Rathmichael Historical Society

Rathmichael Outing 14th May 2022

with No Comments

On Sat. 14th May, our outdoor programme of events planned for this Summer continued, in glorious sunshine, and once again in the company of a really lovely group of approx. 20 members. Another wonderful day for Rathmichael, this time in the hands of the fascinating Anthony Murphy – spinner of myth and recounter of ancient lore, with his retelling of ancient tales related to the world famous Neolithic sites of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.

We had the most magical day with Anthony. Our members were spellbound by the extent of his knowledge, and by the manner in which he could seamlessly interweave his solid archaeological knowledge with the ancient stories related to the sites.

Members also enjoyed a lovely picnic beneath the towering mound of Dowth – sustenance for both body and soul, and time to digest the many fascinating insights shared with us by Anthony concerning the connections between the known history and the mythology.

Having said goodbye to Anthony, and purchased many of his books; it was hard to leave this landscape, so members spent time visiting the peaceful adjacent ruined Dowth Abbey and burial ground containing the impressive memorial to John Boyle O’Reilly.

Check out Anthony’s very popular blog Megalithic Ireland, and see the additional photographs of our lovely visit, on his Facebook page. Thank you Anthony for such a wonderful day hugely enjoyed by all.

Written by Adrienne Hume

Photographer: Robert Nicholson

One of the highlights of the visit to Newgrange and Dowth, described above, was the reading of the following very appropriate poem by poet, Moya Cannon, as we stood on top of the tumulus at Dowth:

Flowers at Loughcrew

We have no key with which to enter
this chamber of the dead
so must peer through an iron gate
along the stone passage
to where a rising sun at equinox
will flash its torch
on flowers and suns –
a seeding and reaping calendar –
like suns and flowers
in a child’s copybook.

A friend tells me
that fossil pollen is found
in the earliest burials.
He says this is what makes us humans as much as stone tools –
our ceremony of grief,
attended by what is most beautiful,
most fragrant on this earth.

Today is the last day of our winter.
Ice lingers under the stone lintel
but a brilliant sun reaches far
into the passage,
lights a corner of the backstone faintly,
gives us one carved flower,
picked out in white.

A family plays among the ruined cairns.
The father photographs them,
then gathers them to go
calling on the youngest,
to come along –
“Bríd, Bríd.”

Tomorrow is St. Bridget’s Day.
We drive home through soft pastureland.
In a low corner of a field
grow patches of greening rushes
and, near an old farmhouse,
on a slope,
strong clumps of snowdrops.

Moya Cannon