Today after school, just to see if it was still there, we decided to visit the Kilnaruane Pillar Stone on our way home. We parked the car at the gate and walked up the hill. The breeze was as brisk as any February breeze can be and acted as an energiser – the kids practically flew up the hill and were boosted by the fresh air for the rest of the afternoon.
The Kilnaruane Pillar Stone is an isolated pillar stone in a field overlooking Bantry Bay. The stone is of great importance as it has a very rare depiction of the kind of boat that Saint Brendan is assumed to have used to reach America. The inscriptions and carvings in the stone show four people in a boat, navigating skywards through a sea of crosses. The clarity of the illustration on the stone easily identifies the vessel as being a pre-viking skin-covered currach. To the trained eye, the details of the oarsmen from their grip on the oars to the angle of the stroke, are true depictions of seafaring and indicates that the sculptor indeed had an intimate knowledge of seafaring.
|A close up of an engraved cross|
Whenever we visit the stone, and see it exposed to the elements as it is, I cannot help but wonder if it should not be preserved in a museum somewhere. Interestingly enough, there is a replica of the Kilnaruane Stone in the Skellig Heritage Centre, Valentia Island, Co. Kerry. There is ambivalence as to whether having an important heritage monument such as the Kilnaruane Stone left in situ, is a good and accessible thing or if it is a neglectful and regrettable thing. At present there is a fence around the perimeter of the immediate site of the stone to prevent the stone from being used as a scratching post by cattle and a little turn-style type gate to allow access.
|One can only hope this is a perpendicular pose and not a horizontal one!|
|Showing the height of the stone and Bantry Bay in the background|
In the past, we have had visitors who have taken chalk rubbings of the engravings on the stone which makes a lovely keepsake of the depiction. The little cross, as shown above, makes a particularly good charcoal rubbing and looks lovely framed.