Drombeg stone circle, West Cork, Country Cork, Ireland.
Finally, we have arrived at the last of my posts in the Summer Solstice set (for all the series see this link). It has taken much longer than expected, not only due to the number of posts that the visit generated, but also due to issues with the blog stability that we have now hopefully traced and resolved. Thank you for bearing with us during this particularly extended period of disruption. Sometimes the Universe communicates to us in peculiar ways, and certainly for me the gremlins have struck at my very heart by disrupting this blog. However, re-alignment is taking place, and I am confident that soon you will see a more unified approach to the blog. You’ll see what I mean very soon. For now, let’s finish this set of stories.
Entrance Of The Initiate
After a steep and narrow descent around Drombeg we arrived at a startlingly spacious car park, and then proceeded along the hedge-lined path to the stone circle itself. Along the way we passed a couple who had camped in the circle the previous evening. They looked like they had had an interesting evening! Along the path the fuchsia bushes reminded me of the wonderful floral displays on Iona that we had seen in September 2012.
There were several things to see at the site. Obviously, the circle, but we’ll come to that. Elsewhere there were some smaller oval and circular enclaves which were labelled as “Fulachta Fiadh” - more ‘cooking pits’ it seems. Hmmm… As I sat on the ridge overlooking the site and connecting to the area I had a vision of how the structures were used. I saw a young man being escorted by a hooden and robed figure. He was led into the covered dome structure. Inside he was put through a ‘sweating’ process and then left alone for the night. During the night he emerged and walked into the stone circle to meditate. That relationship seemed to replicate the way I felt about the Dromagorteen circle too.
Now it was time for my own initiation into the circle mysteries!
Ardgroom stone circle, Kerry, Ireland
Somehow, in our travels up and down the coast road of the Breara Peninsula, we had missed the sign. The sign was small and so was the lane along which we had to travel. The day was coming close to an end, and the sun was beginning to drag the shadows into longer shapes. Heading now towards Ardgroom circle we found that the land ended in a car park suitable for three or four cars. There was one parked there already, and we slotted in next to it. The signs to the circle pointed towards some marsh reeds, showing us that at any other time of the year we would be walking through a marshland, but luckily at the height of summer the ground was rutted but hard.
As we approached the circle we could see that it was dominated by a group of people, most of whom were standing with their backs to a tall stone. One woman was sitting at the edge of the circle in the middle of the company. She seemed to be directing a ritual, so Kal and I moved off to one side of the site so as not to disturb them while they worked.
Kal wandered down to the circle, dowsing as he went, prowling around the outer edges. I kept my distance, taking photographs of the circle from various angles to pass the time while we waited to see if the group would finish their work any time soon. They looked bedded in for the day, and so I dowsed for a suitable place to work outside the circle instead. I was taken to a small hillock where there were several fairy rings in the grass. This seemed a good vantage point to do my own work from while I wanted to see what would happen inside the circle. I did a connection and soon I was feeling the flow of energy from the hills behind me, and the sweeping power of a ‘dark’ lady whom I was becoming familiar with on this trip.
Shronebirrane stone circle, Kerry, Ireland
To find this circle you need to follow the brown signs inland from the R571 Beara peninsula coast road after passing through Lauragh village. More information can be found at the Isle of Albion site.
After wending our way along a single track road that snaked along a valley floor for what seemed like an eternity we end up at a small car park next to a long farmhouse. We are surrounded by beautiful and tall hills, yet the valley is wide enough for us to catch the remainder of the solstice day’s rays.
As we pass the farmhouse we are met by the owner who charges us a nominal fee to enter the site in what is effectively their back garden. Their sheep wander around the circle leaving small black deposits.
I begin my investigations outside of the circle, whilst Kal heads straight inside, as he often does. I dowse firstly for the Spirit of Place for the site and find that the circle has one. Good. I ask to be shown where the spirit is, and I am taken all around the outside of the circle, threading in and out of some of the stones. That’s unusual, but vaguely familiar! I’m sure I found the same energy form at Cerrig Pryfaid near Conwy years ago. After my third perambulation I am back on the same track again, so it would appear that the spirit forms three discernible circles of energy around the stones.
When I ask to connect with the spirit I am taken by the dowsing rods to stand at one of the stones which lie to one side of the circle. Here I can connect with the spirit, and I learn that she is born of the surrounding mountains and that she has been at this circle for thousands of years.
Uragh stone circle, Kerry, Ireland
The solstice day is picking up in terms of weather. The sun comes out as we pick out way slowly down the narrow track which we hope ends at the picturesque stone circle of Uragh. We park when we can drive no further, and walk to a small rise between two lakes, and suddenly the view becomes amazing in all directions.
As Kal went straight into the circle I walked to the top of the rise to give myself an overview of the area. There was a large recumbent stone on top of the small hill, and this became my base from which to observe. I could see other people milling about in the area admiring the views and visiting the circle. I would wait until the place felt calmer before I descended.
When the coast was clear I came down to visit the circle. I waltzed around it seeing if I could sense the right place to approach it. There was a ritual creation on the grass a few feet away from an opening in the rib-like structure of the smaller set of standing stones. This was the entrance point that I felt was right for me. Clearly, it was right for someone else too, and they had got there before me. I approached the oval of stones, a shape typical of this region, and introduced myself to the site, hoping to catch the attention of the Spirit of Place.
I noticed that my black wings (see previous posts) once again gave me an unhindered access and an immediate welcome to the site. That is so refreshing! It was like having a calling card, or a free pass. I felt the Spirit of Place react to this and to my druid name. It would also seem that my family name has some resonance in these parts too, although not the same power as when I am farther north in this island. As I settled to lie down (the obvious thing to do in the slight depression) I felt comfortable, and the sun shone through breaks in the clouds to light the scene.
The Spirit of Place introduced himself as Igneorl. It sounded like it was based on the word “igneous” – a classification of rock. Now it was time to get to work.
Dromagorteen stone circle, Kerry, Ireland
Dammit! I’ve missed a post and now they’re slightly out of order. This is the sixth post of my Ireland summer solstice story. Sorry that I have posted it after the seventh! I don’t know how I missed it because this is a really important post, full of magical happenings and some astonishing recovered knowledge.
We are the first to park in the wide car park at the Bonane Heritage Park site. We head for the information hut nearby to buy tickets. As I buy the tickets the old man behind the counter says, in a thick Irish accent, that it is a shame we ave missed the solstice sunrise at the circle. The conditions were perfect today, he says. I make a note to check when I’m up there whether that was the most energetic time to be in the circle. First, we have to get there!
There are a few common features of stone circles – they are usually in a beautiful setting, and they are usually near the top of a hill. Such was the case of the Dromagorteen circle, which is perched half way up the mountains which lie directly East of the circle. The setting affords an incredibly encompassing view across the Sheehy Valley. Of course, it was a hot and humid summer day, and so the climb was slow, steady and exhausting, but this was all rewarded by the beauty of the site and its views. Beauty seems a strong factor in the placement of stone circles, I feel.
Although attracted by the circle I was firstly drawn strongly to an area which had an information sign in front of it. The area was described as a “cooking pit” (Fulachta Fiadh) – presumably based on some archaeological findings in that area.
“Other theories suggest that the sites may have been used for bathing, the washing and dyeing of cloth, and leather working. Supporters of these theories point to the fact that no remains of foodstuffs have been found at the fulacht fiadh sites.” (source: Wikipedia)
I felt that it had a slightly different purpose than cooking meat, however, unless that was a metaphor. As I walk into the circle of small stones with its raised earthwork I feel like this is a place to meditate in, to prepare. I feel it is like a sweat lodge. As I sit in the cooking pit I feel like I’m actually in a cooking pot! The sun is nearly directly overhead and the day is already hot. I get sensations of overwhelming heat and dizziness beyond the direct physical sensations of the heat of the sun.
Cashelkeelty stone row, Kerry, Ireland
As we drive down the R571 (Ring of Beara road) towards Lauragh village I make a sudden and impulsive decision. There is a brown sign with a megalith on it, and I am sure I saw the words “circle” on it. I pull over at the next available parking space which is some half a mile down the road. Little did I know that if I have gone back I would have found a car park next to the sign. Hey ho! Only the first of a series of decisions that would make this journey more difficult than it needed to be!
The sign reads “Caiseal Coillte” or Cashelkeelty when rendered from the Gaelic into English. Sure enough, it’s a stone circle indicated on the sign, so we hop over the metal stile and head off into the dark and closely-knit fir trees. The day is humid which adds to the intensity of the climb up the hill, but after half an hour we are clear of the tree line and heading over the couple of rounded slopes that separate us from the ‘good stuff’ on the top. All told we climb for the best part of an hour before reaching the remains of a stone circle.
There is nothing of interest to us at the stone circle. Kal has moved on within seconds of arriving there, whereas I stay a while to ensure that it is of no interest. Yep – there’s hardly any energy here and certainly nothing worth wasting time over. A bit of a disappointment, but suddenly Kal is waving at me from the near distance. Is there something else to see further up the slope?
Kenmare – County Kerry, Ireland – 21st June 2014
We roll into town with clear instructions – the stone circle is just on the edge of the town, down Market Street. That’s true but for some reason we decide that the street designated as “market” must be the one with all the shops on it. Well, that was foolish! A long walk out and back means that we start the day off grumbling about how to put a sign up to name your streets in small Irish towns. We haven’t wasted much time, and soon we find the pristine, manicured stone circle at the end of a well-kept hedge-lined path. It feels like we’re walking on to a bowling green!
Bowlers on the Green
The circle is composed of beautiful stones – not too tall, but equally spaced, regularly sited, and overall the circle is impressive. The stone monument is enclosed on all sides by shrubbery, and on one side by tall trees. Other singular trees make themselves known too – a blackthorn and a hawthorn stand in solitary silence on the left-hand side, as though waiting to be noticed by the interested observer. I notice them. I’m interested.
There are a few others who have ventured out to the circle this special Summer Solstice morning – a young lady sitting at the far side, and an older lady who is wandering around watching what everyone else is up to. Tourist? Interested party? We find out later that she’s interested in all things “heritage” and is from the United States. Well, the odds were in favour of that, really!
Having dowsed to see if there is anything to do here – luckily getting a positive response – I ask to be taken to the starting point. I am taken on a huge inwardly-winding deosil spiral that takes me from weaving betweent eh outer stones to a point on top of the plat stone in the centre. I guess I have to sit here? I sit facing the solstice sun and just allow me aura to be cleansed of the modern world’s detritus. As this is Ireland and we’re in a small town it only takes a few seconds to be cleared and ready for the next stage of the adventure.