Druid Central

While I was attending the Bealtaine Fire Festival at the Hill of Uisneach last month, I took the opportunity to explore several of the ancient monuments and earthworks dotted around the 2 square kilometer large site. The most captivating feature is a large glacial erratic located in a circular enclosure. Composed of limestone, it stands almost 20 feet tall, is estimated to weigh over 30 tonnes and has been nicknamed the Cat Stone, for from some angles it resembles a sleeping cat.

Ail na Míreann, cat stone, catstone, hill of uisneach, navel of ireland, stone of the divisions, Umbilicus Hinerniae, Axis Mundi, ireland, westmeath, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

It goes by other names too – Umbilicus Hinerniae, Axis Mundi, Ail na Míreann (stone of the divisions) and the navel of Ireland. It marks the point where all four of Ireland’s provinces meet, was believed to be a gateway to the mystical fifth province Mide and the goddess Ériu, who gave Ireland its name, is allegedly buried beneath the Cat Stone. Ancient druids believed the Cat Stone marked the absolute centre of Ireland. With today’s GPS technology the exact centre of Ireland has been located just over 18 miles west, in a townland called Carnagh East on the shores of Lough Ree but even so, I am going to have to doff my cap to those druids. Only 18 miles out with no satellite technology, maps or aerial surveys? That’s pretty good going in my books.

On the same subject, I discovered a tongue in cheek documentary from an old Irish tv programme called Hall’s Pictorial Weekly, from back in the days when Irish telly only came in black and white. They visited several sites claiming to be the dead centre of Ireland.

About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - wheresmybackpack.com - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
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14 Responses to Druid Central

  1. It may have been the exact center in ancient times. How do we know that the coastlines haven’t shifted since then, which could change the center location….You are right, even if the Druids were 18 miles off, that’s still an awesome geographical/mathematical feat.

  2. aj vosse says:

    Maybe, when the druids first found the stone it was at the exact center and they “transported” it to it’s current site for a feast… liked it’s location so much and kept it put where it now stands! My theory, and I’m sticking with it!! 😉

  3. Melissa Shaw-Smith says:

    Great piece of footage! My father used to film for Hall’s Pictorial Weekly when I was a kid.

  4. Thanks for introducing me to this — have never heard of this Cat Stone.

  5. Jaspa says:

    Very interesting… and the video is brilliant!

    • ailsapm says:

      I had a good laugh watching it, I love how almost everyone is wearing a tie, even out in the middle of a big old field. Ahh the good old days.

  6. Nato says:

    I am so intrigued with Ireland. It seems so magical. And you are so right, that is pretty darn close for those days! Great post.

  7. Thanks for making this post! I love the idea of the center of Ireland being marked by a naval. How did it “feel” while you were there. Did you feel the energy?

    As far as the druids getting it close. I am with you. With no technology it is amazing what they got done!

  8. Visiting the dead centre (or only 18 miles off the dead centre) of Ireland is really cool. 🙂

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