Just outside Oldcastle, about thirteen miles down the road from Kells, can be found the Loughcrew Cairns. Built more than three thousand years before the birth of Christ, these twenty five giant Neolithic tombs are an awe-inspiring ancient wonder. Legend says that the cairns were created by a giant hag that dropped stones from her apron as she crossed the countryside, hence the name of the site ‘Sliabh na Cailli’, which means ‘mountain of the hag’.
Similar in type and age to the tombs of Brú na Búinne, such as Newgrange, these huge megaliths consist of a large main passage that leads to a main chamber, of which three axillary chambers branch off.
Just like many of the other ancient tombs of Ireland, the stones inside and out are covered with carvings of hundreds of geometric shapes. While spirals, triangles and arcs adorn all the tombs, at Loughcrew sun-like circles are the most prolific.
The central tomb of the site at Loughcrew, called Cairn T and said to be the final resting place of Ollamh Fodhla, a famous High King of Ireland, is amongst the best preserved in Ireland. The age old structure is designed in such a way so that rays of the rising sunlight on the days of the spring and autumn equinox shine directly into the main chamber, illuminating all the wall-carved symbols perfectly.
Nearby is the Plunkett family church, in the grounds of the restored 17th century Loughcrew Gardens, six acres of beautifully landscaped grass area filled with shrubs and trees of all types. There is also a coffee shop, children’s playground and many other attractions and features to be discovered.