The tomb at Labbacallee near Glanworth in Co. Cork is Ireland's largest example of a wedge tomb, with a chamber that measures nearly 14m long. Wedge tombs are the most common of Ireland's megalithic tombs, and are most commonly found in the western half of the country. The name 'wedge tomb' simply refers to the simple wedge shape, as the height and width of the monument decreases from the front to the rear. Wedge tombs are the last of Ireland's megalithic tombs, and usually date to the Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age periods.
Labbacallee was excavated by Harold Leask and Liam Price in 1934. They found that the burial chamber was divided into two parts, a long gallery (see the header photo) and a small box like feature at the eastern end. This eastern feature contained cremated remains, and an unburned but headless skeleton of an adult female. The skull was found in the gallery next to the skeletons of an adult male and child. The remains of these three individuals were radiocarbon dated, the results revealed that they appeared to have been interred separately between 2456–1776 BC.
Folklore has always helped to protect some of Ireland's ancient sites. At Labbacallee, local legend tells the story that long ago four men went during the night to dig for gold that they believed to be buried inside the tomb at Labbacallee. As soon as they started to dig, a strange cat with fire erupting from its tail appeared, the men were terrified and dazzled by the blinding light coming from the tail of this hellish cat and they panicked, running across the fields fleeing for their lives, and in their confusion fell into the nearby River Funshion. One of the men drowned, but the others lived to pass on the warning not to disturb the ancient dead at Labbacallee!
The tomb is quite easy to find, from Glanworth simply head south on the R512 and take the first left after the church. The site is about 2km down this road. It will be on your left hand side behind a small stone wall. There is room to pull in off the road in front of the monument. There are a number of other great sites to see nearby, including lovely Glanworth itself with its Castle and Friary, and nearby you can also find the wonderful Bridgetown Priory.
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All photographs © Neil Jackman / abartaaudioguides.com