[Cromlech, Glengad]

Artist(s) : Edmund Evans (Engraver)

Wood engraving of a cromlech, or megalithic tomb, in Glengad (also known as Dooncarton), Co. Mayo. This is a court tomb, situated in a grassy field. Birds are seen flying in the background.

Inscribed in Image

  • Signature – E EVANS Sc

Image Details

Genre Landscape
Technique Wood engravings
Subject(s) Antiquities and archaeological sites, Architecture
Geographical Location
  • Glengad or Dooncarton - Village
  • Mayo - County
  • Connaught - Province
Keywords(s) Archaeological sites, Birds, Buildings, Tombs & sepulchral monuments
Colour Monochrome
Dimensions 7.5 cm x 4.4 cm
Published / created 1841

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account Sketches in Erris and Tyrawly
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy p. 326
Source copy National Library of Ireland Ir 914123 o 2
Alternative source

This is a link to a digital copy hosted by an external website.

Rights Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Related text from travel account

Having been successful in rowing along the north coast of Erris, and of observing, not only from a boat below, but from the top of its highest precipices, the most magnificent cliff scenery in the British Isles, and having but one day at command to remain in Erris, I was induced, by my excellent entertainer, (for such I can call him in every sense of the word,) to go with him on the following morning to view some remains of remote antiquity, that were on the other side of Inver Bay, and which he assured me were worth inspecting; so accordingly we prepared to set out in his well-appointed galley. But, before we started, I was brought to see one of those fortified promontories which I deem to be peculiar to Erris and Tyrawly, and which are called Doons. This one, called Doon-keegan, is not far from Mr. Henri's residence at Rinroe, and is not in any way dissimilar to others, except that the remains of the enclosing wall are loftier, and there was, until the storm of 1839, an arched gateway, the greater part of which is now prostrated: there are some almost obliterated remains of interior buildings. Entering now, in the calmest weather, that part of the bay which forms the harbour of Broadhaven, we had some conversation respecting the contrast which the scenery now presented, to what is to be seen when a storm sets in from the north or north-east. I had, on a former occasion, run up towards the mouth of the harbour, with a strong south-west wind // in our stern, and it was to me a noble, but in the security of a well-appointed boat and expert crew, by no means a fearful sight. But when the wind comes from the entrance of the bay, Mr. Henri assured me that where the entrance narrows to about half a mile, the wave comes in like a perpendicular wall of from twenty to thirty feet high. This is called Straffoda Con, or the long rough stream of Con; that stream of the ocean on which the cruel stepmother queen compelled her husband's son and princely daughter to sail as swans, until disenchanted, as told in our legend of the Leacht na Calliah, in the Mullet. We now landed, and proceeded to ascend the wild upland vale called Glengad, and in a short time arrived at a very ugly (and where in this district is there any thing else?) but populous village, adjoining which, and enclosed within a small potato-garden is the cromleach we were in search of. And certainly it is a great curiosity, for its top or covering rock forms a perfect rocking-stone, which a child, with one of its hands, could move up and down, but which would require the strength of many men, with all the appliances of machinery, to put out of its place. This cromleach, though not of the largest, is a fine one. Of course, the people neither know nor care any thing about it. They, as usual, call it Darby and Grana's bed — one of the numerous places where Dermot (the Paris of the Celtic heroic story) took shelter with the frail and fond Grana, when they fled from the enraged Fin M‘Coul — he all the while following, and they, to hide from him, setting up and sleeping under these huge grey stones every night. Their love must have been very // fervid, to keep warm in such cold lodging as this. But the curiosity of this particular bed of bold Dermot and his Leman Grana is, that it is not only a cromleach but a rocking-stone; and the difficulty is, to decide whether it rocks according to the intention of the original setter-up, or by a subsequent accident. It certainly does appear that the upright stones have given to one side, that one of the uprights seems now of no use, for the covering-stone does not touch it in any place, so that in fact the said covering-stone is held up but by two supports, like a lozenge or card suspended by its opposite angles, and so it vibrates with the least possible force or weight applied to it. If this rocking quality has been acquired by accident it is curious — if by original purpose it is ingenious. And indeed I am disposed to consider that the rocking property is intentional from the following fact, that there is an almost exactly similar rocking cromleach in France, as will be seen from the following translation from "Les monuments Celtiques par Monsieur Cambray:" — "In the department of Loire inferieure, at a place called Portfessan, is a monument which consists of three enormous stones, the greater portion of each sunk in the earth; the other parts which appear above ground are about ten or twelve feet in height; the length of these stones is about eight or ten feet, and about one and a half in thickness. On the top of these stones is placed a fourth of triangular form of the same thickness as those upon which it is placed; it is so fixed that it can be moved by the least force applied to it." At any rate thus it // is, and 1 hope will be — for the people seemed to have a sort of superstitious veneration for it, and I did my best to impress on those who could understand me, how bad, how unlucky, how disgraceful to the old giants of Ireland it would be, if they would let any injury be done to it.*

*The following is my friend Mr. Henri's more accurate description of this monument : — "The cromleach is a collection of seven large stones, six of which form three sides of a quadrangle, ‘moored church fashion’ as a sailor would say; that is true, not magnetic, east and west, or nearly so. They are thus disposed: one long one, on which one end of the rocking-stone is supported, forms the south side of the incomplete quadrangle; three are on the eastern side, lying at angles apparently under 45°, and pointing outwards, that is to the eastward and two on the north side, on the eastern of which, which inclines inwards, or to the south, rests the northern end of the rocking-stone, while the western one is nearly erect. The western side of the quadrangle is unoccupied, as I have already remarked; the rocking-stone, which a child might set in motion, and the axis of the motion of which appears to be about north and south, lies dipping to the north apparently about 10°, somewhat resembling in shape a shoulder of mutton, the shank being to the eastward, and is of the following dimensions: extreme // length from east to west, 9 feet 8 inches ; extreme breadth from north to south, 8 feet 2 niches ; greatest thickness of the stone at the western side, 1 foot 4 inches, which thickness gradually reduces to, if my memory fail me not, about 6 inches. Its height from the ground on the northern side, measuring from the under side, 2 feet 6 inches; on the south side 4 feet 4 inches. The stone is chiefly composed of that compound so common in Erris, viz. quartz and crystals of mica; its specific gravity, by my calculation, is 2 — 97, and its weight about 57 1/2 cwt. So much for facts, now for assertions. An apparently intelligent man who was on the spot, informed me, that eighty years ago the whole was nearly covered by the surrounding bog, and that at that time a pot of money was found a few feet to the eastward; he also informed me, that about thirty-five years ago the country people cleared away the bog and earth around the stones to the present depth, when the stones to the eastward gradually gave way, and the cromleach, which was formerly supported by all the stones beneath, adjusted itself, as at present, on two, and became a rocking stone. He moreover asserted that it was gradually coming to the ground, but it appeared to me in exactly the same situation I saw it in fifteen years ago. Another countryman told me with the greatest confidence, it was placed on its supporters by a giant named 'Darby,' and observing a smile on my countenance, pointed with great exultation to, I believe, four circular depressions on the upper side of the western end of the stone, which he asserted were the marks of the giant's fingers. I did not venture to hint that the finger marks ought to be on the under side of the stone, and he, construing my silence into admission, eyed the lookers on with an air of triumph, and with a look that expressed as plainly as a look could express, ‘I have floored the long Sassenach in prime style.' " [pp. 323-327]
Cromlech, Glengad