Here we seek and stand before the giant ancestral stones.
Na Dhia agaibh go léir,
Níl a fhios agam cén fáth ach inné bhí sé i mo cheann ag rothaíocht suas go dtí seanchlocha ár sinsir i gCorcaigh Thuaidh. Chuaigh mé ar rothar ó mo theach sa Chathair Thuaidh ag dul thar chaisleán na Blarnan, thaistil mé taobh istigh de ghleann agus suas sliabh beag. Tá an gleann go hálainn le haillte aolchloiche ar an dá thaobh agus abhainn bheag ag déanamh a bealach ar ais go baile na Blarnan. Bhí neart coiníní le feiceáil ach chonaic mé iora rua ag rith suas crann go han-tapa. Thóg sé 1 uair agus 20 nóiméad orm an tuas “Na Séisear” a fháil. Bhí an turas 25 ciliméadar ar fad agus bhí an ghaoth ag dul i neart mar a chuala sibh go léir sa chraoladh ag an suíomh.
I don’t know what put it into my head but I decided to get out on the bike and travel up to the standing stones up in North Cork. I left my home from north of the city, passed Blarney castle, travelled through a valley and up a small mountain. It’s a beautiful valley with outcrops of limestone either side and a small river making its way back through Blarney village. There were loads of rabbits around and I got to see a red squirrel dart up a tree. It took me about an hour and 20 minutes to get to the field of ‘the Sixers’. The journey was 25km and there was a wind getting stronger which interfered with a live broadcast.
When I arrived at the field, I went to the farmhouse and asked permission to go up to the bronze age site. We had a good conversation about the area but unfortunately, he had no local folklore stories associated with the ‘Sixers’ even though he is a fourth-generation farmer on this land. He also gave me permission to return on the morning of Bealtaine at sunrise in a few weekends time. The site itself is impressive but I failed to locate the adjacent stone which was probably either gone missing over time or was hidden in the little woods behind the stones themselves. This particular site, much like the one in Castlenalacht south of the county was, as archaeologists have worked out, used for measuring the length of the day to ascertain what time of the year it was for bronze age farmers.
I am pretty lucky where I live. 25km North is ‘Na Séisear’ in the Beannsalaght townland between New Tipperary and Bweeng villages. 25km South are the Casltenalacht standing stones where I conducted a live personal decompression at the previous Winter Solstice morning, 5km West is the site of an unexcavated ringfort in Ballincollig village, 25km North-West is the triangular locations of Knocknacoille stone circle (conducted numerous personal decompressions), the Tobar Eoighan Naofa (Well of the 3 Goddesses, conducted live last Spring Equinox) and a wedge tomb, and finally, there is a portal dolmen tomb in Rostellan 25km East.
Now this particular portal dolmen tomb is one of a kind in Ireland and is also a large one as well. Portal dolmen tombs are megalithic monuments which take their name from the two large upright stones which form an entrance or ‘portal’ to the chamber of the tomb. The monuments are generally of a simple rectangular plan with a chamber formed by upright stones and the two portals. The chamber is covered by a capstone which in some cases can be massive. It is believed that portal tombs were once an integral part of a large cairn or mound. These monuments are thought to date to the Neolithic period, and from the available evidence it would appear that they served as communal graves. “Nearly submerged by the tidal waters of Cork Harbor’s Saleen Creek, the Rostellan Dolmen (portal tomb) is the only example of such a Leaba Dhiarmada agus Gráinne (Diarmuid and Gráinne’s Bed) in Ireland to wear a garland of seaweed. It is also unique in that it opens to the east, rather than facing the setting sun, as does the normal, land-locked portal tomb. There is no trail leading to it, nor is it mentioned in most modern guidebooks. The Shell Guide of 1967 calls it Carraig a’ Mhaistin, which may mean “Bully Rock.” While it now sits in the sea ten meters (33 ft) below the high-tide mark, when it was built in the Early Neolithic the oceans were lower and it likely sat on beachfront, rather than aquatic, property. A kilometer to the west along the rocky shoreline are the crumbling ruins of “Siddons’ Tower,” built in 1727.” (www.ringofcork.ie). I was showing this to a very good friend of mine who lives in Whitegate which is 1km away and we are going to try to get out to it when the occasion arises. I must also mention that ‘Diarmuid and Grainne’ is one of the best Irish mythological romances which can be found in the Óisinic Cycle based on Fionn mac Cúmhail. I found an old picture of the dolmen online which gives a rough idea of it’s dimensions.
Seán Ó Tuama.