Cruachan or Croghan

From A Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland 1906

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CHAPTER XVI....continued

Cruachan.—The chief palace of the kings of Connaught was Cruachan (or, as it is now called, Croghan) from times beyond the reach of history down to the seventh century. It figures in various parts of this book, and is chiefly celebrated as being the residence of Ailill and Maive, king and queen of the province, in the first century of the Christian era. Here they held their court, which is described in the Tales of the Red Branch Knights in a strain of exaggerated magnificence: and from this the warlike queen set forth with her army to ravage Ulster and bring away the great brown bull which was the main object of the expedition.

The remains, which are situated three miles northwest from the village of Tulsk in Roscommon, are not imposing: for the main features have been effaced by cultivation. The principal rath, on which stood the timber palace and the subordinate houses, is merely a flat, green, circular moat about an English acre in extent, elevated considerably above the surrounding land, with hardly a trace of the enclosing circumvallation. There are many other forts all around, so that, in the words of O'Donovan, the whole site may be said to be "the ruins of a town of raths, having the large rath called Rath-croghan placed in the centre": but they are scattered much more widely and at greater distances than those at Tara. Besides the homestead forts there are also, in the surrounding plain, numerous other antiquarian remains, indicating a once busy centre of royalty and active life—cromlechs, caves, pillar-stones, and mounds, including the cemetery of Relig-na-ree (about half a mile south of the main rath), which will be described in chapter xxvii.

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