The Beara Peninsula which straddles Counties Cork and Kerry has some of the most mystical sites in Ireland scattered over its terrain. The Uragh Stone Circle, not too far off the main road from Kenmare to Ardgroom is one such site. The circle has 5 small stones and one large alignment stone. Surprisingly, this stone circle doesn’t appear in guidebooks or local destination publications. I only found it due to the signage along the roadside. This site is well worth traveling thousands of miles – just for the view and the energy in the place itself.
The circle rests on a small hill that sits between two lakes – Cloonee Lough Upper and Loch Inchiquin. The back drop is of mountains, veined by waterfalls. I noticed the colors of the mountains continually change as the ever-moving sunlight shifts. The effect is similar to a kaleidoscope with muted earth tones. Stand still and watch the landscape change.
A dirt road reaches the circle, and one must cross a bridge to get to the hillock. When I was there it was damp and muddy. Traversing up the hill to the circle required boots, but well worth the challenging mud holes. Standing on the hill near the circle I could see that this was the center of the vast landscape all around. The view over Loch Inchiquin is spectacular.
This spot is magical.
The circle itself has 5 stones tangentially placed and one great alignment stone that appears to line up with the axial stone though very close in proximity. The massive alignment stone is over 10 feet high. It dwarfs every other element of the landscape.
It’s easy to imaging Uragh Stone Circle as a portal to another place or another realm. The changing light, the shifting colors, the solitary setting of the circle – all these elements consume the spirit. I lost track of time while there. After awhile a young couple walked up the dirt road from the opposite direction – past the circle. They said they’d been watching me from the hillside. I seemed so determined to reach the circle through the mud. So they came out for a walk. They were vacationing there on Beara for a week. When I asked where they were from, they replied Washington DC (just 35 miles from my home at the time).
Strange coincidences tend to occur in thin places.
Nine hundred years before Christ was born, people of south western Ireland erected a group of alignment stones in a rocky outcropping on what is now known as the Beara Peninsula. The location was set along an ancient track, known as the Green Road, that spanned a good part of the peninsula, connecting communities. Only three stones remain today from the alignment group. Remnants of a smaller stone circle nearby mind pilgrims as they step into that thin place. The panoramic views near the alignment stones are vast, and one can see the sea in the distance.
Cashelkeelty Stone Circle is like no other I’ve visited. Though guide and reference books give it no significant rank over other circles, it has an existing spiritual presence that surpasses the others – at least for me. One can feel the history ascending the final hill along the Green Road. The first glimpse of the circle at the crest of the hill marks the point when time begins to stand still for the pilgrim… when that traveler coming to this place in the context of an ancient story steps into a higher level of her own existence. I was overcome by emotion when I moved close to the tallest stone. At eight feet high, this stone hovers over the others looking like a bard recounting a meaningful story. I don’t know how long I was there. But the pictures I shot show I was there through a bit of a weather change – darkness, sunlight, fog, mist, rainbows, all shifting in and out of time.
It is impossible to take a bad photograph here.
I ascended the Green Road alone when I visited the circle. I was traveling by myself that rainy February afternoon. I studied the stones, standing in front of them – looking, staring. It’s remarkable what you can see when you stop to notice details. I noticed scores of coins that had been tucked into the stone crevices – coins from many countries. I looked further and noticed cairns that had been erected by pilgrims near the stones, clooties left behind, tokens under stones – confirmation that I wasn’t alone, at least not alone in knowing that this place was special.
Cashelkeelty Stone Circle is one of the sites on the itinerary of the Thin Places Mystical Tour this September. Come join us.