One of our newest members, Vyviane Armstrong of Atlanta Georgia, recently had the opportunity to visit sites sacred to The Morrigan and her possible continental gaulish counterparts in Europe. One of the sites she visited was Slieve Bawn in County Roscommon. County Roscommon is often overlooked by typical tourists, but it is a wonderful county to visit nonetheless. It’s home to Crúachán (Fort of Rathcrogan) and Uaimh na gCait (The Cave of the Cats), among other delights. Below is her field report.
On a recent trip to Ireland, I decided to answer Babd’s callings to me, which have recently been growing louder and louder. To find Her site, Her people, Her. To make Her voice heard as its own. Along with increasing my personal devotional practice to Her, I decided to scout out and visit some of Her sacred sites in Ireland, to connect with Her more deeply in Her home territory. I started my trip in France, visiting sites possibly connected to the Cathubodua, a little-known Gaulic Battle Crow Goddess. For the interest of brevity, I will be focusing on my time with Badb in Ireland.
The first thing that I enjoyed about the site is that you can put it into the GPS and head out, easy peasy. It’s open to all and there is a parking lot and signed trails. If you have ever tried to access Irish Sacred Sites, this is not usually the case.
Trail Sign on top of Mountain. Photo by Vyvaine Armstrong
[Image Description. Picture is map of mountain with several trails outlined upon it]
Slieve Bawn is home to various planted forestry, a government program to help Ireland grow more trees. Ireland was once covered in trees, but lost most of them during the colonial years. Slieve Bawn also features a windmill farm. Roscommon has put good amount of money and energy into turning the mountain into something good for Ireland as a whole, as well as a place locals can enjoy, and even a place to bring a few tourists. This alone made the trip a worthy adventure.
Story Archaeology offers the following translation of Slíab Badbgna /Slieve Bawn’s name in Irish from Odras’s Story in the Dindshenchas
fri Slíab mBadbgna m-brogda.
by the cultivated Scald-Crowish Mountain [Slíab Badbgna = Slieve Baune in East Roscommon]
Forestry on Slieve Bawn by Vyvaine Armstrong
[Image Description: two lines of trees, dark and orderly, with a moss path between them]
Is this Badb’s Mountain?
Lora O’ Brien, my companion for this adventure, and I had a really wonderful time there, even though it was drizzling. We had many options of walks, from a short one kilometer loop, to all day hikes that cover the whole mountain. Due to the rain, we took the short loop. It was beautiful. We walked through a small bit of natural growth forest with a good mix of native herbs in it. The forest quickly turned into row after row of silent forestry, from new plantings to recently harvested trees. The cycle of growth, destruction and re-growth within Badb’s forest on such a large scale was not lost on me, as we walked through acres and acres of freshly planted, variously aged, or harvested trees.
I have always had a special place in my heart for the planted forestries of Ireland. They are magical and dangerous to me. Because they are so uniform and tidy, the magic of the trees finds new ways to remind you that the woods are a dangerous place. In the forestry, instead of hearing wolves howl, you don’t hear much of anything. It is entirely too quiet, the noise heavily muffled through the large Yule-shaped trees and the soft spongy moss floor.
As we walked through the forest, we saw the giant windmills peeking up through the trees, then over the hill, then over the rise, and eventually we came right up on them. It is possible to sit under them and meditate to their buzzing white noise if you like, and you should–after you have meditated in the forestry, of course.
My time there was definitely connected to Badb. That morning, as soon as we left the hotel to head towards Her mountain, I felt her presence, or as I like to call it, “Badb Vibes.” I experienced a softer, though no less strong, version of Herself on the mountain. I’ve seen several faces of the Badb over the years and they are all pretty intense, dark, and bloody. Today, She seemed calmer, older, and more sovereign over Her space. Was She just as happy as the rest of Ireland to finally see some warm weather and sun after one of the longest coldest winters on record? Was She just being kind to me? Is She always different on Her mountain than She is at Boa Island (another of Her sacred sites in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland)? I am unsure, but I am quite interested in visiting Her and Her Mountain again and finding out. I don’t want to get too specific and possibly pollute anyone else’s UPG of the place, but I saw it as a place for Her People, Her Crows, and Her to be and live.
I highly recommend a visit to this site. Even better, I suggest arranging a tour with Lora O’Brien as part of a visit to the Rathcroghan and the Cave. You can easily make a nice weekend pilgrimage just in Roscommon.
When you get back, please feel free to be in touch, as I’d love to talk about this site more with people who have visited it with Badb in mind.
Atop Slieve Bawn by Vyviane Armstrong
[Image Description. Picture shows path leading up a slight hill with two tall windmills in the background]
Resources if you would like to learn more about the Badb