The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian


Stone Circle


Bejaysus... these Cork 'circles are hard for the outsider to find, are they not? And without a lot of time/patience, forget it! Not worth asking the locals, either, since everyone assumes you're a tourist looking for Drombeg and - since that's signposted - you must be a muppet. One gentleman in particular looked me up and down and gave me the stereotypical 'I wouldn't be starting from here, mind...' directions to the honey-pot site even though, in retrospect, we were less than half a mile from Bohonagh.

However such tribulations can have unforeseen benefits, for example one false turn leading us to Woodfield, birthplace of Michael Collins. The name apparently still arouses heated, divided passions within Cork; the deep scars the Civil War inflicted upon Irish society clearly fade very slowly indeed.... nevertheless an enigmatic, intensely 'human' man worthy of much personal study in my opinion. But I digress.

Eventually the proverbial 'one last look' (seriously), whilst descending a steep hill, highlights the 'circle stones silhouetted upon the skyline opposite. No objections being raised at the nearest house, I set off up the hill and am promptly blown away - metaphorically this time - by the scene which greets me. With due respect to this morning's fabulous Drombeg visit, Bohonagh is in a different league altogether in terms of vibe and sense of place. There is an absolutely sensational aura upon this overgrown, unkempt hill top today. Possibly this has something to do with the towering, black storm clouds, washes of sunlight streaming across the landscape following a sudden shower. Then again it could be the sweeping views out to sea, or the joy of finally standing here being accentuated by the difficulty of the pilgrimage. Or the silence reflecting the overgrown impression of 'rawness' here? In truth I guess it's a combination of all these factors. The only (very) minor gripe is the cattle fence, but hey, so what?

But what of the circle itself? Nine substantial uprights stand in the ring, two of which, big beauties, are set radially to the circumference, acting as portals. Opposite, the conglomerate recumbent has been described by Mr Burl as ..'like an old white loaf thick with currants...' Wonderful words, indeed. Some way to the east is located a companion 'boulder burial', a sort of dolmen-variant with an (apparently) approx 20 tonne capstone resting upon much smaller supporting stones.

So everything's in its place at Bohonagh. I tend to think of the place as Drombeg's beautiful, reclusive sister, who doesn't get the boys because she can't afford the latest clothes and is too shy to come to the dance. Doesn't make her any less enticing, though, does it? I'd argue it makes her more so.... just like the landscape she graces, gloriously uplifting and melancholic by turn. Just like her even more reclusive nearby sibling at Reanascreena, another essentail visit.

We head back to Ballyvourney via Beal na mBlath (the site of Collin's ambush by anti-Treaty IRA forces), a spot which, like Bohonagh/Reanascreena encapsulates the heart and soul of Cork for me. Places which invoke real, raw human emotion; places which can make you actually feel something. How refreshing......
21st March 2010ce
Edited 22nd March 2010ce

Comments (6)

".., a spot which, like Bohonagh/Reanascreena encapsulates the heart and soul of Cork for me. Places which invoke real, raw human emotion; places which can make you actually feel something. How refreshing...... "

A belated wave as you passed ;)

And thanks on behalf of Cork, for your comments (although mostly the something that we feel is wet, that can also be both uplifting and melancholic). Not sure if you made it to Bohonagh for the Equinox, but it lives whenever. Beautiful fieldnotes as well. I'm glad if some one clicks on the site - in the favourite sites thing - that they'll have it to read :)
gjrk Posted by gjrk
28th March 2010ce
Thanks for the comments, but guess I really need to thank Cork and her people for allowing crazy English people to blunder about and ask stupid questions. It's to all our benefit for, prehistoric stuff aside, I must admit I had no idea about Collins, De Valera etc before I came. Made me want to read and understand other points of view... never a bad thing to get both sides of the story.

Didn't make the equinox, but I guess you'll gather from the pics that it was a pretty dramatic day nonetheless ... bit like a Turner painting. Not sure if he made it to Cork, though?
28th March 2010ce
I found Bohonagh really easily, I just drove up the lane parked by the cow shed type building and there it is across the field, couldnt have been easier.
Reanascreena, on the other hand was really hard to locate, never did find it, and it made us miss the ferry home, trying to sneak one more in.
postman Posted by postman
28th March 2010ce
Ah you're thinking of "Evening Mist over Bullock" It's in the NG ;)

Collins was a ruthless bugger, but it was a time of ruthless buggers and he had much to admire about him otherwise. My own great-grandparents (apparently) kept their heads down and agreed with whatever was demanded of them - some of those that didn't got shot. There was a documentary about the "reprisals" last year on RTE and a fuss because it was being "drawn up". You've already referred to that anyway;

"the deep scars the Civil War inflicted upon Irish society clearly fade very slowly indeed"

That Ken Loach film - you've probably seen it - is very balanced. Sorry, getting both serious and off-topic.

... sorry also to hear about your ferry miss, postman. Either that or head home with the nagging opportunity missed feeling. I'd probably have been on the ferry pretending it was that last sandwich I ate ;)
gjrk Posted by gjrk
29th March 2010ce
Yeah, The Wind That Shakes The Barley.... difficult viewing, but I guess one of the best traits of the British is to face up to past mistakes. Seems the Irish and Germans are airing the dirty laundry in film now, which is the only way to come to terms with stuff. Mind you, we still await the French Vichy discussions...Times change, we must move on, but the past makes us who and what we are, I guess. And Ireland just exudes ancient mystery from every pore.

Getting pissed in Dublin may be a laugh, but if you truly want to experience Ireland no holds barred, Bohonagh/Ardgroom's the sort of place you have to come to. No plastic paddies there.

Postie - assume another trip is on the itinery. Can't imagine you leaving it long to have another crack at Reansacreena? Had a right go finding that too - as did The Drude, apparently - but eventually did so after knocking on several doors.
30th March 2010ce
After seeing your recently posted photo I've just read these wonderful (and poetic - "Drombeg's beautiful reclusive sister") fieldnotes. The comments too are very interesting - Ken Loach's film was a masterpiece, like most of his films. tjj Posted by tjj
10th August 2010ce
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