Skip to main content

HIST & MYTH: Cave of the Cats & Tlachtga

Tlachtga Festival on the Hill of the Ward - Samhain

Continuing from my last blog post of my recent trip to Ireland I also had the great experience of visiting the Rathcroghan archaeological complex in County Roscommon (4,000 B.C to 2,500 B.C). This site records and explains all the phases of mankind from the early farmers through to today. There are many monuments, none of which have been excavated that only add to the mystery of what lies beneath the earth fully intact with thousands of years. One of the main monuments on the site that is almost similar in size to the monument of Newgrange is the Rathcroghan Mound, the home of the warrior Queen Maeve and where the story of Táin Bó Cúailnge (The Brown Bull) begins and ends. The day was raining however it did not deter and standing on top of the large mound the view before me stretched for miles in all directions. Archaeologists believe that oak pathways were built connecting many of these monuments together within the landscape and lit fires could be seen from the Hill of Tara, highlighting a connection between these ancient structures.

Owenynagat (Cave of the Cats)

Moving on from there my next stop was at the entrance of cave like no other! Despite the ancient cave buried beneath the field, the only thing the cattle were interested in was the sight of me entering their domain on a wet day with my passionate tour guide kited out in oilers and carrying flash lamps.  She knew what lay ahead better than I did. 

Oweynagat or the “Cave of the Cats” is a complex for the little more adventurous situated in Co. Roscommon, Ireland.  The name in itself is intriguing.  So what is it? On first sighting it in the little field protected by its bovine friends, I must admit I questioned was I really going to enter?  This is a subterranean lair and in Irish mythology the cave is the home of the Morrígan, the Irish goddess of War, death and rebirth and the keeper of the “Other World”.  She watches over this world often pulling souls in to be cleansed or to be reborn in life.  However on one night of the year (31st of October) she exits the cave to select people for the coming year who are to “die” and leaves the entrance of the “Other World” open where strange creatures would exit and roam the surface of the earth in ancient times.  This is often referred to as Ireland’s “Gateway to Hell”.

Entering the cave you have the option of going head first on your hands and knees or sitting and sliding in.  As it was a rainy day one can imagine how muddy it was and this believe me only enhanced the experience.  Once past the entrance I descended deep into the base of the cave that is filled with an eerie quiet silence. Irish Mythology has great stories connected to this cave about how Queen Maeve selected the best champions of Ireland to see which of them could prove their might and be an overall winner.   

Do you have what it takes to enter the depths towards the “Other World”?  

Tlachtga from the air

From this mysterious cave I travelled to the Tlachtga or the “Hill of the Ward” located near Athboy in Co. Meath, twelve miles from hill of Tara. This is another ancient archaeological site that this past summer saw a big excavation dig. Like Tara the earthen works are most impressive by air however a good experience to be on the hill and this time by night in fire light. It was on this hill over two thousands years ago that saw the birth of Samhain that would later become known as Halloween. A collective energy was flowing on the night that I visited as an estimated one thousand people were gathered to witness a ritual dedicated to the goddess Tlachtga. In Irish Mythology Tlachtga was the daughter of Mud Ruith a powerful druid and she learned many secrets of magic from her father. Mud Ruith had a flying machine that would often be seen flying over the hill. Tlachtga was raped by the three sons of Simon Magus, her father’s mentor and she died giving birth to triplets on the hill. Fires have been lit in her honour ever since. 

The local grove of druids on the night I was there performed a very meaningful ritual to her name as they do each Samhain night mixed with music, song and stories. 

I encourage you to explore more about this ancient goddess and the wonderful stories associated with her and of the sites I have mentioned. The ancient beliefs of our ancestors are as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago, even though we may have lost our way a little. Until next time, take care. 


As the day was raining I did not have the opportunity for photos. Photos are taken form Trip Advisor, Meath Chronicle and Tlachtga WordPress Blog.

Discover more on Ben Kesp, author and writer on the Ben Kesp Website.

Discover how to Contribute on the Ben Kesp Website.

Popular posts from this blog

LITERATURE: A meeting between Susanna Westby and Katherine Villiers

Post 210. Written by Ben Kesp

Landed Estate Excerpt. Susanna Westby and Katherine Villiers meet after 18 years.
Acknowledging with a nod, Susanna steps forward entering the path lined with blooming roses. Reaching the arch way, she descends the stone steps moving into a small walled garden radiating in a multitude of colours from an array of flowers and shrubs. She spies Katherine’s white hat to her right where she is seated on a bench. Gathering her thoughts, she is unsure how to approach her. Hatred and envy created a wedge between them when they were younger. Does it still exist? She is not sure anymore. It has been a long time. Distant memories flood to the forefront of her mind and yet they stir the thoughts of yesterday. Continuing on the path in front of her, she reaches the wooden bench standing a short distance away facing the thick ivy covered wall in front of her. 
“It has been many years since I was in this garden. My mother would sit for hours in here. She loved it,” Susann…

HIST & MYTH: Knowth - An Ancient Site

Post 208. Written by Ben Kesp

Referred to as the Jewel of Europe’s Neolithic Period, the Boyne Valley or in Irish, Brú no Bóinne, Co. Meath, is the largest Megalithic site in Europe, dating back over five thousand years. The complex of the Boyne Valley has numerous ancient monuments and archaeological features but the jewels or often called the Cathedrals of the Neolithic period are the great monuments (tombs/temples) of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, with the three forming a triangular formation on the landscape. 
On arriving at Knowth, a sense of peace and reverence awaits you, unlike the more famous Newgrange monument which exudes its own but different presence. Knowth is peaceful as if the monument and the past it hides are slumbering, keeping its secrets buried and safe. Surrounding the great mound at Knowth are eighteen smaller mounds similar in nature. The massive mound contains two passages ending at two internal chambers. The western passage is 34 metres and the eastern passage …

HIST & MYTH: One City - Two Cathedrals Part II: St. Patricks

Post 189.

Guest Post by MikeH

I was so impressed by Dublin’s rich heritage and culture, my attention was grabbed by the very fact that it has two magnificent cathedrals; both located a short walking distance from each other in the heart of the city. This is my follow-on post on the city’s other Cathedral, Saint Patrick’s
Like Christ Church, St. Patrick’s is rich in architectural design with a vibrant history. My experience inside was amazing and on first entering what struck me the most was the mass of colours all around and the abundance of monuments instead of Saints. It is a place where I could spend hours exploring, reading, learning and soaking up this new atmosphere within a protestant Church. 
In this post I hope to cover the main aspects of the Cathedral, and as with Christ Church, it is impossible to include nearly one thousand years of historical facts and details.

Historical Background
Ireland's largest church is St Patrick's Cathedral, built between 1191 and 1270. …

LITERATURE: Mondays Book Talk

Post 203. 
Mondays Book Talk: Series 5 
Guest Talk by Victoria Libby 
Julia’s Chocolatesby Cathy Lamb 
I finished reading Julia's Chocolates by Cathy Lamb last night. It's been one of the best reads in awhile, especially for finding a book at the Doctors office, book exchange table. You don't find something you really like, a lot, on a freebie table. But then again this was a perfect place to find such a book. Julia's Chocolates is a book of healing, facing fears, growing, learning and developing wonderful friendships. 

I found I really connected with people, especially Julia and Aunt Lydia. I recognise pieces of myself in them. It felt like they could be my neighbors/friends. This is the story of Julia and her struggle of being raised by a mother who was abusive mentally/emotionally and let her low life boyfriends physically abuse Julia. There were other people along Julia’s childhood path that did their best to give help/support, which really helped in the end. 
As an a…