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Frederic William Burton - The Meeting on the Turret Stairs, 1864
The Meeting on the Turret Stairs, 1864
Frederic William Burton
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CelticShamrock Gifts


A Magic Moment: Mysticism or What?

The River Blackwater at Dromana

The Munster Blackwater

by Suzanne Barrett

A few years ago, I visited County Waterford and stayed in a charming mews cottage in Cappoquin. The landlady proved very helpful, taking me out to see local sights, the ruins at Villierstown, perched high above the water, a field of ogham stones, the Dromana Gate. In addition, my enterprising landlady baked loaves of delicious wholemeal bread for my breakfast, let me feed the barnyard chickens as the sun shone weakly in the crisp morning air. It was wintertime, a time for reflective walks along the banks of the River Blackwater, a time to tramp under leafless trees and marvel at the still-green carpet of grass in fields everywhere, a time to soak up the warmth of a turf fire and enjoy conversing with newly met friends.Dromana Gate, Villierstown

While chatting one evening, she told me about a local phenomenon--a magic hill in the Comeraghs where a car driven down would reverse back up the hill without help from the driver. She said that news of the magic hill spread among the locals as early as mid 1987. Many, themselves included, went to see and experience the strange occurance.

By mid-1987 RTE, the national broadcasting station, did a story about the hill with presenter Ronan Collins visiting the Comeraghs to test the hill for himself. A few days later, the story went out on national radio. Too amazing to let pass, I decided to see for myself. Following breakfast the next morning, I set out to see this quirk of nature.

Rule one: don't trust the directions. Everything takes longer to get to than you think.

Rule two: do not attempt this after drinking two cups of coffee. The drive is somewhat lengthy, the comfort facilities nonexistent.

I drove up from Dungarvan, made all the wrong turns, but eventually found the spot about two hours later. I approached the hill from the opposite direction of the below-mentioned instructions. Once at the hawthorn (more bush than tree), I took the car out of gear, switched off the engine and watched in amazement as my vehicle rolled up the hill! I tried again, reversing down to the hawthorn. Again the car rolled uphill.

Ogham stone near CappoquinIf you wish to visit the area, which is forested land controlled by the Waterford County Council, the best route is to take the road out of Clonmel up the mountain past the Clonmel Golf Club and out over the mountain to Rathgormack (in County Waterford). Continue past a first road sign that reads Mahon Bridge to a second road sign announcing Mahon Falls. Turn right and drive approximately a mile and three-quarters until you reach two stone pillars flanking a cattle guard. Beyond this stands a scraggly hawthorn. Stop here, turn off your car's engine and take it out of gear. The car will reverse up the hill of its own accord.

One theory for the phenomenon is that there's a magnetic field under the hill, however, taped conversations have been recorded on the hill--an impossibility if this were true. A second theory is that beneath the hill is a loadstone (used in ancient mariners' compasses).

An elderly local said the pull on the hill is the pull of angry fairies who once had a fort of the hill and who resent people and their vehicles coming there.

Perhaps the terrain is deceptive; what appears to be an ascent, really is a descent. Whatever the answer, this is an amazing occurance and well worth the visit. The area is one of outstanding natural beauty.

Until next time.

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Real Ire - Irish Cottages
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