archaeologists have recently argued against this.[1] The inhabitants of Dál Riata are often referred to as Scots, from the Latin scotti for the inhabitants of Ireland, and later came to mean Gaelic-speakers, whether Scottish, Irish or other.[2] They are referred to here as Gaels, an unambiguous term, or as Dál Riatans.[3]

The kingdom reached its height under Áedán mac Gabráin (r. 574-608), but its expansion was checked at the Battle of Degsastan in 603 by Æthelfrith of Northumbria. Serious defeats in Ireland and Scotland in the time of Domnall Brecc (d. 642) ended Dál Riata's Golden Age, and the kingdom became a client of Northumbria, then subject to the Picts. There is disagreement over the fate of the kingdom from the late eighth century onwards. Some scholars have seen no revival of Dal Riata after the long period of foreign domination (after 637 to around 750 or 760), while others have seen a revival of Dal Riata under Áed Find (736-778), and later Kenneth MacAlpin (Cináed mac Ailpín, who is claimed in some sources to have taken the kingship there in c.840 following the disastrous defeat of the Pictish army by the Danes): some even claim that the kingship of Fortriu was usurped by the Dál Riata several generations before MacAlpin (800-858).[4] The kingdom disappeared in the Viking Age.

more - 

Satellite image of northern Britain and  Ireland showing the approximate area of Dál Riata (shaded). The mountainous spine which separates the east and west coasts of Scotland can be seen.

Satellite image of northern Britain and Ireland showing the approximate area of Dál Riata (shaded). The mountainous spine which separates the east and west coasts of Scotland can be seen.



Did You Know?
- Dalriada - Kingdom of the Scots




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maps showing the island of  Iona








Getting there    
The entrance to Giants Causeway is situated 2 miles east of Bushmills just off the B146 Causeway-Dunseverik road. Yet for families intent on making getting there part of the experience there are a few alternatives to the car. From Bushmills, take a 10-minute steam train ride. From Greencastle in the Inishowen Peninsula, hop on the ferry to Magilligan and reduce your trip by roughly an hour. Follow the footpath from Portballintrae alongside the steam railway, Ordnance Survey sheets 4 and 5 or grid reference C952452, or bike along traffic-free roads.



Causeway Scots-Irish Country Band
15 min - 31 May 2006









Dr William Drennan

William Drennan, a Belfast Presbyterian doctor and poet of radical views, is usually credited with being the first person to call Ireland "the emerald isle". Drennan was also the main originator of the Society of United Irishmen, an idea which matured in his mind between 1780 and 1785.

Drennan was born on 23 May 1754. Like so many of the United Irishmen, Drennan was a son of the manse. His father, the Revd Thomas Drennan, Minister of First Presbyterian Church, in Rosemary Street, Belfast, had been a friend of Francis Hutcheson, the Ulster Presbyterian philosopher who held the Chair of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow.

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In Queen Medb's mythological wild boar chase around Magh Muc Dhruim (Athenry) the magic boar was transmorgified (foreground)when speared above the Dur River (Dughiortach) near Esker. Rot na Ri royal road ran along the top of the esker ridge passing in front of Ratgorgin Castle (in background).



The sacred yew in Fortingall, central Scotland, reputedly the oldest tree in Europe
by Barry Dunford

In his insightful work At the Centre of the World (1994), John Michell observes: "Every Celtic community, tribe and national federation of tribes had its sacred assembly place of law of justice. These were centrally placed at the mid-point of their territories....the first thing that was needed by those who created sacred landscapes was to locate the country's main axis, the preferably north-south line between its two extremities, passing through the centre.

It corresponded to the world-tree, the shaman's pole by which he ascends to the world of spirits, and all other symbols of the universal axis....Guarding and overlooking the omphalos, generally to the north of it in the direction from which disruptive forces are traditionally supposed to emanate, is found a lone, conical mountain. Its mythological prototype is the mountain at the centre of the world. The chief god of the pantheon resides there, presiding awesomly over the rituals in his sanctuary below." It is interesting to note that the geographical relationship between the conical Mt. Schiehallion and the Fortingall Yew tree correlates exactly to this ancient mythos as described by John Michell.