Abbeyshrule, Co Longford. The ruins of a cistercian abbey and later tower house on the site of an earlier church. The ruins are located in a graveyard with surrounding wall, but there is evidence of other buildings between here and the nearby River Inny. The Cistercians are said to have founded this house from Melifont in 1200. The chancel was converted to a parish church after the dissolution of the monasteries in the sixteenth century and the distinctive double belcote dates from that time. The tower house dates from the late sixteenth century and is described as a medieval watch tower used by the ruling O'Farrell clan.
Hill of Uisneach
The Stone of the Divisions or Cat Stone on the Hill of Uisneach, Co Westmeath, is a very special place within a wider prehistoric complex. It is said that its parts represent the five historic provinces of Ireland and that it is located at their meeting place in centre of the island. This symbolic medial place has also been called Umbilicus Hiberniae -the navel of Ireland - and in mythology said to be a meeting point not just of the physical world but with the otherworld and and a source of all creation. The stone is also said to mark the resting place of the godess Eiru, after whom the island of Ireland, or Eire in Gaelic, was named. Not surprisingly, given its symbolism, the site was a focus for one of Daniel O'Connell's monster rallies in the nineteenth century and a speech by De Valera in the twentieth. Physically the structure is a glacial erratic boulder surrounded by a circular low earthwork. It is part of a nearby landscape of over twenty identified monuments ranging in age from the Neolithic to the Medieval period. This site appears to have functioned as a meeting place for kings from across the island and was associated with the lighting of the Beltaine Fire every May. It has been linked as a spiritual or symbolic place with the Hill of Tara functioning in a complementary fashion as a secular source of power. The 'Suidigud Tellaig Temra' (the settling of the manor of Tara) describes the link between the sites as 'two kidneys in a beast'.
It is a place well worth the visit, where there is a palpable sense of history.
Marks of Time
Sketches of buildings in the North West of Ireland and further afield with a little information about their history.