Shantemon Stone Row is situated in the middle of a conifer plantation at the summit of Shantemon Hill, it is also known as ‘Fionn MacCumhaill’s Fingers’. It is somewhat unfortunate that a conifer plantation tops this small 218m hill and that it does affect the fine views that would be visible over the lakes and pasture of Cavan, but I have noticed that different sections of this plantation are cleared on a regular basis so will return. Shantemon Hill has real pedigree as a heritage site, there are the remains of the first recorded vitrified fort in Ireland near it summit, a type of fort common in Scotland but rarely found in Ireland outside Cavan or Derry. Vitrified forts are fascinating phenomenon as it appears that the bricks were not held together by lime or mortar but rather through the process of exposing the stone to an extreme heat (over 1000˚C), how our ancestors actually carried this out is a mystery. There have been several attempts and tactics used to create a solid fort in the 20th centuries with varying but mainly poor degrees of success. There are some who believe its a naturally accruing phenomenon but with little evidence to support this the mystery persists.
Shantemon Hill is also believed to have been the inauguration site of the O Raghallaigh (O’Reilly) family from 12th to the 17th century. An inauguration stone known as ‘Cois an tSiorragh’ which means ‘the foal’s foot’, apparently due to the imprint of a small hoof, was where the inaugurations took place but the whereabouts of this stone are unknown. The legend relating to Fionn MacCumhaill is that at Shantemon he lost a hand in battle, the fallen boulder being of course his thumb, but then again Fionn would need to have had about 10 hands if all the heritage sites that are associated with him have merit!
The Stone Row itself is rather splendid, currently standing in a small clearing surrounded by dense vegetation on all sides. There are four stones still standing and a small fallen fifth boulder 5 metres away to the north east end of the row. The row is aligned NE-SW and is about 16m in length with the highest stone standing just short of 2 metres.
To read more about Rev Caeser Otway’s 1817 (and first known) description of the vitrified court please follow this link
GPS: 54.01748, -7.29135