Emerald Isle

Oweynagat

In county Roscommon there's a place of great antiquity called Oweynagat, which some have mistakenly thought to mean the Cave of Cats, although it has nothing to do with cats - “cath” being the Irish word for “battle” and so it should rightfully be called the battle cave. Indeed it has a long association with the Morrigan, Irish spirit of war and power, who is said to emerge from its depths every Samhain.

The cave has other names too, gathered over its thousands of years of existence, the way of the fairies, the Sidhe-mound, the entrance to the Otherworld, medieval monks even called it the Gates of Hell! Over its lintel is the Ogham inscription, “Fraech son of Medb”, and there's little doubt but it speaks of the very Queen Medb whose fort lies nearby and who strove so mightily with Cú Chulainn.

Queen Medb herself was said to have been born here, after Étain and her lover Midir fled to escape their pursuers. Some years later, it was from this cave which Nera emerged to see Rathcrogan, his home and the strong place of the men of Connachta, in flames.

It is surrounded by the misty ruins of many ancient sites and monuments, ring forts and standing stones, dolmens and cairns, places where the Druids learned their craft, and holy wells of old.

Strange tales and odd happenings abound around Oweynagat, such as the story of the Ellen Trechen, a ferocious creature with three heads that came forth from the bowels of the cave and went on a rampage across Ireland, slaying many before being killed itself by the poet and hero Amergin.

Small coppery-red birds burst out of the cave withering every plant they breathed on before being hunted by the Red Branch, as well as herds of pigs with whose touch turned everything to disease and rot. Ailill and Medb themselves desperately hunted them but had a hard time of it, as the creatures could vanish and change in size!

If you do venture into the cave, be careful for a woman once got lost in the depths and emerged at Kesh Corran in county Sligo, many miles away! But for the adventurous the cave can be found on the map below. While you're enjoying this site you might also enjoy a little Celtic and Irish music to set the mood, or just the one or two songs if you're not interested in the whole albums. Don't forget you can get some very nice Irish jewelry for yourself or someone else as well, or for the craftier maybe make your own!


Legendary Places in Ireland

Oweynagat

In county Roscommon there's a place of great antiquity called Oweynagat, which some have mistakenly thought to mean the Cave of Cats, although it has nothing to do with cats - “cath” being the Irish word for “battle” and so it should rightfully be called the battle cave. Indeed it has a long association with the Morrigan ... [more]

The Burren

The Burren is one of the wonders of Ireland. A rolling rocky landscape of limestone hills and plains, it is marked with history stretching back thousands of years. Nestled in between the limestone slabs are herbs and plants you'd be hard pressed to find elsewhere, hailing from places as far afield as the Arctic and the Mediterranean, kept warm ... [more]

Newgrange

Older than Stonehenge and the great pyramids of Giza stands Newgrange, the heart of legends and mysteries stretching back five thousand years. Situated along the river Boyne near to numerous other such places like Knowth and Dowth, that very same river where Fionn Mac Cumhaill was said to have first found and tasted the salmon of knowledge, and the ... [more]

Hill of Tara

The seat of the High Kings of Ireland of old, Tara or Temair as it was known then, is said to have been the seat of a hundred and forty two kings, kingships won by battle, contest and merit, not passed down father to son as in more primitive cultures. One of the most important monuments in the sacred Boyne valley, its history stretches back four th ... [more]

Dun Aengus

Dun Aengus means "the Fort of Aenghus", and remains one of the most impressive ancient monuments in Ireland, Europe or the world. Perched on the edge of a high and jagged cliff with the grey-green waters of the Atlantic battering below, it gained its name from its original builders, who were called the Fir Bolg, some of the first to arriv ... [more]

Crannogs

Crannogs, the name meaning "young trees" for reasons which aren't too clear, were dwelling places for people in Ireland from the time of the Tuatha de Dannan right up to the seventeenth century. They were built on shallow lakes or pools on top of tree trunks stuck into the lake bottom, piles of rocks, mud and other debris or on natura ... [more]

Croagh Patrick

Croagh Patrick or Patrick's Stack is an important place of pilgrimage for Christians throughout Ireland and the world today, some even walking the ascent in their bare feet as penance for their sins. However it was considered a holy place long before St Patrick came to visit, even though it is said he banished the snakes from Ireland while stan ... [more]

Skellig Michael

Rising from the ocean a short distance off the coast of county Kerry in southern Ireland, Skellig Michael and its smaller brother rear up out of the Atlantic ocean like jagged grey teeth. Famous poet George Bernard Shaw who visited the place in 1910, called it an "incredible, impossible, mad place" and "part of our dream world". ... [more]