'Church Mountain' : Passage Tomb

TownlandSlieve Gad
CountyWicklow
Grid RefN 948 013
Longitude6° 35' 9.69" W
Latitude53° 3' 14.29" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownDonard (4 Km)
OS Sheet56
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 18th May 2003

The climb up here is mad! 350m almost vertically from the road, but what a climb and what views you are welcomed with each time you stop to take a breather. Looking to the west you can see right across Kildare and as far as Slieve Bloom in Laois and beyond into Tipperary. To the south you get great views of Keadeen and the surrounding mountains.

As I reached the top the wind picked up, but luckily the rain stayed away. I was nearly blown over at the top. The wind was so fierce at one point that I could not breath. The last 200m to the ever enlarging cairn seemed to take ages. The whole climb took over an hour ... I am so unfit!

On reaching the remains of the cairn I was amazed to see how big it was. At least the height of it was surprising, at over 3m tall. The inside has been scooped out and at some point a very early church was built in the centre, hence the name of the mountain. I sat in the ruins of a clochan for a while and recovered.

The views to the south are fantastic. You can see the Brusselstown Ring (County Wicklow) very clearly. To the north you look right along the edge of Wicklows. Westward you have fantastic views right over Kildare.

The wind is still very strong as I scramble about investigating the foundations of the church and the other structures. I think three large stones set just off centre may be the remains of a burial chamber. If so it would indicate that the passage would have faced southwest, towards the cairns on Spinans Hill. My waterproof trousers keep ballooning up making me look like an extra from a MC Hammer video ....

The cairn is very large, at least 25m across. The church remains are scant and getting overgrown.

The weather's closing in....time to go. I made it two thirds of the way down before it started to really pour with rain and then hail! I owe my new waterproof leggings a bit debt of gratitude (even if they do make me look stupid!)

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About Coordinates Displayed

This is an explanation of (and a bit of a disclaimer for) the coordinates I provide.

Where a GPS figure is given this is the master for all other coordinates. According to my Garmin these are quite accurate.

Where there is no GPS figure the 6 figure grid reference is master for the others. This may not be very accurate as it could have come from the OS maps and could have been read by eye. Consequently, all other cordinates are going to have inaccuracies.

The calculation of Longitude and Latitude uses an algorithm that is not 100% accurate. The long/lat figures are used as a basis for calculating the UTM & ITM coordinates. Consequently, UTM & ITM coordinates are slightly out.

UTM is a global coordinate system - Universal Transverse Mercator - that is at the core of the GPS system.

ITM is the new coordinate system - Irish Transverse Mercator - that is more accurate and more GPS friendly than the Irish Grid Reference system. This will be used on the next generation of Irish OS maps.

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