Wednesday 28 March 2012

Bohonagh..... at last !

26th March 2012

A much belated trip to Bohonagh Stone Circle. It's a sunny afternoon and I need a circle to visit and I can combine it with a bit of birding at Rosscarbery !
This is such an easy circle to get to..... Go through Rosscarbery, up the hill, round a few bends, over Temple Bridge (don't turn here - a lot of people try to access the circle from along this road), then turn left up a farm track at Newmills Cross, which leads to a milking barn. There's space to park by the barn.
I've knocked on numerous houses in the area to find out where the farmer lives, so that I can ask permission to go and have a look, but bizzarely, no one seems to know ! so I nip under the gate and along the track.The circle is just past the barn about 100 yards over in the field to the left.
You can tell that this is going to be a great circle the moment you catch a sight of it and luckily there are no cows in the field today, but there is a fair bit of electric fencing about. Easy enough to duck under or step over though !

As I approach, I can see a large boulder burial sitting a short way to the East of the circle. The boulder itself is massive and amongst the support stones is a large quartz rock.The Portal stones are set radially to the circle and are both around two and a half metres high and the circle is aligned East - West for the sunset at the Equinox. Only nine original stones out of thirteen still stand. Boulders have been placed on three of the other four places.
There is a mass of tangled vegetation, mostly brambles, which is starting to encroach but hopefully the farmer will keep this in check.....
It's been said that this is the finest circle in County Cork. It's certainly up there and surely a must for anyone visiting the area !

Monday 26 March 2012

Circles, Castles and Cake

Carriganass Castle

March 25th 2012

A misty start to the day, but the forecast is for sunshine. The clocks went forward this morning and all the clocks in the house say something different, but I think that it's probably 10 o'clockish Irish Summer Time.
By the time we set off, the Sun is shining and it's turning into a glorious day. I've got four objectives today.... Cousane, Cappanaboul and 2 Maughanaclea Circles.
First we have to head through Bantry, then out onto the R585 via Kealkill and to  Cousane. We park up at the farm, but there's no answer. No worry, we'll come back a little later. So we drive back towards Kealkill a short distance. There's a driveway with brown gates on the left hand side of the road and a place to pull in right opposite the entrance on the right.
Maughanaclea NE

Maughanaclea NE

We walk up the drive to the house and ask if it's ok to walk over to the circle.
No problem and we are pointed in the right direction.
There's a barbed wire fence to step over, then a small boggy area, where a small stream runs down through the grass. It's not difficult, we manage to keep our feet dry and there 30 yards or so away is the first circle of the day - Maughanaclea NE. A multiple stone circle, originally consisting of 13 stones. But now only 7 remain standing with 5 fallen. In the centre are 2 boulder burials in amongst the rushes. The circle is aligned NE-SW for the Winter Solstice and there are great views over to the Shehy Mountains on the opposite side of the valley.
Maughanaclea NE

Maughanaclea NE
We eventually make our way back down to the car and decide to give Cousane another try.
This time, there's a car parked outside and I give the door a knock. A lady comes to the door and is happy for us to wander down to the circle. She points out the way. Through the field gate at the end of the barns and just go in a straight line towards the white house in the distance. There's a couple of fields and barbed wire fence to step over, before walking a short distance over the (dryish) bog.
On the way down through the field, I kneel down to check my bag and a little lamb runs over, nudging me wanting attention. His Mum is not best pleased though and calls him back. Ears back, he saunters back like a child who's been told off !

The circle is on a slight hillock. There are piles of freshly cut peat,drying in the sunshine. All five stones are small and low to the ground. But it doesn't need to be grand in this setting, over looked as it is, by the Maughanaclea Hills and the Shehy Mountains, with the Owngar River flowing along just to the North. This circle is aligned E-W for the setting sun at the equinox. It's more of a D shape than a circle. A pair of Ravens call overheadas we make our way back through the fields. The Lamb runs over to say hello again, following us all the way to the gate, with Mum in tow keeping a beady eye on us !

Next we are going to try to find the correct lane up to the second of the circles in Maughanaclea. It takes a couple of drive by's but we get there in the end. As a guide to anyone wanting to follow - there's a sign with BOAB written on it pointing the way. Reminded us of the Boab trees in Australia. Follow the lane up until it branches. Then pull in tightly to the field gate and walk up the right hand branch (the one that you wouldn't want to drive up in your car !). You come to a gate with a NO TRESPASSING sign on. Now, I'm not too sure where the Farmer lives for this site, so we just carry on, through the gate and along the lane. Pretty soon we pass the ruined walls of a Rath to our left. There's not a lot to see, it just looks like a big enclosure. This is about half way. Soon the track goes over some moorland and in the distance on the hill, we can see the large standing stone that sits right next to the circle. There's still a way to go, under a barbed wire fence (though we could have used the gate a ittle further on !!) then up the hill to the circle and stone.
It isn't until you are right on it, that you realise that the circle in fact lies in front (NW) of the Standing Stone . The vegetation is quite deep here and obscures this low five stone circle which is aligned ENE-WSW. All five stones are present and upright, though the axial stone is split horizontally. The standing stone to the SE dwarves the circle at 2.7 metres (8 ft 10 inches) in height. This whole valley is just littered with circles and stones. It's a secluded spot alright and a great place to just sit back, enjoy the views and take it all in and try to work it all out !
Maughanaclea 5 stone circle

Maughanaclea 5 stone circle
Maughanaclea Standing Stone
The Sun is beating down now. It's a beautiful day and we are both getting thirsty and a little peckish, so our next stop is going to be the shop in Kealkill just a few miles up the road.
Sandwiches and drink bought.... Carriganass Castle just up the road is an ideal place to sit and picnic. Built on the banks of the Ouvane/Owvane River in 1541, this was one of four O'Sullivan Beare Castles. A couple of Grey Wagtails flit around on the rocks below as we drink up and head off to our final destination of the day - Cappanaboul Stone Circle.
Carriganass Castle

Carriganass Castle
We head down a minor road between Kealkill and Bantry and turn up a long track just at the North Eastern end of Cappanaboul Lough, ending at a farm yard. We pull up and the Farmer is in the yard. We have a quick chat and he gives me directions to the circle. Joanie sits this one out.
Cappanaboul Circle is situated in rough moorland above the farm. It's an easy enough  walk and I am accompanied by the farm Collie. A couple of gates to go through and a short climb up the hill and I am there.
A barbed wire fence surrounds the circle, It does detract a bit from the setting, but it's there to protect the stones from the cattle. Only 9 stones from an original 13 remain and there is a boulder burial in the centre. The golden grass in the circle is long and the ground very uneven. There could easily be more stones laying in there somewhere you would never know.
Jack Roberts states the orientation is 270 degrees for the Equinox and that the Equinox Sun sets over Slieve na Gaibhle - The Forked Mountain on the Beara Peninsula (The Stone Circles of Cork & Kerry).
I make my way back to the farm. Joanie is inside, and I join her to enjoy a cup of tea, a slice of cake and some good old Irish hospitality !
A perfect end to a great day out amongst the stones of West Cork



Tuesday 20 March 2012

Gorteanish Stone Circle & Maulinward Stone Row

Maulinward Cairn and Row
20th March 2012

A nice early start this morning. We're heading for the Sheeps Head Peninsula and the stone circle at Gorteaneish near Ahakista.
The weather's not up to much... It's another one of those days where they promised us sunshine but all we have are grey skies and a bit of drizzle.
We make our way through Durrus and follow the coast road until we reach the Air disaster memorial just outside of Ahakista and it's here that we park up.
The circle is on one of the loops of the Sheeps Head Way - the aptly named Stone Circle Loop !
Boots on and wander off down the main road, through the village for about a mile. An early Chiff Chaff sings away, as the sun at lasts comes out, albeit briefly. Past the first right hand turn, keep going until we see a sign for the stone circle loop pointing up the lane on the right. After fifty yards or so there's a memorial stone for Tom Whitty, who was instrumental in the setting up of the Sheeps Head Way path and also another stone commemorating the opening of this path in 2000.

There's a stone bridge over the small stream, which trickles down over the rocks.
The path takes us up past the back of some houses, over another small stone bridge and into an area of gorse and Willow.
There, before you know it, is Gorteanish Circle in a small clearing. Apparently, the circle was "discovered", when the gorse was cleared to make the path.
Only four stones remain upright, with at least a further seven laying prostrate. A possible capstone from a boulder burial sits inside the circle to the NW.
Another boulder burial lies just outside the circle to the South, though now engulfed in brambles.
Several smaller stones are dotted around and what looks like a broken outlying Stone sits just a metre or so to the West. Two shallow pits have been been dug in the circle.
With so much vegetation around, it's hard to put any perspective on it's position and relationship with the landscape.The modern day views being obscured somewhat ! It obviously overlooks Dunmanus Bay and Seefin and Rosskerrig Mountain would have been prominent on the horizon to the West and North West.
Gorteanish Stone Circle

Possible Capstone for Boulder Burial

Gorteanish Stone Circle

Gorteanish Stone Circle
After a good look around, it's time to move on across the moorland,where a Snipe flies out of the bog, zigzaging it's way off  into the distance.
The path comes out onto a road and we follow it back down to the village. Then it's just a matter of retracing our steps back to the car.
A quick look over the bay reveals a Great Northern Diver swimming just offshore.
Back at the car, I decide that we might as well head on to the Stone Row in Maulinward Townland. It's on the way home anyway !
So, back through Durrus and down the lane past Maulinward and out to the N71.
Gonna nip up to Parkana and ask the Farmer first.
He gives us permission and tells us the best way to get there.We need to park in the gateway just 50 yards this side of Letterlickey Bridge, then it's the third field along.
All pretty straightforward. The fields are actually quite dry as well. Two small ditches en route present no problem and there are the stones..... surrounded by Sheep..... but not for long, as they wander off up the field at the sight of intruders.
This isn't just a Stone Row ! There's the remains of a radial cairn just a few yards to the North. A small arc of seven stones are all thats left of the outer kerb stones. The interior is filled with large and small stones... debris from the cairn itself.
The row is made up of three stones, aligned NE-SW. The SW stone leans heavily, but the other two are both upright. A fourth stone lies prostrate but is probably from the cairn. None of the stones are massive, the tallest being around four foot !
The site is situated in a valley, in undulating green fields, on a flat part of a rise. Four Mile Water flows just to the South. A delightful setting, as Skylarks sing all around.
It's time to head back to the car and home for a well earned cup of tea !
Maulinward Stone Row

Maulinward Stone Row

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Baurgorm, Cullenagh and Gortnascreeny

Nowen Hill and Cullenagh Lake
13th March 2012

It's a grey start to the day, but the Sun is starting to show signs of life, so we are going to head off to Baurgorm Stone Circle today.... then just see where the road takes us after that !
To get to Baurgorm we take the same route as yesterday and park up by the O'Neill monument. Joanie decides to sit this one out and has a look around at the shrine to Our Lady Of Trolibane instead.
It's a bit of a trek back down the road and up the lane, following the Sheepshead Way footpath to Knocknaveagh. A farm Collie comes over to say hello, wanting a bit of attention.
Finally I get to the stile that takes me from the road and into the hills. I realise that I could have saved myself most of the walk. There's room to park by an abandoned farmhouse just 100 yards from the stile.
Not to worry, it's a lovely day, the birds are singing and the hedgerows are starting to come to life.
Once over the style, its only a hundred yards or so until I see the top of the large stone poking up over to the right. It's now just a matter of finding a good place to hop over the fence. Easily done, I'm now heading over to the circle.
Baurgorm Stone Circle

Fallen Stone at Baurgorm

Baurgorm Stone Circle
It's nestled in amongst the gorse, almost invisible from the West.
Another lovely five stone circle, aligned NE-SW. Four stones are upright and one fallen. Of the uprights one stone is split in two. This is at least the third example of a stone like this that I have seen in West Cork. Were they deliberately chosen like this ? or, has it happened over the years through weathering and ageing ?
Two stones sit five or so metres to the South. One is still standing at over 2 metres tall. The fallen one is over 3 metres and together these would have made an impressive sight.
Baurgorm Stone Circle

Baurgorm Stone Circle

Abandoned farm near Baurgorm Circle
Back over the fence and back down the lane. The Collie doesn't give me a second glance this time. He's curled up half asleep, one eye on the traffic as he guards his farm entrance.
A quick drink and snack at the car, before we head off through Trawlebane and take a right at the crossroads. Then a left fork followed by another left fork into Gortnascreeny Townland and there on the hill is our next stone.
The Farmer is on hand luckily and tells us to "work away".
This stone is a whopper ! in fact it's a stone pair, but the second stone isn't much more than a stump really and is completely dwarved by it's neighbour which is nearly 2 and a half metres tall.
The views from here are extensive. Mullaghmesha and the pair of hills Dereenacrinnig East and West are the most obvious landmarks.
There used to be another Standing Stone on the other side of the road,but this was removed a number of years ago.

 Next, we turn and head back towards Trawlebane crossroads, this time going straight over and then turning left at the T cross. A right turn next  and we pass Glanbannoo Upper. The big standing stone over to our left that we already know. Today we want to see the smaller one further down the road.
It's not easy to see over the hedgerow, but my ever trusty stone spotter sees it through a gap. It's not a big stone, about a metre high, more oblong than anything and is certainly overshadowed by it's big Brother (or Sister of course) up on the hill.
Glanbannoo Upper
At the next T cross we go right. I always get disorientated on this road, it feels that I am going in the opposite direction for some reason. That said, it's a beautiful road and there are great views across the valley to the Maughanaclea Hills. Our road eventually brings us to another T cross and we take another right, passing the Goulacullin and Farhane stones that we passed a week or so ago.
Another junction, another right and we are heading around the Eastern end of Nowen Hill. There's a pull in where you can see this spectacular sight with Cullenagh Lake nestled at it's foot. In it's own little way it's reminiscent of Snowdon and Glaslyn.
Nowen Hill and Cullenagh Lake
We stop and admire the scenery, as a noisy flock of 50 or so Fieldfare make their way through the trees.
A bit further along the road, we come to the remains of Cullenagh Stone Circle.
Only two stones now remain of what it is thought, was a five stone circle. There is a pile of large stones dumped by a field hedge but whether these are anything to do with the circle I am not sure.
There isn't a lot to say about this one, other than praise it's position at the South Eastern foot of Nowen Hill (Cnoc na nAbhann) " the hill of the rivers" and bemoan its demise !
Still, it's been a good day. A good two days in fact. We've caught up with a few local circles and seen some terrific scenery.
Cullenagh Stone Circle

Cullenagh Stone Circle

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Cullomane and Trawlebane !

Ringfort at Cullomane East

12th March 2012

I've been meaning to visit the circle at Cullomane East for some time. It's only up the road and we've probably driven past it loads of times en route for somewhere else. So today is the day to put that right !
We don't head off until the afternoon, but as I said before, it's not that far to go. Out to the R585, take a left at Cullomane Crossroads. Then left up a farm lane and first right up to the farm.
We ask permission at the farmhouse and get the go ahead.
Heading down the small lane, a Hare darts across the field. That's a good start !  Two stones of the circle soon comes into view on the right. Then it appears in all it's glory. A five stone circle, with all five stones still standing. A boundary hedge has been built and incorporates two of the stones and some pebbles from the field clearance fill the middle. Apart from that, it is a perfect little circle. Aligned NW-SE and according to Jack Roberts,has an orientation of 220 degrees for the Winter Solstice.
Cullomane Stone Circle

Cullomane Stone Circle
The conical Sprat Hill stands to the North West and the site enjoys unbroken views to the South and West. The wind turbines on Glanta Commons give a modern feel to this ancient landscape.
In the field above, some 60 metres to the North East is a curiously shaped outlier. Now unfortunately fallen, it stood over a metre high.
Fallen Stone at Cullomane East
Standing Stone Cullomane East

Carrying on to the end of the field and through the gate. Just off to the right,  there are more standing stones, the remains of a radial cairn and a wonderful large pure quartz Boulder Burial.
It's quite a confusing site. The area became a cult area for St Colman (who gave his name to the Townland) and annual pilgrimages were held on Beltaine. There is a holy well here dedicated to him.
In the next field, a number of small cairns form part of the penitential stations of the pilgimage. This is  probably how the radial cairn got damaged, as pebbles were carried and piled onto the smaller cairns.
The Quartz Boulder Burial is just simply beautiful ! Two support stones are just visible. It just beams at you !
Quartz Boulder Burial

Radial Cairn and Boulder Burial
Heading back through the gate, go through the gate that is on your left. The fallen Standing Stone is up on the hill. There is another gate to your left and in this field lies a Cillin and a Ring Fort.
The small Cillin is situated to the left against  the hedgerow. Ivy wrapped Hawthorn trees grow inside and  coconut scent from the golden yellow Gorse blossom fills the air.
On the otherside of the field, sits the small Ringfort which would have looked over the whole site in days gone by.
Cillin at Cullomane East
Back through the gate(s) and one final look at the circle, before heading back to the car, where a cockerel struts about on the Farmhouse verandah. What an idyllic spot this is !

While we're in this neck of the woods, we might as well carry on up the road and have a look in on Trawlebane Stone Circle. It's another one that we pass by a lot and never stop at. Though that's mainly due to the fact that it's a bit overgrown !
So we drive up, through Baurgorm Townland and round past the O'Neil monument in Trawlebane/Trollibane/Trolibawn.... there seem to be umpteen ways of spelling it !
We park up in a gateway just past the circle and walk back down the road. The field gate is open, so we go in and head over to the mass of brambles that cover this poor old circle.
When you get close up, you can make out all of the stones. They are all still standing and in good condition, but the interior has been filled with stones and boulders from the field. This and the fact that it's in severe need of a haircut make it difficult to truly appreciate what is undoubtedly a fine circle.
Trawlebane Stone Circle

Trawlebane Stone Circle.... it's in there somewhere !
A quick stop off at Ahanafunsion Bridge, which is a delightful spot, before heading into Drimoleague for a bag of chips !
under the bridge