Bunane Heritage Park GPS: 51.861095, -9.505533
Bunane Heritage Park is a community project to protect, interpret and display a group of prehistoric megaliths near the village of Bunane near Kenmare, Co.Kerry. It is a great place to learn about the plethora of megalithic sites present in South Western Ireland generally.
Its one disadvantage is the difficulty of finding it, perhaps using a GPS is the best answer to getting here.
Having arrived at the car park, a short uphill climb brings us to the stones, with a suprising number of structures found in close proximity. Some of these are:
Ancient Stone Circle (known locally as the Judge and Jury because there are 13 stones).
Fulacht Fiadh ( a site for producing hot water by immersing pre-heated stones, perhaps for cooking purposes.)
Bullaun Stone (A stone with an artificial bowl shaped hollow, use unknown, probably many. The prescence of 'rock-art' makes this stone deserving of more study).
Standing Stone .
Ringfort (often known as a Fairy Fort in Ireland).
Famine House Ruins (abandoned during the Great Famine).
There are a number of other features, less positively identified, but well signed and described.
Also interesting is the astronomic alignment of many of the megaliths with features on the horizon and elsewhere around the enclosing Sheen valley. A leaflet on this may be available at the entrance office.
Some literature and a lot of friendly help is available at the entrance office.
If driving here from Uibh Laoire, one route is over Priests Leap. This road is not for the faint hearted and MUST NOT be attempted in icy or gale conditions. The road is narrow, very steep in places with almost precipitous drops at times. However the views are wonderful and the air clean. The road crosses the Cork/Kerry border very near the summit of Knockboy, the second highest point in County Cork. At this point the fabled Priest's Leap began, at the cross that you see on your left.
Almost caught by troopers when conducting an illegal mass in Penal Times, he jumped on his horse and took a great leap. He landed at Ballylickey just outside Bantry. A great leap indeed, and it must be true. Sure you can still find the imprint of the horse's hoof on a roadside boulder, haven't I seen it myself.
The Rolls of Butter
On this same road, not too far from Bunane we can find a very unusual megalith. At Droum-Fiachna, by the ruined church and cemetery in the town land of Garranes, next to the road but hidden by a 2M bank and a hedge is a multiple Bullan stone.
The unusual thing about it is that it has seven bowls hollowed in it, set in a circle. Archaeologists are unsure about the use of these features. They were probably used for grinding cereals or other food or perhaps for pounding gorse for animal feed.
Folklore says that the water that they collect has medicinal properties, mainly for curing warts or diseases of the eyes. They are often known as Wart Wells'. Other folklore says that the rounded stones often found in the bowls were 'cursing stones' which were rotated anti-clockwise to perform an evil spell or clockwise for a blessing. Many were almost certainly used for this purpose well into the 19th century.