Iron Age warrior tales feature strongly at Rathcroghan, Royal Site of Connacht - but what were people doing in this landscape before that?
Duma Selga and Carnfree sit side by side, 2 miles south of Tulsk on a great height within the Rathcroghan Complex. Carnfree is recorded as the kingship inauguration site of the O’Conor clan, and it’s majestic position fits well with that. Duma Selga, the Mound of Selc, is a double ringed earthwork, parallel to that found at Tara. It is made of a conjoined ring-barrow and ringfort, and shows many phases of activity. This started as a large and important burial mound with broad ditches and banks, with a ringfort (possibly enclosing a large rectangular building) added at a later date. The living forged a link with their ancestors here, and laid claim to the land and their heritage in a very potent way.
That’s not the first time this connection to the dead was made by those living at Rathcroghan – the earliest monument is a Stone Age court tomb called Cloghan na gCoirp, the stones of the dead. It stands by a stream, and an early agricultural community settled beside it about 5,000 years ago.
Daithi’s Stone stands on a large ring-barrow burial mound, enclosed by an earthen bank and ditch, and is the only monument that has been excavated in modern times, with burnt wood found there dated back over 2,200 years. Legend says this is the site of burial for the last Pagan King of Ireland, and the grave of Daithí is marked by a Red Pillar Stone, the Coirthe Dearg.