Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Rathcoole Standing Stone Co Dublin

                                Above Image: The Western aspect of the stone

                    Above Image: The ancient cross with the stone in the backround

                                        Above Image: Entrance gate to site

I had heard that there was a peculiar looking standing stone present in a Churchyard in Rathcoole so one early Autumn evening I went there and was lucky to find it in the first churchyard I encountered on entering the village. The location of the stone is in the Rathcoole Church of Ireland graveyard. There are a small number of parking spaces outside and an iron gate for entry. I was thinking that this gate was probably locked but was surprised to find it otherwise. Not being exactly sure at that moment what to expect and if I was even in the correct location I scoured the lawn behind the Church building and eventually found the stone on the East end of the graveyard. Now I believe there are a few of these types of standing stones sprinkled throughout the country but this is the first I’ve encountered. It is a rough looking stone unusually short at about 30 inches in height and 27 inches wide. It is standing at an angle leaning back Eastwards The stone most likely dates back to Celtic times or before and what is peculiar about it is that it has a perfectly smooth elliptical hole carved through it measuring 10 inches by 8 inches.
There are some legends attached to these Holed stones. One story is that in Celtic times prior to or during a marriage ceremony a couple would stand either side of the stone and link hands through the aperture which was at shoulder level. This was done to seal the relationship. Another tale is that on stones with a larger aperture children who had fallen ill with some malaise or other would be physically passed through the aperture and in many cases they quickly recovered health. This superstitious practice has continued to some degree to this day in a particular holed stone called the Tolven stone at St Constantine in Cornwall, England. Both of these types of practice it would seem would not relate to the Rathcoole Stone as the aperture is too small to pass through and not high enough for the linking of hands. So either this stone has another significance to it or that the top part had somehow detached from a taller stone leaving this smaller relic to mystify us today. Approx. 12 feet to the South East of this stone in the graveyard there is also an short but stocky ancient cross of unknown origin also leaning at an angle
To find the stone take the N7 heading West from Dublin to Naas and exit at Junction 4. At the roundabout at the top of the exit ramp take the 2nd exit straight ahead onto the R120 (you will pass Avoca Hand Weavers on your right. Drive to the next small roundabout and go straight through. Drive for approx. 200m and you will see the Church of Ireland behind a wall on your left. As mentioned there are 2 or 3 parking spaces at the entrance gate. Once inside the grounds head around the right hand side of the church and look for the stone in the back of the graveyard just beyond the East gable of the Church.

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