Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Inchincurka Wedge Tomb/Inse an Choirce Tuama Dingeach

On the R585, or as its known in locally as the "back road to Bantry", just beyond Shanlaragh as your heading for the Cousane Gap between the Maughanaclea Hills and the Shehy Mountains, sits this monument in a field right next to a T junction. Its on relatively flat field which offer modest views of the Shehy Mountains rising up to the west, as the Cummernamart river snakes up north past it, the entrance to this tomb points to both but its most likely the mountains which its focus is. This part of west Cork is littered with monuments, quite a few others on the eastern foothills of the Shehy mountains which offer beautiful views of Bantry Bay beyond. The name of the townland is Inchincurka, 'Inse an Choirce' in its original Irish,which Ó' Donaill has 'Inse' meaning  'water meadow',  while P.W. Joyces elaborates it as 'a low meadow along a river'. The other part of the name is 'Coirce' which are 'Oats', so a translation may be 'water meadow of oats'.

The tomb itself is nicely overgrown, alot of the interior has been engulfed by plants, and the northern side is nearly entirely invisible under it, from that angle it looks almost like a bat with the two portal stones giving the appearance of ears. The tomb itself is a great example of a wedge tomb as you can quite clearly see the wedge shape which gives these tombs their name. Looks like there is some double walling too which can be seen in other wedge tombs like Labbacallee, Island or Knockagoun. Often these sort of tombs are called 'Leaba' in Irish, which can be short for 'Leaba Dhiarmada is Ghráinne' or 'Diarmuid and Gráinne's bed'. They were said to have been made by Diarmuid and Gráinne as nightly beds in their long flight from Fionn's and the Fianna's wrath after they ran away together.

The megalithic builders were the first to alter the landscape, as Gabriel Cooney points out, it was they who first farmed with cereal, reared cattle, and cleared the land. We dont think about it these days as its so normal now, but it must have been a revolution in thought, as what they were doing was controlling nature. By extension this must have made them have a greater sense of place and of belonging, as they were not just dwellers in the land but an active players in its system. While most of the alterations they made back then were temporary; a cow dies, a tree will regrow etc, there was one thing that was permanent though and was their tombs. These were mans first permanent statement  to the ages, but what what were they saying? I suppose we will never know for sure but I personally believe the answer is there when you visit these places.  When your at the site and if you look up, and gaze at what is around you, you are often blown away by a magnificient view that greets you. So for me unlike modern religions where they say "Look at us", look mans achievements with their buildings, I feel what they were saying is "Look at this" look at nature in all its glory.

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