The Uragh Stone Circle of Kerry

Aug 10, 2014 by

Today we visited the Uragh Stone Circle on the Beara Peninsula in County Kerry, in Tuosist. The location is a bit remote and requires a bumpy ride to get there, but the views are spectacular and worth every pothole, dip and hairpin turn we passed through on our way. Of all the megalithic monuments on the Beara Peninsula, the Uragh stone circle is the one you absolutely must see, especially if your time in Kerry is limited.

 

Uragh stone circle megalith Ireland

The ancient Uragh stone circle on the Beara Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland.

The Uragh stone circle is close to the bustling market town of Kenmare,  or An Neidín, “little nest”, as it is known in Irish.  Take R571 west out of town, towards Ardgroom; about 14 kilometers down the road, you’ll take a left at sign pointing you towards Uragh. It is on private property, but accessible for a small fee.  Follow the road til it ends at gate, open that gate ( and shut it after you get inside), and drive across the narrow bridge down to the parking area. The bridge crosses a lovely stream flowing down to Lough Cloonee Upper, one of the two lakes near Uragh.

Once you reach the parking spot, you’ll meet meet a nice older gentleman farmer, who grew up on the Uragh land which his son now farms. He charges two Euro for entrance–a pittance for access to this magical place– and is a joy to talk to, willingly answering all your questions about the site, the weather and Ireland in general.

 

Uragh stone circle site with stream

Water flowing down to Lough Cloonee Upper at Uragh stone circle site.

There is a short hike up to the Uragh stone circle, but the path is well maintained and the incline is manageable. As I mentioned earlier, the stone circle sits on private farm land, so don’t be surprised if you have a close encounter with the farm’s hardy sheep.

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Sheep are unimpressed by visitors to the Uragh stone circle.

The stone circle is just over the crest of a hill, rising up against the backdrop of the stunning Kerry mountains and lovely Lough Gleninchaquin ( aka Inchiquin, the second lake in the Uragh nature reserve surrounding the circle)). There are five stones in the small circle, but the most impressive is the huge outlying monolith that is almost 10 feet tall. This stone is aligned radially with the circle on the NE-SW axis.

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Monolith stone at Uragh stone circle is aligned on NE-SW axis of the circle.

The stones in the circle are in good shape for their age (several thousand years), although one of the two portal stones directly across from the monolith is starting to lean.  Numerous smaller stones surround the circle and may have been part of the original design.   There is a shallow sunken spot in the center; I’m not sure if something has been removed from that area or if it is a naturally occurring depression.

uragh-stone-circle-mountain-view

The Uragh stone circle is an important piece of ancient Irish history.

There are many wonderful sights to see any where you go in Ireland, but if you want to immerse yourself in the wild Irish landscape and reach back to ancient Ireland and its peoples, then you must go to the Uragh stone circle in Kerry. Stand next to the stones and watch cloud shadows race across the mountains, feel the strong winds buffet you and whip the waters of the lake, and just let the moment sink into your soul. There’s no souvenir stand at the Uragh stone circle, but you will take away a memory of Ireland that will be with you always, as a touchstone for all your future journeys, physical and spiritual.

For more info on the Uragh stone circle and the surrounding area, click on any of these links:

Megalithic Ireland–has exact coordinates for Uragh, plus a wealth of info on other sites in Ireland

Megalithics.com–info on Irish sites, and ancient sites throughout Britain

Kenmare.ie--official site for the town of Kenmare, with info on local sites

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Waiting On Jamie Fraser

Jun 8, 2014 by

It’s been a while since I’ve done an update here on the new Outlander cable series from Starz, so I thought we could all do with another attempt to keep up with the Frasers.

I won’t rehash all the basics, but for those who don’t know yet  (been off the grid  for awhile, aye?), Outlander is based on a series of best-selling novels by author Diana Gabaldon.  It is a time travel/romance/historical fiction story set mostly in 18th century Scotland, and filmed almost entirely in 21st century Scotland.  I’ve done several posts about the upcoming series–click HERE, HERE and HERE to read some of my previous posts about Jamie and Claire Fraser and the world of Outlander.

 

The first episode of Outlander is set to debut at 9PM on August 9, 2014, and the countdown is making more than few fans crazy with excitement. Starz has just released a new trailer (above), perhaps to help keep the shouts of “Are we there YET?!” to a low roar.  There have also been additions to the “How To Speak Outlander” YouTube series, the newest being a Happy Birthday wish in Scots Gàidhlig from Sam Heughan:

In another installment, Dougal (Graham McTavish) and Colum (Gary Lewis) MacKenzie teach us how to shout the Mackenzie war cry, Tulach Àrd. It sounds a bit like “To the Car!”, which is a fitting battle cry  if you’re on the way to attend an Outlander fan gathering, but not so much if you’re a member of an ancient Highland clan about to rout the bloody English army.  Tulach Àrd is Gàidhlig for “High Hill” and refers to a mountain in the McKenzie clan heartland of Kintail, a region of the Northwest Highlands of Scotland.

 

Media coverage has greatly expanded in recent months, as news outlets see that global television executives are taking strongly positive views (i.e., putting their money where their mouths are) of  Starz’s  Outlander series. A recent article from TVWise predicts Outlander could be cable’s next global hit, and outlines five things driving the show’s success.  The crazy-like-a-fox  money analysts at The Motley Fool have also given a nod of approval to Outlander, noting that the show has an early August premier, which follows right on the heels of San Diego’s Comic-Con (a happy scheduling fact sure to give Outlander a tremendous publicity boost) and a large, worldwide fan base, all factors which give the show ” the ingredients to draw AMC or HBO-like numbers for an original series.”

 

 

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EW’s new issue features two pages of Outlander info from Ron Moore; image source:OutlanderItaly.com

 

According to Outlander TV News, always a great site for the latest Outlander news, the June 13th issue of Entertainment Weekly will feature a two page spread showing side-by-side comparisons between the scene from the book and the script for the scene in the TV series. Outlander Italy, another terrific fan page, has some scans (see above) of the article, with new photos of the love triangle at the center of the plot. Wowza!

The newest book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series

The newest book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series

 

The best way to pass the time til the premiere is by reading Diana Gabaldon’s newest book in the Outlander series, Written In My Own Heart’s Blood, (referred to as MOBY by fans) due out June 10, 2014. You can pre-order the book in any available format HERE on Amazon.   You can also read Diana’s thoughts about seeing–and hearing–the full Outlander Episode One for the first time by clicking HERE.

 

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The bottom line, however, is this—we simply, frustratingly, must wait until the 9th of August.  Like Jamie Fraser himself, Starz and Ron Moore mean to take their time about it, working hard to produce an adaptation of Outlander that is faithful to the spirit of the book, full of swash and buckle, and so visually stunning it will leave us all asking for more.

As a longtime fan of Outlander, I say that’s a verra good thing to wait for, ye ken.

 

 

 

Places To Visit Before Going Through The Stones~ Sites I recommend to learn more or keep updated about Outlander, the book, the series and the fans:

 

DianaGabaldon.com

Starz’s Outlander page

Starz’s Official Outlander  Twitter page

The Outlander Podcast--chatting about all things Outlander, and having fun doing it!

My Outlander Purgatory–believe me, they FEEL your pain!

Outlander Kitchen–historical and character-inspired recipes from Diana’s books

WESCelt’s Outlander Pinterest board

WESCelt’s Outlander Facebook album

 

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Rob Roy Versus Jamie Fraser: Who Wears the Kilt Best?

Jun 8, 2014 by

I thought I’d give my Facebook followers a little fun by positing this simple question: Who wears the look best–Rob Roy in a kilt or Jamie Fraser in a kilt? The comparison was between the two pictures below–Rob (Liam Neeson) first, and Jamie (Sam Heughan) in the second picture.

Well, hoo whee, did that stir up the hens!  Click HERE to read some of the comments.

 

Liam Neeson as Rob Roy MacGregor

Liam Neeson as Rob Roy MacGregor

 

Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser

Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser

For those of you who have never heard of Jamie Fraser,  some background is required.  James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, a  Highland warrior,  is the lead character in Diana Gabaldon’s novel Outlander, an historical romance set in Scotland in 1745 and right after World War II–yes, there is time travel involved, with ancient standing stones (not a blue police booth) as the portal.  Diana added  several subsequent novels to the series, which is extremely well written and chock full of historical facts and allusions.

 

You can buy any or all of Diana’s novels (in all formats) on my Amazon list of  her novels by clicking here.    It will be a good investment of both your time and money because the premium cable channel Starz is premiering  the first season of Outlander, the TV adaptation of the novels ( filmed on location in beautiful Scotland)  at 9PM on August 9, 2014.  Starz has been given approval for a second season  of Outlander, as well.

 

outlander_starz

 

Think Game of Thrones, with a Scottish setting, and you’ll be close to visualizing the  upcoming series that has fans shivering with antici…pation.   Sam Heughan, a  Scottish actor, has been chosen to play the critical role of Jamie Fraser, earning him thousands of devoted–and I do mean DEVOTED–fans throughout the  social media universe.

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Fans Reaction to Sam Heughan Tweeting the Word “Sassenach”

 

To be fair, Sam Heughan does look a bit more scruffy in his photo, but Starz has been dribbling out official photos of Jamie/Sam, releasing only a few of him in a kilt.  Here’s one that was tweeted by a Starz employee–a cut out of Jamie in a kilt, looking like he just finished a battle:

 

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The fans are VERY clear , however, on what they want from Starz and Ron D. Moore, who’s adapting the series for TV (his wife is a die-hard Outlander fan):

 

 

Liam Neeson, from Northern Ireland, is a well-known actor, and is highly regarded for his portrayal of the famous Scottish figure,  Rob Roy MacGregor.  Liam also has a serious fan base and it’s easy (on the eyes) to see why:

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Liam in the 1995 Film Rob Roy

But, clearly, there’s a new Scot in town, with dashing good looks, red hair and a kilt–in whatever shape– set on winning over more Sassenach wenches to the Fraser clan.

And in this instance, I’m thinking fans don’t want Jamie/Sam to take his time about it, aye?

 

Jamie Fraser; image source

Jamie Fraser; image source ©SRusso

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Pentre Ifan Dolmen

Jan 27, 2014 by

 

The Pentre Ifan Dolmen is an ancient stone tomb in Nevern, Pembrokeshire, and one of the most well-preserved neolithic sites in Wales.   It is located atop a high hill and has sweeping views of the surrounding fields and down to the coastline and Cardigan Bay.   The dolmen dates from approximately 3,500 B.C , which means Pentre Ifan may be 1,000 years older than the more famous Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England.   Its original use remains a mystery; some scholars theorize it may have been a communal burial chamber (although no evidence of graves has been found) while others theorize it may have been a ritual center for  local peoples.

Originally covered by a large, oblong mound of dirt, the dolmen was excavated in the 1930’s and the 1950’s, revealing the standing support stones and capstone of the tomb.  The capstone weighs over 16 tons and points towards the nearby Nevern River.

Other dolmens, such as Poulnabrone in The Burren, County Clare, Ireland, are relatively small in size, but Pentre Ifan is tall enough for people to stand upright under the capstone.   In the 19th century engraving seen below,  a pair of  horsemen take shelter inside the ancient chamber:

Wales is a Celtic country, of course, so any mysterious place is bound to have fairies nearby, and Pentre Ifan is no exception.   Local legend has it that the Tylwyth Teg, the Welsh name for the sidhe or fairy race of beings,  frolic  around the ancient stones at night.   It isn’t hard to imagine Pentre Ifan as one of the “thin places” between our world and the world of the Others, where careful mortals on a dark night might just catch a glimpse of the Fairy Queen and her King striding out from the stones.  Anything is possible in the Celtic realm…

SOURCES:

http://www.wondermondo.com/Countries/E/Wales/Pembrokeshire/PentreIfan.htm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/wales/posts/60_years_pembrokeshire_coast_national_park

http://www.extrageographic.org/magazine/travel/2008/080901_pentre_ifan_dolmen.html

http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/117/#images

http://office23.jimdo.com/antiquities/dolmen/pentre-ifan/

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Keeping Up With The Frasers

Dec 30, 2013 by

If you didn’t get Jamie Fraser in a kilt for Christmas, despite your heartfelt appeals to Santa,  Starz has just released new Jamie tidbits to make your New Year brighter.

First up is the latest photo of Jamie and Claire together, contemplating a plant, perhaps a medicinal one Claire will use in her new occupation as official healer to Clan MacKenzie.  Starz did not indicate where this scene falls in the overall plot, but it’s ever so much fun to speculate.  Ron Moore tweeted that four episodes “are in the can” (7:22 PM – 29 Dec 2013), so perhaps this scene is before Jamie and Claire get married.  In any event, I love Claire’s dress–I expect we’ll be seeing copies of it on the Highland Games and Ren Faire runways soon.

Next is a new lesson in the How To Speak Outlander series, in which we learn how to pronounce Craigh na Dun, the portal through which Claire travels to 18th century Scotland:

 

If you’d like to see what a Scottish standing stone portal might look like in Outlander, take a gander at the background image for my blog. Those stones are the famous Ring of Brodgar,  a Neolithic henge and stone circle on the isle of Orkney in Scotland.

 

In case you missed the first How to Speak Outlander lesson–the ALL IMPORTANT one in which Sam says the word “Sassenach” in his lovely Scottish accent (hold on to your panties before you listen)–my review of it is HERE.

 

Starz also sent us holiday greetings from the cast of Outlander, including Sam with a wee doggie:

 

 

There has been no release date set for the Outlander series;  it was originally slated for the Fall 2014 season, and I am hopeful that Starz will meet that target date.

Ye ken, my heart can nae stand much more waiting for that Hielan laddie, Jamie Fraser.

 

Another of my posts about Outlander and Jamie Fraser is HERE.

Want to know more about Diana Gabaldon’s books?  Click HERE for her website and HERE for Amazon links to the entire book series.

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Speaking Outlander: Why Jamie Is Taking His Time About It

Nov 30, 2013 by

In honor of St Andrew’s Day, the good people at Starz posted their first Youtube lesson in “How to Speak Outlander.”

The video clip starts with a native Scots speaker telling us how to pronounce “Sassenach” (in case you don’t already know), but Jamie Fraser (played by Sam Heughan) quickly comes in to take charge. After all, it doesn’t really matter how anyone else says it–for Outlander fans, ONLY Jamie can speak that word correctly, softly, sexily so that we feel it ripple inside us. Ahem.

 

I’m definitely an instant gratification kinda gal, so waiting for the show to debut in the Fall of 2014 is not something that comes naturally to me. I must admit that all this visual and audio teasing from the folks at Outlander is getting me a bit…fashed.
Just the way Jamie would want it, I’m sure–he means to take his time about it, aye?

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Apr 3, 2013 by

standing stones (anta in Portuguese language) near Costelo de Vide in Portugal

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