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.