Tibradden Mountain

Tibradden Mountain is one of the more popular and manageable hikes on the Dublin Mountains Way, with relatively moderate slopes leading to a broad, flat summit, approximately 470m (1570 feet) above sea level. Despite its relatively modest height, hikers are rewarded with views spanning Dublin Bay and south of the city. The woods at the base of the mountain are part of a Coillte forestry plantation of Sitka Spruce, though patches of old pine woods planted in 1910 can still be seen. Heather, furze, gorse and bilberry grow in abundance and, if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of sika deer, foxes or badgers. The upper slopes are covered with blanket bog, where it is possible to spot red grouse among the heather. The name Tibradden is thought to derive from Tigh Bródáin, meaning ‘Brodáin’s House’– a possible reference to the cairn on the summit.

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An aerial view of Tibradden Cairn and a pathway along the mountain.

Aerial view of Tibradden Cairn on Tibradden Mountain • Dublin

The Burial Place of a Once Mighty King?

mass rock on tibradden mountainDetail of the Mass Rock on Tibradden Mountain

Tibradden Mass Rock with faint engravings [tap image to see markings highlighted] • Dublin

mass rock on tibradden mountainDetail of the Mass Rock on Tibradden Mountain

Tibradden Mass Rock with faint engravings • Dublin

‘Mournful today is virginal Ireland
Without a mighty king in command of hostages;
It is to view the heaven and not to see the sun
To behold Niall’s plain without Niall…’

The name ‘Cill-Mosamhog’ has often been misidentified with Kilmashogue, leading to the legend of Niall being buried in the cairn here. However it is far more likely that Cill-Mosamhog was Kilmainham, and that the battle took place close to the main Viking stronghold there. Other accounts suggest that Niall was taken from the battlefield and buried at the monastery of Kells in County Meath. So it is unlikely that Niall was interred here, though it is a truly beautiful and suitably elevated place for such an important king.

Close to the cairn, around 80m to the south, a cross is inscribed on a rock outcrop. The cross is incised into the large granite rock, and displays expanded terminals. A crowned figure with upraised arms is also recorded at the site. The figure is said to be adjacent to the cross, though it is difficult to discern in poor light conditions. Given the isolated setting, it may represent a ‘Mass Rock’ from the 17th or 18th century, an altar for priests celebrating the then prohibited Catholic Mass. The isolated location would help them and their congregation to avoid the punitive Penal Laws.

Upper left: Tibradden Cairn • Lower left: The Mass Rock with an engraving of a cross. Beside the cross, but more faintly, is a figure with its arms raised and wearing a crown • Right: pathway on Tibradden Mountain

Top: Tibradden Cairn • Middle: pathway on Tibradden Mountain • Bottom: The Mass Rock with an engraving of a cross. Beside the cross, but more faintly, is a figure with its arms raised and wearing a crown

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