Visited 28th December 2011
Macha na Saili - "the milking place of the willows"
An Impressive site, made even more so by it's setting.
Five stones of varying sizes still stand and one slab has fallen. None of the stones are massive, but there is something special about this row. There is a great feel to the place and the atmosphere here is so relaxing.
The row lies on the North Western slope of Knockbreteen on a ENE - SSW axis. overlooking Lough Atoreen. To the West is Knockboy and Coomhoola Mountain. To the North is An Carran.
When excavated in 1977, several shallow pits were found to have been dug in the topsoil and quartz pebbles scattered around the stones. Two flint scrapers were also found.
Access is easy. there is a kissing gate, with room to park.
Go through the gate, up a slight hill and there it is, right in front of you.
Driving through the hills north of Kealkill, you could forget that your on the way to visit one fo the few excavated and restored stone rows in the south west, the scenery is incredible. Just as you pass a peacefull little lake in a natural amphitheatre you come to a small cross roads. Maughanasilly stone row is on the hillock to the right, overlooking the lake. The name mey be ridiculous but this is a seriously wonderful place. A small space just outside the gate is handy for parking and the site has a little, informative sign just inside the swinging gate. Visitors are welcome here and the site is very easy to access, though not for the disabled.
I arrived here just as the sun was re-appearing for a few minutes of glorious colour before sinking below the horizon, there are wide views across wild mountains to the north and west but no view to the east. To me, it looked like this row is very closely aligned to the sunset at midwinter, the sign suggests a lunar alignment.
The stones that remain standing are all similar but look bizarrely mismatched or arranged, they are all quite small, none above 1.5m. One lies prostrate on the south side but there doesn't seem to be a gap for its socket, as if it had missed out on megalithic musical chairs.
This obscure 6 stone alignment shares a ENE-SSW orientation with the nearby Ardrah Row. It many ways it has a similar feel, although the stones have a shape more common to the stumpy pillars of Reenascreena in the south of the county. The tallest ENE stands at about 4 and half feet whilst the smallest is about 20 inches. Five stones stand, one is fallen. Burl, in his 1993 publication, "From Carnac to Callanish" reports that Charcoal dating on peat overlying the site dates to approximately 1600BC. The site was excavated in 1977. The tallest stone "weighs about 2 tons and could have been erected by some eight workers".
When travelling North or South to vist this site, following the hand-written signs to the nearby Basketry will be a big help. The site nestles on a small hill overlooking the crossroads of two lanes. To the SW is Lough Atoreen and to the NW the familiar peak of Knockboy. The landowner had recently installed a gate when we visited. A refreshing change after some of the real, imaginary ("Beware of the Bull" ) and symbolic barriers so often found in these parts.
The happy face simulacra on the SSW stone was only spotted when the film was developed!