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County Cork  

Hag of Beara

Natural Rock Feature

<b>Hag of Beara</b>Posted by MeicImage © Michael Mitchell
Also known as:
  • Cailleach Bheara

Nearest Town:Sneem (15km N)
OS Ref (IE):   V637532 / Sheet: 84
Latitude:51° 42' 53.26" N
Longitude:   9° 58' 20.63" W

Added by CianMcLiam


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<b>Hag of Beara</b>Posted by Meic <b>Hag of Beara</b>Posted by Meic <b>Hag of Beara</b>Posted by johnosull <b>Hag of Beara</b>Posted by Billy Fear <b>Hag of Beara</b>Posted by CianMcLiam

Fieldnotes

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Have to agree with Cian below, about the offerings, some really weird stuff !
If you're visiting here, make sure to carry on down the road a little to Kilcatherine Church. There's a great carved head above the South Door and an underground chamber in the Eastern part of the graveyard.
Meic Posted by Meic
26th February 2012ce

The 'Hag of Beara' is well signposted on the coast road between Ardgroom and Eyeries, there's a bit of hard shoulder on the corner where you can park.

The rock is through the gate and across about 20m of marshy ground to a small track, you could walk right past it like I did if you dont spot all the offerings strewn over it!

The rock itself is wonderfully weathered and resembles a camel with no legs or neck. There's great views seawards and across the bay.

It also features the wierdest assortment of 'offerings' I have ever come across, car remote controls, batteries, hair scrunchies and a mobile phone belt clip all share crevices with the more usual coins, 'goddess' figurine, seashells and berries.

For a split second I thought the hag was having fun with me, I was trying to set a manual exposure on the camera but no matter what I tried, even turning the camera off and removing batteries, I could not set an aperture below F8 even though it was an F4 lens, what the hell???!! Of course there was a simple explanation, I had left the camera in 'bracketing' mode at Drombohilly but had not taken the last picture of the bracketing sequence there! For just a moment.............
CianMcLiam Posted by CianMcLiam
22nd May 2007ce
Edited 22nd May 2007ce

Folklore

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Mr Donal O'Fotharta, who printed some West Connacht traditions about the Cailleach, says,-

"There is no place or height you may get to in Ireland, where you will not hear talk of the Cailleach Bheara. It is an old proverb amongst the Connacht people that there are three long ages;- "The age of the yew, the age of the eagle, and the age of the Cailleach Bheara"; and as to the Cailleach's ways, they say thus:-

"She never brought mud from this puddle to the other puddle.
She never ate food but when she became hungry.
She never went to sleep till she grew sleepy.
She never threw out the dirty water till she brought in clean water."
All good advice there recorded in Siamsa an Gheimhridh, D. O'Fotharta (1892), p116-118. (and quoted in the Folklore article mentioned below).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
22nd May 2007ce
Edited 22nd May 2007ce

The Lament of the Hag (or Nun) of Beare.

I am the Hag of Beare,
An ever-new smock I used to wear;
Today - such is my mean estate -
I wear not even a cast-off smock.

The maidens rejoice
When May-day comes to them;
For me sorrow is meeter*,
I am wretched, I am an old hag.

Amen! woe is me!
Every acorn has to drop.
After feasting by shining candles
To be in the gloom of a prayer-house!

I had my day with kings,
Drinking mead and wine;
Today I drink whey-water
Among shrivelled old hags.

The flood-wave
And the second ebbtide-
They have all reached me,
So that I know them well.

There is scarce a little place today
That I can recognise;
What was on flood
Is all on ebb.
This is just the first part of a tenth century Irish poem, translated in 1913 by Dr Kuno Meyer. Perhaps we should get Simon Armitage (after his Gawain and the Green Knight) on the case for a modern version?

I found it quoted on p227 of
Legends and Traditions of the Cailleach Bheara or Old Woman (Hag) of Beare
Eleanor Hull
Folklore, Vol. 38, No. 3. (Sep. 30, 1927), pp. 225-254.

(*sic. can't find what this means? meat as in what sustains her (or not)? or it meets her? hmm.)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
22nd May 2007ce
Edited 22nd May 2007ce