Friday, 4 March 2016

Ballymaise Passage Tomb Co Dublin

                         Above Image: Entrance gate (taken during a recent snowfall)

                                                   Above Image: The old shed

                                  Above Image: Kerb stones nestled on the outcrop

                                                  Above Image: The Guardians

                                             Above Image: © Google Maps 2016

This Neolithic passage tomb which may date back as far as 2000BC is only identified now by its remaining line of kerb stones. It lies on the slopes of Knockannavea Hill in an area of forest re-plantation. There are times that this area is clear of fully grown trees but equally it can be the opposite. In all cases those replanting seem careful not interfere with the stones and so they can be found with a little searching and are really worth your time to locate.
The tomb appears to have been deliberately set into an outcrop which can offer at times a really good overlook of Dublin Bay. In particular there are good views of Howth and Lambay Island and it is possible that the tomb is aligned to the summits of either or both. Many of these types of ancient sites can be aligned in some way to other sites or even cairns on the summits of nearby mountains.
When we visited the forest was at full height and we had to follow a rudimentary track in a gap in the trees which eventually opened out into a clear area. There was a perimeter fence of a local farm and a large shed at the edge which would aid in identifying that you are in the right spot if visiting. The tomb lies about 25m North West of this shed. A couple of isolated trees sprout out of the tomb site like lonely guardians. The shape that the stones form is a little difficult to ascertain at first but by following them around it does appear circular in fashion. An aerial view confirms this.
We visited on a early Summer evening about an hour before dusk and the site seem to bristle with atmosphere. I have found that in some cases these ancient stones seem to exude their antiquity to where it is almost palpable and there was definitely a strong feeling of something ancient here. We encountered no one else while there and there was no movement in the farm adjacent. Totally peaceful. Though the track up Knockannavea is well trodden by walkers I wonder how many are aware of this interesting site just off the beaten track.

To find the tomb take the R114 heading West from the Old Mill Pub in Old Bawn Tallaght and drive for approx. 1.7Km until you have crossed the narrow Fort stone bridge. From the bridge continue up through the mountain pass until you reach the third right hand turn at Ballinascorney signposted as the L7045. Turn right and drive for approx. 800m on a narrow road through the trees (which may be at full height or newly replanted) until you reach a small clearing with a black barrier gate on your left. There is also a Coillte Information sign here (although it is now defaced with grafitti). You can park at the gate. Once through the gate follow the track up a gentle incline for approx. 200m until you reach a small oval shaped widening of the track. Turn right here onto the small track into the trees (If you consider the oval shape as a clock face then the track would be at Two O’Clock).  Walk for about 70m and you will eventually spot the shed on your right. The tomb remains are to the left of this on a small outcrop.

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