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)

From there, another site on the complex is one far more adventurous to enter and that is Oweynagat or the “Cave of the Cats”. So what is it? On first sighting it in a field I must admit I questioned was I really going to enter it? 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” and features in the “Hollow Earth Theory”. I have mentioned this briefly in book 1 of my History & Myth Series. 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 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 champion in Ireland, however I will write about it another time. 

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.

You are welcome to subscribe to the Pen of Kesp, monthly newsletter for updates on e-books, art work, blog articles, giveaways, features and more at Pen of Kesp.

Ben Kesp is an author, artist and writer and you can discover more on his e-books and artwork by checking out the Ben Kesp Site.

Popular posts from this blog

HIST & MYTH: Exploring Ireland's Ancient Tombs

Post 186. Written by Ben Kesp 
A new period of Ireland’s ancient past has recently been discovered pushing human inhabitation back some 12,500 thousand years ago. Up until recently the earliest known inhabitation since the last ice age was on a site at Mount Sandel in Co. Derry dating to 8,000 B.C. (Mesolithic Period). New radio carbon dating of a brown bear bone originally discovered in Co. Clare now pushes the inhabitation of Ireland by humans back 2,500 thousand years into the Palaeolithic Period of 10,500 B.C. Archaeologists have been searching for years to discover Ireland’s Palaeolithic period and now they have discovered the first clue to its existence. This is an exciting discovery and archaeologists will continue searching to uncover more of Ireland’s ancient secrets. 
The landscape of the country contains many secrets of the past and also reveals thousands of ancient sites and monuments, with many left intact as they once were millennia earlier. Ireland’s ancient past is ri…

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 181. 
Guest Talk by MikeH
Call from an Angelby Guillame Musso

Call from an Angel” was recommended by a good friend of mine back in 2013, and it represented my first literary encounter with the French author Guillaume Musso. Born in 1974 in Antibes, Guillaume Musso has become one of France’s favourite authors. His novels blend intensity, suspense and love perfectly and have been translated into several languages. Musso began his career in writing as a student. At the age of 19 and fascinated by United States, he lived for a short period in New York and New Jersey where he stayed and worked with people from different cultural backgrounds. His fascination and passion for the U.S is clearly reflected in his work as most of his stories are related or take place in the country. 

After being in a car accident, Musso began to write a story about a child’s near death experience: “Afterwards”, published in January 2004. This incredible encounter with his readers was closely followed by the…

HIST & MYTH: One City - Two Cathedrals: Part I Christ Church

Post 182. 
Guest Post by MikeH 
Dublin city has a rich heritage and culture, with plenty of historical attractions to discover and explore Ireland’s colourful past. As the capital of Ireland, Dublin’s history is central to its culture and customs with various historical attractions which allow visitors to learn about the city’s rich history. Dublinia is one example, a living history museum focusing on the Viking and medieval history of the city. A must-see in order to witness the magnificence of the architecture is Dublin’s two famous Cathedrals, Christ Church and Saint Patricks, both located only a short walking distance from each other. 
In August, I had the great opportunity to visit these magnificent temples during a short stay in Ireland. I was truly impressed by Christ Church, its splendid interior richly decorated, the medieval crypt, and its unusual memorials but especially by its rich cultural significance. 
Describing in one post the magnificence or all the history around Chr…