Touring the Standing Stones of Caherconlish


Touring the Standing Stones of Caherconlish

written by Patrick Hourigan & John Tierney

On Friday morning June 20th, the Ballyhoura Heritage Training Group assembled at the church yard in Caherconlish village. The group consisted of members from the districts of Caherconlish, Murroe and Cappamore. The purpose of the training day was was to take in a tour of some of the standing stones of Caherconlish, west of the village, to learn to record them and then tell their story or one story about the standing stones.

Our first visit on the looped tour was to the Legaun or Liagan Stone at Highpark (,565052,650510,7,7) on Mr Eamonn Blackwell’s farmland where we were met by the owner’s sister in law, Catherine, who kindly allowed us full permission to view there from the magnificent standing stone and the contiguous panoramic vista that spans the northern boundaries of the East Limerick countryside. The Legaun Stone stands approx. 3 metres tall in the centre of a high field just off the old road known as the Bothair Mor or Great Road that extended from the port of Waterford to Limerick City in bygone days. It is marked in the OSI Maps of 1839. Knockfleming was the name applied to this field height in bygone days whereas the townland itself is named Highpark. This large single stone is registered on as part of a stone circle (memorial number LI014-024——).

The surface of the south face of the Legaun Stone is round and smooth and narrows on its north facing side. When viewed from the east and west positions it may be hypothesised to take the shape of the gnomon of a large sundial. It appears to be lined up to a point facing northwards and it is said that there existed several smaller stones arranged in the same field north of the Legaun Stone in the 19th century but that these were removed for field clearance by the farmer at that time - this could explain why it is listed officially as a stone circle.

To the north-west, in the adjoining field are found “nests” of large, apparently volcanic, boulders strewn about in interesting patterns and arrangements. The early 20th century local antiquarians, Canon James Fetherston Lynch and James Grene Barry (see some of his work online were in awe of this place and in their many visits to the site wondered as to its history and use. Grene Barry believed the Knockfleming Legaun Stone was the last or the seventh stone of the Liagan Line; a line of standing stones that extended from Lough Gur in the south to Knockfleming and believed this stone to represent Imbolc – the ancient Celtic Festival celebrating the birth of spring. A simpler hypothesis may be that the stone circle at High Park and other adjacent standing stones may indicate a rich pattern of Bronze Age settlement hereabouts.

The Loop Tour continued well into the afternoon with visits to additional standings stones at Highpark, Pust North and Inch Saint Lawrence South. At Inch St Lawrence townland we visited the bullaun stone which is registered in with the following description

Description: Situated on a gentle E-facing slope in rolling pasture with good views to E, S and W, c. 50m S of Inch church(LI014-070001-). Horizontal conglomerate stone (H 1.2m; Wth 2.55m; Th. 0.6m), oriented NW-SE, with an oval depression (0.48m E-W; 0.4m N-S; D 0.4m), half filled with water, on the upper surface of the stone.

This is a very impressive bullaun stone and it prompted an interesting discussion about country cures and curses in this region. 

In the adjacent townland of Inch St. Lawrence South there is another standing stone which is known locally as the Giants Hand. In this stone is described as;

Description: In level pasture, immediately N of farm access road. Upright stone (H 1.2m) of limestone is roughly rectangular in plan (L 0.86m; T 0.46m) and elevation; long-axis NNW-SSE. Deep fissures and perforation in centre of elevation caused by natural erosion. In small depression probably caused by cattle erosion.

The deep fissures & perforation described by the surveyor are described locally having been caused by a Giant’s Hand being thrust through the stone i.e. the four fingers separate from the thumb causing a long and a short perforation.


Not every standing stone we visited on the day is listed in the official register of monuments at but at the end of the day we had a sense of that this was area was the focus of a strong prehistoric settlement. A key factor we have identified in writing local histories is that we must be careful to be evidence-based and to consider a number of hypotheses to explain something.