Hill of Uisneach: Legendary Sacred Site and "Cat Stone"
or "Stone of Swoon"
N 290 485
of Uisneach is traditionally the centre of Ireland, and one
of the island's legendary places of power. Scattered about its
slopes are various raths, cashels, souterrains - and 'St Patrick's
Well and Bed', a rectangular platform or altar of stones on
one of the summits of the hill.
Stone (properly Aill na Mireann, Míorán
or Meadhrán meaning the stone of swoon, rapture,
or transporting dizziness) on the southern side of the hill
is a huge and impressive, crumbling, once-phalloid, natural
rock, surrounded by a small, shallow henge next to a beautiful
hawthorn glade, which contains other significant-looking, grooved
stones. Its trees are festooned with coloured (and fading) ribbons
left as meanly-modern offerings.
who wondered why I had not earlier included the site in this
gazetteer adds a modern footnote to the considerable folklore
attached to the Cat Stone:
"I had wanted to visit this
place since the summer of 1959, but was unable to do so until
August of 1978. My wife and I arrived at the Hill, but I could
not bring myself to go onto the site - at least not from the
road. I couldn't understand why, as I had travelled from Strokestown
specially to visit this stone.
But I got back into my car, and drove around until we came onto
the back of the hill, and for some reason all of my negative
feelings about the place disappeared, and we went up to the
Cat Stone, and somehow felt "right" about going to
It was a few years later that I found out that an ancient trackway
or slíghe led to the stone - and it was the correct
ritual approach to this ancient sacred site. An ancient geasa
or curse was attached to approaching it from the wrong direction..."
- Eadhmonn Ua Cuinn, 2003.
N 556 507
to a by-road, in a field behind a bungalow 1.7 km SW of Killucan,
a slab-like stone stands some 2 metres high by 1.5 metres wide.
km NE in Killucan,
immediately E of a by-road running S from the village, beside
three shamefully-neglected 16th century wayside-crosses in an
enclosure, is a bullaun-stone, some 1.2 metres across and 1
metre high, with a single deep bullaun nearly 30 cms in diameter.
~ 10 km
N by W in Johnstown (N 548 613) is another standing-stone,
only 1.2 metres high but nicely wedge-shaped, on an eminence
surrounded by marshy fields with views NNW towards the Loughcrew
passage-tombs of Slieve na Calliagh in Meath, is only 1.2 metres
N 187 430
In a field
to the SE of a by-road, 2.4 km N of Moate, this massive and
picturesque menhir -known as "Cloghstuckagh' - is about
2.75 metres high.
far to the NW, in Ballycloghduff, on a gatepost to a
driveway on a bend in the road (N 178 432) is a remarkable exhibitionist
male figure brandishing a key and holding (or pushing down)
his huge penis.
4.8 km NNW in Snimnagorta (N 209 475), 1.2 km S by W
of Ballymore, is another 'Cloghstuckagh' of similar dimensions
to the one at Moyvoughley.
photo by Pip Powell
About 9 km SW in county Offaly (N 222 339) is another
standing-stone at Bolart North, slab-like, in the middle
of a field, close to the road and nearly 3 metres high.
This stone has now
fallen - click to view.
15 km to the WSW in county Roscommon, (6 km WSW of Athlone)
in Mihanboy (M 986 403, Sheet 47) is a ruined portal-tomb,
originally supported on portals 2.3 metres high, whose backstone
has collapsed - thus causing the roof-stone to slide back, taking
the door-stone with it.