MEGALITHIC MONUMENTS
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LOUGH GUR WEDGE TOMB
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This fantastic and well preserved wedge tomb, marked on all editions of the OS map as
'Giant's Grave', is located 70m from the SE shore of Lough Gur (*Loch Goir meaning
'lake of Gor'), in a small public clearing, on a gentle SW facing slope,  south of a small
road NE from the village of Holycross (*Baile na gCailleach meaning 'town of the
nuns), which is 3km north of the town of Bruff (*'An Brú' for short, but more correctly
'Brugh na Déise' meaning 'brugh or mansion of the ancient territory of Déis-beg').
O'Donovan in his Ordnance Survey letters states that 'the Cromlech described as being
near the south margin of Lough Gur' (OSL. p.440). Borlase places it as being 'in the
town-land of Lough Gur, and Parish of Knockainy'. He describes it as a 'Giant's Grave
is marked close to the lake, at a distance of about half a mile N. of a Rath marked
Carricrealla Fort. This dolmen lies near the side of Lough Gur, and not far from
Blackcastle, is a Giant's Grave of great size, and divided into two parts, of which the
first measures 14 feet in length, and 5 feet in breadth. This division was originally
covered overhead with three massive flagstones, of which two are now displaced. The
largest of these, which is in the middle, measures 7 feet in length, 4 feet in breadth, and
1 foot 6 ins. in thickness. The other division of this grave is on a line with the former,
and extends westwards. It is 7 feet in length and 4 feet in breadth' (Borlase, p. 47-48).
Samuel Carter Hall (1800-1899), who visited the tomb in the 19th century, wrote that
on 'the opposite side of the road from that on which the church stands, is crowded with
druidical works, which it is impossible for us to particularise ; one, however, called by
the country people "Labig yermuddagh a Grana," that is, Edward and Grace's bed.
This was probably a tomb. It had been a complete oblong chamber, formed by great
stones, and covered over with vast flags. The length of this sepulchral chamber was
thirteen feet and a half, the breadth six feet. An old woman resided in it for many years,
and on her death the covering stones were thrown off, and it was left in its present state
by "money-diggers, who found only some burned bones in an ould jug, that surely was
not worth one brass farthing' (Hall, p. 314). The tomb, orientated NW - SE, consists of
four upright side-stones on both the north and south sides, three roof-stones, with a 4th
displaced and blocking the entrance to the chamber and outer walling on both sides but
is most prominent on the SE side. The back of the chamber has a small back-stone
which is supported by a single buttress stone and two erect orthostats on either side of
the entrance form a facade. The main chamber and ante-chamber, 8.85m in length,
were until the 19th century covered in a mound of small stones in a typical wedge
shape, the outline of which is still visible. The tomb was excavated in 1938 by Seán Ó
Riordán & Gearoid Ó h-Iceadha and the archaeologists found a few fragments of
cremated bone from the antechamber and main chamber and numerous unburnt
human and animal bones. The contents of the tomb had been greatly disturbed and the
unburnt remains were in a very fragmentary condition. The human bones from the
main chamber represented at least eight adults. Bones of children were also found both
inside and outside the chamber and some adult remains also occurred outside the
tomb. The animal bones were mainly those of cattle and pig. A burial of the skeleton of
a young ox was found to the south of the tomb and it is considered contemporary. A
series of radiocarbon dates from unburnt bone suggest a series of burials over a period
of several centuries from about 2,500 - 2,000 BC. The tomb also produced a
considerable quantity of pottery. Fragments of pottery of the Beaker type, common in
the Early Bronze Age around 2,500 BC and some flint shards. The orientation of the
tomb suggests that ritual ceremonies, if any, were most likely held at sunset.

Sources:
Borlase, W., ‘The Dolmens of Ireland’ (Vol. I, 1897)
De Valera, R., & Ó Nualláin, S., 'Survey of the Megalithic Tombs of Ireland', Vol. IV
(Dublin, 1982)
Hall, C. S., 'Ireland: its scenery, character and history' Vol. 2 (Boston, 1911)
O.S. Letters, Limerick, Vol.1 (1840)
Ó Riordán, Séan P. & Ó h-Iceadha, G., ‘Lough Gur Excavations: The Megalithic
Tomb’ 1955
Placenames Database of Ireland 2017
CO-ORDINATES
52 30' 46.87"N...8 31' 17.34"W