Tullaghoge Fort, Tulach Óc, meaning “hill of youth” or “mound of the young warriors”, is an ancient, ceremonial site that has probably been in use since Neolithic times. The Druids would have used this place to open sacred energy, to journey to other worlds, and for divination.
Later, for six hundred years until the early 17th century, the O’Neill’s used it as their place of inauguration, in itself a sacred ceremony, bringing Divine guidance and power to lead the people. This area, (Tyrone), was the last place of Gaelic law and practice in Ireland, ending at the time of the Flight of Earl Hugh O’Neill, following his defeat in battle.
Today, it is still a powerful place, where there are distinct energy spots and portals to be experienced. As you follow the ancient paths, time seems to unfold; to reel backwards. It’s a place where there is no time; a place of peace.
The Fort is at the top of a gentle climb, affording a view of the Sperrin mountains unfolding with each step. Near the top, a narrow path draws you in. The centre has an enclosure, 105 ft in diameter that is encircled by two others.
That there are three circles is significant, as three is the number of creation, and walking clockwise, three times, was used to open Divine and positive energies. Celtic Pagans would do this for someone they wished to give a blessing to. The blessing would honour the person, wish success to their mental endeavours, and pray for good, or a Divine touch to their soul. Each circular trip focused on one part of the Mind/Body/Spirit connection of the person being blessed. The concept of moving clockwise was considered as going with the flow or direction of life; connecting humankind to nature and the positive force that moving with this flow creates.
At Tullaghoge then, it makes sense that three circular paths were created to enable positive energy and blessings. Even today, walking clockwise on the outside path, it feels like time reeling back. This first path is enclosed by holly and apple trees bowed overhead, ancient symbols of abundance and longevity. This path is where the focus is on the ‘mind’ aspect is. The second path is wider and more open, it has a lighter sensation, almost asking you to walk a little faster and enjoy being in the physical body. The third, and inner circle, is like an amphitheatre, connecting to the highest energy of the soul. The inner circle has three very distinct energy points therein. This is where the main part of a blessing or ceremony would have greatest energy, or benefit.
In the central amphitheatre, there is a sense of warriors here, warriors who fought for peace, and now at rest. This is a place of gatherings too, a place of blessings and giving thanks, and a place of returning home to. The gathering, and assembly of the Tír Eoghain (Tyrone), people took place at this sacred site, to acknowledge a spiritual influence in their lives, to bring blessings, and to help ensure their clans and the Kings were granted abundance.
The divine right of kings is a political and spiritual doctrine, that grants legitimacy to the ruler. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving the right to rule directly from God. The origins of the theory are rooted in the medieval idea that God had bestowed earthly power on the king. Monarchs were seen as ordained by God, to serve not merely as political or military leaders, nor as figureheads—but rather to occupy a vital (and very real), spiritual place in their dominions. The inauguration of the O’Neill’s was rooted in sacred ceremony and power bestowed by Divine rule. This hilltop inauguration site offers panoramic views of the “betrothed” lands during the ceremony, adding to the sense of power being granted.
Gaelic rule ended here in the early 17th century, with the symbolic destruction of the leac na ri (“the flagstone of the kings”) by Lord Mountjoy, as part of the scorched-earth tactics to defeat Gaelic Rule at that time.
Today, this place still holds its spiritual power, it is deep and unseen. The feel of warrior is here, but these are old warriors, weary of battle and calling for peace and reconciliation. Their call for peace comes from experience; that of their knowing of the futility and loss of war. The sense of carnival and assembly of people in celebration can be felt in the air too. At times, I sense people gathering in celebration and thanks. Children play on the path. Drums beat in celebration. People hug, mothers greet sons, and others cheer with joy.
So take the walk up to the hill of youth. Walk the three paths, the paths of creativity, to unite mind body and spirit – yours and the collective spirit of the community. Sit for a while in the amphitheatre, be still, watch the leaves in the trees perform an eternal dance; overhead, the rooks circle and call to each other. Meditate and feel peace here. For we share the memories and experiences of those who have led the path before us to this place. And we can use that collective experience of this peaceful and spiritual site, to create a shared, peaceful, future too.
Coming here, to Tullaghoge “The Hill of Youth” or “Mound of the Young Warriors”, with its history, its spiritual creation and deep connections, invites contemplation and serenity. Reconnecting back through time, to our soul.
It’s a place that helps us to remember that we have come from a world that knows no time, and one day, like the warriors and Kings before us, we will return home.