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Proleek, Co. Louth
Location: From Dundalk, Take N 1 or N52 north (toward Newry). At the roundabout, watch for the signpost fpr
Ballymacscanlon House Hotel or R 173. From here, follow the signs for the Hotel/Golf Course, which will be on the left
side of the road. The Ballymacscanlon sits back from the road in a heavily treed spot.
Once in the substantial car park for the hotel, park and head toward the hotel building. To the left
of the hotel at the far end of the carpark, there should be a sign for the dolmen. If not, head down toward what looks
like a stable area. Continue on toward the golf course. Take a left path here and follow it across the course and to
the court tomb and finally to the dolmen at the end of the path. It is a long path, but not difficult to navigate as
it is paved most of the way.
Dimensions: The very substantial capstone of this dolmen is 3.8 meters by 3.2 meters and over a meter thick. It
has been estimated to weigh between 30 and 46 tons. This mushroom-like cap is supported by two portal stones, each
approximately 2.3 meters high and a 1.8 meter high backstone which is buttressed with a concrete and rock reinforcement.
Features: Because this monument has been photographed so often, it's silhouette is instantly recognizable. Even
so, it is still a surprisingly large dolmen. It is now oddly sited - exposed to the golf course on three sides. When
first approaching it via the pathway, it resembles a thick-stemmed mushroom with warts. The "warts" being the pebbles
that visitors have tossed onto the cap.
Comments: We would not have found this had we not known to enter the grounds of the Ballymacscanlon House
Hotel and Golf Course and to take the path near the hotel. There are several signposts in the general vicinity,
but the signs disappear at the point where they are most needed. It was a little disconcerting to have these two
(the court tomb and the dolmen) in such open places, but they are actually easy to access, despite a bit of a hike.
History: Of all the monuments recorded by Wright in the 1740s, Proleek Dolmen has changed the least.
It was built and used by one of the communities of people who inhabited Ireland in Neolithic and Early Bronze Age
(c.4000-1500 BC). Excavation of the tomb yielded the expected collective remains of individuals
(both cremated and un-cremated) accompanied by the fragmentary remains of pottery vessels, simple ornaments,
and stone implements. A number of pebbles are scattered atop the rounded capstone. Folklore in the area has it
that if you throw a rock onto the cap and it doesn't fall off, you will be married within a year.
The capstone is also known as the "Giant's Load" through another legend that tells of a Scottish giant, Parrah Boug
MacShagean, who carried it to this place. The legend also says that the giant is buried nearby.
Other Items of Interest: On the way to the dolmen, the path winds past
Proleek court tomb.