I love getting a Saturday afternoon to explore a bit of our historic and fascinating county. Today I went down South – again to the Rathanna, Ballymurphy area.
A phone call from Eamon Coleman a couple of months ago to tell me that he had cleared a path to the ancient rock art and holy water wells that are situated on his land had me planning to head down when football commitments allowed.
First port of call was Killoughternane
This single cell Church was built in the 5th Century by St Fortchern. There is a well across the road that has a really interesting history. It was forgotten about until 1880 when the land owner found a bottle with a message inside, written in a foreign language which when translated contained directions to the well! It must have attracted visitors from continental Europe at some point. This obviously created great excitement and the Well became a pilgrimage site with may cures attributed.
Subsequently a lady was cleaning out the well when she unearthed a mud encrusted item from the bottom of the well. It turned out to be a Chalice and Paten – probably hidden in penal times. The Chalice is now in St Andrews Church, Bagenalstown.
Headed over to Tinnecarrig Ballymurphy then to meet Eamon Coleman and view the rock art that is well hidden from view in an ancient overgrown graveyard on his land.
Its hard to make out the cups on this stone but if you look carefully you can see many deep cups peppered all over the surface. What did they signify? Who knows at this stage but its great see that rock art many thousands of years old is still present across the county.
Indeed you could say that this area is the Boyne Valley of the South as there are numerous examples close to the foothills of the Blackstairs!
One of the Holy Wells well hidden from view.
Holy wells or water fonts….
Time to head home but a short dash across to Rathgeran and Carlow’s finest example of rock art beckoned.
There are many more ancient heritage sites in this small area of the County – I often think we undersell what we have to offer…