* Cloghbrack * Cushendall * Northern Ireland *
The fabled site of where the wandering poet, bard, and seer “Oisin” is believed to be buried. Atop a hill overlooking the valley and down into the Glen as well as over the Channel to be able to see Scotland on a clear day, the location for this small megalithic tomb is spectacular. The Tomb faces East, South-east next to an oval cairn dedicated to poet John Hewitt. Oisin’s Grave / Ossian’s tomb is a small megalithic semi-circular court opening into a two-chambered burial gallery. The back chamber is composed of two sidestones at the southwest, a back or sidestone at the northeast, with a pair of transverse jambs higher than the other stones as if they may have been originally designed as portals. The Forechamber is in very poor shape with only 2 sidestones intact with a pair of portal stones. Within the chamber lies a fallen stone that may have been the displaced roof-stone. The large court dominates the tomb, but additional stones suggest that the court may have belonged to two periods, relating to a back chamber and subsequent fore-portals.
A great irish poet, John Hewitt was very impressed with Ossian’s grave and the megalithic tomb that exists on this hill. So much that he wrote a poem about the site called “Oisin’s Grave: the horned cairn at Lubitavish, Co. Antrim”. Because of this, a stone cairn in Hewitt’s memory was constructed here in 1989 commemorating him as the “Poet of the Glens”.
- We stood and pondered on the stones
whose plan displays their pattern still;
the small blunt arc, and, sill by sill,
the pockets stripped of shards and bones.
The legend has it, Ossian lies
beneath this landmark on the hill,
asleep till Fionn and Oscar rise
to summon his old bardic skill
in hosting their last enterprise.
This, stricter scholarship denies,
declares this megalithic form
millennia older than his time –
if such lived ever, out of rime –
was shaped beneath Sardinian skies,
was coasted round the capes of Spain,
brought here through black Biscayan storm,
to keep men’s hearts in mind of home
and its tall Sun God, wise and warm,
across the walls of toppling foam,
against this twilight and the rain.
I cannot tell; would ask no proof;
let either story stand for true,
as heart or head shall rule. Enough
that, our long meditation done,
as we paced down the broken lane
by the dark hillside’s holly trees,
a great white horse with lifted knees
came stepping past us, and we knew
his rider was no tinker’s son.
Nearby in Glenariff Park, there is a myth that Oisin had once tried to outrun a band of Vikings in this forest. When they closed in on him, he climbed down a steep gully, as just as he was about to plunge to his death, a mysterious grey rope-like column appeared, he grabbed on to it, and climbed up to safety. When he reached the top he found it to be the tail of a white horse grazing in the field above. He thanked the horse and asked for its help. She turned into a mountain mist, falling to the ground as water, thereby washing away the Norsemen who pursued him. This is now the waterfall in the park known as the “Grey Mare’s Tail”. (myth as told from Causeway Coast and Glens Myths Tour).
Official information: http://www.doeni.gov.uk/niea/nismrview.htm?monid=1476
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