Lissivigeen Stone Circle is an absolutely captivating and curious site situated only a few kilometres from Killarney in Kerry. The stone circle is quite hard to find, not way marked or signposted but when one does finally come across it the effect is dramatic. The first thing one notices upon approach are a monolithic stone pair measuring over 3 metres in height, one of the stones has rock art spirals and cup-marks. These stones are situated about 15 metres from a henge, surrounded by trees in which the seven stones of the circle itself rest. The site is also known as the Circle of Seven Sisters, monuments of this sort are frequently described as such, like a lot of these sites with outlying stones the story is told of people who danced on the Sabbath and were turned to stone, along with the pipers (or parents) who were playing the music (the outliers). The circle has also been assigned in Irish mythology as a representation of the seven daughters of Ernmas, and Irish mother goddess of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Three of the stones are said to represent the goddesses Banba, Fodla and Ériu alongside the trinity of war goddesses known as Badb, Macha and Anann (also called the Mórrígan). The final stone is said to represent the goddess Anu who is still remembered in county Kerry, the twin hills known as the ‘Paps of Anu’ (Dá Chích Anann, or the breasts of Anu) are located near Killarney also. The henge is 15 metres in diameter, the surrounding mound of earth is about 1 metre in height and can be entered by one of two entrances, one to the north east and one to the south west. The circle itself is 4 metres in diameter and are all around a metre in height, many offerings left by visitors rest on the stones. When one views the stone pair from the centre of the circle there are clear views to the Torc and Mangerton mountains. Lissivigeen is certainly one of my favourite sites to have visited over the past few years, it has an enigmatic, haunting and peaceful nature and I will return again.
As I like to include some local knowledge or tales around many of the sites I visit I was happy to come across the following piece from the 1930s Dúchas Schools Folklore Collection, this tale also makes mention of an annual occurrence every May eve. The following was written by a Joe O’ Reilly, related to him by John Moynihan, Lissivigeen Killarney, aged 61 years in the year 1906, titled The Druid Circle, Lissivigeen, Killarney.
” There was a high-druid there long ago who had great magic power. He was a bit of a tyrant in his own way, like many of the boyos of Landlords we had later on when there weren’t any pagans in this country. This high druid lived near the river Flesk below but used to come up here to pray to his false gods in the oak wood below in the glen of the Auhunig. The greatest day of all in the eyes of these old pagans was Mayday and on the eve of that feast they had great gatherings of their druids and magicians. Well, the law was that nobody living should dare dance or enjoy himself at that time until May-eve had passed. The high druid came here to this very field to perform his magic rites but what did he and his fellow druids find but seven children dancing by the light of the moon and the parents looking proudly on! Filled with rage at this breach of the law he raised his magic wand and turned father, mother and the seven children to stone. In spite of his magic powers he could not compel them to remains always in that form so every May eve they regain their human form and the children dance round in the midnight air while their parents look on at their caperings.” Before cock-crow they are back again in their forms of stone and you would not hear gíog nor míog out of them for the rest of the year”
GPS: 52.05878, -9.46257