Irish Genius
Some Spared Stones of Ireland


irish prehistoric tombs:

court-tombs

portal-tombs

passage-tombs

wedge-tombs


stone circles


petroglyphs
(rock art)


standing-stones


stone forts, crannógs & souterrains


ogam-stones &
cross-pillars


cross-pillars
& cross-slabs


enigmas of the irish crosses


sweathouses


ireland
& the phallic continuum


satan in the groin

 

the earth-mother's
lamentation


east of brittany:
megaliths of western and southern france


génie
française


about this CD


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OGAM STONES

& CROSS-PILLARS



Aghascrebagh, county Tyrone


When ogam writing was introduced (probably to Ireland from Wales, though perhaps it was the other way round, or yet again simultaneous) just before Christianity arrived, some long-standing stones were used for inscriptions which were mostly memorials of named people. The word 'ogam' is derived from Oigmiú, the smith-god who became the script-god. Another aspect of the smith-god is Nuadú of the silver arm (and horned helmet) whose statue (formerly in Armagh Cathedral) is a motif of this site.

He is shown holding his prosthesis. His maiming recalls that of Hephaistos, the smith-god of the Greeks.

Ogam, essentially notches, was admirably designed for carving by adze or axe on beams and large chunks of wood as well as by chisel or even axe on stone. The alphabet was designed in four groups of five letters, thus:



(V can also be read as F)

Detail of one of several stones at Dunloe, county Kerry


A typical inscription has the name of the person to be remembered, plus MAQI MUCOI ('son of the people of'), followed by the name of an ancestor or divinity.


click for more

Coláiste Íde, Burnham, county Kerry


Drumlohan, county Waterford
click on the picture to see another Waterford stone

Few are now entirely legible, due to weathering and other damage. The letters on the above stone have been enhanced by charcoal, which (unlike chalk) very quickly washes away.



Ogam-stone formerly in a private garden in Donard, county Wicklow.
Now on the village green, the inscription is almost illegible.


As with standing-stones, an ogam-inscribed stone can be quite small. One, at Aghascrebagh in county Tyrone is only 1.5 metres high,


Lugnagappul, county Kerry

Lugnagappul, county Kerry

while three in the Field of Blood (Parc na Foladh) at Lugnagappul on the Dingle Peninsula, are less than one metre high. As with standing-stones and other prehistoric monuments, white quartzite pebbles are at their base.

Following the uniquely peaceful Christianisation of Ireland, it was not long before Christian crosses appeared on ogam stones. The Dingle Penininsula has dozens of cross-pillars and cross-inscribed ogam stones, of all shapes and sizes.

Ballinvoher, county Kerry

Ballintaggart, county Kerry


Arraglen, county Kerry - with quartzite pebbles


click for larger photo

Maumanorig, county Kerry
click for a larger picture


Cross-inscribed ogam stones are usually associated with Celtic monasteries which, before the Westernisation of the Coptic-inspired Irish church (which was not completed until long after the Normans were invited over), were run by hereditary abbots.


Ratass, county Kerry


Perforated, ogam-inscribed pillarstone,
with crude cross in front of 12th century church, Kilmalkedar, county Kerry

In Killaloe Cathedral (county Clare) there is a bilingual stone bearing a dedication to a Norse warlord in Old Norse runes and ogam,

while at the great monastery of Clonmacnois one of the many gravestones or pillow-stones for deceased monks bears the name Colman in both ogam and modern characters.


 

Ogam faded out after the arrival of Christianity, and pillar-stones became more elaborately carved with cruciform and cycliform designs. These are discussed on the page entitled
Cross-pillars and Cross-slabs


Kilfountan, county Kerry






CROSS-PILLARS
AND CROSS-SLABS


back to part one

 

 


visit a specialised
OGAM WEBSITE
which includes a stone bearing identical inscriptions in Ogam and in Viking runes.

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