Information board located at visitor centre
On 5th September 2020 I had the good luck and good sense to spend a few hours on a tour of the Hill of Uisneach in County Westmeath. See http://uisneach.ie/guided-tours/.
Although well advanced in years, I have not yet attained eligibility for Charlie Haughey’s free travel pass so had to pay €15 for the tour. Had I been a student or possessor of proof of seniority then I would only have to expend €12. Had I been under 12 then I could have had the tour for free – soar in aisce! A family ticket for 4, 2 adults and 2 children, can be had for €25.
I don’t begrudge the fee paid though as the knowledgeable guide gave a non-stop running commentary which was brilliant mixture of Archaeology, Mythology and plain old Blarney. It was both highly educational and richly entertaining. Excellent farm husbandry in evidence also.A representation of Ériu, daughter of Delbáeth and Ernmas of the Tuatha Dé Danann,after whom Ireland is named, has been placed on the hill.
Although only 182 metres above sea level, as it is situated in the middle of Ireland’s Central Plain, the views in all directions, on a clear day, are extensive. In theory, when 500m above sea level the horizon is approximately 80 kms distant. 180 m above sea level gives a theoretical horizon distance of 48kms. So, combining the two calculations, in theory, a hilltop 500m above sea level, and located considerably more than 100kms away, should be visible from Uisneach on a clear day. The trigonometric pillar on the summit of Uisneach
The tour includes a visit to the site of the Royal Palace and the reputed resting place of Lugh Lámhfhada of the Tuatha Dé Danann. The tour guide even gave a thrilling and fascinating description of the battle in which Lugh slew his grandfather, Balor of the Evil Eye, and routed the Fomorians. After visiting the summit trig pillar, the tour made its way to Aill na Mireann, The Division Stone or The Catstone.This 4m high erratic boulder is the site of a unique barrow and is the reputed centre or navel of Ireland.
Aill na Mireann - The Catstone
The Hill of Uisneach is on privately owned and managed farmland and access is normally only possible by guided tour. There are two bulls on the farm, Finnbhennach and Donn Cúailnge, called after the two Táin Bó Cúailnge bulls - so unless you are very confident in your bull handling skills, unauthorised entry is not advisedFinnbhennach - called after the white horned bull of Connaught
There is a wealth of information to be found about Uisneach on the Internet, some more laced with myths than others. I particularly like the article by the late gentleman of letters, Padraic O'Farrell in " An Irishman's Diary" - from a 1998 edition of The Irish Times see
(There are some minor misprints in Mr O'Farrell's article, and probably a few in my own text above - Donn or the Hundred Battles should read Conn of the Hundred Battles)