|The story continues...
Arrival in Ireland - 28th June
Up at 1am to book into the ferry port at 2, for a 3:15 sailing that didn’t sail till nearly 3:30. 3 hours rest but no sleep (and the boat was cold) and a small greasy breakfast on the boat saw us hit land at 6:45.
Heading toward Cork, we diverted briefly to take a look at some of the Waterford sites. We found the Whitfield and Powersknock stones, but were unable to spot either the Savagetown stone or tomb despite being in the right spot – the hedgerow was just too thick and high.
We carried on for a spot of lunch in the English Market in Cork, which appears to be where all the road building for the county is concentrated at the moment. It was like driving in London with traffic chaos everywhere you turned. We finally arrived at the cottage (between Rosscarbery and Leap) around 3 in the afternoon. The cottage is very nice indeed. After a spot of tea, I sat down to sketch out these notes so far, and make a preliminary plan for tomorrow before getting some well-earned rest. If I had known the roads in Ireland were ‘B’ standard at best, I might have had second thoughts about the trip. And the speed limits! 20mph when driving through the smallest villages, from a national maximum of 60mph. I can only take my hat off to Tom Fourwinds and the mileage he covers in an average weekend…
Some Irish stone circles at last! – 29th June
14 hours sleep! I crashed out watching TV at around 6 last night. Mikki dragged me up to bed at 8, and I slept through until 8 in the morning. Mikki also slept through, which is extremely unusual for her – she’s a bit of an insomniac when it comes to sleep.
We took an hour over breakfast, planning the day. Looking at the map, it should be easy to get some stone circles in – several are only a few miles from the cottage. I planned for 5, knowing full well we’d pass near some others, which Mikki would spot on the map for me…
First up was Reanascreena, only 10-15 minutes drive away (at the normal snail’s pace given the state of the roads). Probably only 5 minutes on English roads.
Drombeg was next on the list, and this really is as touristy as people say. There were a group of 8 Americans, a couple of Dutch and 4 Germans while I was there. A pile of coins, some tealights and dead flowers adorned the centre stone of the circle. Nice to see the wardens are doing their job then! I took my photos quickly and left. Sadly, being Sunday morning, the tourist tat kiosk was closed, but I spotted some nice cards and a booklet I wanted, so I may pop back later in the week to pick those up.
The next target was Bohonagh. I wasn’t certain about this, as I’d seen no previous entry (although it has subsequently been added to TMA, incorrectly spelt as Bonanagh). It was in Jack Roberts’ book though, and merited a half page there, so I thought I’d try for it. See the site entry for details of my adventure at Bohonagh.
After all the excitement I needed a short break from the stones, so we headed into Clonakilty for a very nice lunch. Driving round the one-way system afterwards, I spotted a fountain shaped like three people (a family group), with the water emerging where their heads should be (if they had any). Most strange! Can I use any more exclamation marks today?
So it was more stonechasing, and Templebryan was next. I found the circle quite quickly, and noted that one of the stones appeared to almost solid quartz with just a thin veneer of stone. The same habit of leaving coins on the centre stone (also of quartz) was being followed here. There was nearly a fiver’s worth of small change, and I was sorely tempted (only joking) before heading back to the car once again. We decided to skip the tall Ogham stone at the old church this time round.
Next up was Ballyvackey, spotted easily from the road, but I had to traverse 5 lots of that damn wire before getting to them. A bit of a sad sight, it was almost impossible to see the stones through the nettles that had sprung up around them and not been cut back. And the tree growing just inside the circle is bizarre to say the least.
Mikki spotted that Ahaghilla was en route to our next stop, so I consulted the book of words that I’d compiled prior to the trip. Tom Fourwinds described this as a ruined circle so I wasn’t too worried whether we saw it or not. Again, it was easily spotted from the road, but I decided not to bother approaching for a closer look as we were on our way to Knocks.
The Knocks N circle proved impossible to locate. Mikki was saying ‘it should be in this field’, but all I could see were crops. So we decided to move on as there were some standing stones marked on the map ‘just around the corner’. Couldn’t spot these either despite being right on the spot, and even asking a local. I couldn’t understand a word of his accent, so just nodded, thanked him and returned to the car. We carried on down to Knocks S, a farm track handily leading straight to the circle. Although incomplete, this is quite delightful, but in a strange location at the base of a hill. Just as I arrived, the weather that had been threatening all day finally broke and I beat a hasty retreat to the car. Backtracking, I caught a tantalising glimpse of what may have been the Knocks stone row, right where I’d spoken to the local earlier. It wasn’t visible from where we’d had our conversation as the stone(s) are part of the field boundary and I’d been standing end on to them, lost in the hedges. From an angle though, they looked to be quite a size. Unfortunately I couldn’t get into the field for a closer look, and we returned back to base.
A long day, with some wonderful sites – I’d spoiled myself with Reanascreena so early, but would probably have given up if it had been after the cow incident – and I doubt we were more than 8 or 9 miles from the cottage at any point during the day.
I took Fourwinds’ advice (see his website for details) and ignored the sign about the bull (on the road to the northeast, which our landlady’s local handyman had confirmed was only there to scare off the tourists and avoid any litigation if they hurt themselves), and used the next gate down with an overgrown track. This led directly to a field boundary, through which I could see the circle. Unfortunately, there was no obvious way through the boundary so I made my way to the corner of the field, and shimmied over the wall. Looking around the field I now found myself in, I couldn’t see any break in the boundary at all! There must be one, as the cows had obviously visited recently.
Anyway, the stones were a wonderful introduction to the Irish style, and I could see the cottage from within the circle! Must remember to check when we get back ‘home’ later.
‘Stone Circles of Cork and Kerry’ suggests parking at the road junction and approaching the hill from the West. I parked on the junction as suggested, opposite a gate to a field full of cows. That’s the one, I told myself, leapt the gate and set off. Crossing the field, I was aware the cows were watching me. As I’d passed them and was starting to climb the hill, I heard the thunder of hooves behind me. I turned to find two of the beasts charging me! I waved my stick while backing away, which confused them for all of 5 seconds before they started forward again. Luckily I was close to the electric wire fence, and ducked under it quickly. The power wasn’t on, but I hoped they didn’t know that. I’m sure they could have uprooted the fenceposts easily by just leaning against the wire. They came right up to the wire, and looked around the corner of the hill, where I’d started climbing. I looked back to find they’d doubled their numbers! I continued up, but drew a complete blank. I was on the wrong damned hill, trapped by a herd of manic cows! Maybe waving my stick hadn’t been such a good idea…
I looked around, and found another trackway up the adjoining hill, so decided to try my luck that way. On top of this hill, I found two very sad looking stones. Surely this can’t be it? Half a page in Roberts’ book for this? I looked around, almost in desperation now, and spotted, just on the brow of the next hill along, what might have been a glimpse of a stone. No turning back now I thought, and made my way across. Electric wire was everywhere along the field boundary, which also had a substantial hedge. Milling back and forth, I found only one spot that looked traversable, and what looked like a droveway on the other side.
I clambered through and let myself down, only to find myself being sucked under into very soft earth. I lost my balance whilst trying to reach firm ground on the bank, slipped and put my hand down into a bed of nettles! “This can’t get any worse”, I thought. “There’s nothing left to happen. I’ve been chased and trapped by cows, sucked at by the ground, and my hand bloody stings all over! Get some dock, quick.”
Back on firm ground, I started toward the crest of the hill, when I spied more cows looking at me. For once, luck was with me when I saw at least two lengths of cattle wire separating us. And there were the stones! I boldly marched up to take my pictures. Sadly, the ground was too overgrown to actually enter the circle and I didn’t want to antagonise the cows any more than I had already done by approaching the boulder tomb a little way off, so I turned to try to find my way back to the car.
The droveway seemed the best idea, despite the soft ground, so I followed it for a short way, only to find it petered out after 50 yards or so. The farm was obviously in the other direction! Undeterred, I continued on through the nettles. Hey, my hand and leg were stinging like nothing I’ve ever felt before. There was nothing left to go wrong, was there? I came to a field boundary, like a small thicket, but one that the cows had been through before. The ground was soft here again, and there were other more obvious signs. Must be a way through then, right? Well almost. I battled my way through, then came to the ubiquitous electric wire fence again. A nervous glance around, no cows, and over we go. I’m now in a field, that appears to border a road, and there’s a gate! I rush across to it, scale the gate and find myself less than 50 yards away from the car. Sweet mercy! Back in the car and relating the adventure to Mikki, bugger me if the original bolshie cows don’t come right up to the gate where I started and look straight at us, as if to say “if this gate weren’t here, pal, we’d have you!” So take Jack Roberts’ advice and park where he suggests, but walk up the road a short way before looking to head across the fields.
Not much left of this, unfortunately. Just a pile of stones, looking like field clearance, on the ridge. A couple of uprights on the edges provide the clues.
This circle is incomplete, but sits in a wonderful setting near the banks of the Ardrigeen River.
Unusually, it seems to be situated at the foot of a rise rather than on the high point.
Posted by ocifant
6th July 2003ce
Edited 8th July 2003ce
ocifant's TMA Blog
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