Glenaan - Glen of the Colt's Foot

 

A beautiful mystical glen that stretches from Aghan mountain and sweeps down between Tievebulliagh and Crocknacreeva to merge into Glencorp, gorgeous in the summer when the blooms of red fuchsia line the road.  The most famous spot in the glen would have to be the court cairn known as Ossian's (Oisin) grave, the site is neolithic in origin and reputed to have been where Ossian, the son of Finn MacCool was buried.

 

The story tells of Oisin marrying Niamh and going to live in the mythical land of Tir na nOg, after a few years he became homesick and wanted to return to visit his family and home. Niamh agreed that he should return on her white horse, the same horse that carried them both to Tir na nOg on. Before leaving she told him  never to touch the ground while he was away from Tir na nOg or he would die, on reaching Glenaan he discovered that 300 years had passed by and all his family and friends were gone.His father Finn was remember only in local folklore.  On seeing that no-one was left he turned to go back to Tir na nOg, as he made his way down the glen he came upon some men trying to move a large boulder, he stopped to help but as he turned in his saddle the belt holding it broke and he fell to the ground, instantly aged and died. The men who witnessed this were mystified by what had happened and buried him at the spot where he fell.

 

The court cairn is at Lubitavish, years ago the Department of the Environment had a sign on the main coast pointing to Ossians Grave, this has now gone. The site is on the left about 1 km off the Causeway Coastal Route. A lane goes through a private farmyard and the court cairn is on private farmlands. I am not sure what the access is so its better to ask permission.   In the same field as the court cairn is another small beehive like stone cairn to the memory of John Hewitt who was known as the poet of the glens.

 

He wrote the following poem about Ossians Grave.

 

We stood and pondered on the stones whose plan displays their pattern still; the small blunt arc, and, sill by sill, the pockets stripped of shards and bones. The legend has it, Ossian lies beneath this landmark on the hill, asleep till Fionn and Oscar riseto summon his old bardic skill in hosting their last enterprise. This, stricter scholarship denies, declares this megalithic form millennia older than his time - if such lived ever, out of rime -  was shaped beneath Sardinian skies, was coasted round the capes of Spain, brought here through black Biscayan storm, to keep men's hearts in mind of home  and its tall Sun God, wise and warm, across the walls of toppling foam, against this twilight and the rain. I cannot tell; would ask no proof;  let either story stand for true, as heart or head shall rule. Enough  that, our long meditation done, as we paced down the broken lane by the dark hillside's holly trees, a great white horse with lifted knees came stepping past us, and we knew his rider was no tinker's son.

 

Tievebulliagh is another unique site, one of two in the north Antrim, the other one is on Rathlin Island, where porcellantie axe production and distribution took place from the Neolithic period. Examples of axes from here have been found in many parts of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

 

The cairn on top of Tievebulliagh dates to the bronze age. All along the glen you will see the ruins of old cottages and  farmsteads long abandoned including the small hamlet or clachan of Knockbann which looks out across Glenaan and Glencorp.