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CIIC 13. Rathcroghan II, Co. Roscommon

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© COPYRIGHT, 2009 2014-08-18

© Gary Dempsey 2014-07-06

National Monuments Service Record Number: RO022-057084-

Site Type

Souterrain at ancient royal 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).


'The cave of Cruachu, 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 II is the lintel at the entrance to the now blind passage to the right after entering the souterrain (photo courtesy of Gary Dempsey). 'The top end of the stone is broken off. The remaining portion measures': 1.40m x 0.56m x 0.25m (converted from Macalister 1945, 17).


'`The edge has been exposed to wear, from cattle or otherwise, before the stone was placed in the cave: the vowels are almost completely effaced' (Macalister 1945, 17). The inscription extends beyond the visible portion into the side wall of the passage. Nevertheless some of the ogham characters can be determined... The inscription is too incomplete to enable a confident reading but a possible reconstuction [as follows] might be suggested (Condit and Moore, 2003). The MU of a possible MUCOI is in a position inaccessible for photography or 3d imaging.


[  ̣  ̣ ?   ̣  ̣MA(?)]Q RẸG[A]S MU[COI  ̣  ̣ ?   ̣  ̣]





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



Last Recorded

In situ inside souterrain at 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'.


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