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Dunmanway North

Mass Rock Sites of:

County CORK

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Foherlagh Mass Rock Site




This east facing Mass Rock is situated in the parish of Ballydehob. It is a large irregularly shaped stone boulder 2m in height with a base measuring 6.3m. There are two distinct natural ledges and a natural hollow in the lower shelf. This may have acted as some sort of container perhaps for Holy Water taken from the nearby well. Alternatively candles may have been placed in the hollow. The lower shelf measures 1m high and 1.1m deep with the subsequent shelf measuring 1.7m high and 0.5m deep. There are no obvious markings on the rock.

It is situated within a complex ritual site containing a pair of standing stones, two large boulders and a Holy Well (known locally as the Wart Well for the healing of warts). The OS Map also shows two ringforts or enclosures nearby. Despite the presence of other rock features at this sacred site, this particular rock may have been chosen because of its shape. The boulder is pointed and resembles the gable end of a church.

Dunmanway North

Dunmanway North Mass Rock Site 




The Mass Rock is located in the garden at the back of the Yew Tree Bar in the High Street in Dunmanway. It is marked on the 1903 ordinance survey map as the ‘Priest’s Rock’. This matches the co-ordinates given in the archaeological record. However, there seems to be some confusion in the description given within the Archaeological Survey Database of the National Monuments Service for Ireland.


The archaeological record states that the Mass Rock is part of a hexagonal rock.

This does not appear to be the case. A hexagonal rock is clearly marked separately on the ordnance survey map at some distance from the site within what were previously convent gardens.The Dunmanway Mass Rock is around 5m wide and 3m deep at its lowest point. It was not possible to measure the height of the rock to the rear of the site due to its height. It appears to be a natural geological formation and clearly not part of the hexagonal rock mentioned in the archaeological record. The Mass rock is north facing and has a flat surface on top. It appears to have no markings although visibility was impaired due to scrub growth. The site itself is relatively secluded in undulating ground despite its modern day town setting. The drop behind the rock is sheer and forms a retaining wall at the back of the garden. The Mass Rock can also be accessed from the rear using a number of very steep steps.

Ballycullenhane Mass Rock Site 


This southerly facing Mass Rock, in the parish of Barryroe, is composed of a flat ledge of rock and is located in a small wooded ravine to the north side of a Bóthrín.


A small stream runs adjacent to the site and eventually joins the sea at Courtmacsherry. It is possible that worshippers may have followed the stream in order to reach the site.


A plaque at the site records that the name of the site is Beal an Aifrinn and it is relatively accessible. This is a Mass Rock that continues to be used in modern times.

Co-ordinates: 51° 37’ 25.10’’ N   -8° 42’ 27.10’’ W

An open air mass was celebrated at the site in December 2010. Its importance locally is reflected in the fact that a committee has recently been established to improve the site.

Analeentha Mass Sites


Site of Mass House

This site is easily visible on the roadside as a plaque has been placed on the wall marking the spot.


It is situated on the road to Analeentha near Analeentha Bridge and was the site of thatched Mass House.


Co-ordinates: 52º 04' 12.38''N -8º 38' 16.17''W

Holy Well


Again, this site is easily accessed from the road and may be found just over the bridge from the thatched Mass House near Analeentha Bridge.


The Holy well is dedicated to St John the Baptist Holy and there is a sign at the site confirming that this was a Mass site in Penal days. The site is set within a peaceful and secluded walled garden and is thoughtfully maintained. This is a very tranquil and peaceful spot.


There were no references to a Mass Rock and one was not visible at the site.


Co-ordinates: 52º 04' 5.33''N, -8º 38' 10.55''W


Glenville Mass Rock Site


This Mass Rock site, situated in the parish of Watergrasshill, is easily accessible and very picturesque. To the north of the site, adjacent to the roadside, there is a sign mapping a Famine Walk which runs through the area. This map identifies both the Mass Rock site and a Holy Well in the area.


The Rock is west facing and is situated in a gallery wood on the eastern side of the river Bride. It is reached by crossing over a small bridge which spans the river.


Co-ordinates: 52° 3’ 49.49’’ N  -8° 27’ 41.44’’ W


Evidence suggests that the river occasionally swells to reach the foot of the Mass Rock. Votive offerings had been left on the Mass Rock altar including metal crosses, candle holders and rosary beads. Crosses had been etched in to the rock face. A plaque to the north of a large metal cross read:‘bíod Aifreann dá léamh anso in aimsir na bPéin duthe.


In Penal days Mass was offered here’.Although situated in the townland of Chimneyfield the Mass Rock is known locally as the Glenville Mass Rock and Mass was most recently celebrated at the site for the Legion of Mary in 2010. Watergrasshill is the most northerly parish of the Diocese of Cork and Ross.


Gortnamucklagh Mass Rock Site




Situated in the parish of Dunmanway, this Mass Rock site is highly visible from the approach road as a large metal cross has been erected at the site on the top of the hill. The Mass Rock sits at an elevation of 141m above sea level between two ridges.


The altar sits against a sloping rock face and is enclosed within rough rectangular stone built walls.


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Mass Rock Sites beyond the Irish Borders

Slide show

Mass Rock


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