Visits For April, 2009

Saturday, 4th April 2009

Finally - I Manage To Get Out And About

March 2009 was the first month in 8 years that I did not manage to go out and see a site. This was due to work pressures and (much more importantly) becoming a grandfather!!!! Welcome to this crazy, mixed up world Aaron. I hope it sorts itself out before you know what's going on.

I was lucky enough to go on a trip to Malta in February with a group from Sligo IT. We had a great time there - something it's not hard to do if you're interested in Neolithic remains. Watch out for a few pages on this trip in my Beyond These Shores section soon. I say 'soon', but I still have a trip to Spain to write up and that's from a very long time ago. I will endeavor to get these written up ASAP.

Today's trip took me to Sligo. The excuse was to meet up with the group that I went to Malta with and have a few pints. It was great to see them all again. I also met (or re-met in some cases) some Dublin-based archaeologists.

For many years I've looked at Kesh Mountain and wanted to climb it. The cairn on the top looks massive from afar and there's the caves on the slopes below, too. On one of the adjacent hillocks there is also a cruciform passage tomb that I've always wanted to get to. So, today I had no excuse. I'll not be going up Kesh again! It's a steep old walk. Apparently, I went the hard way, which is up from the caves.

The cairn has tremendous views. While I was on top of this hill Ken Williams was in Carrowkeel across the valley looking at Cairn B and forgetting his tripod. Myself and Ken met up later for a bite to eat and then went off to see a very, very strange court tomb overshadowed by Benbulben and overlooking Sligo Bay.

The evening went well with much drinking of pints and talk of old stones. I had an early night, because the morning after I was heading for County Mayo. Yes, work on the next book, Monu-Mental About Prehistoric Mayo has begun in earnest.

Kesh Caves - Keshcorran (Co. Sligo)Cave7 New Images
Keshcorran (Co. Sligo)Cairn7 New Images
Carnaweelaun - Carnaweeleen (Co. Sligo)Passage Tomb10 New Images
Cummeen (Co. Sligo)Court Tomb15 New Images

Sunday, 5th April 2009

No Hangover, So I Can Visit Some Sites In Mayo

I'd spent the night in a Sligo hotel after a get together with the crowd I'd visited Malta with in February. I was careful not to indulge too much as I'd made plans to visit Achill Island for the day. Although I had not taken too much alcohol I hadn't managed to retire early, so I decided that I was too tired for such a long drive. North Mayo was the simpler option.

I had made a list of sites that I'd either half-visited or had never managed to visit and set off. On my list were two ruined portal tombs and a selection of court tombs. One of these court tombs is one of only two or three with its layout and another of them is buried in a peat bog. I didn't hold out much hope of finding the latter, as these are very difficult to find. However, I did find it!

While I was looking to find one site a farmer told me of Polladarky , a natural wonder that I just had to go and see for myself (it can be seen on OS map 23 at G 068 410). This is a large 'pot' some 40m deep and at least 75m across into which the sea rushes through a small archway. Obviously, this was at one time a cave whose roof fell in. To stand near to the (but not too near) and watch the sea churn through the opening is a sight I'll not forget. This has to be one of Ireland's best kept natural secrets!

Ballybeg (Co. Mayo)Court Tomb8 New Images
Carn (Co. Mayo)Cairn8 New Images
Ballyglass (Co. Mayo)Court Tomb5 New Images
Sralaghagh (Co. Mayo)Court Tomb9 New Images
Ballyknock (west) (Co. Mayo)Portal Tomb4 New Images
Ballyknock (east) (Co. Mayo)Portal Tomb3 New Images
Muingelly (Co. Mayo)Court Tomb4 New Images
Muingelly (Co. Mayo)Standing Stone3 New Images

Sunday, 12th April 2009

Boleycarrigeen Cleared At Last

For many, many years we have waited for Boleycarrigeen stone circle in Wicklow to be released from the pine plantation that has surrounded it for so many years. Not too long ago this finally happened. I couldn't wait to get down there and check out the views. It was not a disappointment!

Take the time to visit the site now. I know it will take a while for the replanted plantation to block the views again, but the place is so wonderful now it's exposed. If you've been there before you will be amazed at how big the monument it. The overhanging trees made the circle feel so small, but it's not.

I hope they don't replant so close that the trees block the views from the circle again. This is a site that simply made to be sat at by people who want great views.

Boleycarrigeen (Co. Wicklow)Stone Circle16 New Images
St. Brigit's Chair - Cloghnagaune (Co. Wicklow)Grave or Cross Slab6 New Images

Sunday, 19th April 2009

Four Bullauns And A Pub (And Some More Bullauns)

Recently a friend, Andy Ryan, stopped at The Moone High Cross pub in Kildare and had a meal. Whilst sitting outside he noticed a large boulder by the door that was being used as an ashtray. Looking closer he realised that it was a bullaun stone. Then he noticed another stone over the road - surely it couldn't be. Oh yes ... another bullaun stone. Speaking to the landlady he learnt that there were two more in one of the beer gardens. Wow. Four, previously unrecorded, bullaun stones. Great spot Andy. Obviously, as soon as I heard about them I had to go and see them.

Speaking to the landlord myself I learnt that the two outside the front came from somewhere near Castledermot, while the other two were more local. Amazing. It could be that it was religious practice at these four stones that attracted early Christians to Moone and Castledermot.

As well as these four bullauns I went to see two others: one at a well and one in a great roadside position. On the way home I stopped at the Mullamast Longstone and rath and Old Kilcullen church yard to take advantage of the amazing light.

St. Brigit's Well - Morett (Co. Laois)Holy Well2 New Images
Morett (Co. Laois)Bullaun Stone4 New Images
Killone (Co. Laois)Bullaun Stone6 New Images
Moone High Cross Hotel I - Bolton Hill (Co. Kildare)Bullaun Stone4 New Images
Moone High Cross Hotel II - Bolton Hill (Co. Kildare)Bullaun Stone4 New Images
Moone High Cross Hotel III & IV - Bolton Hill (Co. Kildare)Bullaun Stone6 New Images
Mullamast Long Stone (Co. Kildare)Standing Stone3 New Images
Mullamast (Co. Kildare)Ring Fort6 New Images
Kilgowen (Co. Kildare)Standing Stone6 New Images
Old Kilcullen (Co. Kildare)High Cross4 New Images
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