Coill Ghabhainn Standing Stone


The Coill Ghabhainn or Kilgowan Standing Stone which takes its name from the locality in which it resides, is one of several such Long stones that can be found scattered about the Kildare landscape. I first came across this one whilst driving along the N9 toward Killcullen. And what a site it is, perched high atop a low partially quarried Esker. I came to a large main gate similar to that of a construction site with the usual ‘Do Not Enter’, signs in place. Slightly disappointed I stubbornly continued a short distance down the side road were I came across another fence gate with a large hole in the centre, obviously this was there to allow people enter with ease, and it was a short distance to the top of the hill.


Unfortunately the short distance proved to be quite steep, leaving me gasping for air once i got to the summit. The stone itself is in fairly good condition with only a small crack near the base. Standing at about 2.3 meters, this tapered granite stone dates back to at least the Iron age and most likely even further in time. There are wonderful views from the mound with the exception of the encroaching gravel quarry to the rear of the hill. There appears to be a lightly carved cross on the south face of the rock. I always assume that this type of religious vandalism was done by one of those early Christians trying to mark new places for themselves. But a local story puts the blame squarely on that of two parish priests whom lived nearby at the Kilgowan crossroads. So to name and shame a Father Lawlor and a Father Cummins did this back in approx 1836.


Apparently the monument is protected under Irish law which prevents the quarry company from disturbing the monument and its surrounds any further. It seems that the site was under threat during the 1980’s. Unfortunately not all monuments are so lucky and with the difficulty of successful prosecutions for damaging or disturbing monuments in Ireland and the measly penalties handed out for such offenders, many of our monuments have not survived which is an outrageous shame. It appears the some archaeological finds where made here back in the 80’s after attempted gravel quarrying on the hill, with numerous human remains and flagstones been uncovered.


Was this standing stone placed atop an ancient burial mound, or was it in fact a place of ritual or power to the ancient inhabitants of our land? Well your guess is as good as mine on that question. I am delighted to see that the site has been successfully protected sand to have the opportunity to spend some time in this place. I found my time here unusually peaceful and uplifting. There are not too many places where i can say that about.

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About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
This entry was posted in Diary of a Ruinhunter, Photography, Standing Stone and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Coill Ghabhainn Standing Stone

  1. Ali Isaac says:

    What a beautiful inspiring place Ed! It must have been somewhere of special significance io our ancient ancestors. That close up shot of the stone is fantastic. In fact, it reminds me very much of a place on the way to Bailieborough which has something on top of a similar hoped hill. I presumed it was a trig point, but now I’m wondering if it is actually a standing stone. Time to get the old walking boots out…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the textures and contrasts of that first image. What an impressive place. There’s something about climbing up to such a place – restarts the mind or something. Thanks for sharing


  3. beetleypete says:

    That last photo really oozes textures, Ed. I’m pleased you ignored the signs, and went up to get your shots, and also glad to hear that it is protected from any development.
    Best wishes, Pete.


  4. jfwknifton says:

    Your last photograph is beautiful. This Irish stone is like a good few in Cornwall, but it’s unusual to be on top of a hill. A lot of Cornish ones are on flat ground, quite often in a hedge or drystone wall, although which came first is difficult to work out. They are more frequently tilted than upright, too. In Cornwall there is vandalism to pagan sites, in the newspapers they tend to blame “Christian Fundamentalists”, whatever that might be.


  5. dianaed2013 says:

    Such an iconic site – glad that money has not ‘bought’ the area. Enjoyed being on the top of the hill with you.


  6. these standing stones always fill me with great awe and mystery whether they be in Scotland or Ireland. I saw some and took a photo on the Ring of Kerry but did not have the energy that day to climb as they usually are on top of a (very steep) hill!! great post Ed!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. aidymcglynn says:

    Well captured Ed – looks very imposing and prominent up on the hill. Glad its been saved for the future. (Have to stick up for the trig pillars though – they are the marks of an amazing achievement in the surveying of Ireland, which at one time was mapped in greater detail than anywhere else in the world, by a fascinating and difficult process, and by some remarkable people 🙂 History written on the landscape!).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. As always, your photos look great and your writing up-lifting. It is not fair…one man should not have that much talent! 🙂

    fluurvnark stars out of 5…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. unironedman says:

    I know the very one! Always wondered about it. Great shots. Of course, mentioning quarrying, Kildare and desecration of heritage, it’s hard not to think of the Hill of Allen. There’s something deeply disturbing and grotesque about what’s been going on there for years.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. belshade says:

    That’s a very fine standing stone – well photographed too. “Damage” from even the best of motives is to be deplored. Both Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn in their Diaries admit to trying to chip bits off a Stonehenge upright . So even the best of us can err! Des.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. noelleg44 says:

    Really interesting, Ed. These stone are rather phallic – any rational in that? Remind what is an esker?


  12. What a great progression of shots. That first long shot…. love it. Love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. smackedpentax says:

    Beautiful – I love all things Neolithic, and especially standing stones – we are fortunate to have quite a lot where I live. Your photographs are superb, and b/w really brings them to life.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: Chradógaigh Standing Stone | Ed Mooney Photography

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