Stone circles of Ireland

Lough Gur

On our trip to Ireland in 2003, we saw many amazing sights. On a purely size scale, Ireland’s sights cannot compare to the grand castles and cathedrals you might see in mainland Europe, for Ireland is only a small island, but it is a magical place where the wee folk play.

Probably Stonehenge in England is the best-known ancient stone circle, and perhaps the most grand, but “circles were being built in the north-west of Ireland at least a couple of hundred years before the dramatic edifices of Britain,” Stone Circles

Stone Circle at Lough Gur

In the Early to Middle Bronze Age, the people in Ireland were building their small stone circles. Because of their size, they “could have been erected by rather small groups of people – even single extended families. Many are only roughly circular. And some are intimately associated with alignments or Stone-rows and circles filled with stones,” Stone Circles

Stone Circle at Lough Gur with two male models for size comparison.

“Recent fieldwork has established that even quite small stone circles have a sophisticated astronomical function: to foretell eclipses of the sun and moon. Accurate predictions of these dramatic events would certainly have empowered the mathematicians who made them,” Stone Circles

Stone Circle at Lough Gur

Lough Gur is in County Limerick southeast of Limerick City. This area contains evidence of a Stone Age settlement that “was thickly settled in 3000 B.C.”  The Great Stone Circle there is 4,000 years old. Ireland for Dummies

Stone Circle at Lough Gur

We only saw three stone circles on our trip; one was in the middle of a small city and I didn’t get a photo because I was distracted. We were looking for a phone booth to call the doctor back on the Dingle Pennisula about our son’s mono test—but that’s a long, though interesting, story for another day.

Drombeg Circle

The Drombeg Circle is in County Cork near Skibbereen, where I also stopped at a small shop along the road and purchased a book about Irish Ancestors. This “stone circle is locally known as the Druid’s Altar, and is located on the edge of a rocky terrace with fine views to the sea about a mile away. The word Drombeg means ‘the small ridge. […]  Excavations in 1957 and 1958 revealed cremated bones in a deliberately broken pot wrapped with thick cloth,” Stonepages

I have to admit when I walked into the center of this circle I got kind of creeped out and had to back away. It was probably my vivid imagination construing a scene of witch offerings and human sacrifice, or I might just be psychic. I had a similar experience in Salem, Massachusetts. I am, after all, part Irish.

Photos by Christine M. Grote
Copyright © 2011 by Christine M. Grote

See more links to posts about Ireland on my “Places I’ve Been” page.

Sources of information:

Stone Circles and Stone Rows By Anthony Weir
Stone Pages

Ireland for Dummies by Sinead O’Brien and David G. Allan, IDG Books Worldwide, Inc. New York, 2001

For more information about stone circles:

9 thoughts on “Stone circles of Ireland”

  1. Those are amazing photos! I’ve never been to a Stone Circle, but I’ve always wanted to. Still, it’s not something I’ve ever actively looked for photos of, so I appreciate the chance to see them through your pictures. I’m pretty sure that I also would’ve felt creeped out standing in the center, and I’m not Irish!

  2. Special pictures, thanks so much for sharing them! 🙂

    I have been to Stonehenge about thirty years ago and I recognize the feeling you’re describing. It is mysterious, like another age surfaces there.

    1. I visited Stonehenge about six or seven years ago. There were a lot of people there and you weren’t allowed to walk among the stones, just around the circle. It was still very impressive.

      1. Back then it wasn’t allowed either, but I remember crawling under a red cord and dashing into the middle. It only lasted a few moments but was very special. As was touching the big stones.


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