Visited on Friday 18th May , the one really wet day of the week. I have to say unfairly perhaps, that after the remote, mysterious circles, wedge tombs and standing stones situated on mountain sides, often in peat bogs almost always facing towards the sea – this stone circle was an anti-climax. Near the centre of the town of Kenmare (Ceann Mara - the head of the sea) it is the largest and most well preserved circle in the south-west measuring about 17 metres in diameter with 15 uprights and a large boulder dolmen at the centre. Boulder dolmens are rarely found outside south-western Ireland and are thought to be ‘memorials set above burials rather than formal chambers intended as receptacles for burial deposits’ (quote:* Sean O’Nuallain). The local information leaflet says that this bears some relationship to Stonehenge.
When Julian Cope visited in 2002 he describes it thus “ in their current state these stones remind the traveller of a fussy, ersatz and over-presented garden centre feature … “
Nicknamed the Shrubberies by the locals and ten years on - fast growing conifers have been planted completely enclosing it. And yet, and yet ... as the disappointment settles over you, you know the Caha Mountains are there though cannot been seen because of the plantings; you can hear, though cannot see, a rushing river nearby. Give this stone circle back to Nature and the ‘sense of place’ recently discussed on the forum would be there in abundance.
*from: “Stone Circles, Stone Rows, Boulder-Burials and Standing Stones”
Visited in April 2012, this site I found easily after getting chatting to a local...I parked on Henry St. in the town and walked up towards the town park, but staying to the left. At a red brick building ahead take a left and follow the lane up...you should be able to see a familiar brown sign pointing in the direction of the circle, which is to the right. When I got there, I discovered a sort of secluded oasis, fenced off from the surrounding outskirts of Kenmare by a ring of leilandai (is that how you spell it?) trees. To get to said oasis I had to walk past an unmanned garden shed, with a hatch which contained an honesty box asking for 2euros per visitor, and a sign saying 'You are being filmed on CCTV'....a glance upwards proved this to be correct...there was the camera...so I gave it a grin and a wave as I popped a couple of quid in...and gained entrance to the circle. I just happened to have caught a lovely sunny break in typically Irish '4 seasons in 1 day' weather as I arrived...and finding that there were no other visitors, spent a quiet hour watching a couple of blackbirds hop around the recently cut grass and trying to take satisfactory photos..(despite the ring of guardian leilandai being planted a metre or two too close to the stones in my opinion....I found it difficult to get a shot of the whole circle because I couldn't get far away enough from it!!) Grumbles aside, I was pleasantly surprised at the atmosphere at this circle, in a place I had previously associated with rampant tourism and 'Oirishness'...I'd reluctantly gone to Kenmare from Uragh, to find a bank at 4pm on a Friday afternoon...but found that this circle rewarded my unavoidable encounter with 'civilisation' in the end! Hurrah!
This stone circle is very tricky to find as it is located up a number of back-streets in the busy town of Kenmare. Maybe its just me but I hate asking for directions, all it needs is a few sign-posts from the main square.
Saying that we met 4 sets of tourist while we were there so it looks like people are finding this lovely stone circle despite the lack of help from Irish tourism.
Things seem to be different at the moment for Kenmare stone circle, maybe its just the off-season for tourists but the space allotted for the circle seems delightfully neglected compared to the manicured grass in the pics posted previously. The grass is uncut and untidy, in its partly secluded enclosure on a cold, gloomy and wet bank holiday morning you could just about imagine you were not really a stones throw from the town centre. From a certain angle you could stand with your back to the shrubs and things seemed almost wild.
It's a nice circle, its a pity the views are blocked in every direction but in its slightly overgrown state it was a pleasant surprise, I wasn't expecting too much. I thought the shrubs were the low, flowery kind in neat arrangements, the taller tree like evergreens are the biggest annoyance at the site apart from the many crisp packets and coke bottles under the boulder burial.