This is the stone that legendary Ulster warrior Cù Chulainn tied himself to as he died. Tricked by Queen Medb into breaking one of his geiss (a religious taboo), he was weakened before his final battle. Cù Chulainn was mortally wounded and tied himself to this stone by his own entrails so that he would die on his feet. His enemies were so afraid of him that they kept their distance even as he was dying. They would only appraoch when a raven landed on his shoulder, signifying his death.
As I stood in the field by this stone three ravens flew directly overhead. I could hear others cawing all around.
Cù Chulainn was our Hercules. He went through all sorts of trials. He defended Ulster when its men were struck down by a curse of labour pains, given to them after the King of Ulster made his wife race a horse while she was pregnant. It makes me think about the men of Ulster now, emasculated in this time just as they were during the Cattle Raid of Cooley, when Cù Chulainn stepped up.
Who stands for Ulster now? The British government does what it wants here, while Sinn Fein and the DUP line their own pockets, complicit in their inaction.
History moves in cycles. Where is our Cù Chulainn now?
A couple approached the stone as I left. They were holding hands. I climbed the fence out of the field and cast my eyes back for one last look at the stone. The couple were leaning up against the stone kissing. Love and life and life and death are all intrinsically linked.
Is Stormont something that should be destroyed to bring new life? Does Ulster need a hero to bring about that death? Would new life elsewhere cause Stormont’s death naturally?
There is certainly instability ahead. No one knows what will happen when Brexit kicks in. If direct rule happens the old power structures, in the form of paramilitaries, are already waiting in the wings to fill any void.
No paramilitary or political party is relevant to me.
I drove into Dundalk after the stones and was struck by the amount of tricolours on lampposts. Gerry Adams has an office here. Despite having just visited the death place of the greatest Celtic hero in Irish mythology, I felt very much like an outsider. I may not like the British government, but that does not make me a green, white and gold flag waver, nor have ever taken communion. I don’t sign up to the Catholic church’s or Sinn Fein’s hijack on Irish identity. I don’t know the rules of hurling, but I know how to swing a bat. The Celts of these islands had more in common with each other than a Roman church or a middle Eastern deity.
It makes me wonder at what point did the Scots stop helping the Irish against the British and start helping the British against the Irish? After all, the Scots are mostly the Irish who invaded Alba and stayed there. The Ulster Scots are those who came back. We were split by Christian churches playing a game of divide and conquer; a game going on to this day with different beneficiaries.