• Morgan Fagg

Drum Residents Remember Ancient Athlone Burial

Celebrating Heritage Week on Sunday August 23rd residents in Drum and members of Drum Heritage Centre revisited an ancient Athlone burial ground dating back to 3500BC.

When it comes to looking at Athlone’s rich heritage, you could visit the stone bridge spanning Leinster and Connaught or King John’s stone fortification or you could go further back to a stone Dolmen in Drum estimated to be over 5000 years old.

Known locally as Giant Lobby’s Rock, a small megalithic dolmen which was possibly erected as a tomb for a person of great significance, presumably a chieftain and this final resting place surrounded by wild garlic is a rare example of a prehistoric settlement not normally found in the midlands.

Discovered over fifty years ago by two children who found stone axes by the megalithic Dolmen, the stone tomb along the old bridal path was not always easy to find and was only really appreciated by goats and rabbits sheltering from the elements. With the bridal path cleared and new signage erected to inform people of the ancient wonder, the prehistoric stone is now more accessible.

Visible along the Bridal Path are two ice houses used for preserving food. While not used for preserving prehistoric food, the ice houses would have been built in the last 200 years and were used to store meat from spoiling as the meat was packed in snow that fell during the winter months.

Along the route from the Drum Heritage Centre to the Bridal Path, a much wider path has taken shape and the N6 route has played an interesting part shaping our knowledge of heritage as two fulaght fias were discovered during road excavations.

Heating stones in a fire and placing them in a rectangular pond, ancient Athlonians would have cooked joints of meat in a time long before Sir Walter Raleigh planted the first potatoes here.

Standing almost two meters high and dating back to the pyramids and New Grange the dolmen is not on the same scale as the Egyptian and Meath monuments but it would have taken significant effort to position the 24 tonne cap stone into place and the rare stone find is certainly worth celebrating as part of our local surrounding heritage.

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