Knockmany - 23 July 2020

Ruth, Reuben & Gordon led the Walking for Interest group to one of the great Irish royal sites, Knockmany Passage Tomb, steeped in the energy and legends of prehistory. Now housed under a rather brutal modern enclosure above the treetops of the Clogher Valley the tomb is the resting place of Queen Áine who was an ancient Irish deity, a goddess, and of the Tuatha Dé Danann race. Áine has been viewed at various times as a Sun Goddess, a Moon Goddess and Queen of the fairies in addition to being the patroness of medicine and literature, goddess of love and fertility with command over crops, animals and agriculture. As if that wasn't enough she is also viewed as the goddess of summer, wealth and sovereignty.

The tomb is also connected with Queen Baine, wife of the first century King Tuathal Techtmar. It is from Baine that Knockmany takes its name - Cnoc mBáine (‘the Hill of Queen Baine’). The monument has never been accurately dated, but it is likely to have been built sometime in the c.3000-2000BC, i.e. thousands of years before Queen Baine lived.

Clogher was the centre of the Kingdom of Oriel, so we should not be that surprised that this is a royal burial place. However, it’s remarkable to think that over 5,000 years ago, a community expended such effort to construct an elaborate tomb without the aid of mechanisation. The huge upright stones of the tomb vary in height between 1 and 2 metres and are inscribed with spirals, cups, rings and other megalithic designs that are among the finest from this period. The mound is around 25 metres in diameter.

As we have come to expect on a Thursday the weather was warm and sunny and the walk excellent as well as the chat. The leaders chose a great place to stop and have lunch. To round off a great day the group enjoyed coffee at Suitor Craft Gallery and Coffee Shop in Ballygawley - socially distanced.