By Mícheál Ó Coileáin
District Editor: Edso Crowley / Editor: Mícheál Ó Coileáin
Archaeorglan … a concept exploring artifacts of archaeological significance in Killorglin County Kerry. The earliest known source of a Killorglin archaeological artifact was that of the Laharn Cauldron (2500 B.C.) which apparently was displayed in the Dublin Exhibition 1858 but its whereabouts are now unknown. The Tinnahally Ogham script dates from 4th Century and are on display in the National Museum. Another Ogham Stone is situated in the townland of Ahane near Caragh Lake and a Killorglin Ogham also existed at Castleconway but is now lost.
The Farrantoreen/Ardmoneel/Merovingian Stone dates from 7th Century and many theories exist as to its origin. The item of jewellery/pendant on display is minted in Sterling Silver depicting the Triple-Cross set in the centre of the Farrantoreen Stone.
The Exhibition is on display indefinitely at Old Boyle’s Shop at Langford’s Street, Killorglin.
‘ THE COPTIC STONE ’
The ‘Coptic Stone’ as is named locally is part of Killorglin’s history and situated in marshy land 300 yards on the eastern side of the Laune Bridge. It has long been a part of Killorglin’s folk history that the Knights Templars were in evidence and was said to have had a centre near the Old Church of Ireland on Bridge Street. Another theory put forward is that the Stone is of Merovingian origin. In fact Killorglin Castle had connections with Jeffory De Marisco, a Norman lord who seemingly had Templar connections. This fits neatly into the scheme of things as there is a distinct relationship between the Merovingians and the Knights Templars.
Located a short distance from Killorglin, at the boundaries of Farrantoreen and Ardmoneel townlands, lies an inscribed cross slab known as the ‘Farrantoreen Stone’. Identified by Macalister(1906) as being derived from a Coptic (Middle Eastern) design. More recent consideration by archaeologist John Sheehan (1994) suggests Merovingian Gaul (Western France) as a more likely source of inspiration for its Irish stone carvers. Dating from the 7th or 8th Century, the cross slab is by far the oldest artifact/field monument testifying to the introduction of Christianity into the Killorglin area. The slab has no apparent historical or monastic context, though its proximity to the Laune ford crossing and nearby Dromavally Church may be significant.
Extract from ‘Discovering Kerry’ ((Barrington) 1976.
‘A MEROVINGIAN BACKGROUND’
The inscribed stone at Ardmoneel, on the outskirts of Killorglin, Co. Kerry was first brought to notice in 1906 when visited by members of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (Macalister), some of whom took advantage to make a rubbing of its cross-inscribed face … described then as having no history, local or otherwise. Barrington (see above) was first to identify that the upper confirmed by Herrity and its overall design is related to the cross-bearing pages of early Irish manuscripts. It has been suggested by John Sheehan, UCC that the major diagnostic features of the Ardmoneel design is derived from the Merovingian stone-carving traditions of South West Gaul. The stone is a low boulder with the design occurring on its flat upper surface, with simple grooves and consists of a triple-armed cross within a rectangular frame. The corners are ornamented with simple semicircular loops enclosing the outer angles. Midway along the short sides are T-shaped motifs with in-turned terminals and on the long sides are poorly preserved variations of these motifs. The cross, which the frame encloses is of a linear type and features three symmetrically-disposed arms. Both its shaft and arms terminate in simple expansions, while the upper terminal features a pronounced loop to the viewers right … the rho element of the chi-rho symbol. The stone lies a few meters in the Ardmoneel/Farrantoreen townland boundary, close to the southern bank of the River Laune and located close to a fordable point of the river in very marshy, overgrown land. Dromavally church lies 300m downstream on the opposite bank and may perhaps occupy the site of an earlier foundation. The Ardmoneel Stone is one of a number of early slabs in Kerry which bear inscribed crosses but apparently have no ecclesiastical contexts.
WINDELE’S VISIT TO KILLORGLAN
We were fortunate with regard to an inscribed stone found in the beginning of 1846 by Mr Foley the Inn Keeper in a fort belonging to his farm at Tinnahealy beside the Laun about a mile from the town. M.O’ Brien had brought me an inscription at the time, and we now sought to verify it. We found that Foley had in the interval removed the stone into the town, and he took us to the spot to where it lay in an open space in the front of some cabins exposed to the injuries of the children & people not over caring for its safe keeping. That Killorglin was far from being a safe place for their preservation. He acted on a request I had made and procured both stones from Mr Foley & had them transmitted to Cork to me where at this present writing they now are at Blair’s Castle. Their Carriage having cost me about £1-5-0.
Having eaten dinner ’principally of the Laun Salmon’, Abell and Windele made for Killarney, engaged a fresh car there at 8 o’clock and slept at Millstreet. Leaving there at six the next morning, they were in Cork at eleven on July 3, having been absent ‘3 nights in which time we slept 13 and a half hours’. These indefatigable antiquaries had packed a great deal into their weekend, covering 143 Irish miles on Windele’s computation … Windele (1848)
… West is Killorglin where I saw a long flag near the old Castle with legible ogham
Characters, not near the edge but in the very middle. These I took down on a scrap of paper, which I afterwards misled. I went some years after to the place, could not find the stone, enquired of Mr. Louny the P.P. but could not say what become of it, or who took it away.
Windele, Killorglin (1848)
Kerry Archaeological/Historical Journals.
Cork Hist/Arch Journal … J.Sheehan (1994)
Discovering Kerry … Barrington (1976)
A Guide to Ogam … Mc Manus (1991)
Iveragh Peninsula…O’Sullivan/Sheehan (1996)
www.ogham.celt.dias.ie … The 3D Ogham Project …