Cruachain - Rathnadarve Barrow




N 53° 48' 08.5"   W 008° 18' 46.8"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

M 79428 83677

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Saturday 7 June 2014

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The barrow is a field next to a road that has cut the southeast section of the surrounding ditch. Seen from the northeast.

Cruachain, or Cruachan, is one of the most important ancient sites cited in Irish literature and history. It was a place of assembly and the burial ground for many Irish kings. It was also used as a site for ritual gatherings and ceremonies and probably it was also the residence for some of the kings. Cruachain is a large area of about 10 square kilometres and includes 19 enclosures, 27 burial mounds, pillar stones and standing stones and some other earthworks. Some of them are still clearly visible in the landscape, others have been flattened or erased by the human activities over the centuries and can be detected only by an aerial inspection.
Cruachain appears in the irish mythology as the seat of Ailill and Medb, respectively king and queen of Connacht in the Ulster Cycle. The site is the setting for the opening of the famous legendary tale of the Táin Bó Cúailnge.

Rathnadarve, or Ráth na tDarbh in Irish, meaning Fort of the Bulls, is a circular barrow surrounded by an earth bank and a ditch with some openings in the bank. Sadly the modern road has cut off the southeastern part of the ditch. The central area of the enclosure forms a slight mound that at its highest point exceeds the height of the bank. It has a diameter of about 85 metres and a top height of about 3 metres.
According to the mythology, this is the place where, at the end of the epic tale of Táin Bó Cúailnge, the two bulls, Donn Cúailnge and Finn Bennach, fought to death.

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