Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A long weekend in Co. Clare.

This week end I paid a long over due visit to Co Clare that county of Megaliththic riches. A megalitomaniacs paradise. The spur to my visit was a Megalithomania meet up. I spent three days there and in the course of my travels I visited the following sites.

1/    Brian Boro's Fort. Kincora.
2/    Newgrove Wedge Tomb.
3/    Moyree Commons Portal Tomb.
4/    Loch Inse Ui Chuinn.  Lake Inchiquinn.
5/    Killinaboy Church.
6/    Parknabinnia Complex. Two wedge tombs and a court tomb I didn't find.
7/    Creevagh Wedge Tomb.
8/    Poulnabrone Portal Tomb.
9/    Inse Cealtra. Holy Island. The meet up.
10/  Formoyle More Wedge Tomb.
11/  Magh Adhair Mound.
12/  Magh Adhair Standing Stone.
13/  Poulaphuca Wedge Tomb.
14/  Milltown Wedge Tomb.
15/  Marysfort or Lismeehan Wedge Tomb.
16/  The Tower House of Fortane More.
17/  Rosslara Wedge Tomb.
18/  Clogher Portal Tomb.
19/ Moanogeenagh Wedge Tomb.
20/  O Shea's Acres (didn't find)
21/  O Shea's Acres Wedge Tomb.

                             Click on pictures to enlarge.

                    1/   Brian Boro's Fort Kincora.
This was my first visit to this site and I'm glad I did go. This was the place the Thomand Kings were crowned and it also has huge associations with the "Dal Cais"   Here are three links with information on this.

I was lucky the sun was shinning as I was there.

                                             OS Map 58. Grid Ref R 696 743.

Information Board

The hill of the Fort

Outside ditch.

The Back Entrance.

Looking across the inside of the Fort.

                             2/  Newgrove Wedge Tomb.
This was my first visit here. What a beauty this tomb is. I missed the bullaun here though in the entrance stone,kicking myself over that,didn't have the megalithomania sheet with me. Ah well just gives me an excuse to go back to this tomb as if any were needed.

                                               OS Map 58. Grid Ref R 453 803.

My first sight of it.... Wow!

The Tomb speaks for itself....

From the front.

From the side.

From the back.... 

The late evening sun playing over the tomb.

The bullaun is the stone in the front on the left...... how did I miss it?

                3/  Moyree Commons Wedge Tomb.
According to T4W on megalithomania this is a sister portal tomb to Poulnabrone.This one is not like her more famous sister though. It stands there entwined in brambles and ivy, a little forlorn looking but having character nonetheless. Its one remaining tall portal stone still standing proudly. An endearing tomb. Worth a visit.
 Note:- Although Moyree Commons dosen't show on the current OS map it is the correct name for it (not Addroon as shown on map) as pointed out to me by Marianne.  Marianne can be found and her travels in Clare read on :-
 I'm extremely grateful to her for her information and knowleidge of the area. She uses (link below) and clarelibary websites.      

                                                 OS Map 58, Grid Ref R 363 891

My first sight of it from the road.

A little closer.. note the pile of rocks on the right.

The proud tall portal still standing!

Here you can see the fallen capstone hanging precariously....
                            4/  Loch Inse Chuinn. Lake Inchiquinn.
 At this point in my journey I decided I was going to drive around Lake Inchiquinn. There's a lot of history here and also a beautiful piece of Irish music associated with this lake,it was written by the blind Harper O'Carolan. Here's a link to the tune. Enjoy!    Its a lovely place and a really nice drive.

Also a link to some of the history.

and lastly some pictures.....

                                                 OS Map 51. Grid Ref R 260 900

Here is the river Fergus entering  Loch Inse Chuinn.

A gentle ripple on the water.

                                    5/  Killinaboy Church.
This is another site I'm kicking myself over. Firstly I didn't stop which was silly but then when I got back to Dublin I discovered on the megalithomania site there's a Sheela na Gig on this church and other stuff worth seeing,another one to call back to.
                                             OS Map 58. Grid Ref R 276 915. 


                      6/  Parknabinnia Complex. 3 Sites. (two found,one not)
I couldn't come to Clare and not visit this site. I had read quite a bit about it. There's a lot of stuff on this hill. I put my hands up now and admit I cherry picked the easy sites to get to, and even they had their difficulties. I'd forgotten what it was like to walk on the Burren. Its leg twisting ankle breaking terrain, you have to watch your step all the way. Also I discovered binoculars are of no help either,they only confuse you....its all rocks out there.....all weired and wonderfully eye confusing shapes some of them looking like a tomb outline until you get up close and realize they're not. The wonders of the Burren, a very special place. This hill would bear 2 or even 3 days to explore all its sites properly. Definitely going to spend more time here till I get to know this complex.

                               Parknabinnia Wedge Tomb. Os Map 51. Grid Ref R 264 934.

My first sight of it from the car window as I drove slowly by..

The front of the tomb.

And again,from a different angle.

Back of tomb showing one of the massive side orthostats.

Looking at other massive orthostat and what I think is left of the cairn in front.

General view.

          Parknabinnia Court Tomb. (Not found)  OS map 51. Grid Ref R 265 936.

As these were marked close together on the OS map and having read Megalithomania's site I thought I'd have no problem finding it. Was here I discovered binoculars are of no use in the Burren. I had picked out a bunch of rocks that kinda looked like the mental image I had of what I was looking for......big mistake. When I had walked down towards them and was about 15 metres away from them I realized they were only rocks in a wall...... Here's a pic of
Just rocks!  What else..... 

                        Parknabinnia Wedge Tomb. OS Map 51. Grid Ref R 264 937.

There's not really much to say about this tomb. Its not as in good a nick as it's near neighbour up the hill. There are two side orthostats remaining one of which is broken. There's an intact back stone and what I think is a sill stone,and there's an interesting stone with a hole in it near the tomb That's about it really.

As I first saw it.

Interesting stone with hole standing nearby.

Looking into the tomb and what may be a sill stone.

Me trying to be arty and failing miserably.
                    7/  Crevagh Wedge Tomb.
What can I say about this really wonderful example of a wedge tomb with a bit of style. I liked it immediately. Its just a hop over a stone style in the wall next to the road and a short walk down to the tomb.  You don;t get the full glory of the Tomb until your almost on top of it after you've rounded the corner as it lies in a little hollow slightly hidden except for its large "Standing Stone" type stone which was what drew my gaze to it first. Its a tomb which made me think,was this a cross or over or amalgamation of ideas. In itself its a lovely wedge but I couldn't  hep thinking it might have had a court at one time. There are one or two stones I don't understand why they are where they are........ They kind of remind me of the courts in Armagh and Down. Maybe they are only double walling.....but such display?  In a quandary here....not understanding this tomb yet.

                                                 OS Map 51. Grid Ref R 273 958. 

What first drew my eye.

On walking enough of the way to see into the hollow.

My first full view of the tomb.

Showing one of the stones which puzzle me standing slightly away from the tomb on left,the tall one!

The other stone which puzzles me. It stands to the right of the front of the tomb.

Looking form the back and side.

Looking at tomb from the other side. Cap stones sizes can be appreciated from this shot.

Overall view from front of tomb. This baby was built to last.....

                          8/  Poulnabrone Portal Tomb.
Now we come to the star of the show. I had planned to arrive here just as the sun was sinking and it worked out well. This place still has a special place in my heart. I've watched it over many years from when it was an obscure little novelty on the Burren,to the much photographed celebrity it is today. This was probably the tomb along with Newgrange and Tara to have kindled my passion for the monuments,so it was a little like greeting an old friend but looking at it with much fresher eyes. I've been to this tomb about 4 or 5 times now over the years. I've passed and looked at it from the road countless times and I'd never for some reason taken a photograph of it. What was more I had the whole place to myself,wasn't a soul around. My only gripe was the security ropes leading up to the monument...they kept getting into my photographs....and in my way......  I had little to complain about really!! There's still something majestic about this tomb, in my book a must see site....     Anyway here's the pictures.
                                                OS Map 51. Grid Ref R 233 005.

And it's easy to get to!

Taken  from the car park...yes car parking too....

Getting closer... my spirits improving every moment I get closer to it.

You see what I mean about the ropes...spoiling a perfectly good photo

Standing without having gotten over the ropes yet.

Now I'm over the ropes and getting closer.

You just have to make it loom,just as T4W says on Megalithomania.

Love the colours of the sky here.

With the broken piece on the ground. The shot you just have to take!!

This one I couldn't resist taking...,well sunset ...didn't get it as well as I wanted but...

  I stayed with friends overnight in the vicinity... well near enough. Having eaten and having a well needed sleep I awoke somewhat refreshed.had coffee and brekkie and drove for our megalithomania rendezvous to Mountshannon to meet the 10:30 am. The plan was to take a boat to Inishcaltra (Holy Island) see the sites and take it from there. After meeting up and getting reacquainted with each other we were finally a motley crew of five, so off we set in our cars for the embarkation point. The guy duly arrived with the boat and we all piled in, landing 5 min's later on the Island of Inse Caeltra in Lough Derg. The boatman's name is Gerry Madden and he'll ferry you over and back for €9. Here's a link to the site where you'll get all the information needed and his number and contact details.

               9/  Inse Cealtra. Holy Island. In Lough Derg.

                                 OS Map 58. Grid Ref R 850 697.

We left from the small car park marked on the map nearest the island.

St Caiman's Church and Round Tower.

                                         Confessional on left from St Caiman's Church.
Information board.

Looking in through the door of the "Confessional"

Looking over the door at the stones inside.

                                              Church of the Wounded Men.

         Carved heads on arched  main doorway of St Caiman's Church. 

Detail of the carved heads.

Two cross slabs housed in St Caiman;s Church We didn't have the key.

                                 Fragment of cross with some detail on the side.

                                                        Bullaun Stones
The two bullauns together.

The bigger of the two.

The smaller one almost buried in the grass.

                                         St Brigid's Church.

Information board.

St.Brigid's Church.

Detail on the arched door of St Brigid's Church.

                                   St Mary's Church.
Information board.

View of the inside of St Mary's Church.

Altar in St Mary's Church.

Coptic style maybe carved head.

                                                The Holy Well.
The location of the Holy Well.

The setting of the Well.

The water make up your own mind,would you drink it?
I really enjoyed our visit here. As usual there's is never enough time.our hour was up before I knew it. I missed most of the Bullauns...ah well another day.

                    10/   Formoyle More Wedge Tomb.
This one was all thanks to Marianne in many ways. She took us up to it, so different when you don't have to search for it yourself. This tomb should also be called "Marianne's Liberation" for she had worked hard to free it from its bonds of gorse,ferns and brambles in the course of her travels. What a pleasant little tomb it is all alone on it's little hillock. Very very well worth a visit.

                                                 OS Map 58. Grid Ref R 598 702.

My first sight of tomb after struggling up the hill.

The tomb from the front. Notice the lack of vegetation.

From behind right.

From behind from left.
At this stage it had started to rain and I was not on my best form for walking. The others were anxious to be off to Knockshanvo but I had well run out of steam. So having said good bye to the rest of the team I was left to my own devices. First I needed a wake up, so I drove to Tulla and had a coffee and sweet cake for a sugar fix. Taking some time to look at my trusty OS sheet and look for some easy tombs with little walking involved. My eye picked up on Magh Adhair and I've always wanted to visit this site.So that's where I headed.

                             11/  Magh Adhair Mound.

This is an interesting site for me because of all the history that took place. Again this is one associated with Brian Boru, the Dal Cais and the crowning of the Kings of Thomand. It was around for the fighting between the Dal Cais and the Eoghanachta of Munster. Its not much to look at but you can stand and think of the history.

                                                  OS Map 58. Grid Ref R 449 762.


Just a few metres up the road to your right at the end of the field stands a beautiful Standing Stone. Apologies here I didn't get a good shot of it, I cheated and tried to take a long distance shot of it. Didn't go up to it,it's now on the "to do" list.

                        12/   Magh Adhair Standing Stone.

                                                     OS Map 58. Grid Ref R 448 761

Best shot I could get.
Mental note to self...start thinking of getting a long range lens or a better camera.
Then on to do my last site of the day. I had heard bogman talking earlier of Poulaphuca Wedge Tomb and saying it was easy enough to get to with a little due care,will explain in a minute.

                     13/     Poulaphuca Wedge Tomb.

Getting to this one is like a little treasure hunt. You really have to trust your map,your car,and your driving skills. When you are coming off the secondary road to get to the track,you have to keep your eyes open like a hawk for the turn off to the trackway,when you do take the trackway you have three tracks to choose from keep to left one as this will take you all the way up to the tomb eventually,after an adventurous run in your car. The track is narrow and very steep in places,its banked in cement on some of the more hairy bits, just keep going you'll make it OK.There's parts of it where you really have to give the car some wellie to keep traction. When you get to the top believe me its worth it. Or you could park your car down at the bottom and walk up.....but its a very very long and steep  walk!!!

                                             OS Map 51. Grid Ref R 266 014.

Here's where you keep to the left.

It was a little shy at first hiding behind its bush.

But it soon lost its shyness and showed itself in all its glory.

From the front,notice the triangular piece missing from the back stone.

From the side.

From the back. Here you can see the bit missing again.

Looking into the tomb.

14/  Milltown Wedge Tomb.

OS Map 58. Grid Ref R 468 798

 I stayed in a b&b in Ennis Sunday evening and decided I'd do one more day in Clare. Was up bright and early Monday morning and this tomb made a good start to the day.I spent about 20 min's here taking photos,just me the birds and the tomb,a gentle breeze and a sunny morning.

                          15/    Marysfort or Lismeehan Wedge Tomb.

This was the second sight on my list for the day and was a real disappointment for me. Firstly I didn't know it stood in a field owned by a factory called Olympos Diagnostica... don't they do cameras....should have called in. Not only was it on this company's land it was also protected by two wooden fences one of them with an electric fence attached,that's when I decided I wouldn't be trying. The tomb from where I was looked in bad condition. However the company have thoughtfully provided a sign.

                                          OS Map 58. Grid Ref R 527 006

On its protected hill.

Information sign put up by the company.......nice of them.

This was the best photo I could get at this site. The tomb is in a ruinous condition.

           16/  Tower House of Fortane More.

Just took a quick photo and moved on to my next quest quickly.

                                             OS Map 58. Grid Ref R 535 013

Nothing to be said really!

                          17/   Rosslara Wedge Tomb.

This tomb is also on the company land,however this time I met a friendly farmer who lives nearby and he told me how to get up to it easily. I found it without any problem but I'm afraid  it's in a sad state.... pity....still has something though. but I wouldn't drive out of my way to see it.

                                               OS Map 58. Grid Ref R 538 012.

As I first saw it lying there under it's tree.

The capstone is the only appreciable part of it left.
There's a remaining badly damaged orthostat lying under the slab but only just,there's not much of it left. There are other stones lying around it. This ones almost a goner I'm afraid.

                                        Clogher Portal Tomb.

This was really a strange visit for me. Firstly I found the site pretty easy and saw the tomb no problem from the road only about 15 metres away from me. That's when I noticed the gate which was positively not built to climb over,well not without breaking your neck. To top that off there was an electric fence running about 2 feet behind the gate so even if I could climb over I couldn't squeeze past the electric fence,so another approach had to be found. Walking down the hill on the road I saw a gap through the bank at a tree which I could get through with a little effort but I still had to negotiate the electric fence with was running all around the field,was then I had a brainwave....back up to the car to collect the dry nylon jacket of my rain ware. Armed with this I'd no bother tackling the fence. Once in the field I thought my problems were over,a gentle stroll up the hill to the tomb no..the field was sodden wet with ankle breaking deep ruts where cattle were obviously used to using it as a playground. Nothing daunted I started to make slow progress up the hill finally gaining it to the tomb to begin taking photos all the time watching my step. I was just on my last few photos when I backed away to get a better angle but I'd forgotten about the footing and got snagged by a stray bramble which tripped me up. I fell unceremoniously on my backside up to my eyes in muck and water. I've never had this happen me on a visit before. I got the distinct feeling this tomb didn't want me near it. I was paranoid during my visit to this tomb and the feeling never left me until I got back on the road walking back to my car. Eerie feelings here. Was it worth it? Judge for yourselves.......

                                          OS Map 58. Grid Ref R 549 797.
Easy to find.

As I first saw it from the road. Looks like some giant toad guarding its lair.

The gate which utterly defeated me.

The capstone I think.

From the side sill can't quite figure it.

What I think is the back stone and one orthostat.and the capstone.

Can anybody make sense of it?

                      Moanogeenagh Wedge Tomb.

Before I deal with Moanogeenagh Wedge I want to mention Elmhill in passing. It's on OS Map 58. Grid Ref R 553 767. I spent a little time searching for this tomb on a dangerous part of the road but didn't find it. I did however find Moanogeenagh.

                                       OS Map 58. Grid Ref R 557 758.

What I could see from the bend on the road. I didn't go up to this tomb.

                                  20/ O Shea's Acres. (Didn't find)

A quick word on the last two sites of the day. I was in search of this one, on the bohereen I was following I passed a farmer working in his yard. I asked him about the tomb and he immediately said  "Sure is just a bunch of old stones"  He told me I could park the car and was welcome to walk up the hill the rest of the way to see the site. I knew there was a long walk left so declined his offer,turned the car and set off in search of another tomb that was near enough. Then I took a wrong turning and met another farmer and we started to chat and I told him what I was doing and he knew where both tombs were. Eureka!  So he jumped into his 4 wheel and told me to follow him which I did. Then he turned up the same road I'd just come down and met the other farmer. Anyway short story they knew each other and I was allowed to drive up to the tomb I'd been first seeking. While we were there before I set off he gave me the number of yet another farmer whose land the next tomb was on. So off I went in search of,,,,...
                                                  OS Map 58. Grid Ref R 578 734.

These stones looked promising until I went down to them,turned out to be field clearance. Grr..
 So having not found this tomb and having given it a good go I headed for my final visit for the week end.

                                      O Shea's acres Wedge Tomb.

This time I found the correct track no bother and when I reached my first obstacle on the way up a shut gate,I rang the farmer with the number I'd been given. He had been expecting my call and he gave me permission to drive up the mountain and look for it providing I closed all gates after me on the way up and down and warning me to just ignore the cattle.  Cattle!!....I didn't care I was in a car. Five gates later I had reached the end of the track without spotting the tomb so I started back driving very slowly all the while looking to my right where both the farmer and the OS map told me it should be. I was just about to give up and could see the second last gate on the way down when I spotted a group of stones covered in brambles in a field very near the track. I'll let the photos do the talking.

                                                OS Map 58. Grid Ref R 583 742.

How I first spotted it.

It's there among the brambles, I can see the stones,alas it'll have to wait for another day to investigate.

So into the car with me carefully shutting the last two gates behind me, pointed the car in the Killaloe direction to cross the Shannon and catch the motorway for Dublin and home a tired but very satisfied guy.
 Until my next outing. Clare is definitely high on the list now for further investigation.