The Hill of Uisneach
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Ballymore, Westmeath, Republic of Ireland
The Hill of Uisneach is an ancient ceremonial site containing a series of monuments in Rathconrath, County Westmeath. It’s the mythological centre of Ireland and the site of Bealtaine fires and Druidical ceremonies.
The Hill of Uisneach in County Westmeath is one of Ireland’s most treasured and most mysterious historical attractions. Situated between the villages of Ballymore and Loughnavally, it was the ancient seat of the Kings of Meath; its historical roots go back to the La Tene period of the Iron Age.
Uisneach has also been famous as a prehistoric meeting place for cattle rituals and other May Day assemblies, while in more recent times it was the meeting place for an important 12th-century synod. Both Saint Patrick and Saint Brigid, patron saints of Ireland, have important connections with the Hill of Uisneach—legend has it that Saint Brigid received the veil from Saint Patrick at this very spot.
The importance of the Hill of Uisneach as a prehistoric meeting place is reflected in the large number of monuments (almost 20) that are scattered around its environs. Around and on top of the hill are the remains of circular enclosures, barrows, cairns, a holy well and two ancient roads, ring forts and tumuli. The most famous feature of this series is the Cat Stone of the Hill of Uisneach—so named because it resembles a cat watching a mouse. The huge limestone boulder measures almost six metres high and is estimated to weigh over 30 ton—it’s said to mark the centre of Ireland and the coming together of the provinces.
Although just 182 metres above sea level, the summit of Uisneach provides panoramic views over the central plain; numerous counties are visible on the horizon. In more recent years Hill of Uisneach became a site of political rallies, with Daniel O’Connell, Éamon de Valera and Padraig Pearse addressing the Irish public—Irish writer James Joyce was also a regular visitor.
Visit the Hill of Uisneach to take a fascinating journey into the spiritual past of ancient Ireland.