Winter Solstice Stone Alignment

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I had hoped to visit the standing stones down the Inagh Valley between Kylemore and Recess in Connemara on the day of the Winter Solstice but as luck would have it the weather was cloudy over any day I could wrestle myself from the armchair over Christmas. I needed a sunny day and knew that given the fact that the sun was setting around 4.30pm this time of year that I would have to be on site by 2pm. Finally I managed to visit (with the landowners permission) yesterday on the 18th January about 1 month late. It was a fabulous sunny crisp day and the stone alignment was easily reached up the Gleninagh valley. We walked across the bog to it taking in the vast expanse of blanket bogs stretching out in the valley in front of us. We were at the foot of Ben Baun the highest peak in the Twelve Bens and across from us the triangular shapes of the Maamturks were echoed down the Valley.

The 6 standing stones in Gleninagh are close to the Gleninagh River The rocks appear to be tapered at the top and are metamorphic in nature. There is a sensation of being at a meeting place of three valleys.

As we arrived the sun making its descent to the notch in the mountains and the shadows were growing longer one shadow blending with the next to form a line of shadow pointing just east of due north. There was also a circular depression beside the stones. I wondered if it was some type of a barrow or burial mound or was it formed more recent activity. Often standing stones are associated with burial sites. I wonder when it dates from? What was the landscape like then? Was it covered in trees with the streams teeming with salmon and deer hiding in the woodland or was it a world where bogland had started creeping in and drowning the landscape?

Standing stones are considered by many to be like clocks indicating the shortest day. Whatever their purpose there is a magical quality about standing there and watch the shadows align like people have done in this spot for thousands of years.


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Marie-Louise HeffernanWinter Solstice Stone Alignment

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