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Entrance to Hell, Roscommon & Boyle

May 15, 2008

Gateway to Hell

corey says…I was up early for breakfast and managed to check emails afterwards. The B&B had broadband, but their computer was so slow it was hardly worth effort. I hijacked their ethernet cable and used my laptop.

Then I toured Boyle Abbey. The main portion of the church is undergoing some major preservation work, so there was scaffolding and fencing filling that portion.

I was tempted to go to the coal mining museum in the area, but the weather was just too fantastic to spend underground.

I then made my way to Strokestown to visit the big house and Famine Museum. Ended up spending over two hours there. I toured the house with one of the most misbehaved groups of adults I’ve ever seen. About a quarter of them couldn’t keep their hands off of anything. One woman nearly dropped a small glass bowl. Another man tried spinning the antique globe…which the tour guide told us was bought at auction for £85,000 ( $165,000 ). And they simply didn’t follow directions. Alas, the tour was still very interesting…even though the house is showing some wear, tear and weather stress…especially the outside.

Tulsk & the Entrance to Hell
I stopped back at Cruachan Ai ( today. The area is home to several ancient sites that rival the Hill of Tara in importance…Tara just steals all the attention.

Mike, the guide at the centre gave me a map of the area and sent me on my way to do some exploring. The day was perfect for hill climbing…or ruin climbing. I easily made it to the top of my first destination…sorry, I won’t remember all the names…but they are well-documented in the book I bought at the centre. This spot was a large mound, now covered in green grass and sheep (and their dung).

Mike was right, the view was so-so from the car park, but when I reached the top of the gentle hill, I could see for miles…and today was a fantastic day for it.

I toured around to see three more of these now earthen works that would have been burial mounds, homes possibly even the ancient palace of Goddess and Warrior Queen Medb.

Then it was onward to Oweynagat Cave. I had to stop at the petrol station in town to buy a torch (flashlight) for this one. It cost me €10 ( $15.50 ), but once I climbed in the tiny hole, I realized it was worth every penny.

I had to wander around a bit to find it…the entrance ends up being almost directly under the road. It’s a tiny entrance, and I had to climb in belly-up, crab-style to squeeze in. Then it was down to the T-junction. To the right was just a little alcove, but to the left was long tunnel that traversed downward.

I looked down the tunnel and immediately found myself asking, “What am I doing?” I was one breath away from climbing out of the hole when my foot slipped down in the mud. My shoes were officially dirty now, so I had to make the trip worthwhile 😉

I continued down…after slipping through a narrow opening, I was able to stand upright. There was a large wedge-shaped room made out of a crack in the rock. Amazing. Suddenly, all my anxiety was gone and the space was completely calm and quite relaxing.

I wandered around. Then I turned off my torch…yikes! Complete darkness…I quickly turned it back on. After a few minutes, I started my climb back up. It was slippery and damp, and I found myself scraping my back against the stepped roof, but WOW what an adventure. As I climbed up, I could again see light coming from the entrance. Before long, I was back in the warm sun.

When I returned to the centre, Mike asked if I had seen the steaming rock. Apparently, on some days there is a small rock that lets off moisture at the entrance…I think seeing steam after climbing up the cave might have freaked me out…or maybe it would have just felt appropriate seeing the whole experience seemed quite surreal.

There was something magical about climbing on top of these mysterious mounds and then going beneath the earth, down a cave that was used thousands of years ago.

Not sure what is next, but I’ll be heading off now in search of another adventure!

This Week’s Photo Album

My Ireland Expense Report

7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 15, 2008 7:09 PM

    Hi, Corey,
    I’m enjoying reading about your adventures in Roscommon and Longford. It sounds like the missed the new Tree Walk at the Lough Key Forest Park in favor of your hike. We were there just about a year ago, after it opened. It is certainly worth the price of admission to the centre. Maybe next time…
    Enjoyed your description of Stroketown House (and the tourists) – we found it to be shabby last year, too. But it is privately owned, does not have lots of government funding like some historic places. What did you think of the Famine Museum? To me, it surpasses the main house in significance and interest.
    Enjoy the great weather!

  2. May 16, 2008 12:08 AM

    Corey, this is a “P.S.” to my last set of comments. I forgot to mention that the visitor centre at Lough Key Forest Park has a great cafe overlooking the lake. The food is self-service and reasonably priced. They had great fresh salads and soups last year, and sandwiches etc. as well. In case you are passing back that way, it’s good to know as an option for lunch. You don’t have to pay the admission charge to eat at the cafe!
    Look forward to seeing where you will be tomorrow.

  3. May 16, 2008 6:56 PM

    corey says…I thought the famine museum was very good. They do a good job of establishing the various conditions that led to the famine…many people resort to the “damn British” as the only contributor to a bigger problem. That’s why I think it poignant that this exhibit looks to famines going on today…many of those same conditions in Ireland from back then, still exist in our modern world. The Doagh Famine Village on the Inishowen Peninsula does a great job of tying these two facets together.

    If you appreciated this exhibit, you will also find the exhibition at Johnstown Castle in Wexford (if it’s still there this year) worthwhile as well.

    I arrived too late to do the forest walk…eveything was closed up, but the rest of the park was fantastic.

  4. June 23, 2008 11:56 PM

    This entry and podcast reminded me of my trip to Ireland last summer. My group went to the same center and I believe it is pronouced curhoney. I did not go into the enterance of hell due to being ill, but everyone who went down enjoyed it.

    I love listening to the podcasts!!!

  5. August 25, 2008 8:00 PM

    Thanks for the excellent feedback, and sharing the cave experience with the world ;o)

    It pronounced, approximately…
    Croo-han EE

    Beir Bua!

    Lora O’Brien, Manager
    Cruachan Aí Centre,
    Tulsk, Co. Roscommon

  6. August 25, 2008 9:19 PM


    Thanks for the pronunciation. I know Mike told me how to say it, but it’s not something that is sticking with me.

    Croo-han EE … seeing it spelled phonetically might do the trick.


  7. January 24, 2011 5:07 AM

    Just to point you to the new website for the centre…

    All the best,

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