The 5000 year old Stone Age Cairns spread across the hills at Loughcrew make up one of the three main
concentrations of Passage Tombs in Ireland, the others are Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange,
Knowth & Dowth) and Sligo (Carrowkeel & Carrowmore).
The Cairns are spread across three hills, Carnbane East, Carnbane West and Patrickstown.
The Irish name for the site is Slieve na Caillaigh, which means "mountain of the hag".
Legend has it that the monuments were created when a giant hag, striding across the
land, dropped her cargo of large stones from her apron.
There are about twenty-three Cairns in the Loughcrew complex, Cairn T is the centrepiece
on Carnbane East and Cairn L is the centrepiece on Carnbane West. The Cairns on Carnbane
East are accessible to the public, however the Cairns on Carnbane West are on private land
and the landowner prohibits access.
The illumination of the passage and chamber at the Winter solstice sunrise in Newgrange
is world famous. Less well known is the Equinox illumination at sunrise in Cairn T
at Loughcrew. The backstone of the chamber is illuminated by a beam of light at
sunrise on the Spring and Autumnal Equinoxes. The sun light is shaped by the stones
of the entrance and passage and descends the backstone while moving from left to the right illuminating the solar symbols.
Equinox sunbeam illuminates the chamber of Loughcrew Cairn T.
Loughcrew Cairn S
More Recent Centuries
In more recent centuries Loughcrew became the seat of a branch of the Norman-Irish
Plunkett family, whose most famous member became the martyred St Oliver Plunkett.
The family church stands in the grounds of Loughcrew Gardens which is open the public.
The Plunketts were dispossessed in the Cromwellian Settlement of 1652 when their estate at Loughcrew was
assigned to the Naper Family who still farm the lands around Loughcrew.
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