Report from Turoe Meeting held on July 25th 2003

Subjects people asked to have included in the meeting's agenda:


From Dr. Kieran Jordan:

1) Thank everybody (from me!) for the work they put into the launch night.
2) Book distribution. Are the books out there in a broad distribution? I have just been in touch with Kenny's about trade discount, so they should be OK now.
I am still trying hard to get it on a national distribution list, so that it will be available nationally.
3) We need to get as many people as possible to see the sites.
4) How do we get academics interested in the story and what should our strategy be in that regard?
5) I have made no progress on the road at Loughrea.  Has anybody else?


From William Finnerty:


1) Protection of the Turoe Stone: what (if anything) should we as a group try to do? 

2) Mainly for the purpose stated in 3 (below) should we give the group a name: such as, for example, "Turoe and Athenry Heritage Group" or "Turoe's Celtic Kingdom Heritage Group" ?

3) Should we register the new group with the "Heritage Awards Programme" mentioned on Page 23 in the Friday July 4th 2003 edition of the Connacht Tribune Newspaper?  The contact person is: Marie Mannion (Heritage Officer), Galway County Council, Prospect Hill, Galway.  Her e-mail address is:



From Fr. Tom O'Connor:


1)  How can the group try to protect the remaining vestiges of the major series of linear embankments surrounding Turoe & Knocknadala? The embankments extended outwards through the whole of ancient Connacht (which used to include County Clare). These fortifications are similar to other Belgic defence systems found in places such as SE England, N France, and Belgium.



Report from for July 25th 2003 Meeting at Turoe Farm

Please note: The meeting held on Friday July 25th 2003 was held at very short notice because, after being shown several of the sites he has mentioned in his books (by Fr. Tom O'Connor), some people suddenly felt it might be a good idea to have a last-minute business meeting - with him present - before he returned to Borneo. The Group Secretary (Mary Duffy) was not in attendance.

At the beginning of the meeting the above list of subjects from the three people concerned was handed to the Meeting Chairman (Fr. Cathal Stanley).

Most of the above subjects were discussed (as outlined further down) - though not necessarily in the order shown.

  The Turoe Stone 

Several people felt it is deteriorating very rapidly, and badly in need of care and attention (and protection).

Apparently, such work is the responsibility of the Office of Public Works.

Though a growing number of well-informed people seem to believe that the Turoe Stone is the best known and most important piece of Celtic stone art in the world (and as such probably priceless), it may nevertheless be the case that it is NOT insured in any way against things such as vandalism and art theft.

It seems that 3 or 4 good quality replicas of the Turoe Stone were made during the time the film "Alfred the Great" was being made in Galway (around1968/9), and that these copies are now located at University College Galway, University College Cork, the National Museum in Dublin, and at an unknown location in Japan (possibly close to Tokyo city centre?). There seemed to be some doubt about the replica which was taken to Japan several years ago in connection with arrangements made by the then Minister for Heritage Mr. Noel Treacy T.D. - in that it might have been produced at a different time to the others (using a different technique possibly?).

Nobody seemed to know where the "Alfred the Great" mould is located (assuming that it has not been destroyed or discarded). Apparently, the job of making this particular mould was a BIG undertaking.

Information regarding some of the principle people involved in the Galway filming of Alfred the Great can be found at the following Internet page address:

For information on the Office of Public Works (Republic of Ireland) please see:

  Protecting the sites 

One person expressed the view that all planning permissions for buildings in County Galway are granted by a fairly small group of people (say 10 to 12 maybe), and that it might be possible to quickly alert this small group of people to those local heritage sites mentioned in Fr Tom O'Connor's book which are particularly vulnerable: such as (for example) the now long abandoned section of the 2,000 year old Slí Dala roadway opposite the Rugby Club in Loughrea. Similarly with regard to the Department of Agriculture personnel involved in the provision of grants to farmers for land reclamation and suchlike.

Apparently, it is the responsibility of the Gardaí to protect ancient monuments, and anybody who sees sites being damaged (or about to be damaged) can report the matter to the Gardaí. However, there are a number of major difficulties at the present time connected with this approach. To name just two, the Gardaí are a) unlikely to have any training in recognising many ancient monuments of the kind mentioned in Fr Tom O'Connor's book; and, b) most of the monuments in question would have no legal status at the present time (and consequently no legal protection).

This unhelpful and unsatisfactory legal situation exists (it seems) because Irish archaeologists, in sharp contrast to some of their counterparts in the UK and on mainland Europe, have - for all practical purposes - so far been completely ignoring (among other things) the particular type of "linear" (i.e. "straight-line") Iron Age Celtic defence systems which are to be found in abundance in certain parts of Ireland (particularly East Galway), and which Fr Tom O'Connor has been investigating and writing about for several years now. Similar, though less elaborate and less effective Iron Age Celtic defence systems have been found in places such as South East England, Northern France, and Belgium. (Several Irish archaeologists have been informed during recent years regarding Fr. Tom O'Connor's work and findings.)

One fascinating aspect of the improved "spider's web shaped" type of defence system used by the Iron Age Celts to defend East Galway is that they may have actually deterred the Roman army from ever even trying to penetrate it. (It is understood the Roman legions had already suffered heavy losses in connection with the earlier and less elaborate Celtic versions in England and on mainland Europe.)
JuliusCaesar  (Bookmark)
The Roman army also used "linear" defence ramparts against the Celts. One of their best known was located at Alesia (near Dijon in East France, and now known as Alesia-Sainte-Reine). Among other things, it consisted of twin lines of earthen ramparts and ditches, with an outer rampart that was 10 to14 miles in length (depending on different reports). It was at this site (in 52 B.C.) that Vercingetorix (supreme leader of the Celtic armies in the French area) tried - apparently - to save lives by surrendering (in the most public way available to him) to Julius Caesar. Vercingetorix was taken prisoner and incarcerated in the Tullianum for 5 years: before being ritually executed - after being marched in chains through Rome as part of Caesar's formal victory parade in 46 B.C.  The year after, on March 15th 45 B.C., Caesar himself was stabbed to death in a conspiracy led by Cassius and Brutus. (For further information please click: Ramparts at Alesia / Julius Caesar / Vercingetorix ; The Tullianum .)

One person mentioned the possible use "Protection Orders" for preventing the sites in question from further damage. The person concerned kindly offered to make further enquiries on behalf of the group.

   Getting people to see the sites 

Earlier in the day, a friendly local farmer informed some members of the group that two "hill forts" mysteriously disappeared from a neighbour's field a few years ago shortly after a visit to his area from two "official" looking women. Apparently, the farmer in question may have speculated that the two women were archaeologists, and that they were likely to be followed by hoards of students and tourists trespassing on his land.

The present situation regarding insurance for site visitors is another matter which some are concerned about. Those who recently visited some of the sites saw at first hand the risks from such things as dry stone walls (which can easily give way under foot), barbed wire, threatening looking cattle, potentially dangerous looking river banks and bridges, and so on.

Though no angry farmers were encountered, it is thought that this situation could easily change if the numbers of visitors, and the frequency of visits, were to increase: particularly if the farmers in question were not properly consulted beforehand.

One person present stated that negotiations of some kind were taking place between government and farmers representatives to deal with problems of the above kind, and that they were now at an advanced stage.


In the interests of trying to protect what's left of local sites (which in some cases is extremely little), the following prioritised list was drawn up:

  • Feerwore / Cleary's Hill

  • Rampart preservation

  • Knocknadala /  New Road  - plus possibility of new  superdump  at nearby Cross.

  • Archaeological dig

  • Athenry/Boyhill area

  • Slí Dala

    • The Slí Dala is a 2,000 year old road which ran from Knocknadala to Roscrea. The Knocknadala end joins up with the Esker Riada - which is also referred to in various ancient texts as "An Slí Mór", or "Via Magna".

    • The Esker Riada is probably Ireland's most historic (and most important) natural monument: partly because the world famous Clonmacnoise Monastery (built around 545 - 548 A.D.) is located at the point where the Esker Riada crosses the river Shannon. For a lengthy period during the later centuries of the first Millennium AD, Clonmacnoise was "the place to be" for the sons of many royal families from all over Europe. In its heyday, during the final centuries of the 1st Millennium A.D., the complex is understood to have accommodated as many as 2,500 students. Some now tend to think of Clonmacnoise as the world's first major Christian university.

  Raising local awareness 

Fr Tom O'Connor expressed the view that the school's painting competition could usefully be added to with two further schools competitions: one for the best list of local placenames, and one for the best set of local rampart photographs.

There was a suggestion that the group might try to enlist the help of a local school teacher for the purpose of providing the group with some guidance on how best to go about organising and promoting such competitions.

  Autumn 2003 Seminar 

The possibility was mentioned of organising a seminar this Autumn (involving academics who are knowledgeable on the specific subject in question) which would focus on the fact that the much respected Ptolemy of Alexandria (1st/2nd century Greek mathematician & geographer who lived mostly in Egypt) clearly indicated two main royal sites in the Ireland of his time - one in the area now known as Armagh, and one in the area now known as Turoe. Not surprisingly perhaps, Ptolemy used the same word "REGIA" to indicate the positions of both these royal sites.

For further information, please refer to the copy of Ptolemy's Map on page 90 of the new book titled "Turoe & Athenry: Ancient Capitals of Celtic Ireland". There are also several references to Ptolemy throughout the text of this book: including those which appear on pages 23, 95, 106, 114, 137, 138, 152, and 153.)


Some people feel that, with good quality promotion and marketing, the Esker Riada and Slí Dala roadways have the potential to attract many tourists: particularly if they could somehow be linked in with the O'Sullivan Beara Breifne Greenway Walk.

The Beara Breifne Greenway route is believed to be one of just four major walkways being developed in Europe at the present time, and (with extensions) it involves all of the Four Provinces of Ireland: Connacht, Leinster, Munster, and Ulster. It runs from south to north through the middle of Ireland (roughly), and it crosses (at right-angles) parallel sections of the west-to-east running Esker Riada at nearby Aughrim, Kilconnell, and Ahascragh.

The main "backbone" of the 10,000 year old Esker Riada runs in a straight line - more or less - between Turoe/Knocknadala and Kilconnell Friary (which has a history that dates back to the 500's). Woodlawn House, with its history going back to the 1600's, is about half-way in between (beside Killann Cemetery, near New Inn). Killann Cemetery actually sits right on top of a part of the ancient Esker Riada roadway, and a small section of "Ann's Church" (which gave the site it's ancient name) can still be seen there in the part closest to Kilconnell.

It is not surprising perhaps, that both sides (north and south) of the Turoe / Kilconnell section of the Esker Riada are festooned with ancient monuments - some of which are understood to still have their ancient stonework interiors fully intact (the entrances of which are at present sealed off). They include one which is very closely associated with the Iron Age Celtic story of "Diarmuid & Grainne". The site in question (already half-destroyed when last viewed in Year 2000, and marked 250 on some ordinance maps) is a mere 50 yards or so to the east of the front door of Woodlawn House. Some speculate that the very romantic relationship between Diarmuid & Gráinne (which ended tragically for Diarmuid) was consummated at this particular site - possible because the old Celtic language name for the Woodlawn area is "Mota Gráinne Oige" (meaning "Young Gráinne's Moat"). This Diarmuid & Gráinne site is listed under reference number 2764 in Volume II (Page 221) of the "Archaeological Inventory of County Galway" (which was published in 1999 by the Government Stationary Office).
Volume3 (Bookmark)
Unfortunately, and for reasons unknown, it was reported at the meeting that Volume III of the Archaeological Inventory of County Galway has found itself "stuck" at the printers for the past two years or so. Volume III  -  if it was available - would provide archaeological information on some of the most important (and most frequently referred to) areas mentioned in Fr Tom O'Connor's books: e.g. Turoe, Knocknadala, Athenry, Kiltullagh, Craughwell, and Clarinbridge. Apparently, Galway University say they have completed their work on Volume III quite some time ago.

The Esker Riada also crosses the River Suck at Ballinasloe - which is closely associated with the "Suck Valley Way" collection of tourist attractions. Ancient texts sometimes refer to Ballinasloe as "Dun Leodha", and the corrupted remnants of this ancient placename can still be found in the name of one of the main roads through the town centre: "Dunlo Street". When the word "Dun" appears in Irish placenames, it tends to indicate a place of human habitation/fortification which goes back to the very earliest times: which can easily be as far back as the "Neolithic" part of the Stone Age (which began in the Near East around 8,000 B.C.). At least one of the world's leading research scientists has reported DNA type evidence which suggests that the last major improvement in human brain capacity took place at around this same time: i.e.10,000 or so years ago.

For further information on the Greenway Walk mentioned above, please see: .

Additional information on the Suck Valley Way route can be found at:

  Turoe / Tara Confusion 

Some felt that the new book does not make it clear that Tara in Meath was an extremely important site in ancient times (well before the Iron Age). There is some concern that people may wrongly get the impression Fr. Tom O'Connor is attempting to argue that everything relating to Tara's history is bogus. He does not believe that of course, and he has made this abundantly clear to those who discussed the matter with him before and during the meeting.

What Fr. Tom does seem to believe though is that the Iron Age part of Tara's history has been fabricated by 1st Millennium AD historians who felt obliged (or forced maybe) to please their paymasters and patrons: for propaganda purposes connected with holding on to or gaining political power, and for boosting family prestige. Apparently, many of the church leaders in Armagh were also very much in favour of this significant piece of historical trickery, and this was because of a major conflict between the two very different strands of Christianity which were developing at the time in Ireland: "Celtic" Christianity, and "Roman" Christianity. (The followers of "Celtic Christianity" are sometimes referred to as "Culdees", and it is thought the word "Culdee" may be a corruption the Celtic words "Céile Dé" - meaning "Partner of God".)

Rome, it seems, was (among other things) unhappy about the amount of wealth, influence, and prestige the "Celtic" style monasteries were generating for themselves. Some centuries later (around the 1100's), "Roman" style Christianity (supported by Armagh) eventually won out, and the centres of "Celtic" Christianity (including Clonmacnoise) soon ended up in the ruined state they are in today: despite the enormous contribution they had made during the Dark Ages, with their high levels of scholarship and the unequalled brilliance of their ornamental art (as demonstrated by, for example, the Book of Kells, and the Ardagh Chalice). Some of the basic organisational differences between these two systems of Christianity are listed below:

  "Celtic" Christianity 

  "Roman" Christianity 

  • Small cells (largely autonomous);
  • Priests were mostly married;
  • Women played a central role;
  • Brehon Law applied.
  • Large centralised power structure;
  • Priests bound by rules of celibacy;
  • Women excluded from certain roles;
  • Roman Law (or similar) applied.

In effect, the historians (and/or "spin-doctors") in question appear to have stolen Turoe and Athenry's Iron Age history (lock, stock, and barrel); and, then transplanted it onto Tara (in County Meath), and Rathcroghan (in County Roscommon) respectively. The present day practical results of their handiwork are now seen by a growing number of local people as very damaging and unfair, grossly misleading, and also very threatening (unless soon corrected) for County Galway's long term future - particularly the eastern half of County Galway.

The original perpetrators of this Turoe / Tara historical fraud appear to have carried out their dishonest task in a highly efficient and very effective manner - in the sense that (to date) they seem to have successfully hoodwinked several generations of leading historians and archaeologists into swallowing (hook, line, and sinker) their thoroughly false version of Iron Age Celtic history in Ireland. With almost no one to challenge it (until now), and with present day historians and archaeologists in Ireland still acting as though they believe the counterfeit version completely, this cleverly put together piece of historical fiction now appears to have been running undetected for an uninterrupted period of somewhere in the region of 1,200 years.

Book of Kells  |  Ardagh Chalice  |

  The Ireland Funds 

Copies of a letter from Minister Noel Treacy T.D. were tabled which may result in some funding from "The Ireland Funds" at a later date. Application needs to be made between October 1st and January 31st each year.

Information relating to The Ireland Funds can be found at:

   Group Name 

Possible names for the group were discussed, and the one which seemed to be favoured by most (including Fr Tom O'Connor) was " The Turoe / Knocknadala / Athenry Heritage Group" - a choice which seems to reflect a statement made in the first paragraph on Page 6 of the new book titled "Turoe & Athenry: Ancient Capitals of Celtic Ireland":

  " Yet, major areas remain untouched or have so far been overlooked.
  Turoe / Knocknadala / Athenry is one of those areas."

  Heritage Awards Programme 

It was decided that the group should try to enter for the Heritage Awards Programme.

For information on the Heritage Awards Programme please see:

   Next Meeting 

The next business meeting will be on Sunday August 17th 2003 (at 7.30 p.m.) at the usual Turoe Farm venue.

As with all of the earlier group meetings held at Turoe Farm, it will be conducted on an "Everybody Welcome" basis.


E-mails associated with the above report:

July 27th 2003 e-mail to Marie Mannion (Galway County Council Heritage Manager)

July 29th 2003 e-mail to Joe Callanan T.D. (and Galway County Councillor)



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