Lanmore Longstone, also known as Clogh Phadraig (St. Patrick’s Stone) is a standing stone in Co. Mayo often seemingly confused with Lankill Cross-Inscribed Pillar which is another Standing Stone nearby that was later Christianised. The route, if it can be described as that, to this monument is impassable without getting a fair share of thorns and stings but it is a beautiful slanted stone about 2 metres in height. I currently can find very little reference to this stone, as it seems to stand in the shadow of its more renowned neighbour, in fact most of the references I find just mention its inaccessibility. In relation to the name of the stone as Clogh Phadraig this is probably due to the amount of place-name references in this area of Mayo to St Patrick. In Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837) the author mentions Aughagower – the parish of which Lanmore is part – stating, ”St. Patrick founded here the monastery of Achadfobhair, and placed St. Senach over it: it afterwards became the parish church.”
One of the only stories I can find that relates to the stone comes from the penal times, when the celebration of Catholic mass was outlawed. At that time masses were said in remote places, at ‘mass-rocks’ or at small and inconspicuous looking altars. ‘Priest-hunters’ throughout Ireland went to great effort to catch these clerics and disrupt the masses and it is a priest hunter named Seán na Sagart to whom this story relates (Sagart being the Irish word for priest). The best retelling I can find to the story comes from Cathair na Mart’ – Journal of Westport Historical Society (Volume 4 Issue 1) written by John Keville in an article on Aughagower. About 500 yards away from Lanmore Longstone was a small hollow thirty to forty feet in diameter named ‘Lag na h-Altóra’ where penal mass was often celebrated. In the hollow the congregation were out of sight and a guard kept watch at the approach route past the longstone. Keville quotes a local retelling of the event, “The priest was reading mass in the lag when the man on guard gave the warning that Seán and his men were coming across the side of the hill from the direction of the Longstone, The congregation, after acquainting the priest of his danger, got ready to make their escape. The priest told them not to stir, assuring them that Seán and his party would come no nearer till mass was over. Mass was continued up to the last prayers, while all the time the feet of Seán na Sagart and his men were glued to the ground somewhere over in the townland of Cregg.” Although I can never attest to the validity of these tales, these stories of defiance and hope spread widely during the penal times and are a rich part of Ireland’s cultural heritage.
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