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Magh Adhair

Artificial Mound


According to TJ Westropp's 1916 'Antiquities of Limerick and its neighbourhood' Magh Adhair is a well preserved place of ancient repute and ceremonial... Legend mentions Adhar son of Umor, brother of Aenghus the Firbolg chief...

When the High King, Flann Sionna, invaded Thomond, in 877, he marched 'to the green of Magh Adhair' and played chess to insult the Dal gCais, 'at the very place of inauguration.'
So offensive. The surrounding inhabitants and the local chiefs were on him before he'd even finished his game. They were too polite to kill him though, and in a Celtic fashion just stole his best poet.

Other records (beside a vague allusion to a pillar) mention a Bile or venerated tree which the High King Maelsechnaill cut down, and had the roots dug out, in AD981, to insult King Brian Boroimhe. Apparently another tree was planted but someone later childishly chopped that down too for similar reasons.

A long succession of Kings of Thomond were inaugurated here down to the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and 'Iraghts' of considerable local importance were held, down to the great famine, and were remembered even about 1890. In that year people only recalled besides that the mound was a place where a king was buried...

The mound stands in a small plain, in a natural amphitheatre, formed by a low crag called 'the Beetle's Crag' or Cragnakeeroge, beside the strangely named 'Hell Bridge' and 'Hell River'. There are traces of a semi-circular fence, between which and the mound lies a large block of conglomerate of dull purple, with red and pink pebbles of porphyry and quartz; two basins are ground in it.

An inauguration ceremony took place around 1200 which was (it seems) documented: The carn or mound was palisaded, with a gate, guarded by three chiefs, a fourth alone ascended the carn with Cathal Craoibhdhearg and gave him the whit rod. The other chiefs and the comharbs stood below, holding the Prince's arms, clothes and horse. He faced the north, and on stepping down from the inauguration stone on the mound, turned round thrice, as is still the custom in Co. Clare on seeing a new moon. He then descended from the mound and was helped to robe and remount.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
5th September 2009ce
Edited 5th September 2009ce

Comments (2)

Interesting piece Rhiannon. I almost feel as if I should be commenting on this through a mellow mist. Soft day and all that but then, its lashing here at the moment.

It's odd. I was just reading lately about a mound with a Neolithic palisade, not too far from this in Co. Tipperary. The kind of thing that makes you wonder, what was going on here?

"Archaeologist Dr Farina Sternke said an excavation at Tullahedy in Co Tipperary had uncovered the remains of a palisade encircling a natural mound which had been altered over time via the dumping of several layers of glacial soil."

Your 'Magh Adhair' can be translated as 'Plain of the Oak', which might (or might not) throw a bit of light on the sacred tree/bile.
gjrk Posted by gjrk
6th September 2009ce
I love the insults - who needs facebook or an online forum to insult people when you can play chess at them, cut their trees down, steal their poets, etc?

thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
9th September 2009ce
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