Disert - A Place Where Mythology and History Meets
Disert is a remote townland in the Bluestack Mountains in Co Donegal. For reasons that are not entirely clear, our ancestors have been drawn here for thousands of years. There is no question it is a special place.
Located in the shade of a sacred mountain - Carnaween - it was a site of pagan worship associated with some of the most famous figures in Irish mythology. There are stories relating to Finn MacCumhail (McCool), Diarmaid and Grainne in the surrounding area.
It was also used by early Irish Christians and medieval pilgrims. In the 18th century Catholics were drawn to Disert when their religion was suppressed by the penal laws. Even into the 20th century it was used as a cillín to bury unbaptised children. Today the local community continues to pray at the site.
The questions remains why? What is special about this site?
Over the last few years archaeologists led by Dr Fiona Beglane from Atlantic Technological University, Sligo have been excavating Disert to try and understand its complex story.
Her international team of archaeologists from the Institute for Field Research and California State University Los Angeles have made some fascinating discoveries.
Last summer I visited Disert to record an episode at the excavation. In this podcast Fiona shares what her team uncovered in this remarkable place...
Thanks to Dr Fiona Beglane for her time and archaeologist Rebekka Grace who arranged the recordings.