Carved Pillar Stone

This curious monolith may not appear to be that interesting from a distance, but upon approach you will find that the pillar stone at Kilnaruane bears some amazing 9th century carvings. The pillar is situated inside a low circular earthen enclosure that was once an early 6th century monastic site. The southwest face, shown above, is divided into four panels. The top panel bears some interlace and the panel below it depicts a figure praying. Below this figure is a beautiful cross, with the lowest panel depicting St Anthony and St Paul breaking bread in the desert.

Probably the most interesting carving is on the northeast face, which depicts four oarsmen and a steersman rowing through a sea of crosses. The boat is thought to be the same type of skin-covered currach that St Brendan the Navigator may have used to sail to America, which is why the stone is known locally as St Brendan's stone. There is evidence to show that it may have formed part of an early high cross. The early monastic site may have been founded by St Brendan or St Ruan, who can be found in the name of the townland. Also present at the site is the bullaun pictured below and one other possible bullaun stone. There are several other stone fragments scattered around the enclosure.


The carving of the boat and steersmen

West Face

A figure above a cross

Situated: From Bantry head south on the N71. Take the first left after the Westlodge Hotel. The pillar stone is sign-posted about 400 metres down this road . It is up a small track and across a field on your right.

Discovery Map 85: V 9844 4754. Last visit July 2011.

Longitude: 9° 28' 5 " W

Latitude: 51° 40' 17" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey and Deb Snelson.

Bullaun Stone

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