SELECTED SITES IN
Place-names in italics refer to listed entries.
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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.
In the 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.
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.
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.
~ At Boher Church, to the E is St. Manchán's Shrine.
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 stone circle.
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
bullauns 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.