|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......
Posted by GLADMAN
21st March 2010ce
Edited 22nd March 2010ce