I Spotted this site from the road while driving in East Kildare and it looked interesting enough to prompt me to make a stop. I was pleased to find that there was an access gate as well!
Killen Cormac is named after King Cormac of Munster who as legend has it is buried beneath the mound. This ancient esker was formed over time into three layered terraces by the nearby River Greese. They are now pretty much ruinous. It is an unusual site that was used by both the Pagans and Christians as a burial place, so it has a very long history. The large mound is surrounded by a stone enclosure which was built by a local landlord in 1830. It was at this time that the trees that sprout from the hill were also planted. Around the base of the mound are what are thought to be iron-age pillar stones placed at intervals and several of these contain ogham inscriptions. One stone has an indentation in its top which again legend has it that a faithful hound belonging to Cormac leaped from his funeral cortege and landed on the stone making the mark of where Cormac was to be buried.The hill today is dotted with gravestones and on the summit there is a depression where it is believed that a medieval church stood which has long since gone to ground. Some unusual kerb stones around part of the base led belief that this was a portal tomb particularly because of the shape of it but it is now thought not to be the case. In the past a very important stone called the Drunides stone was discovered here, unusual that it has both Latin and ogham inscriptions upon it. It was later transported to reside at the national museum.
As mentioned access to the site is by way of a field gate and a short trek across pasture land. Naturally on land such as this there are cows (be wary of the numerous cow pats!) and where cows are present I always keep an eye out in case there is a bull, but these ladies all seemed docile and followed me in a group all the way to the enclosure wall. While I was inside they all gathered at the wall peering in at me like a large group of spectators. It was really quite amusing. There is a distinctly ancient atmosphere here and it does give the air of being an important historical site. whether Cormac is interred here or not is a moot point but I'd like to think it is the case. It is also a little creepy here aided and abetted by its somewhat isolated location and it wouldn’t be a place I’d feel at really at ease other than in broad daylight.
To find Killeen Cormac take the Junction 2 exit of the M9 and take the R418 heading West and after approx. 700m from the junction take a left hand turn onto the R448 signposted for Castledermot. Continue driving on the R448 for approx. 5km and you will eventually cross back over the M9 motorway. Once over the motorway bridge continue for another 2km until you see a left hand turn signposted for the L8082. Take this left turn and drive approx. 1.5km until you reach a T-Junction. (There is a ruined cottage opposite) Turn left at the junction and continue for approx. 800m and you will eventually spot the mound and enclosure wall on your right in a meadow. You can park at the field gate entrance.