A Rift Inside an Irish Mountain
Where Time Does Not Exist
A magical world deep within the emerald heart of Ireland.
The Fairy Glen!
“The Glen”, a geographical anomaly, is an extraordinary microcosm found within the confines of a limestone mountain. Science claims that eons ago an extreme, likely glacial force, slashed a crevice into the mountain Knocknarea. The ethereal creation that ensued makes it much more believable that this place was not born of such a reasonably explained event, but more likely came from a clash with Thor’s hammer, or Roland’s Durendal, or maybe Caladbolg, the sword of Ferguson Mac Roich, said to be powerful enough to cleave the tops from hills.
Practically speaking, this “micro valley” or “micro forest” was spawned by a series of terralogical (if that’s not a word it should be) events, resulting in this lush micro world that is one of a kind on this planet we call Earth. Yet I prefer to believe that mysticism and Queen Maeve had a hand in it.
Finding the entrance isn’t easy. You can see where others have broken through the brush from the remote, precipitous, one track road. It may be easier to scurry down the embankment through the brush from the road, easier… but slippery as Hell and unkindly damaging to an ancient enchanted world.
This place has existed for longer than time can count, yet it’s recent introduction to a larger audience, may quickly soon see its own end. In this circumstance, the path less traveled, is not the best choice and the landscape is already showing the effects of the touch of man. I’m quite sure that fae do not appreciate being trampled by the careless feet of selfie stick toting tourists
Earlier, I knew I was driving right by it. Again and again and again. The landmark, supposedly a little white well, it’s just not there. Or I just could never see it. Which means it’s not actually a fucking landmark then, is it?
After circling the remote mountain for the 3rd or 4th time, I decided to just flat out give up. I’d driven more than 2 hours from Dublin to get here, after weeks of driving Scotland. Three weeks on the road and my adventurous nature had waned a bit. Now the shitty diesel bmw the hertz guy talked me into, needed more of the putrid oil laden petrol that made it go (well sort of go), and I really had to pee.
Up, then back down the measly road I went, with luck quickly crossing paths with a gas station. (Bottom of the hill, turn left). After filling up the car and emptying myself, I decided to try one more time, so I asked. The girl at the gas station counter gave me very specific instructions. They were unlike any I had previously found and they were simple.
There is no way to pull over, and you can’t just stop (at least not for long). The road is remote but not deserted, people live there and they use it. Please respect that. On a one lane road, that’s meant for two(2) way traffic and one side of the road is pretty much the edge of a cliff, there are not many options beyond moving forward.
To get there set your gps for Knocknarea parking area. Walk about 50 feet down the road on the left and start looking for the gate or entrance to the left as you walk. You will see the breaks in the foliage from people breaking through, but don’t be fooled, the entrance is further down and completely obvious. It is not subtle once you find it. The gate is broken and sometimes it’s missing, yet the path is obvious, if you know where to look. The path muddy but distinct…
It only takes about a 5 minute walk to find yourself in a veritable fairy land. But there is quite a bit of mud slogging involved, so wear your Wellies.
It’s so very visceral. You’d know you were there, even with closed eyes. It’s a little warmer, a little more dank and there is an eerie silence behind the bird calls that echo strangely off of the rock walls. Rock walls so brimming with lush ferns, ivy, moss, various foliage and trickling water that they themselves appear to be alive. Alive and watching you. Something is definitely watching you.
That the bucolic confines of rural Sligo is rife with mystical lore is far from surprising. An ancient town, historically loaded with prehistoric monuments. Like so many things in Ireland the stories of Knocknarea are possibly as ancient as are it’s manmade structures.
A commander of the local landscape, this monolithic peak is imminently shrouded in clouds and mist. It bares at its crest Miosgán Médhbh (aka Medbs Lump, Maeve’s Tomb etc.). The entrance to this suspected tomb is the largest known unexcavated cairn in Ireland, and one of the few left unexplored. (The weather was too rough for me to get there)
What secrets lie in the bowls of this prehistoric mound, uncorrupted by the hands of modernity?
The sad irony with which I must leave you, is that it is articles like this, people just like me, wanderers, adventurers, bloggers, hikers, tinkers, travelers, vagabonds and punks whose stories have encouraged others to come check this place and others out. But the Earth is just as fragile as it is hearty, and there is no doubt in my mind that man is her greatest nemesis. Please be gentle and kind to the places you visit. Remain on the created paths and do not take home souvenirs.