Newly-made walk to Ballybrittas Portal Tomb opens to the public

Wexford walkers and heritage enthusiasts have been given access to an incredible Archaeological Monument on the southern slopes of Bree Hill…

Ballybrittas Portal Tomb is now ready and waiting to be viewed by the public in all its glorious splendour. The Tomb was magnificently constructed in the Neolithic era, (the New Stone Age) by some of Wexford’s first farmers for a person of such high esteem in their local community. The Neolithic period introduced a new way of life for people, moving from a hunter/gatherer nomadic way of life to a more fixed farmstead existence.

Probably as a result of this fixed position a better bond between place and people existed and thus monuments like Ballybrittas portal tomb sprung up right across the country to honour the dead. Now a newly constructed pathway from Bree Hill walks to Ballybrittas tomb has been made and takes in a beautiful walk ending with an incredibly atmospheric area encompassing the burial monument.

Take a spin out to Bree village and park up where you can in the village. Take the Rock of Bree road, a small road in between the Church and the Shop and head out for the hill always keeping to that road. You will after a short while come across a small kink right and immediately sharp kink left followed by a kink right and then after another 120 metres or so there is another kink left at a small white bungalow. You will notice a small lane on your right shortly after beside a reddish brown and white gate. Proceed up the lane.  Soon you’ll be surrounded by beautiful Oak, Holly, Birch and Beach trees in the woodland. Heather and Gorse bring great colour to the forest floor.

As you come to a crossroads in the forest track proceed left. Pause at the clearing to view wonderful views of Forth Mountain to your South and lovely open farmland in between.  You will then come to a gorgeous wee Avenue-like part of the trail with large evenly spaced  Beech on your left and Holly on your right. As the trail widens into a bigger area, you’ll notice a  sign marking the Red Trail and Dolmen going downhill to your left. Head through the wooden gate and downhill. There are lovely Holly and Norway spruce trees here. As you look ahead you’ll have nice views of Raheennahoon hill and Carraigbyrne hill.

As you hit the bottom of the slope you’ll head through another wooden gate, but at this point take time to look right, perhaps to four o’clock in army terms to view Blackstairs Mountain and the Bran Scultair ridge of the Southern Blackstairs Mountains. As you move on you will pass by, and you will see Sloe bushes (with lots of berries for gin at this time of year) and gorgeous gnarled Hawthorn trees.

Head through a gateway with magnificent vernacular stone Gate piers. After five minutes or so following two kinks in the trail, one right and one left you will come across the only publicly-accessible Portal Tomb in the county.

The Ballybrittas Portal Tomb is an amazing structure complete with a very large and impressive capstone and several upright stones that make a portal tomb so easily identifiable. It was built between 4,000 and 2,500 B.C. and it is probably Wexford’s oldest standing structure.

The tomb would have been entered from the East with burial remains placed beneath the capstone in the ground enclosed by its rectangular chamber. It is an incredible monument and I was pleasantly surprised by how big it is.

I was very much in awe of the tomb and spent about 15 minutes looking at it from every angle and sitting down beside it to appreciate its gorgeous construction. It’s just a special place. Head for the car now and enjoy the walk home.

The walk will likely take over an hour in total, but please do make a morning of it or a sunny afternoon walk, because it’s worth it.

This is a must for all Archaeology and Heritage enthusiasts.

Read more about some of the best walks around Enniscorthy, Gorey, and Wexford here.

Byron Jones

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