The burial mound of the Gamanrad? December 31st, 2012, Binghamstown, Iar Ros, Co. Mayo
Went for a walk to Leacht waar Iarrois (about fifty spellings for this) on New Year’s Eve – amazing place. The stone burial mound at the north end of Binghamstown. This dates from the time of Queen Maebh since it marks the burial and battleground of a great fight between Queen Maebh’s army and that of the contemporary King of Munster (but which one?), who was killed there. John said (looking at the relatively calm but potentially squally sea) ‘This would be a great place to watch a storm from’. It would, undoubtedly. But how much storm do you see, when it’s raging?
I wonder if the people buried here were Gamanrad, the tribe of the Calf, who came here from somewhere in central Europe between three and four thousand years ago, and so were around at the beginning of one of the great ‘cycles’ of ancient oral legend in Ireland. The Tain Bo (I will have to look this up again), the tales of the cattle raids. A very beautiful woman was married to a local king here and other kings fought to sleep with her, or take her. But she herself is also reported to have drawn men to her, to have been determined to sleep with the most attractive warriors of the day, even though it meant that her own husband ended up dying in battle…
Another legend recalls how her herd of cattle were the prize – they were white cattle. I remember the white cattle in the legends of the Dinka, the songs to the spotted cattle. We have a picture of a white African cow over our bed, painted by a Congolese artist in Kakuma.
And yet another tells that they were not cattle at all (or that one white cow fed the whole army for weeks, so rich was its output in milk and cheese) but that they were deer.