There’s something special about watching the sun going down in the evening. Living in the city, you don’t often notice it but I was reminded of this recently when we went to visit Loughcrew in County Meath.
Loughcrew is an important prehistoric cemetery in the hills above Oldcastle. Possibly older than Newgrange (3200 BC), it contains about 30 passage tombs, some decorated with rare examples of megalithic art.
We were continuing on what my wife calls “our Stones Odyssey”, our exploration of cairns, fairy rings and whatnots around the country.
So we arrived at Loughcrew around 6pm and began the short climb to the summit. We stopped halfway up to take in the view. The place was deserted except for some sheep but then an old woman appeared, making her way slowly down the hill towards us.
“You’re a bit early for the sunset”, she said – but ye might be staying here longer than ye think”.
We passed on our way and soon, we reached the top of the hill where Cairn T stands, flanked on both sides by smaller tombs.
Sliabh na Cailligh is the Irish name for the hill which translates as ‘the Mountain of the Witch’. I’m told that long ago there was a witch called the Garavogue who wanted to rule over all of Ireland and, as was the custom at the time, she had several hoops to jump through in order to achieve this goal.
Yes, for some reason, she had to leap from hill to hill with stones in her apron. As she jumped from one summit to the next she dropped some of the stones and – would you believe that these stones became the cairns that we now see today. Sadly though, in her haste she lost her footing, broke her neck and now, they say that she’s buried somewhere underneath those crumbling cairns. But her chair is still there, known locally as the Hag’s Chair.
So what’s the moral of this tale? What about: ‘Make every day count’. Whether it’s watching the sunset, weeding the vegetable patch or visiting a friend in hospital, we should endeavour to make every day count. I like that.
It’s from a book called “The stream of everything” by John Connell and it’s good to be reminded of it from time to time. As we made our way down the hill, about 8.30pm, we were astonished to see several people coming up towards us. Scores of them, young and old, they were coming up to see the sun go down.
So we stayed longer!