Deep in the dead center of Ireland’s Coolera Peninsula is a gigantic tomb, estimated to be 7,400 years old and thereby holding the world record for the earliest known freestanding stone architecture.This massive monument is in Carrowmore and is surrounded on all sides by as many as 100-200 other what-is-thought-to-be portal tombs, almost all facing this central burial chamber. I use the terms “cemetery, tombs, and burial chambers” loosely, because—although human bones were found in and about the place—no one has a clue about what was going on. If they were simply burial chambers, then why were they so elaborate? If they had religious significance, then what was it? Most of the portal tombs were at the center of “dolmen circles,” created from 30-40 large boulders, and it is thought that they were part of a huge city for the dead…or something like that! On top of each low mountain surrounding Carrowmore is another monument,making this area Ireland’s largest monumental complex and one of the most enormous sacred landscapes of the world. There are about 30 megalithic tombs that can be explored at Carrowmore.
The central tomb, Listoghil, is at the highest point in this city for the dead. I prefer the name “Giant’s Tomb” which was passed down to me by purveyors of Irish lore. It seems that the land was inhabited by giants originally, but now the native population appears to be diminutive leprechauns. I’m not sure if Carrowmore holds any key to the shift in demographics, but it’s possible.At any rate, Listgihl has now been excavated, and visitors can walk in to see the restored cairn (pile of stones). Most of the cairns were formed from a number of incredibly huge boulders topped with a capstone. (…Sounds like an academic requirement—)The capstones weighed so many thousands of pounds that no one knows how they were lifted into place. (…Sounds like an academic requirement—) It is believed that these huge stones formed a burial chamber. It was another glorious day in May and a perfect time to go for a stroll!Like so much of Ireland and Great Britain, you can walk almost anywhere you please…as long as you close the gates behind you! But, as we meanderedI kept puzzling over the same questions that people have been asking for ages: What does all this mean?Why did people undertake such a mammoth task? What in the world inspired them? What did they believe about what they were doing? What was their goal, and did they reach it? Was their motivation simply physical or was there some spiritual element? Did they mean to transmit a message to future generations? How did they organize themselves, and how did they ever accomplish so much?It seems that I will never know! And so, it occurred to me that if I want to make a statement, it needs to include words! Without a clearly articulated message, even the most monumental effort would end up as nothing more than a magnificent mystery to others. Do I aspire to being one of the oldest, biggest curiosities in the world, or do I want to live a life that leaves a message?
“This then is the message which we have heard of him,and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
“For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (1 John 3:11).