There is an Ogham stone on Kilranelagh hill that is really hard to find. I had been told it was in the Crossoona ringfort, and I had tried to find it a few times but never could. The fort is filled with ferns, so it makes finding elusive Ogham stones rather difficult – don’t even bother trying in the middle of summer – the ferns will be higher than your head! But of course, that is exactly when I did.
One of my favourite places to walk, Kilranelagh is a small unspoilt hill in the foothills of the Wicklow mountains. To me it is a magical place, and I often walk the forest paths to visit the ancient sites on the hill. But the one I could never find was the mysterious Ogham stone.
I had previously been told that the stone might have been removed as others had also tried to find it without success. So I had given up trying to find it, until I saw a post on Facebook. Someone was asking a neighbour who regularly walks Kilranelagh if he knew where the Ogham stone was. He replied with general directions and a pinpoint on google maps.
So it was still there! I was delighted. I studied the map, saved a picture of it on my phone and cycled up to the forest track. I was determined to find it this time.
As I chained my bike to the post and headed off down the lane on foot, I said a prayer and asked for help to find it.
I was full of optimism as I climbed the ring fort’s embankment, but as I stood looking down at the fern filled circle, my heart dropped. What was I thinking? This was a fool’s errand. The feathery fronds were taller than me. There was no way I would manage to get three feet in there, never mind all the way to the pinpoint!
I turned around to head back home, severely disappointed.
But – something stopped me. I had come all this way; I couldn’t leave without at least just trying. Just a little way in… I turned to face the ringfort again, studied the map and scrambled down into the ring of ferns. I started left to head in the direction that I thought the pinpoint was, but after fighting through the thick vegetation for a few minutes I stopped. Something didn’t feel right. No this wasn’t the way. I struggled back to my starting point and decided to try go right – just a few meters, I would see how far I could get through the tangle of ferns.
The going was slightly easier this way, but it was just starting to get impenetrable again, and I was considering giving up the search, when I happened to glance right. I saw what looked like the shape of a horse’s head in the moss-covered embankment. It’s two ears were pointing forward to the centre of the circle.
‘That’s the pointer’ something said inside of me, and I turned in that direction. I easily pushed past a few ferns and found myself in a delightful little clearing. Just lovely soft green grass – this would make a beautiful protected little picnic spot I thought. I followed the clearing around and saw the old overgrown wall where I had searched for the Ogham stone before. I recognized a distinctive stone jutting out from the wall that I had previously examined, and as my eyes followed the wall along, I stopped, stunned – there it was – magically right in front of me!
How had I never seen it before? I must have walked right past it on my previous searches! It was a beautiful sight, it almost looked like the sun was shining straight down on it, illuminating it just for me.
As I gazed at the moss-covered ancient stone, the distinctive Ogham lines carved into its edge clearly visible, my soul was filled with joy – I had finally found it!
I pondered the history – who had carved the script, and what does it mean? Who had lived in this enclosure, and what was it used for? So many questions that would probably never get a definitive answer. Although I had found the elusive Ogham stone, it was still as mysterious as ever.
I said a prayer of thanks, and gently touched the Ogham stone. I could feel the energy of the stone transferring to my fingers. I don’t know what its’ message was, but it felt like a gift for me on this day. I was meant to find it; I was directed to it. I don’t know why. Or why on that particular day, but I will take the gift. And pass it on.
Read more about the Ogham stone in the Crossoona Rath here: https://heritage.wicklowheritage.org/places/baltinglass/crossoona_rath