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


Stone Circle


Another afternoon visit, this, following a drizzly morning at Ballina's 'Dolmen of the Four Maols'... well, you can't stay in a city and not venture out on foot to see the local sights, can you? Anyway, that done, a drive-about Co. Mayo, taking in Castlebar and Bemullet (Beal an Mhuirthead, that is) just happens to provide an opportunity to stop off at another prehstoric monument. Strange, that.

Heading back on the R314 to Ballina, the coastal loop at Barnatra is a worthwhile diversion for travellers with a little time - and the inclination - to experience something a tad out of the ordinary. After a while the minor road passes through the tiny 'blink and you'll miss it' settlement of Dooncarton, nestling between the sea and a large, transmitter-bearing hill. Assuming you haven't - blinked, that is - park-up and seek out the 'West Coast B&B' (oops, little bit of product placement there), above which, unseen, sits an excellent little stone circle. Access is via an uphill road beside the B&B and a subsequent step over a barbed wire fence. Well, this is Ireland, after all.

The siting is glorious, featuring superb coastal views - across sandbanks - to Garter Hill to the north, and the exquisite Sruwaddacon Bay to the east. Sure, the proximity of habitation does detract from the wild, untamed vibe a touch, but, strangely enough, engenders a feeling that the monument remains relevant, part of the community still. Perhaps that's just wishful thinking?... The orthostats are substantial for a stone circle of these modest dimensions, lovely and unkempt, almost as if they have always been here. Come to think of it - to all intents and purposes - they have! Right on! I wish I had more than an hour to enjoy an extended 'hang' at this wonderful spot... but such is life. Having said that, Dooncarton's obscure, shy little stone circle is now a part of mine. And I'm glad. I think we complemented each other for a few moments in time.

All is not rosy in Dooncarton, however, since a proliferation of 'anti-Shell' posters are visible upon telegraph posts as we drive above the - it has to be said - frankly gorgeous bay. Yeah, by all accounts big business is looking to develop this beautiful coastline. There are always two sides to every story, true... Somehow, though, I've the feeling Dooncarton's little ring will remain aloof regardless. Seen it, done it, whatever.
1st February 2011ce
Edited 1st February 2011ce

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