The Dunbrody

The Dunbrody
~ Waterford, Ireland ~

This three-masted tall ship in barque style was built in Quebec around 1845 by Thomas Hamilton for the Graves family – merchants from New Ross, Wexford, Ireland. The ship originated as a cargo vessel transporting timber and guano to Ireland. From 1845 to 1851 during the months of April to September, she brought passengers to North America – helping people escape the potato famine. They could fit 4 passengers in an area of 6′ square and their children. The Brody had a very low mortality rate for its passengers and was not classified as a “coffin ship” like many others like her who lost roughly 50% of their passengers during the potato famine exodus. It is believed that was due to the fact that the captains John Baldwin and John W. Williams were praised to their dedication for the safe passage. There was one passage with 313 passengers out of which only 6 died. She was sold by the Graves family in 1869. She was then taken by her new owners in 1874 from Cardiff to Quebec and ran aground in the Saint Lawrence River. She was then salvaged, repaired, and sold – then in 1875 was foundered on the Labrador coast and lost. The ship you see here is a replica.

Rated: 5 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

If you would like to contact the author about this review, need a re-review, would like to advertise on this page, or have information to add, please contact us at technogypsie@gmail.com.

August 1, 2012: The Dunbrody, Waterford, Ireland. (c) 2012 – photography by Leaf McGowan, technogypsie.com. To purchase this photo, go to http://www.technogypsie.com/photography/?tcp_product_category=photo
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Wheeler High Shool Fossil Beds (Fossil, Oregon)

Wheeler High School Fossil Beds
~ Wheeler High School, Fossil, Oregon * (541) 763-4146 ~
https://www.oregonpaleolandscenter.com/wheeler-high-school-fossil-beds

In the town of Fossil Oregon one can easily collect fossils for a mere $5 entrance fee (donation based on honor system in a drop-box). The fossil beds are located behind the Wheeler High School and is a great place to learn the history, geology, fossils, and recreation of the town. The fossil beds are a thinly-bedded outcrop of shale on the hill behind the school that represents the bed of a shallow lake that once sat there over 33 million hears ago during the Oligoene boasting a temperate mild and wet climate. Most of the fossils at this location are primarily leaves and branches of deciduous trees that grew along the adjacent stream banks and wetlands. Some of the more common trees are oak, ash, maple, sycamore, alder, and rose. There was a metasequoia that dropped its needs into the lake every fall and can be found here. There have been fossils of salamanders and fish found nearby.

A information board with instructions about digging for fossils and a place to pay for impact on the site, use of tools, etc. The Fossil Beds are owned by the Fossil School District – all fees and donations help pay for unfunded and under funded programs such as Sports, Music, Arts, and After School Reading. They ask for a $5 donated entrance fee based on the honor system.

“Here in the City of Fossil lies an abundance of fossil plant deposits, ranging in age from one million to 32 million years ago. These fossils are part of the “Bridge Creek Flora” the general scientific term given to fossilized plant deposits found in the John Day River basin of north central Oregon – an area that encompasses presentday Fossil to Mitchell to the John Day Valley. Many of these remnants of fossilized flora are distant relatives of similar species found today in regions of eastern Europe and Asia. Preserved under cataclysmic events, these delicate fossilized leaves, ferns, fruits, stems, and seeds reflect Earth’s passages and give scientists clues about ancient ecosystems.”

Alder
“Alnus newberry – one of the most common plant fossils found here, small alder trees were found at the edges of ancient lake basins”.

Hawthorn
“Crataegus merriamiii – Small deciduous trees distantly related to present day hawthor trees found in eastern Europe and Asia.”

Metasequoia
“An ancient species, a small group of closely related evergreen metasequoias were recently discovered in an isolated range of present day China.”

Ash
“Fraxinus species – Ancient ash trees were much smaller than today’s species. Scientists say they grew abundantly along prehistoric lakesides.”

Fern
“Polypodium – Rare single specimens have been found here. distant relatives to today’s woodland ferns.”

Walnut
“Juglandiphyllites cryptatus – Walnut trees were once prolific in this region although the discovery of well preserved leaves and fruits is still a rare occurence.”

Extinct Fruit
“Fossilized fruit and fruit capsules are rare among the Bridge Creek Flora and this unknown tree or shrub species is long extinct.”

Sumac
“Rhus lequereuxii – somewhat similar to present day sumac found across North America, ancient specimens included both deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs”.

Pine Needles
“Pinus johndayensis – Only one type of ancient pine has been discovered in the Fossil locale; hece the species has been named for the John Day River basin.”

Unknown Monocot Species
“Simple monocotledon leaf composites of a yet-unknown ancient plant species.”

Oak
“Quercus consimilis – the leaes of prehistoric oaks – both deciduous and evergreen species – were not lobbed. Fossilized acorns have not yet been discovered here.”

Unknown Dicot Species
“An unknown species with complex leaves perhaps related to ancient sumacs.”

Basswood
“Tilia fossilensis – a concentration of fossilized ancient basswood trees also referred to as linden was found only in a single strata at these fossil beds.”

Yelp Reviews

Rated: 4 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

If you would like to contact the author about this review, need a re-review, would like to advertise on this page, or have information to add, please contact us at technogypsie@gmail.com.

Digging Fossils at the Fossil Beds (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=27387) in Fossil, Oregon (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=27373). Volcanic Legacy: Chronicle 25 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian. Adventures in Washington, Oregon, Idaho & Wyoming. Photos taken August 1, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21521. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

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Sheepherder’s Wagon

A Sheepherder’s Wagon

There is an excellent donated wagon in Fossil, Oregon. In the front of the school that was built in the 1930’s and last used in 1984 containing all the original equipment used by the sheepherder. “This wagon was home to the sheepherder and his dogs twelve months of the year. Moved as the sheep followed the grass the herder followed the sheep and the wagon followed the herd.” It was donated by the Steiwer Family.

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horse

Horses in the fields at Fossil Motel and RV Park (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=27381
) Fossil, Oregon (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=27373).

Horses

Taxonomy: Kingdom: Animalia; Phylum: Chordata; Class: Mammalia; Order: Perissodactyla; Family: Equidae; Genus: Equus; Species: ferus; Subspecies: ferus caballus. Equus ferus

Horses are the Equus ferus and have two extant subspecies. The horse is a large ungulate mammal that is odd-toed, consistent with a well-developed sense of balance and strong fight-or-flight response. They originally evolved from a small multi-toed prehistoric dinosaur known as the Eohippus – a small multi-toed creature. They were first domesticated about 4000 B.C.E. in the Fertile Crescent and throughout the known world by 3000 B.C.E. The sub-species “caballus” are essentially all domesticated though there are some feral horses living in the wild, but are not true wild horses such as the Przewalski’s horse – the only true remaining wild horse.

Horses are able to sleep both standing up and lying down. The female is called a mare and carry young within the womb for 11 months giving birth to a foal (young horse) and can stand/run shortly following birth. They are usually fully developed by age 5 and live to 25 or 30 years of age.

Domestication: Domestication started around 4000 B.C.E. with widespread occurence by 3000. They are often saddled or harnessed by age 2 and 4. They are fully developed by age 5. They are classified in three categories based on temperament: “hot bloods” – spirited with speed and endurance; “cold bloods” like draft horses and ponies often slow but capable of heavy work; and “warm bloods” developed as a cross-breed between the “hot” and “cold” bloods usually specified for riding. There are over 300 different breeds today.

Human adaptation
Horses are used by humans for sport, transportation, agriculture, entertainment, and therapy. Originally used in warfare they evolved into different uses.

Uses:
Recreation, sport, warefare, transportation, entertainment, therapy, and food. The meat, milk, hide, hair, bone, and urine are used. Urine from pregnant mares are used for pharmaceuticals.

This article is not complete. Please check back soon..

Horses in the fields at Fossil Motel and RV Park (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=27381
) Fossil, Oregon (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=27373). Volcanic Legacy: Chronicle 25 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian. Adventures in Washington, Oregon, Idaho & Wyoming. Photos taken August 1, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21521. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productios, Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

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Jack Rabbit

Jack Rabbit: Lepus timidus

Kingdom: Animalia; Phylum: Chordata; Class: Mammalia; Order: Lagomorpha; Family: Leporidae; Genus: Lepus
species: (various) common: timidus

Description: Jackrabbits are actually hares, and are mammals in the leporids belonging to the Genus Lepus. They are in the same family as rabbits. The term “jackrabbit” comes from the book by Mark Twain describing a jackass rabbit because the long ears looked like a jackass donkey’s ears and was shortened to “jackrabbit”. They are similar in size to rabbits eating the same kind of diet being herbivorous. They are long eared, fast runners, living solitary or in pairs. There are five main species in the leporid with hare in their common names but are not true hares – these are (1) the hispid hare (Caprolagus hispidus), and four species as red rock haires (Pronolagus). Hares that are less than a year old are called leverets. They bear their babies in shallow depressions or flattened nests of grass rather than burrows like rabbits do. A group of hares is called a drove. Jackrabbits can run upwards of 64 kph or 40 mph able to leap up to 3 meters at a time. They are often shy and timid, but during the spring they chase one another competing for fertility even to where they seem to be “boxing” with one another striking one another with their paws. They don’t live in burrows or warrens like rabbits, but in simple nests above group and do not live in groups. Hares have long ears, black markings on their fur, jointed or kinetic skulls with 48 chromosomes while rabbits only have 44. The six species of jackrabbits are the (1) Antelope jackrabbit, (2) black tailed jackrabbit, (3) white-sided jackrabbit, (4) Tehuantepec jackrabit, (5) Black jackrabbit, (6) white-tailed jackrabbit.

Habitat: Native to Africa, Eurasia, North America and the Japanese archipelago.

Uses: Hunted or raised for food and meat. They have low fat content, but are a poor choice for survival food. They are commonly roasted or taken apart for breading and frying. A traditional German stew is made from marinated rabbit or hare meat called Hasenpfeffer. It’s blood is also used as a thickening agent for the sauce of the stew, mixed with wine and/or vinegar. The Lagos Stifado hare stew is made with pearl onions, vinegar, red wine, and cinnamon is a popular Greek dish. The French make jugged hare where they take the whole hare, dice and marinate it, cooked with red wine and juniper berries in a tall jug that stands in a pan of water and is traditionally served with the hare’s blood and port wine. Jewish culture does not consider the hare to be kosher and therefore not eaten by observant Jews.

Mythology: In African folk tales the hare is a trickster spirit. In English folklore “as mad as a March hare” and in the legend of the White hare that goes out looking for prey at night or the spirit of a broken-hearted maiden who cannot rest and haunts her unfaithful lover. The Chinese, Japanese, and Mexican cultures see the hare in the paattern of dark patches in the moon. The Hare is sacred to Aphrodite and Eros because of its high sexual and fertile nature. Hares were presented as gifts of love. The Anglo-Saxon mythology of the Goddess Eostre – from which the Easter Bunny came from, is also based in love and fertility. Hares symbolize swiftness and timidity. The jackrabbit combined with a antelope creates the mythological creature known as the Jackalope.

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Desert Arroyo

Desert Arroyo

An arroyo found in the desert is a dry creek or stream bed that seasonally fills and flows after various rain falls. An Arroyo is a wash, gulch, or dry creek that temporarily flows with water after rain fall or seasonal weather patterns. They provide water to the desert biosphere and has a specific biome with vegetation dependent on seasonal flow. They are often found in drainages or flat bottoms of canyons that don’t have water resources most of the year thereby hosting very arrid independent vegetation.

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Tamarisk

Tamarisk aka Tamarix

Folknames: Salt Cedar, Tamarisk

Description: There are over 50-60 species of flowering plants in the family of Tamaricaceae native to the dry regions of Eurasia and Africa. It was named after the Tamaris River in Hispania Tarraconensis of Spain. They are evergreen and/or deciduous trees or shrubs that can grow upwards of 1-18 eters in height, they are known to create dense thickets. The largest is the Tamarix aphylla growing to 18 meters tall. They have slender branches, grey-green foliage, the bark of the young shoots are smooth and reddish brown, which becomes bluish-purple ridged and furrowed with age. Leaves are scale-like similar to junipers, hosting 1-2 mm long leaves that overlap one another along the stem, often encrusted with salt secretions. They blossom pink to white flowers in dense masses along 5-10 cm long spikes at their branch tips from March to September. They are fire adapted with long tap roots allowing to intercept deep water tables and they take up salt from deep groundwater accumulating it on their foilage.

Cultivation: They spread vegetatively by adventitious roots or submerged stems, and sexually by seeds. Each flower produces thousands of 1 mm diameter seeds. They are propgated by cuttings.

Habitat: Saline soils with upwards of 15,000 ppm soluble salt and/or alkaline conditions. Originally from Eurasia and Africa, they are today found throughout the world including the American southwest and California as an invasive species. It was introduced to the U.S. as an ornamental shrub in the 1930s for controlling soil erosion.

Uses:
Used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species. Used as an ornamental shrub, wind breaks, and shade trees. Wood is used in carpentry and firewood. They are used in China as antidesertification programs. They are planted to mine salts then used in production of fuel and fertilizer. They

Mythology:
In the “Epic of Gilgamesh”, Tamarisk is used combined with soapwort as a bath that Gilgamesh’ mother, the Goddess Ninsun for ceremonial bathing. The Bible refers to Tamarisk in Genesis 21:33 as Abraham was recorded to have planted a tamarisk at Beer-sheba by a well he built. In 1 Samuel 22:6 Saul is mentioned sitting under a tamarisk tree on a hill at Gibeah where he learned that David returned to Judah. In Shahnameh, only a tamarisk arrow to the eye can wound the invincible Prine esfandiar. In the Old Testament, Saul’s bones were buried under a Tamarisk tree in Jabesh.

Cultural history
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh’s mother, the goddess Ninsun, ceremoniously bathes in a bath of “tamarisk” and soapwort before allowing Gilgamesh and Enkidu to begin their conquest. The Tamarisk tree held the body of Osiris for a time in Byblos until retrieved by Isis in Egyptian mythology. The Tamarisk is a favorite tree of the Greek God Apollo.

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Pirates

When one thinks of “Pirates” they immediately conjure up the image portrayed by Disney and fabled adventure books of either Captain Hook and Tinker Bell, or Johnny Depp and the “Pirates of the Carribean”. Pirates of the Carribbean is by far the most popular portrayal, and there today is an over-glorification of these dastardly criminals. But they were not only criminals, but a anarchistic society and sub-culture. In basic definition, A pirate is a person who commits acts of piracy, usually at sea, without authorization of a country, King/Queen, or army to do so. Of course soldiers throughout history, Ancient mariners fighting for their countries would loot, raid, conquer, maim, and kill hundreds if not thousands in their wakes of invasion. But those actions were deemed “ok” by historians since it was under the authority of a “nation”. These seaward scumbags however were classified just as such because they did the acts independently for their own greed or want of treasure. Truth be told, it was survival and independence, the poor striking against the rich. They often started out as young sailors, struggling to survive, realizing “thievery” was a quick and easy route to making it. Others were captured crew who were pushed into the life of piracy, often as slaves or indentured servants at best. Others were recruited in harbors as crew for a ship sometimes with the art of piracy being known or often not revealed that was what one was getting into.

Some say that Pirates were documented as early as the 14th century BCE with “the Sea Peoples” who were thought to have come from the Aegean Sea as well as Ancient Greece. The Fomorians of Ireland were a legendary race of Giants who were portrayed as “pirates”. Pirates and Piracy has existed from the beginning of time. The earliest records were that of Dionysus the Phocaean in 494 BCE and lasting right up to the modern day with Abduwai Muse in 2009 CE. However, when we think of Pirates – it extends from either the Middle Ages (400 CE – 1585 CE), on into the Rise of the English Sea Dogs and Dutch Corsairs: (1560 CE – 1650 CE), the Age of the Buccaneers: (1650 CE – 1690 CE), Golden Age of Piracy: (1690 CE – 1730 CE), and After the Golden Age: Pirates, Privateers, Smugglers, and River Pirates: (1730 CE – 1885 CE). Of course the “Vikings” as well were “Pirates” of sorts, though they operated with authorization of their peoples in Norway, Denmark, etc. so it draws a gray line. Every coastal country had its own sea-faring raids, invasions, and activities that were controversially criminal.

The term “Pirate” denotes an individual who participates in “Piracy”. Piracy is a sea-born offence against the universal laws of society, equating to “theft”, “robbery”, “looting”, or “crime”. Pirates are seamen who have turned to crime – robbing, attacking, seizing, capturing, or destroying other ships and their crew at high seas or within the coastal harbors. They were also known for their acts of theft, smuggling, and slave trade all for their own personal interests rather than for a company or country. They were punished as criminals for their crimes against society. They were not without their popularity and many of these pirates were high-profile and influential which often led to the death penalty when caught and penalized. The legality of their actions however was the biggest distinguishing factor separating them from privateers, buccaneers, or servants of a royal fleet. The acts led to a sub-culture, a band of individuals that joined together creating crews and legions. The acts turned lifestyle and evolved into action not just for wealth, but for independence, anarchy, fighting the mainstream, and for the hunger of adventure, fame, and danger. It was a manifestation of freedom in their minds and souls, some would say was in their blood and spirit. They were portrayed as free spirits, united with others of like-minds, usually men who loved women, booty, liquor, songs, and sword fighting. Today they are romanticized and seen as a glamorous rebellious culture even though historically they were not. Their lives were historically cruel, short, violent, and abrupt. There were also numerous female pirates who made their mark in history.

Today, Children all over the world celebrate Pirates, pretending to be them, fight them, hunt for treasure, and it is fun and games to them. The dastardly history is white-washed and the sense of adventure glorified. In some ways Pirates are equated to Robin Hoods of the Sea. They are seen as icons of fighting against the dictators and oppressive governments.

Pirates ate what most seamen ate – and it was always dependent on food supplies or conditions of their stock. Sometimes it was dependent on what they raided from other ships or towns. Food often molded or rotted, and sometimes their foodstuffs were questionable. Often they had livestock on board, eating meat, bread, dairy, and produce. They often cured their meats (salt) and fermented their vegetables. Common were salted meats, sea biscuits, sauer kraut, and bone stock soup. Oddly they didn’t fish all that much and seafood was not as common in the diet as one would think. They drank a lot of alcohol, often from raids, and in the Carribean known for their love of rum. Beer, ale, brandy, mead, and wine were common drinks.

Pirates didn’t often bury treasure. While some did, overall the “treasure” was perishable and needed on a daily basis. Because they were hunted criminals, their careers didn’t last long, and neither did their lives. They actually lived to their own rules, morals, and standards. It was not uncommon for pirate crew members to agree to a code of conduct and often had to sign in agreement. They had their own rules and punishments for lying, stealing, fighting, or acting against one another while on board their ship. Sometimes these punishments were severe, but they rarely if ever “walked the plank”. The few case examples of that kind of punishment was after the Golden Age of Piracy. Punishments were often beatings, whippings, knee hauling, dragged by the ship, or marooned on an island. Their ships were well run with a clear division of labor and officers in charge who were respected and held in high regard. The captain decided where to go and when to attack, the Quartermaster would issue punishments and settle grievances, ran the ship’s operations, and divided the treasure. Other common roles were boatswain, carpenter, cooper, gunner, and navigator. While many Pirates started from a poor life of suffrage, some were social elites who came from wealthy families. Lastly not all Pirates were criminals – like the Vikings, they were serving their nations or people, and during wartime and battles of one country to another, Piracy was enacted and Pirates were often hired as mercenaries. Some nations issued letters of Marque and Reprisal allowing ships to attack enemy ports and vessels leading to plunder and captivity. These were somewhat differentiated though and called privateers.

Check back for this is a work in progress.

Pirates! Exhibit (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=36331); Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Denver, Colorado, USA. http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=28273 | The Great Walkabout: http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?page_id=114. From Colorado Springs to Australia, Europe, and back. Photos taken March 5, 2011. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=17409. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2011 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. Pirates: http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=4261.

Article by Thomas Baurley on 2/27/18.

References/Recommended Reading:

  • Canfield, Nicole 2005 Owlcation: The Life of a Pirate. Website referenced 2/27/18 at https://owlcation.com/humanities/The-Life-of-a-Pirate-What-They-Ate-What-They-Did-For-Fun-and-More
  • Minister, Christopher 2017 ThoughtCo: 10 Facts about Pirates. Website referenced 2/27/18 at https://www.thoughtco.com/facts-about-pirates-2136238.
  • Way of the Pirates n.d. “Pirates”. Website referenced 2/27/18 at http://www.thewayofthepirates.com/types-of-pirates/pirates/
  • Wikipedia n.d. “List of Pirates:. Website referenced 2/27/18 at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pirates.
  • Wikipedia n.d. “Piracy”. Website referenced 2/27/18 at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piracy

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Cave of the Cats (Roscommon, Ireland)

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.

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 – entrance chamber

Oweynagat Cave – Cave of the Cats – Passage downward.

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Amethyst

Amethyst
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Article by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

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Description: This stone comes in a crystalline or translucent purple stone.

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