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A break from the stones? No chance! – 2nd July
Today was supposed to be a relaxing day, just driving around the Beara peninsular with just a single scheduled stop to see Ardgroom Outward before moving up towards Killarney. Needless to say, we never made it.
We started out with all good intentions, and thoroughly enjoyed driving over the Healy Pass (approx 1200 feet above sea level – high!), meeting and chatting to a couple from Devon at the shop at the top of the pass. Dropping down on the other side, we took a wrong turn, and spotted a signpost to Shronebirane Stone Circle. A quick check in the books and maps showed that it lay a long way off the road, so gritting my teeth, we carried on.
In this part of the world, the circles seem to be well signposted, in comparison to the Rosscarbery area. The next sign we saw was to Cashelkeelty, and I had to stop.
After the climb, I was in need of a drink so we carried on into Ardgroom for lunch at the Village Inn. The seafood chowder was to die for.
And so on to Ardgroom Outward, slightly later than anticipated. I was bullocked again! The adjoining field contained a couple of cows with their calves, who were none too friendly, and the field containing the stones held their better halves. Once again I had to content myself with a couple of distance shots from the safety of the trackway.
We continued on, aware that time was running out to get to Killarney. Mikki kindly suggested that I take a look at Drombohilly, so we headed over that way. Another high road through the mountains at a crawl until we found somewhere to pull off the road. As luck would have it, a woman and her son were just coming down from their walk, so I asked where the stones were. She turned and pointed “there they are”! About a quarter of a mile away, the stones could clearly be seen on a ridge. So off I set. Mikki waited in the car and tracked me with the binoculars, although she got a little worried when I disappeared behind a ridge to avoid a bog for a short while.
We did eventually make it as far as Kenmare, where we did a little shopping (and I picked up a copy of McNally’s ‘Standing Stones’) before I noticed in the Tourist Office that they had a circle in town! Just five minutes walk from the Tourist Office; it sits in a small park-like area and has a nice boulder burial in the centre. It’s also unusual in that the stones are mostly boulders rather than shaped stones.
So, for a stoneless day, I guess four circles isn’t too bad! I’ve yet to see any proper tombs though – I must try to find some for tomorrow’s jaunt.
An enforced break! – 3rd July
We both slept fitfully last night, and I woke up with severe neck and shoulder pain (hopefully, just from sleeping in a strange bed). I hadn’t planned today in any detail, and Mikki suggested staying in to rest, although she wanted to go to Clonakilty market. I felt that wouldn’t be too bad, so off we went, stopping for a breakfast before hitting the (small) market. Small it may have been, but I ran out of cash, and tried three different ATMs, none of which would cough up the dough. I asked in two different banks, and neither could give me cash on the strength of my Switch card and passport, but one did suggest a bank in Bandon may be able to help. So off we set. Having reached Bandon and refreshed my wallet, I suggested lunch in Macroom. We passed through Castlelanaght, so stopped and looked at both the standing stone and the row. Our only stones today.
Pete McCarthy, in his book ‘McCarthy’s Bar’, describes Macroom as the arse end of nowhere. I think he may have been right but an information board in the town shows many of the archaeological sites in the area. We were both far too tired to hunt any more stones though, and made an early return home. Here’s hoping we get some sleep tonight! Tomorrow is Skibbereen and the Sheep’s Head Peninsular.
This circle lies on an ancient trackway called the ‘Old Green Road’. It’s a fair climb up from the road at V755578, firstly through boggy woodland next to a stream, then across open moorland. There are several stiles to traverse. If you've got the time, it's a wonderful trek, and is part of the much longer Beara Way walk.
Once at the circle, only 3 stones of the original 5 remain. Close by, is a row of alignment stones and further off, the ruined remains of a multiple stone circle. Excellent views can be had of the surrounding mountains and down to Killmakilloge Harbour.
I found a large lump of solid white quartz nearby, and left it in the middle of the three stones before leaving – it seemed to fit there somehow.
A quarter mile off the road, clearly in sight, but this took some time to reach, due to the (barbed wire) fences in the way and the boggy ground underfoot. Again, like so many Irish sites, wonderful views can be seen in all directions.
This circle is accompanied by an ancient low wall, which heads off to the west from the circle.
A wonderful row. I'm not sure if it wasn't even more wonderful in the past, as there is a recumbent stone in the row (covered with odd scratches which may just be plough scars) and a low stone at the high end which potentially could have been a fifth, taller stone in the row at some point.
Posted by ocifant
8th July 2003ce
Edited 8th July 2003ce
ocifant's TMA Blog
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