Loughcrew Cairns; Hill of the Witch

  • Region: Kells ,
  • Oldcastle

The grandest concentration of Neolithic passage tombs in Ireland can be found at Loughcrew. Local folklore maintains that the site is the work of the “monster woman” who once ruled the area. Loughcrew`s name in Irish is Sliabh na Callaí meaning “Hill of the Witch” or “Hags Hill.” The name of the ancient hag was Garavogue, known locally as An Cailleach Bhéara. This witch or hag may have had her origins in the Celtic goddess Buí, whom we encounter at Knowth in Brú na Bóinne. She was a Moon Goddess or Earth Mother. She was a supernatural figure responsible for the landscape; placing large boulders in rivers and creating rock formations on hillsides.

Local legend recounts the story of An Cailleach Bhéara jumping from one hill to the next dropping stones from her apron. The fallen stones formed the Cairns we see today. She was attempting this magical feat to attain great power and rule over all of Ireland. She was able to drop her cairns of stones on the first three peaks. As she jumped to the fourth hill she missed her mark and fell to her death on her last leap. The story claims that she was buried where she fell on the slopes of Patrickstown Hill. Indeed visitors today can sit on the Hag`s Chair at Cairn T. Local belief claims that if you make a wish while sitting on this kerbstone the witch will grant it.

Loughcrew Cairns Hill of the Witch First ImageLoughcrew Cairns Hill of the Witch Second Image
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