Set in the idyllic rolling hills of south-west Ireland spanning southern Galway and East Clare is the home to a diverse and progressive community, attracting alternative lifestyle and healing practitioners. The area is quite magical and abundant with thin places where the veil between worlds is thin. Southern Galway enticed and was an inspiration to Yeats and his mates over many summer sojourns. Thoor Ballylee was Yeats’ home for 12 years, he was enchanted by the spirit of the surrounding landscape which was evoked through his poetry.
Discover the beauty and other worldly delights of this area. Such as stone circles, thin places, fairy mounds, eagle watching, visit ancient remnant oak forests, enjoy sublime hill walks or the plentiful ethereal riverside refuges.
Galway is the land of the ancient Fir Bolg, after ruling Ireland for a short period they were defeated in battle on Plains of Moy Tura in Clare by the Tuatha de Dannan and given the province of Connaught.
Getting to East Clare
East Clare is only a 40 minute drive from Shannon Airport or 2.5 hours from Dublin or Cork airports. There is a good but limited bus service in the county Clarebus Route Planner www.clarebus.ie/clarebus-route-planner/
Hiring a car is recommended to journey around this beautiful, unspoilt corner of the country to intimately witness the landscape of rolling hills and picturesque valleys, intertwined with rivers, lakes, woodland and boglands.
Biddy Early’s Cottage
Biddy Early lived near Feakle in the 1800s and is renowned as a healer who conversed with the fairy folk. She gathered herbs and plants before sun-rise with the morning dew still on them was reminiscent of the earlier alchemists, who regarded dew as being ‘a secretion from dawning light’. She appears to have been a generous woman who rarely accepted monetary payments, preferring instead gifts of food. You can visit her cottage which is derelict and the land is overgrown but has an amazing feel. Park up further along the road and respect the locals access drives.
Lough Gur Grange Stone Circles
Over the border in Limerick is the very impressive Grange Stone Circles. Located on the western side of Lough Gur lies this triad of stone circles. Including a large male circle, a smaller female circle and another circle which doesn’t resemble a circle because it has been partly destroyed. Thus creating a trinity, which is a rare configuration. These circles are located to the east of the R512 north of the village of Holycross and parking is available at the side of the road.
The male circle is the larges stone circle in Ireland and most of the stones are laid very close together almost forming a fence with a distinct entrance passage oriented from the east. The dominant father stone of circle is dedicated to Crom Dubh the Celtic god who emerges from the underworld around the 1 August to claim the first fruits of the harvest. So he is associated with fertility. Sunrise through the passage is aligned on Lugnasa 1st August. The male circle is managed by local farmer Tim it is worthwhile having a chat with him. He has a shed with information and sells books and postcards.
To the north of the main circle is a smaller female circle accessed over a fence into another farmer’s field. None of the stones are much more than 1m high and they are all wider than they are high. The largest stone in this circle has a hawthorn tree growing out of it which has split the stone in two. The tree growing out of the rock is said to be a fairy tree or a mystical tree associated with elemental beings (non-human spirits) of another realm or world, it is without a doubt most beautiful and its presence is striking.
The remains of a third circle are located to the west of the female circle of which only 9 stones remain. Some of the original stones would have been situated where the R512 road is and this circle could have possibly been larger than the main intact circle.
Two rows of stones are located directly west on the other side of the R512 and are aligned with the summer solstice according to Tim.
Two standing stones are associated with the configuration of the circles here. One 70m SSE of the main circle and legend has it refers to the mythical tree that grows at the bottom of Lough Gur. The other is located approx 200m NE of the female circle called the Pillar Stone due to its height.