Often, as I drive around Ireland I happen upon lovely surprises along the side of the road that I never even knew existed. This happens to be one of them. The Gaelic Chieftain by Maurice Harron is a wonderful sculpture at the site of The Battle of Curlew Pass in Boyle, Co. Roscommon. Fought on the 15th of August 1599, this was one of the most important battles during the Nine Years’ War. It was fought between and English force under Conyers Clifford and Irish rebels under Hugh Roe O’Donnell, who ambushed the English while marching through the pass. It was a resounding win for Irish rebels in a war which ultimately resulted in the Flight of the Earls and the Plantation of Ulster.
Today, visitors can expect peace and tranquility around the Gaelic Chieftain which belies the area’s brutal history. I sat for a while and enjoyed the views over Lough Key on a Spring day. It is right beside a very busy main road, which does affect the peace a little, but it is on a raised site so the views compensate. Afterwards, I headed into the pretty local town of Boyle for a wander around. But equally Lough Key Forest Park is only down the road, and this is also a great place to visit for adults and children alike. Either way, the Gaelic Chieftain is a nice place to stop and admire the surrounding countryside if you are passing this way.