The Catstone - a large fractured chunk of limestone, which is said to be the point where the four provinces of Ireland meet. Some dowsers believe the stone is sitting on a large bed of crystal.
Main Page
Woodcuts
Tour Guide
Sacred Island
Email me
Knocknarea
Queen Maeve's Cairn
The Glen
Carrowmore
Carrowkeel
Shee Lugh
Sliabh Dá Eán
Cairns Hill
Abbeyquarter
Doonaveeragh Village
Caves of Kesh
Cairns Hill
Moytura
Knocknashee
Sheemor
Kilclooney More
Newgrange

The Hill of Uisneach, the Centre of Ireland

The Hill of Uisneach is the ancient centre of Ireland, located between Mullingar and Athlone in County West Meath. It has important links with the capital at Tara and the Beltaine bonfire ceremonies. There is a large stone set up on the side of the Hill of Uisneach, which is known, according to tradition as The Stone of Divisions, Aill an Mireann in Irish. The more common name for this large craggy lump of limestone is The Catstone, as some have seen a squatting cat in its form. The Catstone is said to be placed exactly at the centre of Ireland, and the division and boundry lines of the four provinces are said to meet here at the stone.

Michael Dames has explored the subject at some length in his book, Mythical Ireland, which inspired the illustration on the following page. Dames says the Hill of Uisneach was the centre of the Beltaine bonfire cult, and that a central fire on the hill would have been visible from a ring of satellite hills, all of which would be visible form another outer ring. This would imply that, as the old customs say, all the fires in Ireland were extinguished on May eve, and were re-lit from the central Uisneach fire on May Day.

Map by Brendan Farren, 1995, based on 'Mythical Ireland' by Michael Dames.

Michael Dames book points to other interesting questions, like the ancient four part division of the country. The four privinces, Connaught, Munster, Lenster and Ulster (not the modern political boundries) all met at the Catstone which was at the centre of the central fifth province, Meath of Midhe in Irish. The word 'province', coecd in Irish literaly means 'a fifth'.

Further, he points out that the ancient capitals - Emhain Macha in Ulster, Alhmu in Leinster, Cnoc Aine in Munster and Rath Croghaun in Connaught - appear to be laid out and spaced in relation to the Hill of Uisneach. A line passing from Rath Croghaun to Uisneach ends up at the Hill of Allen (Almhu). Similarly, a line drawn from Emhain Macha passing through Uisneach arrives at Lough Gur and the Hill of Aine, which is thought to be the Munster capital.



A ruinous wedge monument beside the Drumcliff river in Co Sligo.