North: Standing-stone see under Moyvoughley, county Westmeath
S 230 900
3.2 km NNW of Borris-in-Ossory,
6.4 km ENE of the beautiful early monastic site of Mona Incha,
50 metres from a by-road in a field on the opposite side of
the road from a ruined church and 200 metres W of it, is a quartzite
boulder measuring 1.5 by 1.6 metres by 60 cms high, with 4 bullauns
from 20 to 28 cms deep and 25 to 45 cms wide, and another small
half-bullaun. Known as "St Molua's Stone" it is associated
with (but probably pre-dates) the nearby monastic site.
~ 6.5 km SSW (4 km
SW of Borris-in-Ossory on sheet 60) is Skirk Castle (S
219 840), an Anglo-Norman motte-and-bailey whose bailey (yard)
is a circular henge, adapted for mediæval military use. In the
centre is a large conglomerate standing-stone, some 2.2 metres
high and very phallic
from one angle.
~ About 9 km SW of Clonfertmulloe, and 8 km WSW of Borris-in-Ossory
(S 193 838, sheet 60) are "The
Timoney Stones" - see under county Tipperary.
N 043 297
middle of a field about 4 km E of the celebrated monastic site
of Clonmacnois, near Clonfinlough Catholic church, stands a
large, flattish boulder of Carboniferous sandstone over 3 metres
long by 2.5 wide, embedded in the side of an esker. It is thickly
covered with deeply-incised designs, mostly in the form of cup-marks
and elongated crosses, and a design dubbed "The Split Year"
(by H. Wirth, 1936): a circle divided in two halves by a vertical
line. These occur among solution-pits, some of them foot-shaped.
Whether in fact it is prehistoric has been debated. It is certainly
not beautiful - unlike the nearest comparison, at Carrowreagh
in county Donegal
(see under Magheranaul ). But when photographed by Ken
Williams it is magically transformed, and can be declared
a genuine prehistoric artefact.
South of the road between
the R.442 and the R.400, just south of Clonbulloge (Laois),
a remarkable hammer-headed or mushroom-shaped erratic stands
in the middle of a field. A 30 cm deep oval depression in the
W side is reminiscent of similar depressions in stones at Ballynoe
in Down and at the Wicklow stone circles.
N 202 013
In the heart of the
Slieve Bloom 'mountains', this massive Fiddler's Stone is
not marked on the OS map but is easy to spot, close to the road
opposite a parking area for the Slieve Bloom trail. It is 1.3
metres high and 1.7 metres wide.
photo by Tom Nelligan
N 172 269
An ancient trackway,
paved with huge blocks of stone, leads around the south of the
ruined twelfth-century St. Manchán's church which incorporates
some Romanesque fragments in the S window, and a fragment of
an ogam inscription in the N wall. Following this takes you
to some other monuments associated with the 7th century monastery.
The first of these is a bullaun
stone which sits outside the entrance to St. Manchán's
Well. It is a large flat-topped stone, with an irregular, rounded
outline. The single bullaun is quite massive measuring about
45 cm across. When it was discovered it was surrounded by crushed
iron ore indicating that it may have been used in the preparation
stages of iron smelting.
Opposite the National School building and outside the graveyard,
built into the wall surrounding the tree in the centre of the
road is another bullaun stone: a flat slab measuring 100 by
50 cm with the bullaun (20 cm in diameter and hemispherical)
carved in its centre.There is a crack running across the entire
width of the stone, through which bindweed grows.
Hidden beneath a bramble-thicket
by the roadside, some 7 km SE of Timahoe (Laois), is a fine
example of a megalithic kist, with a slipped roofstone measuring
2.5 x 2.2 metres, and a chamber about 1.4 metres deep. Behind
the backstone some dry-stone walling is visible. To the E are
the tops of some stones which may be remnants of a surrounding
N 380 224
4.8 km SE of Tullamore
(Offaly) and 800 metres W of Meelaghans crossroads, 400 metres
S of a level crossing in a circular copse of thorn trees, approachable
by a muddy lane and across two fields, "The Nine-Hole Stone"
is a large sunken boulder now surrounded by a little wall. Its
exposed surface (1.8 metres in diameter) displays 6 perfectly-formed
up to 30 cms in diameter and half as deep. A seventh is unfinished,
and two further natural depressions make up the nine holes.
~ In another little
copse just beyond is another larger and higher boulder containing
a single bullaun 35 cms in diameter. Unlike the others it does
not hold water, due to a fracture in the limestone.