The town name "Aughnacliffe" is an Irish Gaelic title meaning "Field of Stones." But they aren't just any stones - they are megalithic. BIG rocks. County Longford is strewn liberally with the remains of dolmens, the massive rock slab doorways self-standing in the open spaces of its post-glacial hills. Some of them resemble the petrified remnants of card houses built by giants.
Wikimedia Commons | Poulnabrone Dolmen in County Clare
Many of these megaliths are still standing across the world, from Ireland to as far away as Korea, built by people whose civilizations spread across Europe & Asia during Neolithic times (long before the arrival of the Celtic families). The 5,000 year old dolmens of Aughnacliffe are not statues, but instead portals to an invisible space - tomb entrances, the passageways above a burial that marked the transition to another phase of existence.
Out of nearly 200 known dolmens in Ireland (mostly facing eastward, towards sunrise, and mostly found today in prosaic pastures or old town quarters), many have offered glimpses of the detailed burial customs by which these people of the Stone Age honored the passing of leaders and children alike, and preserved their memory.
These big rocks had a very big job.
Thanks to "Ireland and the World" for sharing this great video capture of the Aughnacliffe Dolmen and the surrounding area, if you care to explore a virtual tour!
Below are a few other photos from my walk through the neighborhood. As you can see, the remains of toppled dolmens are still visible in places where the terrain has not completely reclaimed them.
An ancient apple tree, covered in spurs.
Stone walls bound tightly with many years of hedge growth.
To be continued...