IRELAND IN PREHISTORIC TIMES
The past is still so vivid and alive in Ireland. The country belonged
to a broad region of prehistoric culture, which included the western part of the
north-west seaboard of Europe. Somehow Ireland is connected with Atlantis. The discovery
of America was guided by the search of the ancient home in the West.
The first known inhabitants are found at Mt. Sandel in County
Derry and along the Baginbun beach in County Wexford.
There was a traditional veneration of ancestors – a cult of the
dead. Ireland can remember the names of people back as far as six or seven generations.
Some of them had Celtic ancestors. The Celts were so different from other European races.
We are not native here or anywhere.
We are keltik wave that broke over Europe,
And ran up this bleak beach among these stones;
But when the tide ebbed were left stranded here
In crevices, and ledge-protected pools
Of the great common flow that kept us swet
With fresh cold draughts from deep down in the ocean.
Controversial. They were proud warriors; but at the same time they were
afraid that the sky might fall upon their heads one day. For this reason the megalithic
grave culture ranks high. Little has survived from that mystic time, yet some material
remnants of that prehistory world have survived. They consist of a few things from daily
life, animal bones and architecture in the form of dolmens.
Dolmen in the Breton language means a stone-table. It is a another word
for megalith. The term megalith derives from two Greek words, meaning “big stone’. In
Ireland there are 160 dolmens, or portal tombs, generally dated to the 3000 BC. The
heaviest in Europe is a dolmen of 100 tons at Brown Hill County Carlow.
In County Clare stands one of Ireland’s best-known prehistoric
monuments. The Poulnabrone Dolmen consists of a massive capstone resting on flagstones,
which are implanted in the ground. Scientists accept the mechanical explanation that the
heavy capstone was hauled slowly up a temporary ramp with tree-trunks as rollers. The
remains of twenty people were found near the Poulnabrone Dolmen, so it was a collective
The impressive Proleek dolmen in Co.Louth has a beautiful story. It is
said to be a stone bad for Diarmaid and Grainne (Irish equivalents for Tristan and
Isolde). The local custom is of tossing small pebblers, so that one’s wish can come
In 1962–75 Newgrange was excavated. Uaimh na Greine in Gaelic
Newgrange was called Cave of the Sun. It embodies the image of the whole universe. The
mystic ornament of the triple spiral appeals to the triple pagan goddess Brigid. The
megaliths were houses of the dead, and the crannog was a place for the living. The typical
Irish prehistoric dwelling was a lake-house or crannog. Two-hundred and five artificial
islands made like a swan nest were found in Ireland. Security was the leading principle,
so a solid foundation of tree trunks, brushwood, mud and stones was surrounded by water,
and there was a guided link to the shore. That was how the crannog was built. The crannog
existed for a long time and even settlement of the later epochs borrowed its principle.