The River Dereen rises in a bog at Knockanana and is a specially conserved channel because of the salmon, trout and pearl mussel found within. It converges with the Slaney just upstream of Aghade Bridge in Ardattin. During the course of its journey, the river flows beneath Acaun Bridge, near to the Haroldstown Dolmen.
Standing on a ridge overlooking the Dereeen and comprising of a huge flat slab or table on top of half a dozen uprights stones, this dolmen was once among the largest portal tombs in the Slaney-Three Sisters area. According to the OPW’s Archaeological Inventory of Carlow, such dolmens were constructed between 3300 and 2900 BC, probably by the farming community who lived here, and their chambers were filled with the cremated ashes of all those who lived in the area. (The pyramids were built between 2630 and 1814 BC while Stonehenge was built, in different stages, between 3100 and 1500 BC.) I am biased because I’ve spent most of my life living a stone’s throw from this beauty but it really is a picture perfect megalithic gem. When my daughters were toddlers, they were convinced it was built by Asterix and Obelix.
“On the townland of Tobinstown there is a large cromlech; at the west end are two pillar stones, eight feet high; the table stone is twenty-three feet long, and at the west end eight feet broad, but at the other, which rests on small stones elevated about a foot from the ground, it is only six. The thickness at the upper end is four feet, at the lower two; the under surface is plain and even, but the upper is convex. Along the sides are several upright stones, from three to six feet, rendering the space underneath an enclosed room, entered between the two tall uprights. From this entrance is a sort of avenue, forty yards long, formed by small irregular artificial hillocks: the whole is in a low plain field, near a rivulet, on the road from Tullow to Hacketstown.“
From Samuel Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837. Does this avenue still exist!?