Oweynagat Cave of the Cats

Oweynagat Cave – Cave of the Cats – Gateway to the Underworld and the Morrigan’s Palace.

Oweynagat Cave – Cave of the Cats
– Gateway to the Underworld and the Morrigan’s Palace. Rathcrohan / Rosscommon, Ireland
GPS: 53.79677, -8.31038
Article/Research by Thomas Baurley/Leaf McGowan/Technogypsie Productions, 10 October 2017

One of my most favorite sites in Ireland is the “Cave of the Cats” underneath the realm of “Rathcrohan“. It is officially called “Oweynagat” and pronounced “Owen-ne-gatt”.
The Cave is also labelled “Uaimh na gCat”, Irish translating to “Cave of the Cats”. When I first visited this site we had a tremendously hard time finding it. We found where it was supposed to be, but it lay behind fencing on a farmer’s field. We knocked on the farmer’s door, and there was no answer. A neighbor saw us, asked what we were doing and who we were, and he showed us the entrance, giving us permission to enter. It was a small hole under some Fairy thorn trees. The Site is actually a natural narrow limestone cave that hosts a man-made souterrain at its entrance. This is seen by all as the official entrance to the Otherworld and home to the Morrigan or Medh. In the Medieval Period of Ireland, it was labeled “Ireland’s Gate to Hell”. It is a particular sacred site for the Pagan holiday and festival of “Samhain” or Halloween.

It is said that during the Feast of Samhain, the dead, their God/desses, and Spirits, would rise from their graves and walk the Earth. This cave is one of the main places where Spirits and the dead associated with the Fae and/or the Morrigan, would re-surface including creatures, monsters, and the un-dead. There exists an Irish legend based off the “Adventures of Nera” where a warrior is challenged to tie a twig around the ankle of a condemned man on Samhain eve, after agreeing to get him some water would discover strange houses and wouldn’t find water until the third house. Upon returning him back to captivity would witness Rathcroghan’s royal buildings destroyed by the spirits. After this he must follow the fairy host to the Sidhe where he meets a woman who tells him the vision he saw will happen a year from now unless his mortal comrades are warned. He leaves the Sidhe and informs Ailill of his vision who destroys the Sidhe in response.

Some believe the “síd” or the Sidhe of this tale is either the Mound of Rathcroghan or Oweynagat, the Cave of the Cats. It makes the most sense that the Cave of the Cats is where the destructive creatures and fae emerged. There was a triple-headed monster called the Ellen Trechen that went on a rampage across the country before being killed by Amergin, father of Conal Cernach. There have been tales of small red birds emerging from the cave withering every plant they breathed on before being hunted to their death by the Red Branch. There is also legends of herds of pigs with similar powers of decay emerging from the cave until hunted and killed by Ailill and Medb.

The name itself, “Oweynagat” is believed to refer to the Magical wild cats featured in the tale of “Bricriu’s Feast” that emerge from this cave to attack the three Ulster warriors before being tamed by Cúchulainn. Some also claim that the cave was named after Irusan, the King of the Cats, who is featured in Irish fairy tales and hailed from a cave near Clonmacnoise (her home). Another tale from the 18th century CE tells of a woman trying to catch a runaway cow that fell into this cave (nevermind the entrance being too small) and followed it into this cave. It is said the cow and woman emerged miles away in County Sligo, near Keshcorran. There is also a legend of a woman that was told to have killed a monster cat in this cave, turning the woman into a great warrior, and this is why its called “Oweynagat”, Cave of the Cats.

The Birthplace of Medb

It is also believed that this cave is the actual physical birthplace for Queen Medb. The legend states that the Fairy Queen/Goddess Étain who was fleeing her human husband with her fairy lover Midir came here. Midir wanted to visit a relative named Sinech (the large breasted one) who lived in the cave. Within the cave was said to be a great otherworldly palace where a maid servant named Crochan Crogderg (“Blood Red Cup”) lived, and she had granted Midir and Etain entrance. It was here that Crochan was believed to have given birth to a daughter named “Medb“.

The Entrance

Nestled under a fairy tree in a farmer’s field (private property) is a small opening that really only looks large enough for a house cat to fit through. But if a human gets down on their hands and knees, can shimmy into this small hole, they will be presented with a small chamber that connects to a passageway that continually increases to a massive tunnel wider and higher than one could fathom. At the inner lintel of this entrance is an Ogham inscription that bears the words “VRAICCI…MAQI MEDVVI” translating to “FRAECH” and “SON OF MEDB”. Some also translate this to mean “The Pillar of Fraech son of Madb”. This is also seen as the birthplace of Medb. A second ogham inscription, barely visible, reads “QR G SMU” but has not been translated. This beginning chamber is actually a man-made souterrain at the entrance to a natural narrow limestone cave. The souterrain was originally contained within an earthen mound that was later damaged by a road construction project in the 1930’s. The souterrain is made of drystone walling, orthostats, lintels, and stones that measure approximately 10.5 meters from the entrance to the natural cave’s opening.

Oweynagat Cave – Cave of the Cats – entrance chamber

The Tunnel

After crawling on one’s hands and feet, the passage increases in width and height, eventually one can stand up, and eventually the tunnel becomes wide and tall enough that a small Giant could move through it. This is the passage of the Fae, and leads to the Morrigan’s Lair. As one continues down, they’ll find a caved in shamble that is behind a muddy pool of water. If one successfully climbs up and over it, the passage continues to another area that is caved in. Apparently workers on the surface planted a utility pole that collapsed this section of the tunnel. Beyond this is believed to be the Entrance to the Otherworld, and the Morrigan’s Lair. This is actually a natural limestone cave that has been mapped approximately 37 meters deep.

The Morrigan

The Queen of the Dark Fae, the Goddess of the Underworld, of Darkness, and Battle, rules the world of the Fae from this place. It is believed that every Samhain, she is pulled on a chariot out of the Cave of the Cats by a one-legged chestnut horse alongside various creatures such as those mentioned above. Some also say on occasion she leaves the cave with a cow, guided by a giant with a forked staff, to give to the Bull of Cúailgne. She is also known to take the bull of a woman named Odras who follows her into the cave before falling under an enchanted sleep upon awakening to see the Morrigan who repeatedly whispers a spell over her, turning her into a river, the same river that feeds the muddy pool at the shamble. Apparently the cave is seen as a portal through which the Morrigan would pass in order to work with Medb as Goddess of Battle. She drove her otherworldly cattle into the cave every sunset. The Morrigan was blamed to have stolen a herd of cattle who belonged to a woman named Odras, and upon following to Morrigan to retrieve them, was turned into a lake by the Goddess. As is the story of Nera, a servant of Medb who met a Fairy woman here in this cave. He married her, and she warned him of Medb’s palace being burnt to the ground next Samhain by the creatures of the otherworld. Upon hearing this, Medb stationed her forces in the cave each Samhain to protect Cruachan from destruction.

Rathcrohan is the legendary burial grounds of the Kings of Coannaught. The region covers approximately 518 hectares hosting more than 20 ring forts, burial mounds, megalithic tombs such as the Relig na Ri (burial ground of the Kings), Rath na dTarbh (For the Bulls), and the Rathbeg. The archaeological site is massive, with earthworks spread over the region with the Grave of King Dathi (Last Pagan King of Ireland) as a 2 meter high standing stone being one of the few physical landmarks left that can be seen. This is also the site of the mythical battle of the “Tain Bo Cuailgne” that remains in the hearts, minds, and folklore of the people of Tulsk and Rathcroghan recorded in the Ancient Irish Epic of the Tain Bo Cuiailgne, the “Cattle Raid of Cooley”. The Tain Bo tells the story of Queen Maeve of Connaught and her armies that pursued the Grat Brown Bull of Cooley, the mighty warrior Cuchulain who does battle with the armies here, and his foster brother Erdia as he defends the Brown Bull, and the province of Ulster. There is a “Tain Trail Cycling and Touring Route” that re-traces the journey that Queen Maeve and her armies traveled from her Royal Palace at Rathcroghan across Ireland to the Cooley Peninsula in County Louth, the home of the Brown Bull. Rathcrohan hosts over 60 National Monuments here.

Bibliography/References:

  • Druid School: Oweynagat Cave of the Cats. Website referenced January 2012.
  • Fenwick, J. et al 1977 “Oweynagat”. Irish Speleology 16, 11-14.
  • Hannon, Ed 2012 “Visions of the Past: Oweynagat Cave”. Website referenced 10/10/17 at https://visionsofthepastblog.com/2012/10/01/oweynagat-cave-souterrain-co-roscommon/.
  • Mulranney, R. n.d “Caves of Ireland: Oweynagat Cave of the Cats”. Website referenced 10/10/17 at https://cavesofireland.wordpress.com/home/caves/oweynagat-cave-of-the-cats-co-roscommon/.
  • Waddell, J. 1983 “Rathcroghan – A Royal Site”. Journal of Irish Archaeology 1.
  • Wikipedia n.d. “Rathcroghan”. Website referenced 10/10/17 at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rathcroghan.

Oweynagat Cave – Cave of the Cats – Passage downward.

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IrishCentral’s: Irelands top ten haunted destinations

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With his last breaths, Puck the jester swore he would forever haunt Malahide Castle in Malahide, Co. Dublin.Photo by: Wikimedia Commons

With a long, long history rife with wars and massacres, Irish land is bound to have a few ghosts here and there. That is, assuming youre a believer in the paranormal.

From castles to beaches, heres a list of our top 10 supernatural destinations in Ireland. Spanning the country, these destinations are supposedly haunted by ghosts of all sorts soldiers, brides, court jesters and more.

1. Ross Castle

On the edge of Lough Lane in Killarney, Co. Kerry, this five bedroom stone castle built in 1536 is currently run as a B&B. Visitors have reported supernatural activity both in and out of the castle: apparently every May Day for hundreds of years, a Medieval knight named ODonoghue rides along Lough Lane past the castle, accompanied by a group of spirits who play music behind him. Inside the castle, visitors have reported waking up in the middle of the night to sounds of screams or doors repeatedly opening and slamming shut. One of the spirits is believed to be Myles the Slasher OReilly, an Irish folk hero who spend his last night in Ross Castle before dying in battle in 1644.
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The Wishing Steps of Rock Close

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Wishing Steps

Wishing Steps
* The Rock Close * Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * http://www.blarneycastle.ie *

Onwards with the quest for charms and blessings, just after kissing the legendary Blarney Stone for the gift of gab we wandered into The Rock Close of Blarney Castle. It was time to visit the wiley old witch of Blarney for a endowment of wishes. The witch requires the wisher to walk backwards up and down the steps with their eyes closed without stopping for a moment or thinking of anything other than the wish – then that wish will come true within a year. Of course I did it, and those who know me can only guess what my wish was … The roughly hewn 21-24 limestone steps climb up through an archway of limestone rocks. The steps can be wet and very slippery. Legend states that the witch was forced to do these blessings on the steps as a way for her to pack for her firewood she uses in the Witches kitchen located at the top of the steps. It is believed that if you go up the stairs early in the morning you will see dying embers in the fire pit of the Witches’ Kitchen and Stone which is supposedly lit every night by the Blarney Castle Witch.

The witch supposedly grants the wish within a year’s time. Others say a “year and a day”. My wish came true in precisely a year and 2 months. On June 28, 2010 I wished to be united with my soul mate and twin flame that previous prophecies said I’d meet. I also always had dreams as a child I’d marry an Irish woman. A year later in 2011 I was supposed to go to Ireland but while in Scotland ran out of money and called to tell my Irish friends I wasn’t able to come for a visit. They asked if I was going to Burning Man to which I replied, “I couldn’t afford it”. They had a position open for me as staff in helping build the Celtic dragon effigy for Ireland at Burning Man, so I went. I had a theme camp set up called “Tir na nOg” and was a base camp for the Irish crew. The night of the Effigy burn, I was a fire guardian and while watching the perimeter, had a friend from Colorado come fire spin for the event and she needed a safety person – unable to assist as I was already tied up with the boundary, I looked around the audience and saw a woman dressed like a leprechaun who was sober – I asked her to assist and she did. Afterwards I invited her back to our Tir na nOg camp, fed her fairy food and drink, and we fell in love. It turned out she was from Ireland, via the Pacific Northwest after working a summer on Vancouver Island, and lived in Cork – a stone’s throw from the Blarney Witch. She was looking for other Irish to hang out with. I moved to Dublin with her, two months later at the Stone of Destiny was inspired to propose to her, and we soon after married and gave birth to a beautiful son. So every year we return to the Blarney Witch to thank her for playing cupid. In our experience, we believe the wishing steps work.

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The Blarney Witch: Her Kitchen and Stone in the Rock Close

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The Witches’ Kitchen

Witches Kitchen
* The Rock Close * Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * http://www.blarneycastle.ie *

In the enchanted grounds of Rock Close in the fabled lands of Blarney Castle is the infamous Kitchen of the Blarney Witch. Archaeologically it is believed to have been a prehistoric dwelling potentially as old as the Neolithic (3,000-5,000 years old) if there is any connection of it to the The Rock Close Dolmen (Blarney Castle) or the Druid’s Cave and Circle. Atop her wishing steps is her kitchen. It has a chimney and fireplace within.

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The Witches’ Kitchen

Offset from the kitchen is her stone. Apparently by legend she is bound and entrapped in the rock in servitude to bestow wishes upon those who walk up and down backwards the wishing steps while thinking only of their wishes and not letting any other thoughts drift in. In exchange, the Blarney guardians provide her firewood for this very kitchen so she can continue her spell craft and crazy brews while staying warm at night for when darkness falls she is magically released from the stone she is trapped within. Some say if you arrive early enough you can still see the dying embers of the fire as she lights a fire every night. Many believe that it was the Blarney Witch who really told McCarthy about the power of the Blarney Stone while others claim it was her who enchanted the stone as a “thank you” to McCarthy for saving her from drowning in the river. No one seems to know how she was entrapped into her rock. The Echoe Ghost Hunters investigated this area in 2010-2011 and claimed very strong EMP’s were recorded in the area of the Witches’ Kitchen. Most of the lore in this area is centered around the Witch of Blarney.

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The Witches Stone

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Rock Close: Fairy Glade (Blarney Castle)

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The Fairy Glade in the Rock Close of Blarney Castle
* The Rock Close * Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * http://www.blarneycastle.ie *

Not much is known of this glade except that fairies are rumored to flitter around the foliage. Of course this is more-less the Victorian image of small insect-like fairies that resemble tiny human-shaped beings with wings (better known as “pixies”) rather than a habitat for the human-form shaped Fae or Faeries like Elves, dryads, naiads, nymphs, faun, trolls, orcs, and various other hundreds of beings known as Faeries. Its a beautiful little garden section with a ring walk around. A new addition I noticed in 2013 was a wood carved stump chair with the Druid’s rays on it. Little altars and offerings abound throughout the glade. Since Faeries or fairies cannot be proven to exist, neither does any sound history or archaeology on this place being that it most likely was dreamt up by the Castle grounds owners in the early 1800’s when they landscaped and created the “Rock Close” around the prehistoric dwellings that were believed to be utilized by Druids and early Celtic peoples.

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The Rock Close of Blarney

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Rock Close

Rock Close
* Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * www.blarneycastle.ie *

A mystical portal in the heart of the castle grounds of Blarney Castle is Rock Close, a place where faeries dance, Witches’ bless and answer wishes, Druids weave magic, stone monuments made, and magic is alive. The Rock Close garden is not only a site of myths and legends, but of romance and art. A dolmen greets you as you walk along the river after walking through a weaved willow tunnel, with misty meadows, moss covered rocks, and waterfalls. As you walk up the Witches Wishing steps to the Witches Kitchen and where the Witch is trapped in the stone, overlooked by the Druid Cave and by the Druid Ceremonial circle where you can walk around where the faeries play. This is one of the most fun and condensed folklore heavy sites I’ve encountered in Ireland – of course its history is a mystery in of itself. It is also a great romantic getaway from the tourist heavy section of Blarney Castle. Prehistoric dwellings adapted by 10th, 13th, and 19th century adaptations lead a lot to the imagination in this garden. In 1824, Croften Croker wrote in his “Researches in the South of Ireland” about the mysteries of this spot.

    In this romantic spot nature and art (a combination rather uncommon in pleasure grounds) have gone hand in hand. Advantage has been taken of accidental circumstances to form tasteful and characteristic combinations; and it is really a matter of difficulty at first to determine what is primitive, and what the produce of design. The delusion is even heightened by the present total neglect. You come most unexpectedly into this little shaded nook, and stand upon a natural terrace above the river, which glides as calmly as possible beneath. Here, if you feel inclined for contemplation, a rustic couch of rock, all festooned with moss and ivy, is at your service; but if adventurous feelings urge you to explore farther, a discovery is made of an almost concealed, irregularly excavated passage through the solid rock, which is descended by a rude flight of stone steps, called the “Wishing Steps,” and you emerge sul margine d’un rio, over which depend some light and graceful trees. It is indeed a fairy scene, and I know of no place where I could sooner imagine these little elves holding their moon-light revelry. ~ Croften Croker, 1824

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It was a highly popular in the early 19th century with antiquarians. The mysteries of the Blarney Witch, the Fairies, the Druids, and the Dolmen are sure to enchant you. Blarney Castle does document that this was a place for Druidic worship. The sacrificial altar of course is hearsay, the Druid’s circle is probably, the hermit’s cave or Druid’s cave is a mystery as is the Witches’ kitchen and wishing steps. It has been documented that in the late 1700’s C.E. (Common Era) that the Rock Close was made into the garden area upon which foundations are walked upon today. Apparently the castle owners landscaped around already existing prehistoric dwellings, stone monuments, and Druid circles to make the magical faerie glen it is today.

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Legend of the Blarney Stone

Legend of the Blarney Stone
Blarney Castle, Blarney, Co. Cork, Ireland * Phone: 00 353 21 4385252 * http://www.blarneycastle.ie/
One of Ireland’s most valuable and mesmerizing mythical collections is the infamous Blarney Stone. Called “Cloch na Blarnan” in Irish, it is the legendary stone for the gift of gab. “Blarney” means “Clever, Flattering, or coaxing talk”. The Blarney Stone is a block of bluestone that is built within the battlements of Blarney Castle, located approximately 8 kilometers from Cork, Ireland. It is believed that whoever kisses the stone is endowed with the gift of gab, great eloquence, or the skill at flattery. It allows the gifted to impart the ability to deceive without offending. Its not an easy task to kiss the stone, as one needs to be held upside down atop a drop of a tall tower to reach the kissing spot. The stone became part of the tower in 1446 and has become one of Ireland’s most notable tourist sites.

Where does the stone come from? There are many myths and legends surrounding the stone and its origins, the earliest of which involves the Goddess Clodhna. It is believed that the Castle’s builder, Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, was in a lawsuit and sought out Clodhna for her assistance. She told him to kiss the first stone he found in the morning on his way to court, and as he did, he gained eloquence and won the court case. Flabbergasted by this magical event he took the stone and added to the castle’s stones. The history of the land and place stretches back over two centuries before the current castle’s construction. There are remains of prehistoric sites and Druid ceremonial remains. No one knows for sure when the Blarney Stone came to the grounds, but it was believed to have arrived sometime around 1602 C.E. Many believe that it was a piece of the Stone of Scone. Others believe it to be the rock that Moses struck with his staff to produce water for the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt. Others believe it to be the stone that Jacob used as a pillow and was later brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah. It is said that it then became the Lia Fail, or Fatal Stone and was used as an oracular throne of the Irish kings. Some say its the Stone of Ezel which David hid behind on Jonathan’s advice while fleeing King Saul and brought to Ireland during the Crusades. Others believe it to be the rock pillow used by St. Columba of Iona on his death bead or his portable altar he took with him while doing missionary work in Scotland. Some believe that the stone was first presented to Cormac McCarthy by Robert the Bruce in 1314 to recognize his support in the Battle of Bannockburn. Lore dictates that the stone was previously in Ireland then taken to Scotland and brought back to Ireland in 1314. It is also said that during the time of Queen Elizabeth I, Dermot McCarthy, had been required to surrender his fortress to the Queen as proof of his loyalty. He told her he would be delighted to do so, but something always happened at the last moment to prevent his surrender such as throwing a dinner party or event for the officers charged in the takeover. Many believe this was the charm of the Blarney Stone in effect. The Queen replied to this as “Odds bodikins, more Blarney talk!”

Kissing the Stone has been performed by literally ‘millions of people’ in the world, including world statesmen, literary giants, and legends of the silver screen. Kissing the stone is kissing all of these people by proxy, and by the magical law of contact – gaining the gift of gab that all these people possess. Its not an easy kiss and its important for the lips to touch the bluestone. This quest involves ascending to the castle’s peak, leaning over backwards on the parapet’s edge, entrusting a stranger (Castle guard) with your life by holding on to you. Today, safety wrought-iron guide rails and protective crossbars help prevent death or serious injury. Prior to these installations, the kisser was in danger of serious life risk as they were grasped by their ankles and dangled from the plummet. According to the Sherlock Holmes radio dramatization in “The Adventure of the Blarney Stone” (March 18, 1946) reported a man attempting the kiss plummeting to his death – but determined to be a murder as his boots had been greased before the attempt. The cautious and germ phoebic consider the Blarney Stone to be the most unhygienic tourist attraction in the world, as ranked as such by Tripadvisor.com in 2009. It is documented that more than 300,000 visitors come to kiss the stone every year. When I attended in 2010, I watched the guards use antiseptic wipes after every kiss and had hand sanitizer on the spot. Urban legends are amiss that claim locals go up to the Blarney stone at night and piss on it. Of course, anyone who has ever been to the Blarney stone, knowing the tight and tiny ascension up the treacherous tower (that is locked after hours and guarded) that even with breaching security and risking royal criminal punishment, would have to be damn good aim to hit the Blarney stone. Much of the urban legend comes from the incident in the film “Fight Club” where the narrator urinates on the Blarney Stone during his visit to Ireland as his first act of vandalism.

    ‘Tis there’s the stone that whoever kisses
    He never misses to grow eloquent;
    ‘Tis he may clamber to a lady’s chamber, Or become a member of Parliament.
    “A noble spouter he’ll sure turn out, or An out and outer to be let alone;
    Don’t try to hinder him, or to bewilder him, For he is a pilgrim from the Blarney stone.”

In 1825 Sir Walter Scott came to kiss the blarney stone. Father Prout in 1837 spread word of the wonders of the Blarney Stone making it even more of an attraction amongst the nobility and curious. In 1883 the future President William H. Taft of the United States came to kiss the Blarney Stone. By 1887 the new railway into Blarney afforded many travelers the opportunity to kiss the stone, including boxing legend John L Sullivan, at that time the reigning heavyweight champion of the world. In 1912 Winston Churchill came to kiss the stone. In 1984 Ronald Reagan claimed to have kissed the stone.

Many nation’s around the world have attempted to obtain the Blarney Stone. There are quite a few imposters out and about. The one and true stone is in the Blarney Castle.In 1893 during the World’s Fair in Chicago the Blarney Castle and stone was mimicked with the promoters billing that it was the real stone people were kissing, this of course was false. According to a tradition at Texas Tech University, a stone fragment on display since 1939 outside the old Electrical Engineering Building claims to be a missing piece of the Blarney Stone. In 1938 American businessmen offered the Colthurst family a million dollars to allow the stone to go on tour in the U.S. but the offer was rejected.

The Blarney Stone is just the “icing of the cake” when it comes to the magic and myths of Blarney Castle. Even the grounds in its gardens have their attractions and history, as small caves and structures in the Rock Close garden may have neolithic habitation possibilities, and potentially the home to a mythical witch that was trapped in a rock. The Blarney Witch is said to have servitude to the Castle to grant wishes for those walking up and down the Wishing Steps backwards with their eyes closed focusing on only their wish. The Close also has a Dolmen, Fairy Circle, as well as a Druid’s cave and ceremonial circle. The Martin River that runs through the estate is believed to be possessed by ghosts of salmons leaping for ghosts of flies. Enchanted cows walk from the depths of the lake to graze on the meadows below the castle. There is also a glade where Faeries are believed to be at play.

One can kiss the stone from Monday thru Saturday, 9 am to 6:30 pm in September and May, 9 am to 7 pm from June through August, and 9 am to sundown from October to April. On Sundays, kissing can commence from 9 am to 5:30 pm during the summer, and 9 am to sundown during the winter.

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Strange reports of Blarney Castle’s Badger Cave

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Badger Cave
* Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * http://www.blarneycastle.ie *

This little gem underneath the Blarney Castle has many myths and legends surrounding it. Folklore or Urban lore based on its name has rumors it was dug out by a giant badger. More trustworthy lore claims it was the escape route used by the garrison when Cromwell’s general Lord Broghill besieged the castle and fired down from Card Hill above the lake and broke through the tower walls. He found only two trusty old retainers and the garrison gone. He was hoping to find the fabled golden plate but appeared that it was taken through the caves to escape his capture. Some say the plate was sunk in the lake. Some say its buried in the tunnels. No one really knows what happened to the mythical treasure. Great expenses have been incurred to find it – from excavations, draining the lake, and battles. There are believed to be three passages in these caves – one that leads to Cork, another to the lake, and another to Kerry. However, no one seems to be able to find these legendary passages …. An excavation of the main tunnel in 2007 produced nothing except a potentially Neolithic flint flake and over 340 most-likely modern animal bones. However in 2010-2011 some ghost hunters called the “Echo Ghost Hunters” investigated the site and captured an image of a man in the 3rd floor window of the castle (no stairs or access to that window) and recorded strange Kll meter hits in the caves. Could these naturally occurring passages been used by the Tuatha de Danann before humans built the castle in the 10th century of the Common Era? No one knows, no written records remain on the prehistoric origins of the castle grounds – there is a Druid cave, a witches’ kitchen, a fairy glade, a Druid’s circle and sacrificial altar – or so they say – in the The Rock Close.

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Banshee

Banshee
Bunworth Banshee, Fairy Legends and Traditions of
the South of Ireland by Thomas Crofton Croker, 1825

This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.
This applies to Australia, the European Union and those countries with a
copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years.

The Banshee

An Irish malevolent female Faerie that is often connected to a family even though she lives in the woods, bog, or forest. They are known to scream like a howling wind or a screeching of an owl plummeting to its prey when a family member’s death is imminent and will continue onwards long after the death in mourning. This is where the common phrase “scream like a banshee” comes from. Some blame the Keener women who wail in mourning at funerals gave birth to the legend of the banshee. They seem to be attached to families that have the or Mac prefix. They harber omens of death and messages from the underworld. Their main purpose is to warn of death by beginning to wail if someone is about to die. Some say they only warn if someone is about to die in a violent means such as a tragic accident, murder, or catastrophe. They are not always seen, mostly heard, especially at night. Some claim the island winds that Ireland, Scotland, and England experiences howling through the windows, shutters, or glass panes sound like a banshee and is the root of the noise. I can attest every windy night I’ve spent in Ireland, I’ve heard what I imagine to be the wail of the banshee. In fact as I write this, the wind is making such noises coming through the windows and wood work. Another logical explanation is that of the owl – Screech Owls have a similar sound to that of banshees and during their nocturnal hunts are known for their chilling screech.

However there are those that claim to have seen them, and when they do, they often appear as an ugly scary looking hag or old woman. Others claim they shape-shift and while can appear as an old hag, can also appear as a young beautiful woman. In addition to appearing as an old hag, they have been described as wearing grey or white gowns with long pale hair that they brush with a silver comb, though this could come from mixing them up with mermaids says scholar Patricia Lysaght. Some Celtic lore suggests that banshees originated from the death of a wash woman who died in childbirth and is why banshees are often seen washing or preening next to pools or fjords in the forest or along the banks of a spring or river. Though this could be a confusion of them with naiads. They are sometimes described as having winds and being in flight, while other legends confine them to walking the land in the dark of night. Some say they’ve been blended by monks descriptions of them with Lilith. Lilith is often depicted as a voluptuous female with feather like hair, wings, owl-like feet, perched atop two male lions binding them together by their waists. Some legends claim the manifestation of a banshee at first would transform into the Irish battle Goddess known as the Morrigan. She has also appeared in anamorphic forms such as a stoat, hare, hooded crow, or weasel. There are counterparts of the Banshee throughout the Western world, such as in Scotland as the “bean sith” or “bean-nighe” that is often seen washing blood stained armor or clothes of those about to die. Reports of sightings of bean sith and banshees were abundant even as of recent times. They are also found in Welsh mythology, Norse mythology, and American folklore.

A report from Kings James I of Scotland in 1437 claimed he was approached by an Irish seer who was later identified as a banshee. She foretold of his murder at the instigation of the Earl of Atholl. Irish history and mythology tell tales of many prophets who were believed to be banshees that advise the local courts of Irish Kings, and the great houses of Ireland. On Rathlin island, legend describes the banshee’s cry as a “thin screeching sound somewhere between the wail of a woman and the moan of an owl.” In Leinster, there are tales of the “bean chaointe” whose wail is so piercing that it shatters glass. In Kerry, tales report of the scream as a low pleasant singing of a song. In Tyrone, reports as the sound resembling two boards being struck together. They have been said to have cried during the death of Brian Boru. 18th century C.E. American folklore talk about banshee tales in Tar River, North Carolina, though could be the report of a ghoul that was mislabeled a banshee. In South Dakota, a banshee is said to wail upon a hill near Watch Dog Butte. None of the American legends associate the wail with a oracle of death.

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Banshee

Banshee
Bunworth Banshee, Fairy Legends and Traditions of
the South of Ireland by Thomas Crofton Croker, 1825

This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.
This applies to Australia, the European Union and those countries with a
copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years.

The Banshee

An Irish malevolent female Faerie that is often connected to a family even though she lives in the woods, bog, or forest. They are known to scream like a howling wind or a screeching of an owl plummeting to its prey when a family member’s death is imminent and will continue onwards long after the death in mourning. This is where the common phrase “scream like a banshee” comes from. Some blame the Keener women who wail in mourning at funerals gave birth to the legend of the banshee. They seem to be attached to families that have the or Mac prefix. They harber omens of death and messages from the underworld. Their main purpose is to warn of death by beginning to wail if someone is about to die. Some say they only warn if someone is about to die in a violent means such as a tragic accident, murder, or catastrophe. They are not always seen, mostly heard, especially at night. Some claim the island winds that Ireland, Scotland, and England experiences howling through the windows, shutters, or glass panes sound like a banshee and is the root of the noise. I can attest every windy night I’ve spent in Ireland, I’ve heard what I imagine to be the wail of the banshee. In fact as I write this, the wind is making such noises coming through the windows and wood work. Another logical explanation is that of the owl – Screech Owls have a similar sound to that of banshees and during their nocturnal hunts are known for their chilling screech.

However there are those that claim to have seen them, and when they do, they often appear as an ugly scary looking hag or old woman. Others claim they shape-shift and while can appear as an old hag, can also appear as a young beautiful woman. In addition to appearing as an old hag, they have been described as wearing grey or white gowns with long pale hair that they brush with a silver comb, though this could come from mixing them up with mermaids says scholar Patricia Lysaght. Some Celtic lore suggests that banshees originated from the death of a wash woman who died in childbirth and is why banshees are often seen washing or preening next to pools or fjords in the forest or along the banks of a spring or river. Though this could be a confusion of them with naiads. They are sometimes described as having winds and being in flight, while other legends confine them to walking the land in the dark of night. Some say they’ve been blended by monks descriptions of them with Lilith. Lilith is often depicted as a voluptuous female with feather like hair, wings, owl-like feet, perched atop two male lions binding them together by their waists. Some legends claim the manifestation of a banshee at first would transform into the Irish battle Goddess known as the Morrigan. She has also appeared in anamorphic forms such as a stoat, hare, hooded crow, or weasel. There are counterparts of the Banshee throughout the Western world, such as in Scotland as the “bean sith” or “bean-nighe” that is often seen washing blood stained armor or clothes of those about to die. Reports of sightings of bean sith and banshees were abundant even as of recent times. They are also found in Welsh mythology, Norse mythology, and American folklore.

A report from Kings James I of Scotland in 1437 claimed he was approached by an Irish seer who was later identified as a banshee. She foretold of his murder at the instigation of the Earl of Atholl. Irish history and mythology tell tales of many prophets who were believed to be banshees that advise the local courts of Irish Kings, and the great houses of Ireland. On Rathlin island, legend describes the banshee’s cry as a “thin screeching sound somewhere between the wail of a woman and the moan of an owl.” In Leinster, there are tales of the “bean chaointe” whose wail is so piercing that it shatters glass. In Kerry, tales report of the scream as a low pleasant singing of a song. In Tyrone, reports as the sound resembling two boards being struck together. They have been said to have cried during the death of Brian Boru. 18th century C.E. American folklore talk about banshee tales in Tar River, North Carolina, though could be the report of a ghoul that was mislabeled a banshee. In South Dakota, a banshee is said to wail upon a hill near Watch Dog Butte. None of the American legends associate the wail with a oracle of death.

Bibliography / Recommended Reading:

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