Visits For July, 2010

Sunday, 11th July 2010

A Day At Some Carlow Castles And Other Sites

I had recently seen a castle on this page on the internet: http://www.thestandingstone.ie/2010/01/ballymoon-castle-co-carlow.html - a great site run by TheStandingStone from the megalithomania.com forums. Wow! What a place ... and it's free to visit, too. There is also a comment on that page recommending Ballyloughlan Castle, so these were my targets for the day.

Before visiting the castles I went to Nurney, near Leighlinbridge, to see the two crosses there. For some reason I had got my bearings wrong when I entered the village and it took me ages to find the crosses.

Ballymoon castle is a strange one; a large, semi-ruined or unfinished, square court yard castle, not a towerhouse. Much of the nice stonework has gone, but there are still traces of the finery that this building once had. It's a great place for walk around and explore, with chambers in the walls and a fine view of Mount Leinster.

Ballyloughlan castle has a fine gatehouse, a fairly well-preserved corner tower and a ruined corner tower. These three buildings stand alone in the field: the walls that joined them up have been taken away, presumably to build the large ruined farm complex at the top of a nearby field.

As I was driving back I came across signposts to Rathnagerragh Castle. Following these brought me to a relatively disappointing ruin.

After all this 'modern' stuff I had to visit something a bit more megalithic. To free myself from the feelings of guilt that I was experiencing about enjoying visits to to the such modern structures I went to Castleruddery Lower stone circle. It's a bit over grown at this time of year and the sheep in the field seem to be staying out of the stones.

Nurney (Co. Carlow)Cross7 New Images
Templepeter (Co. Carlow)Church4 New Images
Ballymoon (Co. Carlow)Castle19 New Images
Ballyloughlan (Co. Carlow)Castle18 New Images
Ballynagerragh (Co. Carlow)Castle4 New Images
Castleruddery Lower (Co. Wicklow)Stone Circle12 New Images

Saturday, 24th July 2010

The Megalithomania Meet-Up 2010 : Rath Croghan

The people from the megalithomania forums (plus a few others) met up to get to know each other and explore the amazing monuments that make up the Rath Croghan complex in County Roscommon. Not everyone could attend, but 10 of us braved the early rain and were rewarded with a fine day amongst good people and great monuments. I don't think any of us truly expected all the sites to be so good.

We met for an initial coffee and chat at the Cruachan Ai visitor centre in Tulsk and set off to Rath Croghan itself, the massive mound along side the road. While we were here it was raining, but we still enjoyed a walk and a chat. From there we moved on to Rath Mor, the inaugural mound and then to Rath Beg, a large roadside stepped barrow.

A short distance down the road we saw what must be Ireland's largest barrow - 85m in diameter - You could fit Newgrange into that! That's big! From there we went to Oweynagat, a site that is difficult to find, but worth the effort. This is a souterrain that leads into a cave, which is said to link to Kesh mountain in Sligo. A mythical boar is said to have erupted from here and created the earthworks in the surrounding fields with his tusks. Not all of us made it into the cave, but those that did really enjoyed themselves and got very, very muddy!

The next stop was to be Daithi's Stone, a standing stone set on top of a mound. We got close, but the presence of a very large bull in the field stopped us at the gate. Between Oweynagat and Daithi's Stone we came across a large enclosure with a souterrain inside it.

Although there is much more to see at Rath Croghan it was now getting late and we decided it was time to return to Crauchan Ai for more coffee and a chat before going our separate ways.

Many thanks to all those that attended for making the day so special. I think it's Sligo for the next one.

Rath Cruachan - Rathcroghan (Co. Roscommon)Rath6 New Images
Milleen Meva - Rathcroghan (Co. Roscommon)Artificial Mound2 New Images
Misgaun Meva - Rathcroghan (Co. Roscommon)Standing Stone3 New Images
Rath Mor - Rathcroghan (Co. Roscommon)Rath7 New Images
Rath Beg - Rathcroghan (Co. Roscommon)Barrow5 New Images
Rathnadarve - Rathcroghan (Co. Roscommon)Barrow14 New Images
Oweynagat - Rathcroghan (Co. Roscommon)Cave11 New Images
Rathcroghan (Co. Roscommon)Ogham Stone1 New Image
Daithi's Stone - Rathcroghan (Co. Roscommon)Standing Stone6 New Images
Rathcroghan (Co. Roscommon)Souterrain4 New Images

Tuesday, 27th July 2010

A Week In Donegal - Day 2 - Settling In

After settling in to our campsite near Crolly on day 1 we set off to have a look around on day 2. This holiday, with my wife Uta, was not really about the stones, but a relaxing break for us both. This day did not involve much site-seeing, but turned out to be a useful day.

Firstly, we went to the double portal tomb at Toome, because I had heard that it had been cleared. Then we went to Kilclooney Moore - a place you just have to go to if you're close by. While having a cup of coffee, a scone and a smoothie at the Kiclooney Visitor Centre we planned the next few days and got some good information about visiting a couple of the islands off the Donegal coast.

Toome (Co. Donegal)Portal Tomb6 New Images
Kilclooney More (Co. Donegal)Portal Tomb19 New Images

Wednesday, 28th July 2010

A Week In Donegal - Day 3 - Malin More And Glencolmcille

If there's one area of Donegal a megalith enthusiast should visit it is Malin More. With so many tombs to see it is an amazing area. We had arranged to meet up with Tatjana Kytmannow, who knows this area very well.

We met up at the mighty Malin More court tomb and then visited the one double portal tomb that I had never managed to find, before heading off to see some of the other tombs in the townland. After exploring Malin More we headed for Glencolmcille to see the court tomb at Faranmacbride and to take a tour of some of the cross pillars that are dotted all around the area.

We had a great day seeing everything. Tatjana was going to stay overnight, but the weather turned ugly and she headed home. Tomorrow myself and Uta decided to go to see two old churches on an island. This has become a year of islands for me.

Cloghanmore - Malin More (Co. Donegal)Court Tomb8 New Images
Malin More (Co. Donegal)Portal Tomb7 New Images
Malin More (Co. Donegal)Portal Tomb16 New Images
Malin More (Co. Donegal)Cist3 New Images
Malin More (Co. Donegal)Standing Stone6 New Images
Farranmacbride (Co. Donegal)Court Tomb15 New Images
Glencolmcille - station 9 - Farranmacbride (Co. Donegal)Cross Pillar1 New Image
Glencolmcille - station 1 - Straid (Co. Donegal)Court Tomb3 New Images
Glencolmcille - station 15 - Straid (Co. Donegal)Cross Pillar2 New Images
Glencolmcille - station 2 - Straid (Co. Donegal)Cross Pillar4 New Images
Glencolmcille - station 13 - Gannew and Curreen (Co. Donegal)Cross Pillar2 New Images
Glencolmcille - station 12 - Drumroe (Co. Donegal)Cross Pillar3 New Images

Thursday, 29th July 2010

A Week In Donegal - Day 4 - Inishkeel And A Portal Tomb

We obtained the local tide times from the visitor centre at Kilclooney More and headed for the beach at Portnoo to park up and cross the sands to Inishkeel, an island with two churches and several cross slabs. The low and high tides were quite far apart, so we knew we had plenty of time to make the crossing (about 800m), see the sites and get back. I didn't expect so many other people to make the crossing, too, but the island got very busy shortly after we got there.

The island has recently passed into the possession of the OPW (the house is still owned by someone else) , and one of the churches has had its end wall rebuilt. You can still see the numbers on the bricks where they were marked before the wall was taken down. They don't seem to make any sense and it looks like they were not put back in the same order that they were taken off in, but I may be wrong.

The other church is quite ruinous, but it has been rebuilt in the distant past with random parts of decorated stone that looks like old door columns and bits of arches. This give the front face a very unusual look.

We found three of the cross slabs that are supposed to be here, but the others have either been stolen or moved for safe keeping while the restoration work is being carried out.

After leaving the island when it started to rain we headed back to the Kilclooney More centre for coffee and a bun. From there we set out (by car and foot) to see the portal tomb at Lackaghatermon. As is quite typical for me I chose the hard way to approach - from the west - which took us over bog, deep ditches and barbed wire fences.

St. Connell's - Inishkeel (Co. Donegal)Church6 New Images
Inishkeel (Co. Donegal)Grave or Cross Slab1 New Image
St. Mary's - Inishkeel (Co. Donegal)Church4 New Images
Inishkeel (Co. Donegal)Grave or Cross Slab3 New Images
Inishkeel (Co. Donegal)Cross Pillar2 New Images
Lackaghatermon (Co. Donegal)Portal Tomb12 New Images

Friday, 30th July 2010

A Week In Donegal - Day 5 - Airbed Interuptus

Today we had to change our plans and go into Letterkenny to buy a new airbed, because ours sprung a leak at 11pm the previous night. After driving around the town to find the Argos and then stopping off to buy some food for the rest of the week we only had time to see a few places.

The first stop was Conwal graveyard just outside Letterkenny. Here there are lots of early grave slabs mounted onto a large rectangular platform. Some are large and mediaeval-looking, while others are earlier.

Then we went to try to find two high street bullaun stones, but only found one, and on the way home we stopped at Keel church to see the huge, undecorated high cross.

Conwal (Co. Donegal)Grave or Cross Slab9 New Images
Massreagh (Co. Donegal)Bullaun Stone4 New Images
Ray (Co. Donegal)High Cross12 New Images

Saturday, 31st July 2010

A Week In Donegal - Day 6 - The Great Cross Slab Hunt

We wanted to take it easy today so only a few of sites were on our visit list. I wanted to take Uta to Doon Well and I wanted to find the cross slab at Drunhallagh. I can't actually remember the others on the list, but Drumhallagh was such a pain to find that we called it a day after I finally found it.

A few years ago finding Drumhallagh would have been quite straight forward, because a local priest put a fenced path in to take you straight to it. Sadly, the entrance to this path and the path itself has become very overgrown. Finding the stone was made harder by the fact that the official coordinates for the stone are a long way out and the slab is on the opposite side of a hedge to this incorrect location. The hunt was eventually rewarded when I found the slab. What a beauty it is! There's also a small bullaun stone nearby, too.

The Rock Of Doon - Doon (Co. Donegal)Rock Outcrop2 New Images
Doon Well (Co. Donegal)Holy Well4 New Images
Drumhallagh (Co. Donegal)Grave or Cross Slab4 New Images
Drumhallagh (Co. Donegal)Bullaun Stone2 New Images
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