Two small bullauns in a field that has an old burial ground beside it. There's a small structure here too that may the site of an old family burial plot. For the second time today we were met by a very friendly and knowledgeable landowner as we were about to take our leave.
He said that he had the whole history of the vicinity and I asked had he family in the burial plot. He said no, that he was a catholic and I said so the site is protestant. He said yes. I explained that I was interested in stuff before all that and that the bullauns were maybe from that era. He said aye, the druids and the pishogues (pisógs in Irish) and that he wouldn't touch the stones. A lovely man again – we'd still be there had we not made our excuses.
When I first knocked at the door of the house and asked for the bullaun stone of the lady of the house, I was met with curiosity and puzzlement. Then I mentioned the wart stone and she pointed over my shoulder and laughed. Just then, the man of the house came out (they were just finishing their dinner – taken at lunchtime in many houses in rural Ireland) and accompanied me over to the stone. He had lots of tales of the many people who come here from all over Ireland, and the world, for the cure.
He related a story of a neighbour's boy, a three-year-old that had been to the Mater hospital "up in Dublin" with warts that were covering his hands. The doctors did their best with surgery and medicine but still the warts grew back. Somebody told the parents of the stone and they brought the boy here, washed his hands in the water that collects in it (I asked if he ever puts water in the stone and he said no, the water is only ever what collects naturally) and the warts went, never to come back.
He had other tales of a burial chamber on his land, water divination and the hanging of a priest on the road at the front of his property. He also told me that the structure beside the stone, and the little enclosure that the stone rests on, were built around the stone and that he would never dream of moving it. A very friendly and accommodating man.
Known elsewhere as Meelaghans, this is actually in Kileenmore townland. When we eventually managed to get to the small copse of trees where the stone is, I was hugely disappointed to find that it was no longer there. First thoughts were that either it had been dug up and carted off (unlikely, but you never know) or that it was buried under the nearby pile of manure.
We moved over to the other copse 100 metres south and found the single bullaun. The basin is set into an earthfast stone about 3 metres long and is quite substantial. I was still flabbergasted by the absence of the other stone and I didn't give this too much time.
We headed back to the nine-hole stone copse. I just couldn't believe that it wasn't there any longer. Rooting around I noticed a curve in the soil that looked like the lip of a bowl. No way – could it be buried? I knew that the stone was about a foot below ground level so I got a stick and started digging and sure enough, a bowl/basin re-emerged. So this is how bullauns get lost – neglected and forgotten about, the bowls fill up with soil and detritus and eventually they get grassed over.
Paulie attacked the digging with vigour, re-finding 3 of the large basins. I just hadn't the heart, thinking that the landowner doesn't give a rats and that the stone will get covered over again. I was annoyed and angry and just wanted to get out of there, curious bullocks adding to the tension I felt. I don't know what to do about this situation – petition for the stone to be brought into state care? Not a very likely proposition at present.