Saturday 8 March 2014

Rain stops play at Lettergorman

7th February 2014
We had intended visiting a number of stones today - Glanbrack, Maulatanvally quartz stones and more. As it turns out though - the heavens open up as soon as we arrive at Lettergorman South five stone circle and the rain gets heavier and heavier. We manage a couple of photographs before leaving. Disappointing but can't be helped. Match abandoned for the day !

Mizen Peak

6th February 2014
An unusually bright, mild, sunny, Spring like day today. Time to visit the Mizen !
I have been reading through William O'Brien's book Ivernia and noticed a photograph of White Strand near Crookhaven. We knew about the ancient field boundary in the bay but O'Brien mentions that the massive stone nearby is a possible Standing Stone. As it happens, the tide is on the way out so I have a wander over for a look. It is actually in the Townland of Ballynaule and a fine stone it is too. Too large and too isolated to be part of the field boundary it seems a very good candidate, for a Megalith. Aligned towards the hill at Brow Head NE-SW.  The ancient field boundary runs E-W and is still partially submerged. It consists of 15 stones plus an isolated one several yards on. There's a Great Northern Diver floating around the bay. Always a nice bird to see. A couple of Stonechats flit around and the ubiquitous pair of Ravens call overhead.

Back to the car and a quick look over Galley Bay for Divers and Seals. Only a Cormorant there today though. In Crookhaven, there are a couple more Great Northerns of the pier.

While the weather is so good, I am going to have a trek up to the signal station at the Mizen and then up to Mizen Peak ( Carn Úi Néid). Even at this time of year with the visitor centre closed, there are a few cars around. A quick jump over the gate in the middle of the car park and a dash straight up the hill. A Snipe flies up startled, making it's familiar squelching call. The hill is quite steep (and wet !), but soon enough levels out. The signal station comes into view and I head in that direction. It's in a ruinous state, just a shell.

Mizen Peak dominates the North Western skyline and it is to there that I am off to next. Heading in a roughly NW direction across the short heather and grass moorland, I skirt around a small hill and head for the boundary wall that divides the Townlands of Cloghane and Caher. The wall climbs the hill, going through a handy sort of gateway and up to the Trig Point which is at 232m (761ft) isn't the biggest of hills, but what a view. You can literally see for miles and miles. Sea, Mountains, green fields wow !
A little further on along the ridge is Mizen Peak itself. The cairn of unknown date  is the focus for many megalithic monuments. It's unique shape visible from as far away as Kealkill circle.
I return the same way having another look at the signal station en route.

Friday 7 March 2014

Canrooska, Currakeal and Reenmeen in the hils above Glengarriff

23rd January 2014
The site with everything
Driving into Glengarriff, there is a lane right next to the Eccles Hotel that takes you up high up into the hills above the town. There is a left hand turn. Follow this road which will eventually take you up to a big green barn. Luckily a Farmer gave us directions half way up.
Park up by the green barn, then follow the old green track past the ruined farmhouse. This brings you out onto the rough open moorland. The weather isn't brilliant today - grey skies and drizzle, but there is a break in the rain.
The first stones come into view as you hit the moorland. A fairly large standing stone, next to a radial cairn circle. The stone in the Northern tip of Reenmeen West Townland is aligned NE-SW and stands at 2m x 1.5mx 0.7m and is set just 3m from the radial cairn circle. There are commanding views over Bantry Bay and over to Sugar Loaf Mountain to the SW. The radial cairn is made up of 6 low stones, set in a circle of around 7m diameter.

There are plenty of barbed wire fences marking Townland boundaries to be negotiated to reach the rest of the stones.Some are easier to get over/through than others !
About 500m NNE is a three stone alignment. Unfortunately, the barbed wire fence forming the boundary between Canrooska and Currakeal Townlands runs straight through it, which spoils it somewhat !  They run ENE-WSW the stones are evenly spaced and range in height between the smallest stone at the ENE 1,05m, middle stone 1.35m and WSW stone 1.45m. A boulder burial lies some 50m to the NE but I'll look at that one on the way back.

The weather is still holding out as I head NW towards Canrooska circle and row. It's about 100m to the NW but isn't easy to pick out amongst the deep heather and gorse.
It becomes clearer the nearer I get. This small 5 stone circle has 1 stone missing. Once again the alignment is NE-SW. Another 3 stone row sits just South of the circle. The largest stone lies flat in the heather. Measuring 4m it would have dwarfed the other two (0.7m and 0.4m respectively). Like it's neighbour on the hill it is aligned ENE-WSW. A small cairn makes up this trio but is more or less buried in the undergrowth.

Another standing stone stands about another 100m higher up the hill NNE of the circle. Again it is not obvious in the deep heather, and I find it more by luck than judgement.
This one is 1.8m high by 1.5 x 0.6. Aligned E-W

Heading back for another look at the circle, then over to the barbed wire fence. This one is perhaps the hardest to get over, but I manage it with dignity just about left in tact and wander over to the Boulder Burial. Four supports hold up a hefty large stone.

I wander back over to the row and follow the fence down to find a suitable place to get over - well under is easier this time !. The drizzle is starting again so I retrace my steps back to Reenmeen Stone then back to the green lane and the car. There was some rock art somewhere, but I didn't get a chance to look properly for it. All in all though a very interesting complex, consisting of a huge variety of different sorts of megalithic monuments, but obviously all connected. I'm going to have to make a return visit when the sun is shining.

Thursday 6 March 2014

Return to The Beara Peninsula

13th January 2014
Today we are off on another trip to the Beara Peninsula.
First stop of course though is Hudsons Wholefoods in Ballydehob for our Pasty and chocolate brownie fix for later in the day.
We follow the usual route - Bantry-Glengarriff then a quick look in at Adrigole for some Seals. They like to lay out on the rocks in the harbour and sure enough - there are 4 of them out there.
Another quick stop at Castletownbere for any interesting Gulls, is unproductive so it's on to the first stones of the day.
Yes..... you guessed it. Dereenataggart West Circle. We are greeted by a rainbow over the circle, followed by a quick shower. But it doesn't deter us, J has her Dowsing rods and I just take in the atmosphere of one of my favourite circles.

Further along the road we park up by Teernahillane Ring Fort. I am determined to find the Teernahillane stone pair and boulder burial once and for all. I have checked the NMS map and have it pinpointed down the road before the two houses ! If you have read the previous blogs about the Beara, then you will know that this particular stone pair and boulder burial, have become a thorn in my side having eluded me every trip down here ! Today I am determined. I walk all the way down until I reach the first house.... no sign ! I walk back up..... still no sign ! Surely they haven't been swallowed up in the mass of undergrowth and bogland. A pair of Jays scream out as they fly across the road. Dejected, I walk back to the car. The stones have beaten me again......
We drive slowly along just in case.Then, as we pass the two houses - my chief stone spotter - J shouts.... "There they are". and there they were..... in the garden of the second cottage. Now, perhaps the name of the cottage "Stone Cottage" should have been a giveaway, but the NMS map has them some 50-100 yards away in "rough pasture"
A quick knock on the door of the cottage... no answer. In fact, the house is empty, so I quickly have a look at the stones. They look so out of place here amongst the flower beds.
The stones are aligned NNE-SSW and are quite small at 1.3m and 0.95m in height respectively.
The boulder burial is situated just 3m NW of the pair. Again - not too spectacular. The large slab rests on at least 2 supports. A broken slab leans against one end.
Back to the car with a smile on my face :)

Next it's round to Kealoge, to pick up another stone that was missed last time round. Though it was time that was a factor that day. We turn up the Kealoge turning and past the farmhouse. A mad Collie lunges manically at the car tyres....

Further up the lane there is room to park at a gateway. The stone itself sits a few fields below at the bottom of the hill.
It's further down than it looks, but soon enough it is before me in all of it's glory. 1.62m over 5ft tall block of pure white quartz. Aligned the usual NE-SW and looked over by the mountains of Knockgour and Knockoura with extensive views over Coulagh Bay.
The walk back up requires a little more effort than the walk down, with a few stops to take in the views (and breath ! ).

Back up at the car, we again run the gauntlet of the mad Collie, only this time the word must be out and it seems that every house in the area also has a car chasing mad Collie - one passing the duty on to the next and so on. With tyres still in tact, we continue through to Allihies intending to head for Eyeries but the road is shut due to damage from the recent storms. We are diverted back round to Castetownbere and head up to Eyeries from there then to Ardgroom for a revisit to Ardgroom Outward circle.

The track up to the small carpark is a bit rougher than I remember. The walk to the circle is definitely wetter than last time. The final stretch from the gate being the worst. But there is always a way across and luckily I find one that doesn't involve being knee deep in bog water.
The Standing Stone and accompanying Stone Circle look as magnificent as I remember and with the sun shining and the sky a radiant blue, you can really appreciate the surroundings.

Someone has left a large horned Sheep skull in the circle, along with the large collection of various coins.
Nine pointed stones remain standing out of an original eleven. One has fallen and one is missing. The circle has an internal diameter of 7.25m and is aligned NNE-SSW (NMS) or almost due N-S (Jack Roberts). The Standing Stone is roughly 6m to the East and stands at 2.5m x 1.8m x 0.4m and is aligned NE-SW.
One day I will have to look for the other stones and burials high up in the hills of this Townland
But for now we head on into Kerry and to the Townland of Lehid.
On the Eastern slopes of Knockatee is what the NMS describe as a "megalithic structure". There are several slabs, some set at right angles some prostrate. Possibly it is the remains of a wedge tomb..... I don't really know.

A few hundred yards down the road on the left hand side of the road, is a standing stone. It sits just inside a field guarded by Sheep. In fact the noisiest Sheep I have come across - they all had a really bassy bahhhhh.
The stone - 1.5m in height x 0.55m x 0.5m is aligned NNE-SSW and is just 30m from a boulder burial, which sits on the opposite side of the road. A second possible boulder burial sits close by.
From here, you can see Drombohilly Stone Circle up on the hill in the infant forestry, which will soon engulf it !

From here we head back up to the Healey Pass. The waterfalls coming off the mountains look spectacular in the late afternoon sun. One quick last call into the churchyard at Kilcaskan for the Ogham stone.The top of the stone is broken off so the inscription is incomplete. It reads "LUGUQRIT....... LONAS"  (Macalister). The middle part is missing due to the damage.
The sun is setting fast now, as we head for home. As usual it has been a fantastic day out on the Beara.