|After day one's rain, I was determined to see as many sites as possible today. At 9am I found myself at Kealkil Stone Circle.
It's not just a stone circle though, it's a circle with two great standing stones outside and a radial cairn also. It's high on a hillside and very, very dramatic. The rain was stopping and starting. . and photography was difficult, but the bleakness suited this serene monument.
The actual stone circle of Kealkil was very small, and it made me think that these circles weren't constructed for people be inside.
The views from Kealkil were incredible. Mountainous and vast, and little pools of sunshine sped across distant ridges.
Although stone circles were my priority on this trip, I couldn't resist hunting for Maughanasilly Stone Row, which was situated right up high, commanding fantastic views over Lough Atooreen lake. One stone was lying flat, but the others stood proud.
After leaving this site I found myself driving higher and higher, into the finest scenery I was to see whilst in Ireland.
I found myself high in the Shehy Mountains. During the two hours I was here I saw perhaps two other cars. There is no sound but for the wind and the rushing of the waterfalls scattered amongst the rocks. Surely this region is the 'Emerald Isle' personified?
There were many old buildings, roofless and covered in moss. It is little wonder that so many ancient sites have survived here.
Looking down into the Boolin Valley I could see little stone houses, perhaps miles apart, wisps of smoke coming from their chimneys. What sort of life can it be to live in such a desolate place? Does the sheer beauty of the surroundings make up for the lack of civilization?
Derrynafinchin Stone Circle is right by the road, but uncared for. A fence runs right through this overgrown circle, which is situated on the floor of the Boorlin Valley. The capstone actually moves, reminding one of just how incredible and unlikely it is that these monuments still remain intact after so many years. This site is impossible to photograph in its entirety, from my fieldnotes I see it is made of around 11 stones. Almost a complete circle . . What a shame it's overgrown!
By this time I was feeling pleased that I had found as many sites as I had, but still felt that Ireland had yet to show me the true beauty of its megalithic heritage.
I decided to head inland, and see the great stones of Knocknakilla.
Derrynacaheragh Stone Circle I sort of stumbled on . . Just like Lettergorman South, it had a recumbent stone, a tree, and a jumble of stones in the middle (field clearance again?). A bonus circle in a day that was feeling both victorious and annoying! I looked for Carrigagulla Stone Circle and all I found was a sheep-proof electric fence that made my hair even more curly!
Victory & defeat in equal measures. I was reminded of JC's remark "I've looked for more Cork circles than I've found". But there was at least Knocknakilla, a famous touristy circle that would be easy to find. I sped on . . (at 40mph!) . . In search of Knocknakilla.
I chanced upon Knockareen Stone Circle on the way to Knocknakilla.
This was lovely, a complete classic Irish five-stone circle with the recumbent pointing towards . . . Quartz outliers!! As if to underline my theory, that the quartz stones in Lettergorman, Ballyvacky etc were 'field clearance'. . Here was a complete circle with outliers intact.
I sat in between the two light coloured stones and felt pleased that my stone circle count was climbing higher and higher.
I drove on towards Knocknakilla.
At last! A signpost!
And even a rainbow!
Glounthane Stone Circle Is also known as Glantane. And it's quite a site! Two massive pillars (one fallen) each side of a ruined circle. Unlike any other circle I've ever seen.
This was one of the surprises of the expedition. I thought such tall (12ft?) standing stones were the indulgence of the UK mainland. Obviously not!
Glantane and Knocknakilla (next page) are two sites alike. Both were small circles with two pillars. But whereas Glantane's pillars were either side of the circle, Knocknakilla's were both on one side.
This site was wonderful. The cairn meant it usurped Glantane slightly in the megalithic stakes . . But it mattered not. The one remaining pillar looked precarious, and the stone circle itself was ruined (not by man, but by time). It was 6.30 in the evening. After a day of triumphs and some disappointments, Knocknakilla and its environs were an early evening treat!
The sun was setting and I felt I had accomplished much during my second full day in Ireland. But as I drove home, there was one more treat. . A small circle of three stones buried in the hedgerow at Carriganine. I photographed two, then rummaged through the foliage to find a third. I then realised that I was becoming an stone circle obsessive train-spotter and headed back to Bantry, where writing up my field notes required much Guinness!
Two stones, no more than 3 foot high nestle by a hedge. Dig a bit in the undergrowth and you'll find a third. It's right by the road, so if you want to 'up' your stone circle count. . it's easy to find.
Once again, after sunset I sat on the harbour wall and looked out towards Bantry Bay. My Irish trip was going well, but I was determined to see Reanascreena, one of the least visited and well preserved of all Irish circles the next day.
Reanascreena Stone Circle had become more than the sum of its parts. It was the first circle I looked for whilst in Ireland, and that first night, when I slept (I use that word loosely) in the van, in a field I drove to a place by Reanascreena, in the Ross-carberry region of Cork.
So, after a hearty breakfast, I drove to Reanascreena.
I parked in a lane that seemed close to the circle. I walked through fields. . Over hedges. . I ripped my trousers, and got looked at by some evil looking animal (I think they may have been bovine!).
I got lost.
I found the van again, and it was hot and I was itchy and stung by nettles.
How could I give up? Looking for this circle was costing valuable time, which could be spent on other sites. Yet if I were to give up the search for Reanascreena, how would I feel when back at home. . Knowing I had been so close?
I eventually got back in the van and drove off . . . But as I headed off, I saw a solitary bungalow and an old dear sweeping her drive.
I asked her for the easiest way. .
It was still a walk, but she assured me it was worth it, and she also assured me that I wasn't stupid for wanting to see Reanascreena so bad, as many very clever students and travellers also visited this place.
Not feeling so silly, I parked the van at 'long field' and headed towards the site.
Reanascreena Stone Circle was the greatest treat of my Irish trip. The sun shone, and the stones were well beautiful. They were graded toward the recumbent, more so than any circle I'd seen. What went on here?
Get an OS map, and there's a field called 'long field' between two lanes going toward farm buildings. Pull off the lane that runs parallel with the Cashel River. Park in this field through the (hopefully open) gate at 405266. And walk up the field, it's a long field (duh!) and stretches towards the field in which the stones are. When you get to the top of 'long Field' keep walking. The stones appear on the left.
Well worth the trouble, and it's not that far a walk. . honest!
Why did I like Reanascreena so much? . . Was it because I had tried to find it twice without success?
Don't know. But feeling the sun on my face inside this elusive monument made my trip more than worthwhile. And if I return to Ireland, Reanascreena and Kealkil will be the two sites I re-visit.
Maulatanavally Stone Circle next . . Another circle lost on my first day and found on my last. A typical Irish circle. The recumbent, the quartz stone. .
Next, Drombeg Stone Circle.
This is the 'tourist circle' The one on the post-cards. This was my last Irish monument. The next day I drove back to the East coast.
I had seen many fine sites in Ireland.
I loved Ireland . . but my megalithic year was only beginning . . once home I had to make plans for the great trek to Cumbria, Lewis and Orkney.
Before I left Ireland picked up some small stones on the beach at Wexford, killing time before the ferry to Wales. They sit on my speaker at home in Wolverhampton. A little Irish stone circle of me own.
Posted by suave harv
20th October 2004ce
Edited 23rd November 2004ce
suave harv's TMA Blog
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