It’s a curious thing to climb a hill on an apparently ordinary working farm between the villages of Ballymore and Loughnavally and suddenly be standing at a gateway to the magical “otherworld”. But on a tour with a local storyteller guide, the thin veil between the natural and supernatural slips right away.
The giant fissured limestone boulder before you on the Hill of Uisneach is certainly a striking gateway. 

Called Aill na Míreann – the Stone of Divisions – it’s said to mark the centre of Ireland and the coming together of the provinces. The goddess Ériu, after whom Ireland is named, lies buried underneath.
Catstone of Hill of Uisneach
Catstone of Hill of Uisneach
Now you’re fully attuned to all sorts of possibilities evoked by the mysterious monuments scattered around the hill: barrows, cairns, ring forts, a holy well, remains of circular enclosures and ancient roads, one linking to the nearby Hill of Tara.
Uisneach has been a meeting place since prehistoric times, a seat of kings and a sacred site of worship, ancient and Christian. In modern days it has been a focal point for political rallies.
 
On you wander, pausing by the hilltop lake where the Sun god Lugh met his mortal end; chatting about St Patrick’s visit – there are superb views from his place of worship, St. Patrick’s Bed, over the sweeping central plain; imagining Ireland’s first great Bealtaine fire at Uisneach to celebrate the coming of summer.
The Celtic Sun God, Lugh (Image via Lightgrid)
 Brighid, Irish Celtic Goddess of Fire and Water (Image via Paganspace)
Left: The Celtic Sun God, Lugh (Image via Lightgrid) Right: Brighid, Irish Celtic Goddess of Fire and Water (Image via Paganspace)
The May tradition has been rekindled in Uisneach’s Fire Festival, a whirl of feasting, music, dance and a fire parade that sees golden flames crisping the dusk sky. It’s then that you might look up and ponder the legend that says Lugh, with his “long arm trailing behind him”, was actually a comet. Who’s to say where natural and supernatural begin or end?
Actors on horseback at the Festival of Fires on the Hill of Uisneach

Festival of Fires, Hill of Uisneach

Festival of Fires, Hill of Uisneach
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Visit The Hill of Uisneach

Loughnavalley, Mullingar, Westmeath