Oweynagat - Cave of the Cats

Oweynagat is a Souterrain attached to a natural fissure cave, located within the Rathcroghan archaeological complex in Co. Roscommon.

The Cave plays an important role in the medieval tale: Echtrae Nerai (‘The Adventure/Vision of Nera’). The entrance contains two Ogham Stones. (https://ogham.celt.dias.ie/site.php?lang=en&site=Rathcroghan) VRẠICCI/ MAQI MEDVVI (‘of Fróech, son of Medb’) – Two important names from the Ulster Cycle of Tales.

The cave has a special meaning for me. It was located on my Paternal Grandparents farm, and my Father used to guide visitors there as a young boy. When I became an archaeologist, and guide for the Rathcroghan complex, people would often tell me local folklore about the cave, much of which my father had told me.

One local folktale my aunt told, which has not been published, involved the night she was born. As a young girl she was told how she was born on a stormy night, when she arrived into this world, ungodly sounds were heard coming from the cave, howls and screams of cats. My great-grandmother took the baby in the dead of night to the local priest to be baptized.

My father also told me, that the cave went much deeper than it does today, and when the ESB was installed they used dynamite to blow a hole for the electricity pole. Collapsing the cave, and blowing the front porch off their home. Legend says the cave connects to the caves of Kesh on the Roscommon and Sligo borders, and it is often repeated that a local woman discovered this when a calf dragged her through the cave all the way to Sligo.

Rathcroghan is a landscape full of folktale and legends, and well worth visiting one day.

Experience Oweynagat with this 3D Model by the Discovery Programme: https://skfb.ly/CBER

Secondary Ogham Stone - Located to the left of the souterrain entrance
Gary Dempsey (2012)
Ogham Stone located within the entrace to the Souterrain.
Gary Dempsey (2012)
Entrance from the Souterrain into the natural cave.
Gary Dempsey (2012)
Ordnance Survey benchmark, located within the Souterrain
Gary Dempsey (2012)
D. Hyde 1.1.1911 - Douglas Hyde First Presendent of Ireland, 1.1.1911
Gary Dempsey (2012)

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