Howth Demesne, with its monstrous capstone, has to be one of the unsung greats of Irish tombs (maybe it's not all that unsung, but it feels that way). This was my second visit here and I was once again stunned by the absolute madness of it. I struggled to explain to my companion how it was possible to construct it.
If the capstone did come from Muck Rock cliff (and from where else could it?) and was rolled here, they'd have had to have come past the front of the tomb and rolled it up from the back end as the front of the tomb does point directly at the cliff-face (that is if that's the way portal tombs are constructed). The capstone has been flattened on its underside and at its front, and it's entirely possible that the stone was rolled from Muck Rock, up a platform/ramp at the front of the tomb, which was then removed once the capstone rested on the portals, doorstone, sidestones and backstone, to reveal it in all its majesty.
You can't help but wonder when the capstone fell (if a capstone falls and nobody hears it etc...) and also admire the builders who undertook this project all those years ago. The over 2 metres tall portal stones were a job to erect in themselves. Much of the other structural stones seem to have almost exploded under the weight of the collapsing and collapsed capstone. There's a tiny 'Dolmen' signpost at the back of the golf-course that points the way down the path to the tomb – quiet, understated, and completely the opposite of what it leads to. I love this place.
With only hours to go before the plane for Blighty took off, there was just enough time to track down this collapsed but still magnificent portal tomb.
Or so I thought, no help would be coming from one of Julians books, which meant it was time to break out the fourwinds. I tried to follow his directions, with only a road map to aid us, but it took ages to find the right golf course, I think it may have changed its name, either way its the golf club that is off the R105, through the big impressive gateway, past the castle and into the club carpark. From there on his instructions were spot on. Skirt round the right hand side of the Golf shop and follow the path. I'll just add turn right at the NO FLOWER PICKING sign.
I had no idea the path through the woods at the bottom of Muck rock would be so pretty, even at the end of autumn, but it was very nice, old twisted Yew trees, giant ferns and Rhodadenrons with the tinkling sound of a small stream, then the giant capstone looms up as you turn a corner, I didn't expect it to be soooo big.
The tomb is wrecked, the capstone fallen or slid backwards away from the portal stones, these three stones are all that is left of a similar tomb in N. Wales, when I first saw them I couldnt work out how it would have looked, I found out long ago, but this is the first time I could see them with my own eyes, hmmmm and ohhhh.
For reasons known only to its builders the tomb faces not to any sunrise or sunset, nor was the moon involved either (S'far as I know)it was aimed right at the rocky cliffs of Muck rock. I had the pleasure of looking down on the whole peninsula as we flew into Dublin airport, the place is an ancient magnet, a big sticky out bit with a big rocky central hill, an obvious place for the local people to attach legend to.
But it had taken too long get here, and my visit was cut unceramoniously short by the missus on the old textaroo, is there any more painful way to leave a site.