Lines that had been drawn

It is nearly a year now, since I found this rock. And I still don’t know, what its markings mean or when they were made. There are neither ogham nor runic, more a little bit of both. As if this place had its own unique language. “The first letter” has no equivalent anywhere so far. …

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 …

Making a wish

  It is the one time of the year, when one can indulge after all. Stubbornly hoping for the light to shine upon an area, much deserved and missing for so long, although, is not just for christmas.

The OPW, three light bulbs and a National monument

One may be forgiven for feeling trenched in utter astonishment after finding a statement concerning the National monument no. 140, Grianán of Aileach, mentioned in a press release responding to accusations made by the Garda Representative Association against the OPW. The rather generous spending habits of this state body hit the headlines in Donegal after …

Holes above the gate

When the day comes, and one more but decisive part of our past will crumble under the higher, bigger, faster grip of our hand, we will fall with it. After all, the great universe itself will reach eventually the point, where it can expand no further and will implode into the grain of dust, it …

A suspect for the hill

Around two weeks ago I came across an ancient name of a hill in Inishowen situated between Loughs Foyle and Swilly, called Crommal or Cromla. Theoretically all hills on Inishowen, except for those at Malin, lay between the two loughs, but this description is commonly used for the narrow neck which forms the connection between …

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 …

Given the Cinderella

My much appreciated neighbour just brought me some pages from last weeks Inish Times, a local newspaper. In the short breaks section they kindly added Inishowen to it under the heading: ‘A heavenly haven’. From it the following quote: “The name Inishowen comes from the Irish meaning Island of Eoghain. Eoghain was the son of …

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, …

With many thanks to John

Determined not to hit the brakes under any circumstances in the most treacherous bend on Greenan Hill, covered with ice and snow, is one thing, reflexes by habit another. As a result my car got out of control and went like a shot through the bank beside the road. It should have tipped over at …

About my association with Grianan

An email I received this morning: ‘Dear Ms Bettina Linke, I am a student in Derry and I am doing research on Grianán Ailigh for a dissertation. I was just wondering what your association with Grianán is, and how you came to be interested in its history and restoration? Yours sincerely,’ And my reply: Dear …

Between Aileach and a hard place

My letter to the editor was not published but our councillors seem to have finally gotten hold of information they all lacked so badly last week. One even ‘attributed the problems to the break up of the state body Duchas’. Now they are all puffing and shoving for votes in the upcoming election for the …

Why indeed

Article in last Fridays Derry Journal Why is Grianan of Aileach still being neglected? – MacLochlainn asks Despite being one of Ireland’s truly historic sites, Burt’s Grianan of Aileach is all but ignored both in terms of the provision of facilities and tourism promotion In another attempt to rectify this Sinn Fein’s Pádraig Mac Lochlainn …

What would you think if I sang out of tune

When a new year starts with the realisation that, what was perceived as Grianan of Aileach until now and since the 1830’s, is not the circular structure on top of Greenan Hill but underneath the meagre remains of an old O’Doherty castle at Eleaghmore a few miles away, then one may wonder, what the remaining …

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 …

Sunsets at Grianán

Even after closer examination women don’t seem to have played a significant role in the history of Grianán of Aileach. Yet nine names, three queens and six goddesses, representing the land, sovereignty, fertility, war, death and great influence, are found surrounding events at the time of the legendary Tuatha De Dannan near Ulster and Aileach. …

The forgotten stones of Aileach

It is said that “Three hundred years after the deluge,… all holy Ireland was desert, until Partholón came.” He divided it into four parts among his four sons – Er, Orba, Fearon, and Feargna. “He gave the first part to Er, namely, all that is from Aileach Néid in the north of Ulster to Athcliath …

Time Enough to Rot

After nearly two months of the meeting between the OPW and local councillors having taken place I finally received some information on what went on.   Sent: Tue Jun 24 14:41:09 2008 Subject: Grianan, article Dear Pádraig MacLochlainn, I have been asked now on several occasions about the outcome of the meeting with the OPW …

Grianán Ailigh by Seoirse Ó Dochartaigh

May I proudly present Seoirse Ó Dochartaigh‘s painting of Grianán Ailigh. We will exhibit it over the summer around Inishowen in the hope, that it will raise awareness of the rapidly dwindling heritage of Inishowen. The utter lack of care, consideration and respect shown at Grianan, applies to all of Inishowen – lock, stock, barrel and …

Recycled and other news

The meeting between councillors and an OPW representative seems finally to haven taken place around the end of April. Apparently, neither the people of Inishowen nor Donegal are worthy to receive information concerning the state and status of Grianan Aileach. After an email from Anita Guidera from the Irish Independent, who tried in vain to …

Strange fruit

I received an email from the Tara Foundation, who got successfully in contact with the OPW, containing the following statement: “Grianan Aileach has not be removed from the National Monuments List. It will remain on the list and in State care as long as it is in State  ownership. Grianan Aileach is not featured on …

Grianan Aileach lost National monument status

And so very quietly. Some time ago. No one really knows when. No one really cares. No outcry. No rage nor anger. Not even a single question: Why? – is raised. Absolute silence. In a statement to the Inish Times George Moir, press officer, OPW, “said they had a valid reason for omitting Grianán of …

Grianan Aileach in the care of the State

It has yet to be established when the ringfort of stone was built on top of Greenan Hill but the earthworks and now lost souterrain (underground chamber) originate from as early as the Stone and Bronze Age. The geographical position of the hill and therefore everything placed on its top enjoys not only vast views …

Determination

The weather is still too cold and unpredictable to venture into the hills and visit my ‘secret’ site again. Looking at the photos I took the day I stumbled over this site, I know that it will be a learning process. Like Grianan Aileach; every time it collapses or parts of its wall are replaced, …