Magh Slécht

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Magh Slécht (pronounced Maw shlaykht) is the name of an historic plain in Ireland. It comprises an area of about three square miles (8 km²) situated in the south-eastern part of the Parish of Templeport, Barony of Tullyhaw and County of Cavan. It is bounded on the south by Templeport Lough, on the north by Slieve Rushen mountain, on the east by the Woodford canal, and on the west by the Blackwater River. Magh Slécht formed part of the Province of Connacht until the 16th century when it was made part of the Province of Ulster.

It was originally named Magh Senaig (the plain of the hill-slope) and under this guise is mentioned in The Metrical Dindshenchas [1] in the story of the Dagda, Corrgenn and Ailech, wherein it states the Corrgenn travelled from Tara to Lough Foyle in the Inishowen peninsula via Mag Senaig. In Pre-Christian times the small area where the Crom Cruaich idol stood at Kilnavert was originally named Fossa Slécht or Rath Slécht and it is from this small location that the wider Magh Slécht area received its name. In 1911 BC during the reign of Fodbgen, the Firbolg High-King of Ireland, the name Magh Senaig was changed to Magh Slécht (The plain of prostrations) as it became the nationwide centre of the cult of the god Crom Cruaich. Another name for the plain was Magh Lecet or Magh Leced. The ancient Irish prayed by prostrating themselves in a similar fashion to today's Muslims, i.e. by kneeling down on both knees and touching the forehead against the earth. The plain is not flat but consists of little drumlin hills. However as it is surrounded by mountains it is a plain in comparison. In the old Irish tale "The Siege of Druim Damhgaire or Knocklong" (Forbhais Droma Dámhgháire), one of King Cormac Mac Art's druids was called Cecht of Magh Slécht.


This area has been in constant occupation from pre-4000 BC up to the present day, as is evidenced by the huge number of ancient monuments which still survive. In a small area of 3 square miles (7.8 km2) there are over 80 monuments of different types, with many others bound to be discovered by future archaeological searches. It is the densest grouping of such monuments in County Cavan and possibly in Ireland. Included are

The area was first inhabited by Neolithic hunter-gatherers who arrived via the river (originally called the Gráinne river & now canalised as the Woodford Canal or the Shannon-Erne Waterway). The first named inhabitants were the Masraige tribe who ruled Magh Slécht until they were conquered by the Uí Briúin tribe in the 8th century AD. The Masraighe were also called the Sons of the Liath or the Tuatha Slécht and Magh Slécht was sometimes called Liathmhuine. The descendants of the Ui Briuin are now called the McGovern clan and are still the most numerous surname in the area.

Historical events[edit]

The main events in the history of Magh Slécht as listed in the ancient sources are

  1. The Journey of Corrgenn through Mag Senaig in 2000 BC
  2. The killing of Regan, the Formorian at Tomregan in 1860 BC
  3. The death of the High King of Ireland, Tigernmas & 4,000 of his followers in the Seventh Plague of Ireland while worshipping Crom Cruaich on 31 October (Samhain, Halloween), 1413 B.C. His grave there is marked by a standing stone
  4. The Battle of Tuaim Drecain (Tomregan) in 1342 BC by the High King Eochaid Faebar Glas
  5. The murder of the Ulster hero Conall Cernach in the 1st century BC at Ath na Mianna (Ballyconnell). His grave is supposedly marked by a hilltop cairn
  6. The Battle of Magh Slecht in 80 AD by the High King Tuathal Techtmar
  7. The killing of the druid Cecht of Magh Slécht in 230 AD by the Army of Munster
  8. The destruction of the idol Crom Cruach (The phallic La Tène Killycluggin Stone) by Saint Patrick in the 5th century AD and the founding of a church there at Fossa Slécht under St. Banban the Wise.
  9. The murder of King Conall Gulban of Donegal by the Masraige in 464 AD
  10. The birth of St. Dallan Forgaill the Chief Ollam of Ireland in c.530 AD
  11. The birth of St. Mogue (also known as Saint Aidan of Ferns) in 550 AD
  12. The foundation of the University of Tuaim Drecain (Tomregan) by the Synod of Drumceat in 584 AD
  13. The murder of the relatives of King Báetán mac Muirchertaig in 620 AD (Annals of Ulster)
  14. The Battle of Magh Slécht in 1256 AD, between a united BreifneConnacht force and the forces of House Burke. [1]


  1. ^ Poem 25 Ailech III

External links[edit]