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Rathcroghan – The Guidebook 2nd Edition

New Edition 2023 now available to order.

This second edition of the Rathcroghan Guidebook contains updated and new imagery and text alongside entries on every aspect of Rathcroghan, from its archaeological and historical landscapes, through to its literary and mythological associations. This publication is the quintessential user’s guide to this fascinating archaeological landscape. Drawing upon historical, literary and cutting-edge archaeological research, Rathcroghan: The Guidebook is designed to bring the reader on a journey through time at Rathcroghan, from the first settlers to this broad limestone plain in the Neolithic period, through to the political mechanics of late medieval Machaire Connacht.

Thereafter, you will be taken on a journey of a different kind. You will see how our ancestors wove a tapestry of literature on top of this canvas of Rathcroghan, connecting physical landmarks and ancestor burials with the intoxicating narrative of Queen Medb of Connacht and the Ulster Cycle of Tales, filled with war and strife, jealousy and intrigue, gods and mere mortals.

PAGAN IRELAND, Ritual and Belief in Another World – John Waddell


Archaeologists frequently come across puzzling evidence for ritual activity and Pagan Ireland looks at some of these discoveries. This is a survey of the many rituals and beliefs that were vitally important elements of life in ancient Ireland over several thousand years from at least 4000 BC. Driven by a very human desire to make sense of the world and transform their lives, people created sacred spaces and monuments to facilitate communication with the gods and with ancestral figures. A multiplicity of sacred phenomena were a part of everyday experience, with landscapes and objects often holding unworldly meaning.

Written for a general readership, this wide-ranging study draws on archaeological evidence and on what is known about ritual practices in other cultures to address the difficult question of what beliefs might lie behind certain ritual activities. Sometimes it is possible to make a plausible guess as to what these may have been. A circle of stones was more than just a way of marking a sacred space, the round plan was an expression of a belief in a circular, cyclical cosmos as witnessed in the path of the sun and the fixed stars, and in the rhythm of the year.

Sun worship is recorded throughout prehistory and is apparent not just at famous sites like Newgrange but in imagery in gold and bronze at a later date. The great disc of the sun travelled across the daytime sky and at night was believed to descend beneath the earth in the west, traversing a mysterious underworld, to rise again in the east.

Funerary ceremonies, solar symbolism, magical metalworking, an enduring belief in the cosmic circle, fertility rites, idol worship and much more were all a part of a great pagan tapestry. Veneration of the old gods survived well into Christian times.

John Waddell, formerly Professor of Archaeology in the University of Galway, has written extensively on Irish archaeology. His work on Rathcroghan, a place like Tara that is rich in myth and legend, inspired his interest in Celtic mythology and publications like Archaeology and Celtic Myth (2014).

Rathcroghan: Archaeological & Geophysical Survey In A Ritual Landscape

Rathcroghan: Archaeological & Geophysical Survey In A Ritual Landscape


Rathcroghan (Crúachain) is often referred to as both a ‘Celtic’ Royal Settlement and a sacred burial place; it is one of several major royal sites in ancient Ireland, such as Tara, Co. Meath, Knockaulin, Co. Kildare, and Navan Fort near Armagh, that are frequently mentioned in early literature.

While these sites had special importance in early historic times, and in some cases bore and extraordinary weight of myth and legend, we now know that they are older archaeological assemblages of impressive complexity and size.

This book is the result of a major programme of archaeological field research at Rathcroghan in County Roscommon in the West of Ireland. The project involved the use of a range of geophysical techniques to explore a number of extraordinary monuments in the Royal Site.

Archaeology and Celtic Myth – John Waddell


In this book John Waddell contends that elements of pre-Christian Celtic myth preserved in medieval Irish literature shed light on older traditions and beliefs not just in Ireland but elsewhere in Europe as well. He mainly focuses on aspects of the mythology associated with four well-known Irish archaeological landscapes: Newgrange and the Boyne Valley, the royal sites of Rathcroghan in Co. Roscommon, Navan in Co. Armagh, and Tara in Co. Meath. Their mythological associations permit the pursuit of the archaeological implications of several mythic themes, namely sacral kingship, a sovereignty goddess, solar cosmology and the perception of an Otherworld.


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The Forgotten Cemetery – Shane Delaney, Eileen Murphy


The Forgotten Cemetery

Excavations at Ranelagh, Co. Roscommon. DELANEY & MURPHY

In the summer of 2015, archaeologists uncovered the remains of a previously unrecorded ringfort in the townland of Ranelagh just north of Roscommon town. Over the year that followed, excavations revealed a site which began in the fourth century as a simple defended farmstead, but which expanded considerably and changed emphasis over the centuries in line with the requirements of its inhabitants.




Rathra – A Royal Stronghold of Early Medieval Connacht by Joe Fenwick


‘Rathra – A Royal Stronghold of Early Medieval Connacht’ by Joe Fenwick explores the date, role and significance of this spectacular multivallate earthwork, a little-known archaeological site concealed among the hidden heartlands of rural Co. Roscommon.

This beautifully illustrated full colour publication, the latest in a series published by Roscommon Co. Council is a must for anyone with an interest in the archaeology and history of the wider Roscommon landscape.

Rindoon Castle And Deserted Medieval Town - A Visitors Guide

Rindoon Castle And Deserted Medieval Town – A Visitors Guide


The town and castle of Rindoon were founded in 1227 as a royal Anglo-Norman borough and fortress on the sometimes turbulent frontier between the Anglo- Norman colony in Ireland and a region controlled by the Irish O’Conor kings of Connacht.

The well preserved remains at Rindoon are regarded as being one of the most important medieval complexes still standing in Britain and Ireland. It is, also, without doubt one of the finest examples in Europe of a deserted medieval town.

The deserted town and castle of Rindoon are situated on the peninsula of St. John’s Point, which runs out south eastwards from the western, Connacht shore of Lough Ree.

It is hoped that this guidebook will provide not only information, but enjoyment for those who visit Rindoon and St. John’s Point. Its detailed nature will hopefully also make it a contribution to the ongoing academic research currently being carried out on Ireland’s medieval towns, castles, abbeys and priories.

Roscommon Castle - A Visitors Guide By Margaret Murphy and Kieran O'Conor

Roscommon Castle – A Visitors Guide By Margaret Murphy and Kieran O’Conor


“In Roscommon Castle a Visitor’s Guide Margaret Murphy and Kieran O’Conor chart the history and architectural development of Roscommon Castle from the mid-thirteenth century onwards. The full colour illustrated guidebook has chapters called: The History of the Castle, The Siting of the Castle, A tour of the Late Thirteeneth-Century Castle, The Late Medieval O’Conor Occupation and A Tour of the Late Sixteenth-Century Castle. The guidebook also includes two detailed historical reconstruction drawings by Daniel Tietzsch Tyler.

This guidebook is intended to be a comprehensive guide for visitors to Roscommon castle, as well as a point of reference for academics and local historians. Historic Reconstruction Drawings used in the guidebook intended to give the visitor an impression of what the castle may have been like in the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries.”

“Authors: Dr Kieran O’Conor is a lecturer in archaeology in NUI, Galway. Margaret Murphy MA graduated from NUIG in 2002, after writing her Masters Dissertation on the subject of Roscommon Castle. She wrote the guidebook based on the findings of her Masters. She works as a freelance archaeologist and lives in Galway.”

Roscommon Abbey - A Visitors Guide By Kieran O'Conor and Brian Shanahan

Roscommon Abbey – A Visitors Guide By Kieran O’Conor and Brian Shanahan


“In ‘Roscommon Abbey: A Visitor’s Guide’ Dr. Kieran O’Conor and Brian Shanahan chart the history and architectural development of Roscommon Abbey from the mid-thirteenth century onwards.

The full colour illustrated guidebook has chapters called: Ecclesiastical activity at Roscommon before the Dominicans; Who were the Dominicans? The foundation of the priory in 1253; the subsequent history of the priory; the siting of the priory; the physical remains at Roscommon priory today; a tour of the thirteenth-century priory and a tour of the fifteenth century priory.

The guidebook also includes two detailed historical reconstruction drawings by Daniel Tietzsch Tyler and a box text by Colmán Ó Clabaigh OSB outlining a typical day in the life of a Dominican Friar in medieval Ireland.”

‘Authors: Dr Kieran O’Conor is a lecturer in archaeology in NUI, Galway. Brian Shanahan worked in the Medieval Rural Settlement project with the Discovery Programme.’

Heritage Guide 22 - Oweynagat - The Cave Of Cruachain: An Entrance To The Otherworld In Co. Roscommon

Heritage Guide 22 – Oweynagat – The Cave Of Cruachain: An Entrance To The Otherworld In Co. Roscommon


Written by Tom Condit and Fionnbarr Moore, this heritage guide is an excellent way for you to make your acquaintance with the enigmatic monument of Oweynagat, (Uaimh na gCat), the Cave of the Cats.

This unique monument, comprised of a man-made souterrain attached to a limestone cavern, is very interesting from a geological point of view, but it is the epic literature that truely brings the cave to life.

Complete with a reconstruction drawing of the monument, this should be your first port of call before visiting ‘Ireland’s Gate to Hell’.