Baurnadomeeny Wedge Tomb – Diarmuid & Gráinne’s Bed

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Baurnadomeeny Wedge Tomb – Diarmuid & Gráinne’s Bed

Baurnadomeeny is a well-preserved, if a little overgrown, wedge tomb tomb, located on the southwest slopes of ‘Motharshliabh’ (Mother Mountain) in Co. Tipperary. It is a shame it is not a more visited site as it is a beautiful location with Mother Mountain rising to the northeast and the Slieve Felim mountains to the southwest. It is quite easily accessed and signposted just north of the village of Rear Cross. A large standing stone, over 2.5m tall marks the entrance to the field where the monument is situated. (right on the edge of a narrow road, its a wonder the stone is still standing)

An excellent (if slightly unusual) example of an Early Bronze Age (c.2500-2000BC) wedge tomb, Baurnadomeeny consists of a large gallery (7.2m long), centrally placed in a cairn (16m diameter) surrounded by kerbstones. Between the kerb and the gallery there is an incomplete circle of stones, c.11m in diameter. The gallery itself is fronted at the western end by a short portico (pillared porch) 2.15m long by 2.4m wide narrowing to about 2m. A septal stone separates the portico from the main chamber which is 4.3m long and about 1.3m wide. Strangely there is no back-stone at the east end of the monument and the capstone here has a groove cut into its underside, which could allow the sun to enter the chamber during the equinox sunrise. This is quite an unusual arrangement for a wedge tomb and it may have been modified after its initial construction.

Twenty-one cremated burials were found at the site. Five were in the portico, one in the main chamber, twelve to the south of the tomb and three just outside the kerb at the southwest. Among the few artefacts recovered at the site are some worked pieces of flint and chert, among them a flint knife, and some pottery sherds which were associated with one of the burials.

Baurnadomeeny was actually called ‘Leaba Dhiarmada agus Gráinne’ (Diarmuid & Gráinne’s Bed) on the old OS maps. One of the great romantic/sorrowful tales of irish mythology, the ‘Tóraíocht Dhiarmada agus Ghráinne’ (Pursuit of Diarmuid & Gráinne) tells the tale of a love triangle between the legendary warrior Fionn mac Cumhaill, the beautiful princess Gráinne, and her lover Diarmuid. Fionn and his band of warriors, the Fianna, pursue the young lovers after Gráinne slips away from the wedding ceremony arranged for her and Fionn to be with Diarmuid. The ‘beds’ of Diarmuid & Gráinne, which are located right across the country, are said to be the places where the fugitive lovers slept each night while on the run.