Here's another hidden treasure. Located in the woodland behind the Deerpark Hotel in the grounds of Howth Castle this ancient portal tomb bears a legend that doesn’t quite ring true.The story goes that this is the grave of Aideen wife of Oscar of the famed Fianna. When Oscar died at the battle of Gabhra, Aideen went into shock and died as a result. Oscar’s father Oisin had her buried at Howth and had the Dolmen constructed as a memorial to her. The Fianna are of a time dating around the very early medieval period but the portal tomb is exactly like others of it’s ilk dating to the Neolithic period which ended in 2500BC. But as they always say print the legend! The tomb has the second largest capstone in the country weighing in around 75 tons. The largest is the Brownshill Dolmen in Co Carlow (see earlier post here)
The grounds behind the hotel have many trails but the trail to the dolmen takes you through the rhododenrons. It’s a narrow trail with many little tracks leading off mostly to the left. A lot of large rocks lie among the trees and could be mistaken for the dolmen at first sight but they are just debris from the nearby cliff face. One you stick to the trail its not too long before you come across the tomb and it really is a stunning example of its type. The huge capstone has collapsed to one side forcing the portal stones apart but you can still step inside although the imposing capstone certainly made me a little nervous. The woodland setting and nearby craggy cliff all lend a very atmospheric feeling to the place. We visited on a Friday afternoon and encountered no one else at that time
To find the Dolmen take the R809 from the M50 motorway towards Clarehall. Continue on this road through Donaghmede until you reach a T-Junction at Baldoyle. Turn right and take the nearby left hand turn onto the R106. Go through the railway level crossing following the coast until you reach Sutton cross. Turn left at the Bank of Ireland and continue on this road (R105) towards Howth. After approx. 1.9km you will see the large entrance gates to The Deerpark Hotel on your right. Follow the road right up to the hotel ( you will pass Howth Castle on the way which I will cover later) Park in the car park and Follow the steps up on the right hand side of the hotel adjacent to the golf course. Follow the pathway and you will see a sign posted on the tree directing you to the Dolmen. Turn right here and follow the path keeping to the right along the way and approx. 200m along you will reach a T-junction with another pathway. The Dolmen is a few metres down the right hand path.