Knockbrack Tomb must be one of the most picturesquely situated tombs in the west of Ireland, overlooking Sellerna bay and out across the Atlantic to Inishbofin Island. We arrived just as daylight began to fade and made the stroll along the beach (keeping Inishbofin to your left) and then up onto the grass verge that overlooks the bay, the moon rising behind the tomb as the sun set across the ocean. It is hard to decipher exactly what class of tomb the monument is as some of it has been incorporated into a later field boundary but it is most likely a wedge tomb. It is topped by a large 3.5 metre long capstone, is orientated E-W with a chamber measuring 1 metre in width and 2.3 in length. On each side of the tomb stand there small stones, a large slab that is to the west of the tomb may have once been a second capstone, but this can never be confirmed. The tomb has been referred to as ‘Labbadermot’ or ‘Diarmuid’s Bed’, this relates to the legend of Diarmuid and Grainne to whom countless megalithic monuments across Ireland are attributed to. Diarmuid is meant to have constructed 365 ‘beds’ to hide from Fionn mac Cumhaill as each capstone made them invisible to Fionn’s magical vision. Many other sites on this blog are related to the same tale such as Rostellan Dolmen. I’d wholeheartedly recommend a visit to this fantastic site as Sellerna Beach is a beautiful spot in its own right accented by this magnificent monument.
GPS: 53.5588, -10.12846
10 thoughts on “Knockbrack Tomb, Galway, Ireland”
I agree it’s picturesque. I wonder where the idea of “beds” come from?
I would think its due to the shape of the monuments and also the tale of the pursuit of Diarmuid and Grainne being such a central story in Irish mythology.
That’s probably it. Diarmuid & Grainne is very important, I need to do a post on it sometime, lol! May I use some of your exquisite photography for it? Academics have pondered D&G in relation to the continental romances of Tristan & Iseult. As I pointed out in my new blogpost, Irish tradition about Finn and the ‘wood chips’ motif prefigures the ‘Courtly Tristan’ texts, and another 9th c Irish Finn text resembles Béroul’s 12th c ‘Tristan’ fragment – though I haven’t seen anyone point it out. Oh, not to be demanding, but I’d love to do a post on the Hill of Allen, may I use your brilliant photos…? Of course, with proper attribution and links for it.
Hi Tiege, I must check out your post tomorrow, indeed use my photos anytime, do you want me to send on full size jpegs or are you okay to grab them from this site. I think I’ve covered about 5 or more Diarmuid and Grainne ‘beds’ on this site, and also the Caves of Kesh where they were also meant to have been hiding.
Thank you! I think I’ll be ok to pull them from your blog like last time. If not I’ll drop you a line! Also I’ll let you know beforehand when I’m writing. Do you know a lot about the Pursuit of D&G?
Hi Tiege, I just read the tale as a child and have been to many sites that reference it, which in itself may make for an interesting project I must think further about that! Happy New Year to you Tiege
Also I noted the following from William Borlase in 1887, who found 65 such ‘beds’ throughout ireland, interestingly enough he states, ““Because of the association with the fugitive amorous couple, these places are in general connected to runaway couples and illicit unions, and sexual behavior in general. It was in some places a custom that if a girl were to go with a stranger to one of these dolmens, she would have to give in to his romantic advances. Because of the association with fertility, dolmens were used in some places as charmed cures for barren women.””
Great find, Ed! How fascinating, what an exciting development, thank you for your investigative find! If I’m not mistaken, Cormac’s Glossary from the 9th c. has an entry about standing stones and their connections to marriage proposals. I think similar beliefs are found as far off as Brittany. Outside of Celtic regions I wouldn’t know, it deserves a look. There is a guy on YouTube called fortress of Lugh who connects the old Irish matrimonial tradition with the 10th c Welsh tale of the tragic love affair of Gronw. It’s an interesting suggestion, though you must take fortress of L. with a grain of salt; he routinely makes assertions that are totally inaccurate. But more to the point, myriad tales as far back as the 9th c. exist in Irish that resemble Gronw so much as to be duplications. D&G seems to incorporate elements of the story too. I have not seen all this pointed out anywhere. I would like to write a post on it sometime. Your findings are very impressive, lol look at how it got me spiraling. I’m very lucky to know you!
Ah thank you Tiege, I guess thats the beauty of history/mythology in that its like an onion, you keep peeling back layers and seeing new layers,
and seeing new connections. Happy 2022 to you Tiege.
Cannot believe it’s 2022!