Sunrise at the Raven’s Beak

The recent heat wave, a short taste of summer, still only provided one clear enough sky for observation on the morning of July 24.  The sun rose from behind the hills of Inishowen Head at Srúb Brain (Shrove), just a few days away from making her appearance out of the sea. Placenames of Inishowen are hard …

Elagh Castle, the real capital of Ulster

The following is a transcript of the talk by Cormac McSparron (Queens University Belfast) on May 22 in the Exchange, Buncrana by Ruth Garvey-Williams and I would like to use this opportunity to express sincere gratitude to Ruth for recording Cormac’s outstanding talk and truly heart-felt appreciation to our speaker, Cormac Mc Sparron, for sharing …

Imbolg – Spring in waiting

With wintry winds wailing, clouds scattering across the sky like blood rushed warriors into the field of battle and neither sun nor warmth making any encouraging appearance, one could easily remain unconvinced by spring being just around the corner, never mind having arrived. Fast flying veils of low lying clouds with even more and much …

Excavation at the old O’Doherty Castle at Elaghmore

A second excavation took place by archaeologists from Queens University Belfast at the Castle of Elagh at Elaghmore from August 14th- 23rd. The team and the dig were received with much interest, for archaeological excavations on Inishowen are nearly unheard of, leaving our peninsula and former island often unmentioned in an all-Ireland historical context with …

Article from the Donegal Annual, 1989

Grianán Oiligh (The Grianán Of Aileach), Co. Donegal Etienne Rynne M.A., M.R.I.A., S.S.A Prof., of Arch., University College, Galway The following is a summery account of the main thrust of the Paddy McGill Lecture delivered on the 16th of October 1987 under the title “The Grianán, and Other Celtic Ceremonial Sites in Ireland”. The Grianán …

Possible location of lost tumulus

Taking leave from my venerable word and history distorting monk during Ailech I, for reasons of sanity, I paced up Greenan Hill along the ancient road on March 16, and was fortunate to finally meet the owner of the old farm and all the fields on the northern slope up to the monument. He not …

Lore of Places Part 1

What a day to finish the translation of the first poem. Buncrana is buzzing, the Main Street packed up to the brim, I can hear its sounds from here, and two very unique shops have opened within the last couple of days on the otherwise very quietly but fast dying Main Street. Not a good …

List of Dr. Walter Bernard’s findings

From the proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 1879 Starting in the northern gallery, he found on the floor, closest to the entrance: A large stone, measuring in its widest part across. In the centre is a round hole, 3 inches deep and 1½ in diameter. The stone itself is of the hard, granular variety …

Lost in translation

Around 150 AD a very inquisitive Greek scientist by the name of Klaúdios Ptolemaîos compiled Geographia, a map of the world, consisting of five books. The first chapter of the second book contained a description of Ibernia – Ireland. He called the people living at the time in County Donegal Vennicni and the Foyle Vidua. …

Claiming Aileach

I have been for some time now of the opinion that the first man made structure placed on ‘Greenan’ Hill was a burial, as the tumulus would prove. At a later stage it was used as a possible site of an assembly and additions were made. Since the hill was most likely covered with oak …

The invention of Grianán Aileach

Usually the victorious write history. On one occasion, however, this was not entirely the case. On January 22, 1632 four brothers of the Order of Francis in Donegal Town sat down and compiled for the next four years Annala Rioghachta Eireann – The Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland, or as they are now known, …

A note on the indentification of Aileach

The following paper by Andrew Tierney was published in 2003 in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Vol. 133. I am very grateful to Karla, who got me a much desired copy. A note on the indentification of Aileach There has long been uncertainty over the true identification of the royal …

O’ Doherty of the castle of Oileach

From the Celt Project of the UCC. Original version The bardic poems of Tadhg Dall Ó Huiginn (1550–1591) INISHOWEN ¶1] Speak on, thou castle of Oileach, many a thing must one ask of thee, thou fair, long-standing dwelling, regarding the warriors of Ireland. ¶2] Let us learn from thee, tell us, thou ancient, bright-lawned castle, of …

Letter to the editor of the Dublin Penny Journal 1833

BURT CASTLE, COUNTY DONEGAL.      Whoever has visited Lough Swilly has seen and admired the romantic tower-capped promontory on its southern shore, distinguished by the name of Castlehill. The last time I entered the singular edifice from which the hill is named, was in company with an esteemed friend; the weather was delightful serene, and …

New year’s day walk

  Remembering my more than lucky escape from February last, I left this time the car at St. Angus Church, slightly daunted by the long walk and pressed for time, since I had to go to work. As it turned out, I rather foolishly decided to take a shortcut through the fields on the more …

A dispute arising from letters to the editor

From the appendix of Maghtochair’s book “Inishowen – Its History, Traditions, And Antiquities”, published in 1867. A gentleman signing himself “O’Doherty” has taken me to task for stating that Grianan was used as a temple for the worship of the sun. In a series of letters published in the Journal he affirms, on the authority …

The past was orange – A note to its discovery

In 1824 Colonel Thomas Frederick Colby, of the Royal Engineers, was put in charge of the general direction of the arrangements of the Ordnance Survey of Ireland. Lieutenant Thomas Drummond, Lieutenant Thomas Aiskew Larcom and Lieutenant Joseph Ellison Portlock were appointed the same year to assist Colonel Colby. In 1829 Portlock became head of the …

Letter to the editor 1838

  THE ORDNANCE SURVEY – GREENAN.   To the Editor of the Dublin University Magazine.  “His tibi Grynæi nemoris dicatur origo   Ne quis sit lucus, quo se plus jactet Apollo,” Virgil, Ecl. 6, L. 72, &c. DEAR SIR – Conceiving that whatever relates to the statistics of Ireland, and its antiquities in particular, forms matter …

A short circuit of the feast at Aileach

I could have sworn I walked over the ground today where the banqueting hall of this feast once stood: The kings of Erin in fetters, With Muircheartach son of warlike Niall, Ten hundred heroes of distinguished valour Of the race of the fierce fair Eoghan. The Son of the living God was pleased With Muircheartach, …

Possible contestant for crowning stone at Grianán

At the beginning of this year I finally started to walk the rest of the hill and surroundings, away from the sad sight of concrete fillings, and came, not really surprisingly, across a few suspicious stone compilations. Amongst them was in one a large slab with what looked like two left foot imprints. Although I …