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CIIC 12. Rathcroghan I, Co. Roscommon

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© COPYRIGHT, 2009 2014-08-18

© COPYRIGHT, 2009 2014-08-08

National Monuments Service Record Number: RO022-057030-

Site Type

Souterrain at ancient royal site

Description

Site

'This area is the location of Cruachain, the ancient royal capital of the kingdom of Connacht. Within this complex of mounds, barrows and enclosures lies an underground site ... the cave of Cruachain-'Ireland's entrance to Hell' [according to early literature, a door to the otherworld]. The cave, know as Oweynagat, 'the cave of the cats', is c.750m south-west of Rathcroghan Mound. Around 250m to the south-east is the enclosure known as Relignaree (which does appear to be a burial enclosure), whose name marks an association with the burial-place of the kings of Connacht.' (Condit and Moore, 2003).

Monument

'The cave of Crúachu, at Rathcroghan, is a natural rock-fissure, to which a drystone masonry porch in the style of a souterrain has been added. Two of the lintel stones in this structure bear Ogham inscriptions' (Macalister 1945, 16). Rathcroghan I is the lintel on the inner side of the present entrance to the souterrain and cave. 1.23m x 0.48m x 0.16m. These are minimum dimensions taken from the 3d data. The full extent is unknown as the stone is embedded in the structure.

Text

The visible inscription is on two angles, up/up. Regarding MEDVVI, 'the D and the following V have been cut carelessly, so as to over-lap' (Macalister 1945, 16). With regard to VRAICCI, the three scores of initial V are partially damaged and only 6 vowels can be identified after the R but there is space for another, which would give an expected VROICCI.

Transliteration

VRẠICCI/ MAQI MEDVVI

Translation

'of Fróech, son of Medb'

Commentary

  • VRAICCI may be a case of confused diphthongs as VROICCI would be expected for OIr. Fróech, fróech 'heather' (McManus 1991, 107, 121).

  • MEDVVI, OIr. Medb masc. and fem. related to mid 'mead' (McManus 1991, 107, 122). The fact that -I endings are in tact in both personal names would suggest a pre 6th century date.

  • Macalister (1945, 16-7) prefers not to speculate as to whether this inscription could refer to Medb, mythical Queen of Connacht but it is hardly conicidental that this name is found here. 'The name Fróech/Fráech is also associated with Cruachain as the hero of the early tale Táin Bó Fraích... Carnfree ('the cairn of Fraech'), a burial cairn some 6km to the south of Rathcroghan, also preserves an association with Fraech.' (Condit and Moore, 2003)

Locations

Found

First discovered at Oweynagat by Ferguson in 1864? in the townland of Glenballythomas and barony of Castlereagh. (GPS coordinates -8.310399, 53.797323)

Original

Unknown

Last Recorded

In situ inside entrance to Oweynagat cave. The present location of this stone may be accessed via the National Monuments Service Historic Environment viewer on www.archaeology.ie.

History of Recording

As Gippert noted, 'the site was visited by Ferguson on the 30.9.1864 (PRIA 9, 1867, 161) who`observed' (for the first time?) two `inscriptions in the Ogham character'.

References

Websites and Online Databases

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