The last port of call for myself & Dylan on the way home was the Standing Stone of Mullaghmast, one of Kildare’s ‘Magnificent Seven’. I have previously covered similar stones at Kilgowan, Punchestown Great, Craddockstown West & Maudlins Holed Stone. Mullaghmast is a hill in south Kildare that is steeped in history from ancient times right up until modern days. Mullaghmast is also home to a number of earthworks, ringforts & barrows. Thankfully the stone is now classed as a National Monument and is protected under Irish Law. It is believed to have been moved to its current location at some point in time from its original position on the opposite side of the road, and now resides in a nice little enclosure just off the side of the road. Dylan got real excited once the stone came into view and had a good dance around it for a few minutes.
Just in front of the stone there is a stone plaque embedded in the ground which reads‘Lia Fáil’ Mullaghmast Longstone. Now I’m not going to rant on too much, but the ‘Lia Fáil’ was a sacred stone of the Tuatha de Danann and was used to inaugurate the many kings of Ireland. It is claimed by some to reside on the Hill of Tara, but that argument I shall keep for another day. So in fact either way the stone at Mullaghmast should not be mistaken for the legendary ‘Lia Fáil’. Im not quite sure why this was even inscribed on the plaque unless the inscriber meant ‘Lia Fáil’ to mean Longstone. If anyone can clarify this, I would love to hear from you. Mullaghmast was once home to a fort of the O’Toole clan. The Annals tell many stories of battles taking place in the area. One of the most popular stories related to Mullaghmast dates back to New Years day in 1577 a number of Chieftains from the UiFailghe and Laoighis clans where lured into a trap by the O’Dempsey clan whom were said to be in league with the English. This resulted in a mass slaughter of the Gaelic chieftains. It is said that only two managed to escape with their lives.
The stone itself is quite a sight to behold and stands at almost 2m in height, with two deep grooves on the south-east side and another similar groove in the south-west side. There is still a very powerful energy emanating from this remarkable stone. Like many of these Neolithic monuments which are scattered across the country, we can only speculate as to their true purpose? Were they burial markers or some form of sundial? Were they places of ritual or something else? I was once told by an old Druid friend of mine that they were used by our ancestors like needles to harness or balance the natural energy of the land similar to how acupuncture works. I guess this is why I feel so much energy when I visit these sites!
A rather interesting story connected to Mullaghmast comes from an old text called the Metrical Dindshenchas, or Lore of Places. It is a collection of Irish Poetry, (author unknown) which claims to explain the origins of certain Irish place names. The book claims that Mullaghmast was named after Maistiu, the wife of Dáire Derg. The story goes that Maistiu was killed with sorcery by a nasty Faery known as Gris. In revenge Dáire Derg killed Gris. I recall mention of Dáire Derg from the Fenian Cycle, which tells the tales of the legendary Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the Fianna, but only recently came across this connection to Mullaghmast. On a final note there was another standing stone in Mullaghmast dating back to prehistory, it was decorated with a triskle, but was removed at some stage, presumably for safe keeping. It now resides in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin and is well worth a visit..