Beach Mass Rock Site
The Mass Rock site is accessed through fields and forms part of the Lady’s Well and Airstrip Loop walk which is one of the heritage walks through Bantry and published as a series of looped walks for the area by An Chomhairle Oidhreacta (The Heritage Council 2010). The route is relatively well signposted and the Mass Rock site is located near marker post number fifteen.
A complex but beautiful site consisting of a man-made altar built at the base of a large outcrop of limestone and situated within a secluded hollow. The Mass Rock sits adjacent to a Holy Well and there is a large statue of the Virgin Mary on top of the limestone rock facing out across Bantry Bay. This statue is approached via 40 steps to the east of the site.
The north facing altar measures 2.3m wide and almost 1m high. There is a further shelf 0.4m above the altar. It decorated with many statues and other votive offerings at the time of the visit. A small hollowed out boulder, known as a bullaun stone, had been placed on the west side of the altar. Beach Mass Rock is not the original site of the Bullaun Stone which was brought to the site from elsewhere (many thanks to Angela Cathaoirleach Bantry Historical & Archaeological Society for this information).
Folklore surrounds this site. The Kilmacamogue Schools' Manuscript Collection advises that ‘in olden times it is said that Our Lady used to be seen here’ (S281:56).
There have been healings attached to the Holy Well and on the Feast of the Assumption, 15th August, annually rounds take place at the site.
An entry in the Schools' Manuscript Collection reports that ‘sometimes people are cured of diseases by making rounds at the well and by drinking the water out of it. When people go to the well they always leave some token there such as Rosary Beads, medals, prayer books or a coin.
Co-ordinates: 51° 40’ 12.01’’ N -9° 29’ 23.98’’ W
There are many crutches and sticks placed around the well, those were left there by the people who had been cured by praying and drinking the water in the well’ (S281:55-56).
Beach Mass Rock is not the original site of the Bullaun Stone which was brought to the site from elsewhere (many thanks to Angela Cathaoirleach, Bantry Historical & Archaeological Society for this information).
Currahy Chapel and Mass Rock
SITUATED ON PRIVATE LAND
Situated on private farm land in the parish of Uibh Laoire, this site consists of both a Mass Rock and a penal chapel.
The flat topped Mass Rock Mass Rock is situated in a field to the north of the penal chapel site and consists of a large square shaped boulder sitting atop a natural rock outcrop.
The view from the top of this rock provides a 360° view of the surrounding area right across to the Derrynasagart and Shehy Mountain ranges.
The penal chapel site is somewhat overgrown with ferns and scrub. Known locally as Séipéal na Glóire, it was recorded in a journal article by the Ballingeary Historical Society in 1996. The landowner advised that the field adjacent to the site had always been known locally as Pairc na Coultacht or the Field of the Ruin. Mass was last said at this site in celebration of the Millenium by the local history society Cumann Staire Bhéal átha’n Ghaorthaidh.
One entry states that ‘Tradition says Mass often said here in Penal times. Hill surrounding the place and on a few occasions an Aeridheach has been held there.
A peculiar feature of the rock is an oversize impression of a human head …… The nose, eye, mouth and chin are especially identifiable (S347:201). When viewed in profile the natural rock face resembles a face. There is an inscription in Irish on the front of the altar.
Mass was celebrated at this site on 12th July 2016. [Photos by Yvonne Heelan and Father Tom McDermott]
Photographs can be viewed using the following link:
Ballyshoneen Mass Rock Site
The Mass rock is situated on the R579 which follows a meandering stream/river through a valley.
The altar was moved to the base of the rock in October 2013 and a stone cross erected on the rockface behind the altar.
Because of the unusual shape of part of the rock there are numerous stories recited in the Schools’ Manuscript Collection of the Folklore Archives at University College Dublin concerning the site.
It is also reported as being a meeting place for open air entertainment.
Co-ordinates: 51° 56’ 11.51’’ N -8° 40’ 7.56’' W