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Holy Hills of Ireland

32 33 staNdiNg aLoNe monoliths The ancient standing stones that are found throughout Ireland vary from the stumpy to tall elegant ones like the 21 ft Dunfeeny stone in Mayo. A medieval poem The Stones of Ireland claims they mark heroes graves, and some, as at Punchestown and Longstone, Kildare, or Dumnahare and Carrownacaw, Down, do stand over Bronze Age burials. Others may be astronomically oriented and some intriguing traditions exist. The Stone of the Tree, in county Limerick, is part of a supernatural tree in a nearby lough, the mortally wounded Cuchulainn tied himself to a stone bearing his name in Louth so as to fight on, and holed stones used in fertility rites include the Aghade stone, Carlow, through which new babies were passed, and the Hole Stone of Doagh, Antrim, where couples pledged their troth. The Iron Age produced carved and shaped monoliths, like the Turoe and Castlestrange stones and the Lia Fil. All of these obviously phallic objects stood in tribal assembly places. Later, ogham inscriptions commemorating individuals were incised on monoliths, including the 17 ft high Faunkill stone, Cork. Christianity also accepted stone magic, by putting new imagery on monoliths, creating high crosses, and sanctifying some stones powers to give cures, float, fly, bear the shapes of saints knees or feet, or protect childbearing women through carved stone SheelanaGigs. Nor should we forget the Blarney Stones power. Above These stones illustrate their magical uses. Oaths and wishes were made binding in the top left stone, the virility of kings by the Lia Fil or Pillar Stone at Tara top middle, and great men were honoured with ogham inscriptions on standing stones such as this one right at Monataggart, Co. Cork. Below Women touched stone Sheela na Gigs such as this one at Taughboy Church, Co. Roscommon, to receive their protection. Below Babies were reborn through holes in other stones. Below Right Ogham Stones near Durrus.
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