Labbacallee : Wedge Tomb

Grid RefR 772 025
GPSR 77163 02481 (8m)
Longitude8° 20' 1.86" W
Latitude52° 10' 25.65" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownGlanworth (2 Km)
OS Sheet73
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 23rd June 2002

This is one of the largest wedge tombs there is and it is absolutely huge! The front chamber is covered by just 2 stones, the largest of which is nearly 8m in length and must weigh 10 tons. The smaller one is cracked and supported by a brick column. To the rear of this is a smaller chamber, separated from it by a slab from which one corner has been trimmed, which is covered by a single slab.

The rear wall of the smaller chamber has buttresses set at right angles to it giving it a very arty design look.

To the front, separated from the main chamber by a large slab, is the remains of a very large portico that I could have probably stood up in.

You can still see remnants of the U-shaped cairn kerb around it. Weir has compared it to the French gallery graves.

The name of the tomb derives from 'Leaba Caillighe' - the Hag's Bed.

I was still thinking about this tomb for several hours after I moved on. It is a monster and made me feel like I was on the set of the Incredible Shrinking Man or something.

A real must see site.

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Saturday, 12th April 2003

When you're passing near to Ireland's largest wedge tomb you can't help but stop off, even when you've already seen it. Not too bad a spot to have something to eat (as long as you take your rubbish away with you!).

It's odd but I wasn't as impressed with it as the first time I saw it. Perhaps this is because I've already seen it or perhaps it's because the weather was so dull. The stones looked lifeless and fossil-like today, the last time they looked 'happier' somehow - it must have been the weather.

Wedge tombs are most easily catagorised by their main characteristic - they are taller and wider at the entrance than they are at the rear. Like court tombs they have a gallery which is split either by septal slabs or sill stones into smaller chambers. Galleries can be anything up to 8m in length.

The side walls are, uniquely, made of two rows of stones (three in some cases), which is refered to as double or triple walling. This double walling is perhaps the best feature to identify a wedge tomb by.

The roofs are constructed by laying large blocks or slabs across the gallery, resting on the tops of the walls.

They are often quite small, an amazing exception being Labbacallee (County Cork), one of the largest in Ireland. It is very rare to find a wedge tomb with its roof still in situ, although, occasionally, one or two of the roof slabs are present (see Proleek (County Louth)).

In some examples the roof would have extended beyond the front closing slab forming a portico at the front, which in a few specimens was split by a vertical stone place centrally in the entrance.

Like court tombs, portal tombs and passage tombs they were covered by a cairn, which, at many sites, it is still often possible to determine. A few, such as Burren SW (County Cavan), still retain a large proportion of the cairn.

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Sunday, 28th March 2004

Back again? Oh yes! I think the enormity of this tomb is worth the 20 minute detour if you're in or around Fermoy. The main purpose of this stop was to see if I could photograph the whole of the front of the tomb, without the fence being in the way, with my newly acquired wide-angle lens. Yes I could! Superb.

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Saturday, 9th July 2005

You have to love this place. It's so close to the road that visiting it is so easy. I just wish they'd put a decent gate into the compound so that less able people could get up close!

While we were there we there a woman brought her two sons to see the tomb. Start 'em young! That's the way to help preserve our heritage for the future.

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Random Gazetteer

A Selection of Other Wedge Tombs

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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