land-marks of Irish history which give us a glimpse of the
sublime days that are over are fast fading from the antiquarian's
view. The sculptured cross, which withstood the winter tempests
of twelve hundred years, is broken or placed as a headstone
over some peasant's grave.
Clogtheach and Monastery are falling into shapeless masses,
which a few pounds would have repaired; the Anglo Norman
Keeps, and strongholds of our Chieftains share the same
fate. With regret we must utter the words of Davis- "Who
can look upon our shattered monuments of Jerpoint and Mellifont,
and not think that a double barbarism, (that of the people
and that of their oppressors) has been upon Ireland?
veil of red cloud over the mound of Dowth at sunset. From
this angle, looking from the east, Dowth looks relatively
intact. From the western side, extensive damage is evident.
what is our astonishment, when we see far dearer remains than
even these torn, atom by atom, assunder by the committee of Antiquities
of the Royal Irish Academy; the men we would have supposed, particularly
bound to preserve Irish relics. Let us go to that picturesque
valley, which we have no hesitation in saying, since the light
which has recently been thrown upon Irish history, is the resting
ground of Duagda, where by far the most extensive and celebrated
of all Irish cemeteries stands; that denominated Brugh na Boinne,
and there see what the preservers of antiquities have done, on
that delightful spot called Netterville, beneath which the Boyne
rolls sluggishly winding like a vast serpent, kissing listlessly,
a beautiful enamelled margin; there, some years ago, stood quite
perfect the ponderous cairn of the Tuatha Danann Kings (Dowth
Moat), but we find that beatiful tumulus literally torn to pieces.
Its stones barrowed out as if it were to facilitate the dissoluting
propensities of road contractors.
Manor, the former home of the "trustees of the Netterville
bequest" near Dowth.
sepulchre of Boadan, the shepherd of Elcmar over Dubhad (Dowth)
was rifled by the plundering Northmen A.D., 862. But the barbarian
followers of Amlaff Imar, and Amsle although they rifled yet forbore
destroying that pyramidal landmark of history and civilization,
which the refined antiquarians of the nineteenth century ruthlessly
is quite evident that this examination, and excavation, and despollation,
was caused by mere curiosity; for who that is a lover of Ireland's
antiquities would leave Dowth Moat as it now stands, after getting
permission to excavate and upset it. I am informed by good authority,
that the trustees of the Netterville bequest, when they permitted
the works to be carried on, were under the impression that the
stones which *o*med this interesting mound would be replaced in
their original position, and that if they expected it would have
been left in the disgraceful position it now stands in, they would
never have allowed the Dublin antiquarians to disturb it.
is a legend told of an old piper, who entered this vast monument
about a century ago, with a party of young men and women, on an
exploring excursion. I suppose "Darby the Blast" was
a bit of a virtuoso. Well, 'twas a fine summer's morning in the
month of July, and Darby entered first playing his most sprightly
tune, "the humours of Glynn" with variations. But poor
Darby and his friends were doomed never to return, but the people
heard from them, for the old piper was heard busily playing under
ground at Stanleon, a hill on the opposite side of the river.-
Probably that was Darby's last tune, for from that day to this
he has never been heard of.
traveller must think what a pity it was that the demolishers of
this great catacomb did not at their first examination when they
entered its Kistvaens, share the fate of Darby and his companions.
It is to be regretted that a society which has done so much good
with the miserable pittance of £300 a year from Government,
in collecting and preserving interesting national antiquities
and filling the museum with choice collections, should be the
destroyer of a gigantic relic of druidical times, a monument of
our old nationality which speaks of power, arts and religion.
crater left by the 1849 excavation is shown in the top of
the mound in this aerial image.
is not surprising that an Englishman, who a few years ago purchased
an estate contiguous to this mound, destroying some of the colossean
stones, one of which stood sixteen feet high forming a circle
at Cloglea; the supposed remains of a greater pyramid than that
at Newgrange, when he had such an example before him, as the ruins
of Dowth Moat.-
the governments of the continent of Europe watched over their
antiquities, the relics of Ireland's past greatness were forgotten
by its government though princely sums were granted to English
Unfortunately the Irish are engrossed so much with political and
religious controversy, that they used to exertion to preserve
Catholic clergy were long the only guardians which such relics
had. An O'Halloran, a Walker, and a Vallencey, called attention
and awoke a veneration for the remains of ancient Ireland and
shed a dim light upon past science, learning, piety and religion;
but it was reserved for a Petrie, and others, to diffuse that
light in all its clearness and splendour - that brilliance, which
it has now attained.
hope, with the warmest feelings and sympathy, for old Ireland,
that such men will rescue this evidence of our former greatness
from destruction. It is a debt not only due to the trustees of
the late eccentric Lord Netterville but to the men of Ireland.
may be an excuse alleged that the funds of the Academy were not
sufficient to enable the society to replace the Tumulus as it
formerly stood, but those who love Ireland feel that they never
should have disturbed a single stone until they were able to replace
it in its former position.