Hill of Uisneach: Sacred Heritage Site
The Hill of Uisneach, Co. Westmeath, is genuinely off the beaten track and not well known. Therefore, I hoped it would be worth getting up at the crack of dawn on a wet Sunday to check it out. I have to admit to knowing very little about this immensely important sacred and spiritual site with its monuments and relics dating back to Neolithic and bronze age times. Darragh Finlay (a cousin and Bio Energy Healer) had arranged for a group meditation session at Uisneach. The backpack was dusted off and loaded up with sandwiches etc. for the day out. The journey to Uisneach takes less than 1.5 hours so an easy drive from Dublin. Being in the centre of Ireland this meant others coming from different directions also had a shortish drive to get there.
A small cottage with wood burning stove, acts as a small museum entrance facility. To be honest I was delighted that this was not one of those bland modern ‘visitor attraction’ facilities, which seem to proliferate many of our popular tourist attractions. Here there were old fashioned school chairs, a few artifacts and maps; enough to give visitors background information but not interfering with the forthcoming tactile and sensory experiences we would enjoy when we sallied forth up the hill. Teas and coffees were proffered; a proper tea selection and good quality filter coffee – and we hadn’t even started our gentle climb as the hill itself is only 596 ft. above sea level.
Our meditation session took place in the Yuk, a new wooden (and well heated) cone shaped building, situated in a field between the ancient Palace Ring Fort and the lake where Lugh the Sun God was drowned. The Yuk reminded me of the Navajo hogans and very appropriate for this type of activity. I certainly felt the benefit of the meditation; however, my other half only remembers some of it; so clearly he benefited from having an early Sunday morning nap!
Back down the hill for our packed lunch and more teas before the guided tour, which takes almost 2 hours. We had an extremely knowledgeable guide, Justin Moffet, an archaeologist who loves what he does. He imparted so much history; mythological, legendary and historical; all of it glued together fluently in a language that brought this sanctuary to life.
It was difficult to choose what impressed me most as this extensive site offers such an abundance of tales. It has been active for over five millennia and legend has it that the first great ceremonial fire, Bealtaine was lit here when the first dawn of the summer occurs in early May. Uisneach contains the burial site of the Earth Goddess Ériu and the Sun God Lugh making it sacred hallowed ground. My favourite was probably the Catstone, a six metre, 30 tonne limestone boulder known as the ’Umbilicus Hiberniae’ or ‘Axis Mundi’ (the naval of Ireland). Or maybe it was just hugging of one of the many ancient gnarled hawthorn trees strewn around the site. Unfortunately due to the Irish weather, i.e. drizzle, we didn’t have the views over the nearby 20 counties but as against that we had a free facial of pure water cleansing our faces; having had our minds cleansed earlier during our meditation session.
We are extremely lucky in this country that we are a superstitious race and terrified to interfere with sacred heritage sites such as ring forts, souterrains and tombs; which means that we have nearly 60,000 of these almost intact. The visit to Uisneach was positively delightful, despite the rain. It is as noteworthy a heritage site as the Hill of Tara or Newgrange and where glimpses of hidden secrets from below the surface provide a fascinating insight to bygone times.