18 March 2011

The Long Woman’s Grave

During the weekends we like going to Carlingford (Co. Louth - Ireland), a beautiful medieval town less than an hour driving from home, that deserves a post of its own, which I am now preparing.

If you decide to get there across the Cooley mountains towards Omeath instead of using the main coastal road, you drive into a very mysterious  land that seems out of time: misty barren mountains, flooded marshes, lonely winding roads, a really desolate landscape until you reach the mountain pass, later you enjoy breath-taking views of Carlingford Lough.


On the way up you find the "magic hill" where, if you fully stop your car, with no gear or brakes, it will start rolling UP HILL on its own!! I did this many times, with many sceptics on board, and I promise: it happens!!

A  very detailed post about this hill at: Ian Middleton Photography


Leaving behind the "magic hill" and passing the marshes, close to the mountain pass, the feeling is of absolute barrenness, no sheep, no trees, low bushes, wind, snow sometimes; there you will find a very long and lonely grave.


The Cairn of Cauthleen, also known as The Long Woman's Grave, supposedly holds the remains of a Spanish noble woman who married Lorcan O’Hanlon, the youngest son of the Chieftain of Omeath. 

On the death of his father the lands were to be divided between his two sons, Conn óg and Lorcan; but Conn óg tricked his brother Lorcan by bringing him up to a hollow in the mountains, telling him that he could keep the land "as far as he could see". The mist and bleakness of the hollow was Lorcan’s only legacy. 

However Lorcan owned a ship and begun trading in the East, making his fortune and becoming prosperous. On one of his voyages to Cadiz, Spain he bravely saved the lives of a Spanish nobleman and his daughter Cauthleen, in Spanish Catalina.



Lorcan fell in love with her.
The pair made a very tall couple; she was 7ft tall, only three inches smaller than Lorcan. Cauthleen was already engaged but was wooed by Lorcan’s love and the promises of the good life that they would have back in Omeath. 

When the couple arrived in Carlingford Lough they set along the mountain path until they came to the hollow in the rocks. Lorcan bade his bride to stand in the centre and look around to her new home. So great was Cauthleen's disappointment and the realisation of what she had left behind in Spain that she fell to the ground and died. 

Lorcan, horrified, flung into the dark waters of the nearby marsh. His body was never recovered. The locals dug a grave for Cauthleen and laid a stone to raise her burial cairn and here she sleeps today in the hollow of her disappointment and unfulfilled promises.



The grave, the marshes, the hollow…everything is there to see, and I can assure you that when you stand beside her grave and look around on a grey and windy day, you can still sense Cauthleen despair.





Additional information at Omeath Online
Pictures of the grave are also from this site.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...