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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

Cruachan itself, the ancient and famous palace of Magh Ai, deserves a short notice here.

We find from various entries in the Annals that princes of the line of Heremon dwelt in Cruachan of Magh Ai from the beginning, and continued to dwell there down to the Anglo-Norman invasion. The land is fertile, the prospect over all the royal plain is far-reaching, so that the advance of a foe could be seen at a distance, and the air is very salubrious. It was for seventy years the scene of the loves and the wars of the renowned Queen Meave during the first century before the Christian era, and always continued to be the chief royal residence of the Gaelic kings of Connaught.

Not far from the royal rath was the royal cemetery, which is filled with the dust of kings. It was perhaps the most celebrated of all the pagan cemeteries of Erin, and an ancient poem published by Petrie commemorates the long list of kings and queens, and warriors, ‘and fierce fair women,’ who sleep in the cemetery of the ‘ever beauteous Cruachan,’ as the poet calls it. There was a famous cave there, too, the enchanted cave of Cruachan, which is celebrated in fairy legends, and may still be seen near the royal cemetery. And there, too, stands the pillar-stone of red granite—the famous Cairrthe-dhearg—which marks the grave of the renowned Dathi, who fell either at the Alps, or at Drum Alban, in Scotland, on the field of victory, and was carried home to the Relig-na-riogh, to sleep with his royal sires—the latest kingly tenant of the pagan burial-ground.

The enchanted cave can still be seen; the royal cemetery can still be traced; and Dathi’s pillar still stands erect above the hero’s grave. But the royal palace is merely a great green mound overlooking all the wide-spreading plain of Magh Ai.






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