1Burl, Aubrey. A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland, and Brittany. New Haven: Yale UP, 1995. 218-19.
The quotation is from The Ley Hunter, 90, 1981, 10-11.
2Hickey, John. "Drombeg Stone Circle." Personal interview. 17 June 1979.
There is an illustration purporting to be the "...correct notation of the wail of the Banshee..." in the gallery at the bottom of the Drombeg page. It was described to the Halls as "...a sound that resembles the melancholy sound of the wind, but having the tone of a human voice, and distinctly audible to a great distance." (Hall, Mr. & Mrs. S.C. Ireland: Its Scenery, Character, etc. 3 vols. London: How and Parsons, 1841. V. 3, p. 106.)
A review in The New York Times referred to Burl as "...the leading authority on British Stone circles.” (Johnspon, Paul. "MagicStones: Prehistoric Avebury." The New York Times 21 Sept. 1979, Book Review sec.: 3.)
5Zucchelli, Christine. Stones of Adoration Sacred Stones and Mystic Megaliths of Ireland. Doughcloyne, Wilton, Cork: Collins, 2007. 41.
6"Drombeg Stone Circle." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 11 July 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drombeg_stone_circle>.
The narrow lane leading to the parking area seems to discourage large coaches, but there will be vehicles entering and leaving all throughout the day. For the best Drombeg experience, plan to arrive early in the morning. The area within the stone circle is now covered with a layer of gravel to protect the wet ground from becoming a muddy morass of all the visitors' footprints. This crushed-stone platform is actually in harmony with the design of Drombeg's original architects, who deposited a level layer of stones within the circle. The large-format Zoomify images on our Drombeg page were shot with a 4x5 view camera in 1979, when there was a grassy area inside the circle.
7Ó Nualláin, Seán. "The Stone Circle Complex of Cork and Kerry." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 105 (1975): 104-05.
8Fahy, E.M. "A Recumbent-stone Circle at Drombeg, Co. Cork." Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society 64 (January-June, 1959): 4.
Fahy writes, (pp 14-15) "...we have established by actual observations at the site that...a line joining the centre of the portal gap (between stones no. 1 and 17) and the centre of the circle passes mid way through the recumbent stone. During the excavation vertical rods were set up at these points and photographed from a point on a projection of that line to the east. During mid-winter, 24 December 1957 and again on 23 December 1958, the setting sun was photographed by an independent observer, standing to the east outside the portal stones, and was found to lie slightly south of the point previously established as the axial intersection with the horizon, i.e., a point south of the V-gap in the horizon..."
Conflicting evidence exists regarding the date of the construction of the stone circle. The Drombeg radiocarbon data (500 BCE – 127 CE for the circle; c. 500 CD for the fulacht fiadh) has varied widely, and is considered suspect by some authors. The pagan nature of the burial mode at the site, Ó Nualláin writes, makes a late date for the circle “highly improbably.” He considers the stylistic evidence of the pottery, the use of quartz stones in the monuments, and the general Bronze Age dating of such stone circles as supporting his argument that Drombeg is of Bronze Age construction. Fahy acknowledges (p. 25) “…we may…allow for the slight possibility that the circle pre-dates the burial and pavement.” But he also asserts (p. 16) that “the burial was a primary feature of the site.
15Fahy, E.M. "A Hut and Cooking Places at Drombeg, Co. Cork." Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society 65 (January-June, 1960): 14-15.
Fahy writes, "While it is unlikely that the site was in use for 500 years it is possible that it was in intermittent use for several decades; but there can be no finality in the matter."
16O'Kelly, Michael. "Excavations and Experiments in Ancient Irish Cooking-Places." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 84.2 (1954): 138-39.
O'Kelly here translates fulacht fiadh as "cooking-place of deer," "cooking-place of game," or "cooking-place of the wild [outdoors]." His earliest source for this is the Medieval etymology Cormac's Glossary. There are some 4,500 fulacht fiadh in Ireland, with 2,000 found in Co. Cork. The stone walkway connecting the fulacht fiadh to the conjoined huts would have been required by the marshy landscape.
17Fahy, E.M. "A Hut and Cooking Places at Drombeg, Co. Cork." 9-10.
O'Kelly added some details: "Clouds of steam billowed up from the trough and the wet peat all around it became hot. This was a remarkable result and showed that our supposed difficulties regarding the cooling effect of the ground and of the cold water seeping in from the peat. were of no consequence! As the stones went in. some water was displaced over the lowest point of the side. but using really well-heated stones. a comparatively small number only were required so that not much water was lost in this way. A stone measuring 30 x 15 x 5 cm put in red-hot kept the water in its vicinity boiling very strongly for 15 minutes and even after it had been in the water for 30 minutes. it was still too hot to handle." (O'Kelly, Michael. "Excavations and Experiments in Ancient Irish Cooking-Places." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 84.2 (1954): 121-22.)
One example from the "early Irish literature" might be from Keating's Foras Feasa ar Éirinn (1723, from Medieval sources): "However, from Bealltaine until Samhain. the Fian were obliged to depend solely on the products of their hunting and of the chase as maintenance and wages from the kings of Ireland; thus, they were to have the flesh for food, and the skins of the wild animals as pay. But they only took one meal in the day-and-night, and that was in the afternoon. And it was their custom to send their attendants about noon with whatever they had killed in the morning's hunt to an appointed hill, having wood and moorland in the neighbourhood, and to kindle raging fires thereon, and put into them a large number of emery stones; and to dig two pits in the yellow clay of the moorland, and put some of the meat on spits to roast before the fire; and to bind another portion of it with suagans in dry bundles and set it to boil in the larger of the two pits and keep plying them with the stones that were in the fire, making them seethe often until they were cooked. And these fires were so large that their sites are to-day in Ireland burnt to blackness, and these are now called Fulacht Fian by the peasantry."
Poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill evokes the image of the Fenian warriors at their Fulacht Fian in this excerpt from her poem "The Lay of Loughadoon:"
"We walked on till we found
a megalithic tomb or burial-mound,
wedge-shaped, with a great capstone, and by it
an ancient cooking-pit.
'While they hunted,' I went on to say,
'Fionn and the Fianna
ate only one meal a day
and that usually in the evening.
Their stewards used to light great fires
and dig two pits, in one of which
Fionn and the Fianna would wash
while their dinner cooked in the other.'"
(Ní Dhomhnaill, Nuala, and Paul Muldoon. The Astrakhan Cloak. Winston-Salem, NC: Wake Forest UP, 1993. 67.)
The author explains the lack of any findings of bones in the all the fulacht fiadh thusly: "In the first place meat bones left strewn about on the surface must have been quickly scavenged by the hunting dogs and by wild animals after the party had left the site; and secondly, if they were thrown on to or buried in the peat bogs, or in the adjacent soil, it is probable that they would have been dissolved away by the acidity of the ground. It is not surprising, therefore, that no bone was found at any of our sites." This line of reasoning has not been persuasive to all observers.
20O'Neill, John. "Just Another 'Fulachta Fiadh' Story." Archaeology Ireland 14.2 (2000): 19.
That the fulachta fiadh may be used for brewing beer was a moment of inspiration: "One hungover morning at breakfast, discussing the natural predisposition of all men to seek means to alter our minds, coupled with our innate inquisitiveness (and more mundane preparations for the excavation of a fulacht fiadh), Billy came to a sudden and startling conclusion: fulachta fiadh were Ireland's earliest breweries!" (Quinn, Billy, and Declan Moore. "Ale, Brewing and 'Fulachta Fiadh'" Archaeology Ireland 21.3 (2007): 8.)
21O'Brien, _____. "Drombeg Stone Circle." Personal interview. 16 June 1979.
Mr. O'Brien may not have been aware that the reason that the bushes would not grow within the stone circle was due to the terrace of flat stones the original builders has placed there.
22McLiam, Cian (Ken Williams). "Forums | Anyone in Cork to Inspect This Circle?" Stone Circles, Megalithic Remains, Prehistoric Sites | The Modern Antiquarian.com. 8 Oct. 2005. Web. 11 July 2011. <http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/forum/?thread=27271>.
Modern-day visitors also may leave smudge-sticks, melted wax, trash, and, worst of all, carved or painted graffiti.
23Fahy, E.M. "A Recumbent-stone Circle at Drombeg, Co. Cork." 23-24.
24Hutton, Ronald. The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy. Oxford, UK: B. Blackwell, 1991. 73-74.
25Damery, Patricia. "The Horned God: A Personal Discovery of Cultural Myth." The San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal 23.3 (2004): 19.