Visited Cloghanmore Court Tomb on the first day of my week in Donegal. The sky opened and we experienced that Donegal phenomenon 'four seasons in one day' just as we reached the tomb. We stayed quite a while though in truth were preoccupied with trying to get some shelter from the torrential shower. My friend had left car in the carpark at the Gleancholmcille Woollen Mill about 100 metres from Cloghanmore's own small car park but eventually decided to go ad get it while I waited huddled by one of the chambers. It felt a bit eerie standing alone in the rain in what is probably Donegal's largest court tomb.
Paid a return visit on the Friday, this time it was warm and sunny. There were a couple of people already there so I went and sat on some higher ground slightly above the tomb until they had finished taking photos etc. This turned out to be a useful thing as this very large court tomb probably seen better in its entirety from above.
See Gladman's excellent fieldnote for a full description of the tomb.
The fine, partially restored court tomb of Cloghanmore is a fitting companion site to the nearby half dozen assemblage of portal tombs at Malin More. The monument lies beside the moorland road to Lough Auva in the shadow - or at least that would be the case if the sun was out - of the large 427m hill of Leahan. Seems everything is substantially constructed in these parts, whether by the unerring forces of nature honed over countless millennia, or by the comparatively recent hand of humankind.
Cloghanmore is a case in point, a major tomb in every respect, not least with regards its size. Approached from the aforementioned moorland road, however, the initial portents of a visit are perhaps not the best.... a small car park, not far from the tourist woollen mill, gives access to a bridge across a small stream, whereby a concrete path leads across boggy ground towards the site. Ah, one for the half interested tourist then? Well yes and no... for although access is straightforward, the monument itself is - judging by conditions underfoot - liable to flood somewhat and lacks the towering profile of a portal tomb to excite the more limited imagination, shall we say? Hence the couple of visitors who do join us do not linger past the few obligatory snaps for the 'folks back home'. More fool them, since what Cloghanmore lacks in profile it more than compensates for in sheer extent of court area and interesting architectural detail.
The court itself is almost completely enclosed by boldly projecting 'arms', the latter just failing to meet and thus allowing access at that point. Furthermore, small subsiduary chambers (with capstone) are located within the drystone masonry - a feature I have not seen before. The two main burial chambers - or galleries - are located to the west and are of more standard construction. One still retains a capstone, a fine place to sit and contemplate the original role of several enigmatic stones located within the court itself.
Yeah, it has been an enlightening day. Whatever reconstruction has been undertaken at Cloughanmore was clearly performed by similarly enlightened people in a tasteful, unobtrusive manner, thus leaving the aura at this great, slumbering, beguiling tomb intact. Not to mention ensuring the traveller is able to grasp just what a major Irish court tomb should look like. Do not be put off by the apparent 'show site' vibe. There is much more to this site than that.
A superb partly reconstructed court tomb E of Malin More on the minor road.
Its total length is 40m including an oval court 14m long. The entrance to the court is in the E and on either side of the entrance are two chambers built into the cairn each of which has a decorated orthostat.
At the W end of the court are two parallel galleries.