Astronomy is the oldest science with links stretching back more than 4,000 years to the construction of the most famous Megalithic monument at Newgrange, County Meath. The eighteenth-century antiquarian, Charles Vallancy, called Newgrange the ‘Cave of the Sun’, and while his astronomical theories have been ridiculed, his surveying skills and identification of crucial features of the monument are now securing more recognition. Ireland is particularly rich in these type of monuments, others being found at Loughcrew, County Meath and Carrowmore, County Sligo, other examples may also be seen in County Mayo and both contain remarkably precise astronomical orientations and alignments.
The West of Ireland is a humble place. Amongst the crags and clefts of rocks marking the hills, its barren land shows no wealth. The beauty of Ireland is in its understated treasures. The Bohea Stone is a most modest reminder of Ireland’s mixed heritage between Celtic and Christian traditions. Located across Clew Bay near Ireland’s most famous mountain; Croagh Patrick in the townland of Bohea lies “St Patrick’s Chair”. The monument itself is a large rock outcrop about 1.7m tall. There are at least 6 carved surfaces bearing cup and ring marks. The upper decorated surface bears concentric circles and assorted artwork.
The most remarkable feature of the stone is its alignment with Croagh Patrick twice a year, on April 17th and on August 24th when to those standing at the monument that the sun appears to roll down the northern edge of Croagh Patrick. The significance lies in the ability of those who lived in Ireland before the coming of St. Patrick and Christianity to align their lives with the positioning of the stars. April 18th marking the start of the growing season and August 24th the start of the harvesting season. The complexity of the alignment is startling, considering it date’s back to the Bronze Age c.2000 BC serves as a reminder of the wealth of Ireland’s ancient, unwritten past.
For a video go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzk0aRnvo-E
The other megalithic complex is at Killadangan, situated on a salt marsh on the southern shore of Clew Bay, about 5km west from Westport. Here the complex is comprised of an earthen enclosure, a stone row, three standing stones, a possible stone circle. The stones are in alignment with a small niche in the eastern shoulder of Croagh Patrick. At 1:45pm on 21st December (Winter Solstice) the Sun sets in this small niche. http://www.megalithicireland.com/Killadangan%20Megalithic%20Complex.html
For more information go to http://www.irishmegaliths.org.uk/mayo.htm