Monday, 30 November 2015

Glanbrack, Knockawaddra, Milleennagun and Ahagilla

July 15th 2014
Another drizzly start to the day, but the forecast is to brighten up, so I take the chance and head off up towards Glanbrack (An Gleann Breac - the speckled Glen), which is a little North of Reenascreena.
This area is rich in megalithic remains - all of which seem to focus on the hill called Carrigfadda (An Charraig Fhada - long rock), which although only 311m (1022 ft) asl, dominates the local area.
The route to Glanbrack takes me past Maulatanvally stone circle then taking the next right and following the lane past a right hand turn and a house on the left, just beyond of which is a small layby by some forestry. Back a few yards on the opposite side of the road is a gate leading to a track. Follow the track up (which is quite overgown in places) This will eventually lead to Glanbrack circle in a field to the right. Accompanying the circle is also a Stone Pair. This small alignment is set NE-SW and is around 3.5m from the circle. Both stones are of a similar size - around 1m in height.

The circle - is a small Five stone circle, but the axial and two flanking stones are all that are present. There are no portal stones.. Jack Roberts, in his wonderful books about the circles of Cork and Kerry, wonders whether this is exacty how it was built. The most basic and minimal circle in Cork !
Carrying on along the lane there is a left hand turning which leads to a small crossroads. Going across here leads to Knockawaddra (Cnoc an Mhadra - hill of the dog) Townland.
After a few sharp bends, there is a farmhouse. Luckily a lady is outside gardening and I ask permission to go to visit the two stone rows on the farm.
Permission granted - I head off down the farm track until I come across the first Stone Pair.
Aligned ENE-WSW they are of a similar size. The larger SW stone is 1.55m x 1m x 0.6m. The NE stone 1.2m x 0.8m x 0.5m.

In the next field about 200m to the WNW is a Stone Row. Made up of three stones and aligned NE-SW, and graded in height - from the smallest (which has become overgrown with brambles) at just 1.1m. The middle, at 1.55m and the largest at the NE, standing at 2.9m.

As I'm up this way - I might as well have a look over at Milleennagun (Millín na gCon - Hillock of the hounds) for the wedge tomb and standing stone. Arriving at the nearest farm, the farmer is just passing on his tractor and gives me directions to the wedge tomb. There's parking along the road a little and I head back to the field gate and into the field. The wedge tomb is a little overgrown with the usual mixture of bracken and brambles making it barely discernable. A Hawthorn tree has established itself at one end. The standing stone is situated in the next field, divided from this one by a green lane. The lane is practically impassable so a few barbed wire and electric  fences have to be negotiated. I noticed a large stone laying at the fields edge in undergrowth, looking very megalith like. Who knows - could it be a fallen and forgotten stone ?

Fallen stone ?

Curious audience

Anyway, I eventually catch sight of the Standing stone,and attract the attention of a group of curious cows, which are in the field. The stone is quite impressive - standing at 2.25m x 1.6 x 0.3 and set NNE-SSW.
One more stop before heading home - Ahagilla or Bealad Stone Circle.
This circle is in a miserable state. Three stones survive, some of  the rest are just dumped along with a whole load of field clearance stones, in the middle. It's difficult to work out how many stones there were originally. Not much more you can say really !

The Iveragh Peninsula

July 14th 2014
Today we are off up to The Iveragh Peninsula in Kerry. It's drizzling as we leave, but has brightened up some by the time we go through Kenmare - then anti clockwise round the Ring of Kerry.
The main purpose for today's trip, is to find a couple of wedge tombs in the townland of Coomatloukane/Com An tSleabhcáin, which is near Derrynane.
There are some layby's for parking on the N70, just past where the Kerry Way goes off up the hill to the right.In fact, the first of today's wedge tombs is about 100m up that very path. Cross the stile and follow the track up and you will see it on your right (complete with sign board). A neat little wedge tomb, perched on the hillside.

Retracing my steps down, I head for the second layby and scan the fields below the road for the next wedgie. Once spotted. it's easy to pick a spot to jump over the wall and pick a route directly to it, avoiding any fences and bogs.
This one is a lot bigger and and in a fantastic position, facing out towards Deenish and Scariff Islands and the Atlantic Ocean. A family of Choughs call from a little way off and a pair of Stonechats keep a close eye on what we are up to. This is a wonderful place it is easy to forget that there is a busy tourist road just 100m above, as we sit in our solitude and soak it all in.

Eventually, we head back for the car and carry on our journey, stopping briefly on the corner at the big Mary statue. You can look right down to Waterville and about half way sits the magnificent Loher (An Lothar) stone fort.
Carrying on again I want to stop of at the Eighticura (Íochtar Cua) stone row. We have passed this fantastic looking row before and even taken photo's from the main road, but this time, I am determined to get right to it.
There is a lane leading up to a few houses. On the left is a drive to a small house. We have knocked here before for access, but today, as then, there is no answer. The place looks like a holiday home and there is a gap in the hedge which leads into the field. So, that's where I go. Wandering over, I am suprised to find a land rover parked by the stones, with two archaeologists (who are doing some survey work),having their lunch break. I take some photographs before they get back to work.

The row itself consists of four stones running ENE-WSW and looks out over Ballinskelligs Bay. The tallest of the stones is at the SW end is 2.8m high and they are graded in height 2.7m, 1.9m and 1.7m respectively. A later enclosure has been incorporated into the row, with an old small wall built between the stones..
Next, we head into Waterville, taking the first right and heading towards the GAA ground. In the boggy field to the right stands another standing stone. This one stands at 1.75m x 0.4 x 0.13 and is aligned E-W.

There's one more site that I want to see before heading back - the circle at Dromod (An Dromaid). It's not the easiest place to find. I know that I am in the right area, and by more luck than judgement, I stumble across itthrough some rather wet and boggy fields.Unfortunately, it's rather a disappointment. I knew that it was not in a perfect state, but today it is so overgrown as to be nearly unrecognisable. It is thought to hae originally consisted of seven stones. It had been noted in the NMS to have had it's interior filled with field clearance stones. Maybe, next time I visit, it will have been cleared of bracken and brambles.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Return to Mushera

8th July 2014
It's a week later and I'm back up in the Boggeragh Mountains. On the way, I popped in to see the stone row at Bealick, just outside Macroom.The row is in a sad state, half buried in Brambles, 1 stone missing and an electricity pole right next to one of the remaining stones.Set ENE-WSW, with the tallest stone at the SW, standing at 2.4m. The missing stone stood SW of this.The row is in a field on the banks of the Sullane river opposite Bealick Mill.There was a group of 5 Grey Herons in the field, probably a famiy group whenI arrived

Just West of Ballinagree, is the Townand of Knocknagagappul. In a field to the right somewhere aong the lane is a standing stone. Luckily, the Farmer is coming along the lane and tells me which field it's in. Set on the usual NE-SW alignment, it's quite a big stone at 2.4m high x 1.2 x 0.6.

Further along the road are two groups, of what the NMS call - Anomolous stone groups.They are at either end of the same field and unfortunately have been rather damaged.The group to the East, has one stone standing with two laying prostrate, as described in the NMS. The Group to the West however, couldn't be found, though there were piles of rubble in the area.

 Carrying on again, the road eventually comes out onto more open moorland. Here on the South Eastern slopes of Musheramore is the remains of a nice Stone Row. Only one stone is still upright, with two large slabs laying flat. There is a further large slab, though it is not known, whether this was part of the row.
The upright stone is 2.5m in height. There are good views to the North and East.

Next stop and the main purpose for todays trip is round the other side of Musheramore for a trek to it's summit.
Parking by the entrance to the Millstreet country park, it's a stright slog up the hill to the cairn on the summit.
Musheramore, which at 644m (2178ft)  above sea level, is the highest in the Boggeragh mountain range.
The views in all directions are absolutely magnificent. I'm not sure if the cairn at the top is ancient or of more modern making but i'ts a welcome sight nonetheless.

 Back down at the car, I decide on one more set of stones to visit, while I am up this way. It's sort of on the way back, a few miles South East of Musheramore in the Townland of Caherbaroul.
I'm getting to know these lanes a bit better now and find my way easily. The stone pair at Caheraboul stand in pasture just to the West of Burren Hill. A quick jump over the field gate and there they are.
Again aligned NE-SW these two magnificent stones are of a similar height and size - 2.65m and 2.95m respectively. They seem to be  aligned towards the Sheehy Mountains, possibly the dip between Douce and Doughill. I woud love to be up here for the Solstice sunset just to see for sure.
The whirring wind turbines just across the road give a strange contrast between modern and ancient.
It's been an enjoyabe day, as I head back through the lanes, already thinking about my next trip.