The Field Book of 1839 states:--From Colonel James Grove White's notes about Cork, v1 (1906?).
"[...]Ballinaltigbeg Altar. A rock situated near the centre of Ballynaltigbeg townland, on a gentle rising ground, and about one and a half miles north of Castletownroche.
This altar is a rock (which stands near the northern boundary of a field), on the four sides of which there are projecting parts about two feet from the ground. It is altogether a natural rock, which is said to have been formerly used as an altar, and is up to the present time held in great veneration by the inhabitants, who often come to pray at it."
I fear it must have lost some of the veneration claimed for it in 1839, as I found some difficulty in finding it. People living near it, whom I questioned as to its locality, had never heard of it. I fortunately met Dr. Johnson, of Lisnagourneen House, who accompanied me to the spot. The above description from the Field Book is a very fair one as it is at present (see photo).
Dr Johnson writes:-- "The country people say there is a passage running from Corbally covert in the direction of the 'Altar,' that it runs right under the stone. The length would be about four hundred yards, but as no one has apparently ever explored it, it is only conjecture."
[...] Mr Thomas Furlong, who is now an old gentleman of eighty-nine years of age, and who lives at this place, has heard that, in the reign of King James I., when Roman Catholics were not allowed to have chapels to worship in, they used frequently to meet at the "Altar," where Mass would be celebrated.
There is a cave at Corbally fox covert, with passage running toward the Altar.
Pleasingly, the outcrop is on the Sheduled Monuments list, number CO026-071.
Posted by Rhiannon
6th December 2012ce
Edited 7th December 2012ce