Oweynagat (cave of the cats) is a pre-Christian spiritual site located within the Rathcroghan Royal Complex of North Co. Roscommon.
History of Oweynagat
The site is mentioned in a number of ancient Irish texts as the entrance of the Otherworld or as the Aí of Cruachan. In mythology the cave is home to the Goddess Morrigan, (battle, strife, fertility) a triple goddess who appears in different tales from Irish pre-history.
The cave is a natural fissure or split in the earth, which formed over time. There are a number of these features in the area, however Oweynagat stands out. The modern entrance to the cave was constructed sometime after the 9th Century. This can be date from the souterrain (man-made underground passage) located at the entrance to the cave. This passage is quite short and located within an earthwork, which may be a barrow (burial site).
The souterrain utilises the natural cave walls as it descends into the cave proper, where a clear effort has been made to create a door by blocking up the natural cave entrance leaving a small gap. It is unknown when the site was first used, but the location of a Druid school nearby and evidence of Neolithic huts and burials in the area suggest that it was known from this time.
Today the site is accessed by a small local road (dead end). It is best to contact the Rathcroghan Visitors Centre for access as the cave is on private land. Access is through as small gate and the cave is located along the roadside under a small ditch. A small gap allows access to the passage where one can view the Ogham stone in the roof of the cave that reads Fraic son of Medb, which may relate to Queen Medb or a tribe dedicated to her. The passage turns to the left where you crawl for a short distance before reaching steps where one can enter the cave.
The cave is naturally dark and torches and old clothes are advisable when visiting. The inside of the can is 8m high with a narrowing to the rear.
Getting to Oweynagat
Oweynagat is located in County Roscommon, a couple of kilometres west of the N5 and about 6km north of Tulsk. There is no public transport to anywhere really nearby Oweynagat – the cave is on private land and visits must be pre-arranged.