Its difficult to summarise Loughcrew in a few words. This area feels very, very special, and Loughcrew is but one of the many monuments and special sites in the area.
Loughcrew consists of four separate hilltops, each with its own cairn, featuring a long passageway. Each has a cruciform chamber in the interior. The interior stones are carved with many petroglyphs including lozenges, stars, circles and radiating lines. There are actually 34 monuments spread over the four hills.
The most accessable is ‘Cairn T’, with a good path up the hill from the nearby visitor centre. At the spring and autumn equinox the rising sun aligns down the passageway here, to trace a line across the carvings on the back wall. Cairn T is also flanked by several other stone circles and monuments.
Note that due to safety concerns Cairn T has now had its entrance locked, as the number of people clambering over the top of the cairn may have damaged the integrity of the passageway.
An enthusiastic group gathers each equinox to witness the dawn, and, weather permitting, the dawn rays coming down the passageway. I was fortunate to be one of them in March 2017. We started the climb by torchlight at something just after 5am. There had been heavy rain for days, and the path was a mudfest. By the time we reached the summit it was obvious that today, the sun wasn’t going to break through the thick cloud. However, the energetic effects can still be felt, as a few people at a time we were ushered down the passageway.
I returned a few more times over that week, catching the cairn with gourgeous splashes of sun fleeting over the rolling hills of Meath around us, against dark storm clouds.
The Loughcrew visitor centre is a very welcome and hospitable place, with knowledgeable staff, keen to guide you up the hill just for the fun of it. I waited out here enjoying coffee waiting for the rain to pass before climbing the hill (it did). Naturally, you’ll want to warm up again after you get back down. They also have a wee museum, a traditional cottage and gallery space.