CastleKerran-Loughan Co. Meath ("Belach Duin" & “The Stone of Lugh)
The mythological diety Lugh in pagan tradition, was revered in earlier times by the warrior tribes of Luighne & Gaileanga.
Later Christian monastic involvements indicate a reverence for St Ciaran of Clonmacnoise, with Foirchealach of Fobher (Fore) recorded as the Abbot of Cluain Mec Nois in 809 AD, one of the Gaileanga Mora.
The recently unearthed (2006) Ogham “ Stone of Lugh” was found in the ancient Abby of Castlekieran (Keim graveyard), a former monastic site founded by St Ciaran, and referenced in the early annals as "Belach Duin" (the road or pass of the Fort) The script on the stone translates as: Cuan son of the tribe of Luighni.
The Well of St Ciaran (pictured above) is also located in this ancient territory formerly inhabited by the Luighne & Gaileanga. In addition, an ancient "celtic cross slab symbol" was also found in this monastic site, located in the modern parish of Loughan, barony of Upper Kells Meath.
These combined cultural elements represent mythological, historic and monastic lineages to the tribes of Luighne and Gaileanga, from which Maoláin circa1017 AD, descended. His father Eichnigh is recorded as King of the Luighne 993 AD and that tribal population line connects back to Cuan.
Descendant chieftains are recorded in the annals by forename and later surname Mac Maoláin lord of the Gaileanga Brega d.1144 AD.
The name Ogham is derived from Oghma, the Celtic God of elocution . Ogham comprises a set of twenty or so letters of the Latin alphabet, transcribed into incisions and notches made on the corner edge of a quarried slab of stone. A key to its translation was discovered in a medieval religious text. This marked the first time that Irish was written down. Using this translation key, it is possible to read the Ogham script, from the bottom of the stone up.
Most scripts conform to a pattern incorporating genealogical descent - for example (in Latin) "X son of Y" and other social elements such as "of the tribe Z". As such, they are frequently described as 'grave markers', although no evidence (eg: associated burials) of this function has been found by archaeologists. They may be commemorative, even in the absence of burials, or they may have been used as boundary markers.
Archaeologists place Ogham Stones in the date-range of somewhere between the 4th to the 8th centuries AD.
What is significant about them is that they are testimony of the arrival of the use of Latin, spread by the Roman Empire as far as Great Britain, and via cultural exchange in Ireland. They show that Irish and Latin existed side by side, probably only in religious establishments such as monasteries, at the time of the emergence of Christianity in Ireland. These stones span the period of conversion to Christianity.
The name Ogham is derived from Oghma, the Celtic God of elocution. Ogham probably originated and was certainly most predominant in South and Southwestern Ireland, areas which remained the focal point for it to the end. Finding this stone here adds additional credence to the general historical conclusion that Gaileanga and Luighne tribes originated much earlier amongst Leinster population areas, carried these techniques with them to Mide and Brega.
As explained in many historic documents, the early church located exactly here, was dedicated to St Ciaran, then later appropriate to the Priory of St John the Baptist of Kells, during the time descendant sons of Mac Maolain were active in that Priory.
Modern leadership of Clan Mac Maolain respect both traditions represented in this site: the Celtic pagan tradition of the Stone of Lugh and the Christian traditions of St Ciaran; all connected to our later links to the Kells monastic site, and Gille Colum (alumnus of Columcille) circa 800-1200 AD.
For this reason, Bealaig Ciaran alias "Belach Duin" is adopted as our Clan Inauguration site for each successive "Clan Taoiseach" as it combines the physical and locational elements representative of both traditions.
Clan Inauguration Events:
Pictured 2010: Lyn David McMullen (Taoiseach (2008-Dec 31st 2022) and Maureen McMullen (Cathaoirleach 2008) adjacent the 1500 year old termon cross dedicated to St Ciaran, patron saint of the Luighne and Gaileanga. This was our inaugural clan event, with Michael James McMullen (Tanaiste) and Lyn pictured adjacent the “Stone of Lugh”.
Pictured 2023 Cathoirleach Maureen McMullen preparing for inauguration of our new Chieftain, Michael James McMullen and former Chieftain Lyn David McMullen administering the "Oath"