Looking up at the Graves of the Leinstermen from across Lough Derg

Graves of the Leinstermen, Coolbaun, Tipperary

On the side of Tountinna mountain overlooking Lough Derg are the remains of a megalithic tomb dating from no later than the bronze age.

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It is a spectacular location and in legend is associated with a high-status Leinster king who was killed here with a small group of his men in the early eleventh-century. One story has it that the Leinster men were visiting Brian Boru in Kincora to pay tribute but became embroiled in a dispute ostensibly about a chess game. The Leinster men departed, but were caught up with by Brian’s men; a skirmish followed, and the Leinster men were killed.

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Another story says that the king was on his way to marry the daughter of Brian, but that Brian’s wife Gormfhlaith, who didn’t approve of the match, arranged to have the party ambushed on their way to Kincora. The reality, of course, is that the grave was here some 3000 years before the birth of Brian Boru. Very little is known of the tomb builders, their language, beliefs, or customs.

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