Ballapousta and the Ancient Road
This is a straightforward cache with parking a good country mile off the N2, three miles south of Ardee, Co Louth. Watch for the sign off the N2 and take the turn off for Ballapousta and find yourself at a country church and a round O (a rural roundabout), at a crossroads. An old schoolhouse and a new schoolhouse are nearby. I have included a waypoint for parking. The graveyard around the church is fairly substantial as it serves as the graveyard for the parish of Ardee. I notice recently (June 2014) that it has been surveyed and a directory of graves is now in place.
The scene is fairly typical for a country church at a crossroads, nothing unusual at first but a little digging below the surface reveals plenty of history and even some mythology. Ballapousta is not a recognised town land in itself although it is mentioned on some maps, but the area is known by this name. The question is why is this so? The answer possibly is related to the road on which the new school house is sited on and roughly runs roughly North/South by the church and the round O. This road is far older than it appears.
Historical documents state five great roads emanated (or indeed led to) the hill of Tara in Meath to and from various parts of Ireland: Slige Dala (to Ossory in Roscrea, Co Tipperary), Slige Assail (to Loch Owel near Mullingar, Co Westmeath), Slige Midluachra (to Dunseverick in North Antrim), Slige Cualann (to Bray, Co Wicklow) and Slige Mor (to Galway). The route of Slige Midluachra is believed to have followed the road here at Ballapousta. It extended from Tara through the Boyne Valley and its significant sites towards Drogheda. From there it went to Slane, through Grangegeeth, Smarmore, Ballapousta and crossing the Dee in Ardee. Its terminus was believed to have been Dunseverick in Co Antrim.
If you travel South from here on this road, you will indeed pass through Grangegeeth and emerge very near the hill of Slane.
If you travel North from here you will hit Ardee where there was a ford across the Dee, however the road disappears here for a while to emerge further North.
In later times it was used as a mail route and it is believed that the mail coach had a stop here at Bealach a’Phuist. (Way/Road of the Post). When I was younger and at school here, I remember an old man telling us that the area in the round O (containing two trees and a few daffodils) is the town land of Ballapousta, as the mail was thrown here or collected as the coach passed. This seems a bit romantic but it certainly could fit! If this is the case the area of the round O is easily the smallest town land in Ireland comprising little more than a few square meters and two large trees.
Two other places of interest are nearby. The church which is obvious, is dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria, the same Catherine that gives the firework wheel its name, and is also one of the fourteen holy helpers.
The church is built on a site that was chosen by a bird which dropped a piece of debris that it picked up from the previous church that collapsed before the end of its first mass. This previous church was situated a few fields away in what is known as the chapel field. This series of events was prophesied by a local sage; Drew. He also prophesied that a great treasure will be found one morning before sunrise on nearby Corracon. (He didn’t predict the GPS co-ords as far as I know, I keep you all informed!)
Corracon is a ridge that crosses the Southern extremity of the town land of Drakestown and is part of the hills of Smarmore. As you look south, the land raises towards Smarmore – towards the new school (Drakestown NS), ‘up’ the road so to speak, towards Grangegeeth and Slane.
The cache is a standard plastic box in a brown cover. Please be discreet and replace well. The Graveyard is well kept and busy and the caretaker is never far away. A lot of young inquisitive school muggles can be around at school start, break and end.
Ballapousta and the Ancient Road: added here with author, Brendan Roger’s permission