Concentric Circle and Cup-marked Stone in Westmeath.
A short time ago Mr. George Kelly, m.a., of County Roscommon, mentioned to
me that he noticed a curious stone at the right side of the Ballymahon
road, a short distance outside the village of Rathcondra, that he thought
it would be worth looking up. A few weeks afterwards Mr. N. J.
Downes and I visited the district, and found at the place indicated
(Ballinlug near Rathconrath) a very good specimen of concentric circle
and cup ornamentation, incised on a large block of millstone grit. The
stone is of rather regular shape and not native of the district. It is
34 inches across, 19 inches in height, and 10 inches thick, and resembles
the kind of slab used for covering pagan cists, which are very numerous
in this part of Westmeath. Ballinlug is quite near Uisneach, and just a
mile off in the townland of Glascorn is the great Rath Lochaid, which
according to the Four Masters was erected in the time of Nial Faidh,
son of Eremon, a.m. 3529 (F. M., vol. i, page 37, identified in index
as Glascorn, Westmeath). The outermost of the concentric circles, of
which there are three, is 11 inches in diameter, the other 7 and
5 inches. The inside of the smallest circle is cup-hollowed to a depth of
about 1 inch. Running through the lower part of the circles is a radial
groove, which, however, might tend to show that it was not a cist-cover.
On the left are two diagonal grooves. There are Hive cup-markings at
the top right-hand corner, and two others near the top, over the circles.
So far as I know this is the first concentric circle ornament discovered in Westmeath.
Some years ago this stone was taken from the adjoining field and
used in the erection of the wall, the mason placing it with the carved
side inwards. In more recent times, the wall requiring ^to be rebuilt,
the carved side was turned outwards to face the road.
While we were engaged in taking a rubbing from the stone and
photographing it, about half a dozen persons came to look on. We told
them something about its history, and they at once became interested
and anxious to help us. This and similar experiences I have had show
me clearly that all that is wanted to secure the support of the people in
the preservation of our historic monuments is to tell them what the
monuments are and what they represent. In about a week after our
first visit we returned to the place, but the stone was gone. We were
certainly amazed. However, in a few minutes an old woman came on
the scene, and told us that Mr. Donohoe, who owns a little farm at the other side of the wall, hearing that the stone was valuable, had removed
it to the yard of his nice cottage, where it now serves as a seat along
side the door. There no doubt it is safer than it was in the wall. We
hearty welcome from Mr. Donohoe. He and his brother that
day showed us many kindnesses by bringing us around to see other
antiquities, and, when leaving them, we felt that we had done a good day's
work in the cause of local antiquarian research.
James Tuite, Local Hon. Secretary for South Westmeath.
The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Sixth Series, Vol. 3, No. 2(Jun. 30, 1913), pp. 180-182Published by: Royal Society of Antiquaries of IrelandStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25517390
Posted by CianMcLiam
19th February 2012ce
Edited 19th February 2012ce