Sunday 2nd April saw us once again on the road. This time our destination was to Drum in the south-west corner of County Roscommon and a good few kilometres from home. Fortunately the day held promise for the weather, when we left, was sunny and bright. Thankfully it stayed that way for the whole day.
Our route took us through the large town of Athlone [Baile Átha Luain, meaning "town of Luan's ford]which sits astride the river Shannon like a mother duck. A good place for shopping with numerous stores that cater for everyone - ladies please note. We did not stop but pressed onwards through Monksland [Fearann na Manach] to Drum [Droim’ meaning ridge or hillock]. We followed the brown signposts towards the our destination - a megalith named Meehambee Dolmen, meaning yellow meadow from the Irish word Míothán buídhe.
When the British Crown ruled Ireland they changed Irish names into what they thought were easily pronounceable place names. The consequence of this action was that the geographical meanings of place names were obscured or lost and the Irish language was outlawed. Today we have English gobble de gook on some sign boards, though in places the original Irish is also displayed.
The Ice House
As we drove along a very narrow road that undulated and twisted left and right for several kilometres towards Míothánbuídhe, I noticed a rectangular hole in an embankment wall amid some stone heaps. This suggested that we were passing a ruined building so we stopped and took photos. At home later my research told me that the hole was what is known as an Ice House where meats were preserved - rather like a fridge. The building is believed to be the former home place of the Ó Lionáin family, other names being O'Lennan, O'Lonain and both translate as Lennon.
A few minutes from the Ice House and we reached a small parking place.
Here was the start of an old bridleway bordered by dry stone walls on either side, which looked to be very inviting. It proved to be a very pleasant stroll to the megalith, the majority of the plant life being fresh Ransom (Allium Ursinum), wild garlic in leaf, the scent of which faintly perfumed the air. On the way was a large hill fort known as Rath of the Wren which sadly it was fenced off, although I suppose doing so prevents it from being damaged.
Reduced headroom under a natural arch
of Whitethorn and Ivy
A blue fairy has just come out of the dolmen to take photo's !
At the end of the bridlepath the Abhainn na Crannain
flows gently along
After our visit to the megalith we decided to make our way to Tuam in Co Galway for there is a particular Well there that Mrs H wanted to visit. Whenever time allows we always use the by-roads those whose designated number is preceded by an R or an L, rather than the large fast roads with a N or M. It is the scenery which interests us, that and the convenience of stopping for coffee and sandwiches which we always carry on tours such as these.
The bridge over the river Shevin at Ballinamore, Co. Galway.
Suddenly, I saw what appeared to be a castle wall in the distance complete with crenellations and yet there was no mention of this on the map. As we got closer I saw that it was a river bridge with a fortified high wall on one side only. Later research informed me that it was built in the mid 1800’s and I am guessing that it may well have been part of a famine relief scheme. Similar works were undertaken across the country, the idea being that money for food must be earned rather than given freely to those in need.
We eventually arrived in Tuam, Tuim a burial mound, and although we knew the area where St Jarlaith’s well was situated we failed to locate it. So another journey must be undertaken armed with more detailed information.
We turned for home with our route taking us through Athenry, Baile Áth na Ríogh, meaning "Town of the Ford of the Kings” and famed for the well-known song ‘The Fields of Athenry’.