I was working away in town in the sunshine, fairly bored by the struggle of the daily grind. On the spur of the moment I decided to head for the hills. Recently, on a spin around Kilbride rifle range, I'd noticed a second track up the western side of Seahan that I'd never noticed before. It had been covered under the dense pine plantation, but this had been cut about 2 years ago, and this second track was more direct and made the tombs more accessible.
As I drove along the N81 Tallaght by-pass I could see the sun shining on my destination from the road, directly south from the M50 junction at Balrothery. Further on, at 'New' Bancroft, the skeletons of unfinished apartment blocks taunt the traveller with their dreams of rich celtic tiger days gone by. Left at Old Bawn Road, right at Bohernabreena Road (past the avenue I live on) and on up to the Ballinascorney Gap – this is rural Dublin, and a further left turn at the top of the gap up towards the rifle range and in minutes you could believe that the city doesn't exist, blocked from view by the ridge of Slievebawnogue, Ballymorefinn, Seahan itself and Corrig.
The track is situated just below the crest of the road as the view opens out across Kilbride rifle range towards Seefin. It goes directly east up the hill for about 500 metres, then veers to the right and skirts along the edge of the range, outside the tree-line and up, steeper here, until it reaches the moorland above the trees, and then continues across to the peak and the tombs. Seefin and Seefingan cairns have the same shape and profile from this track and you do get a sense that you are approaching the heavens, being lifted up and out, above the mundane, and into the realm of the gods.
Utterly unfit for this type of trek that I am, I struggled on the climb, yet I couldn't but be awed by the stunning views – the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. North of Seefin passage tomb there is a ravine, a deep gouge high up on the spur between it and Seefingan, hard to believe that it's not even a 10 minute drive from my house. Lumps of quartz litter the track and you must traverse the inside edge of the rifle range. Up here you are in a special area of conservation, but try tell that to the scramblers and mountain bikers, but maybe they have the sought for licences.
Then it's the last bit of the trek, up the path to the tombs. It's late now, and only an hour ago I was in the centre of Dublin city and as I reach the peak I get a dose of the jitters, the car left down on the road, predators real and imagined roaming these parts looking for an easy touch. I've done this hundreds of times before and nothing has ever happened, so far.
From here, on a good clear day, you can see the Cooleys and the Mournes and to their west the hills of South Armagh – of course Howth and Lambay are prominent here. The whole of the bay is mostly visible, Two Rock, Three Rock, Little Sugar Loaf, Great Sugar Loaf, over to Kippure, Seefingan, Seefin, Sorrel Hill and deeper into the Wicklows, down to the reservoir and over to the Kilteel ridge, Slievethoul and finally back down towards Knockannavinidee and Tallaght Hill and Ballymorefinn, and even closer in across to Piperstown and Montpellier. The city is there too all across the Dublin plain.
And then there's the tombs, 2 or 3 passage graves and an un-open cairn. The main tomb is wrecked, a small chamber still covered by a roofstone, scant evidence of a passage and some kerbstones on its southern flank. West of it is the cairn, messed about with on its western side, all loose stones long since robbed or embedded in the rising turf. Slightly north-west of the passage tomb is a small arrangement of stones that was noticed by Tom Fourwinds a few years back, a diminutive passage grave rather like one of the satellite tombs at Knowth. Then south of the larger tombs, another sad collection of stones that mark the wreckage of another satellite tomb.
And all the while I'm here, my attention is pulled continually towards the two tombs on Seefingan and Seefin, like big brothers (or sisters) watching over Seahan and I wonder, with so much else on the list, will I ever return here. You can't help but notice the erosion that this windswept location suffers – that, and what with the use and abuse of the area by humanity, the place has a battered look. But still it is achingly beautiful, a cemetery of the ancestors, an outpost of peace and solitude with it own views back down to the madness.
Posted by ryaner
1st July 2014ce
Edited 1st July 2014ce