News Archives (2011-2020)

 Sunday, 25th November, 2018: It feels good to be working on the site again. Last week's new blog post was warmly received. Blogging has really shifted in the past few years. The amount of hits we get per month has trailed off significantly. Part of that is definitely through lack of activity, but social media also has an effect. People interact more with the site via Facebook, Twitter etc than with the actual site. Five years ago it wouldn't be uncommon to hit 25k a month. Now, getting above 5k is an achievement.

We are planning some changed (we hope) for 2019. Firstly, we will be entering out 10th year and we feel an update is in order to make the site contemporary and easier to navigate. Secondly, we will continue to update older posts with more images and better quality. In the early days I was constricted by slow internet and a restrictive data-cap. All the images had to be reduced in size and limited to about 5 per post. Now there are no restrictions so we are updating those old posts. We will also be adding the date we visited the site to all posts, as after 10 years some sites have changed for better or worse. The old posts now need to be contextualised. Lastly, this site is starting to outgrow blogger. We have nearly 500 separate pages to manage and adding new posts is time consuming. We are looking at other options for the new year, possibly migrating to a hosted option with out own server. The only problem with that is it is costly. We fund this ourselves and have zero budget. We have made the decision to remain ad-free (something we are very committed to) and rely solely on donations to help cover costs (domain fees, etc). We'll see what the future holds.

Sunday, 18th November, 2018: Getting back in the saddle…

Hello everyone! I’d like to say a big thank you to all for supporting this page over the past few years and especially to those of you who were following The Standing Stone before there even was a Facebook page! The website is a little over 9 years old now and I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. However, over the past couple of years life has taken over somewhat (both good and bad) and I’ve sadly neglected the website and page. But the time seems right to get things going again. I’m not going to bite off more than I can chew (again!) so I won’t make any promises, but I do hope to have a new blog post up every week or thereabouts. I will also see if I can resurrect the guest post section which was very popular.

So, keep your eyes peeled for a new post in the next couple days and, again, a big thank you to you all…

Wednesday, 26th October, 2016: It has been too long since I updated this section! Between kids, moving house (twice!), work and other things it's been a mad year but I'm at last settling down to get some good work done. You've probably seen I've put up two new posts as of late and I have a third ready to go this week. Podcasting was promised earlier in the year, as were more reviews and these are still in the pipeline. My sincerest thanks to those who have donated to the site. This has all be used for the running costs of the site and to get the equipment necessary to complete podcasting. I am hoping to do some podcasts for the Lea Castle Conservation Project by interviewing members of the committee to get a better idea about that project so please keep an eye out for that. I've also experimented with Facebook live video as of late. I was happy enough with both attempts and I hope that I can do more of that soon (and get better at it!). Lastly, we still hope to bring you some video content but this will probably be in the new year. Happy Samhain all...

Saturday, 16th January, 2016: Our first blog post of the year, Dunluce Castle in Antrim, has been well read so we're delighted with that. It was also our first foray into Northern Ireland. We have another Antrim based post for next week before moving onto Carlow.

We've also purchased equipment for podcasting which we hope to begin towards the end of the month with a view to putting our first show out there in February or March. We are talking to a few potential guests and should hopefully have an interesting show for you very soon. This, however, would not be possible if it were not for the generosity of some of our readers who made generous donations that allowed us to get the necessary equipment. We hope you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, 13th January, 2016: Happy New Year! Looking back I realise that I only made one update last year back in March. It was a very quiet year indeed. This is mainly because we had a new addition to our little family and naturally all of our energy went in to that. Towards the end of the year we also had the stress of moving house. However, things have settled down nicely now and we are looking forward to a much more productive year! A new blog post will appear this week and we have some very exciting guest-posts lined up for the coming months. We also hope to bring you a greater variety of content this year. The long promised review section will be launched in the coming weeks. We are also looking at bringing you come form of video content as well as podcasts. Podcasts are looking closer than we previously thought due to the generous donations for readers allowing us to procure the necessary equipment. As we grow bigger so do our costs so any donation to our little site allows us to bring you more and more quality content. Please consider making a small donation by clicking the donate button at the top of the left hand side menu.

As usual we are planning some exciting site visits and will keep you updated about these on our Facebook page. You can also find us on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. Speaking of Instagram we are posting a picture of an archaeological site a day for the 366 days of this year. It's proving quite popular so far. All the best...

Tuesday, 31st March, 2015: A belated Happy New Year to you all. I've been very neglectful as of late. The latter half of 2014 was taken up with wedding plans (the wedding went off perfectly on December 19th) and after that it's been baby prep as we're expecting our second son in August! So this severely limits our site-visit time. However, things are moving along. We're still involved in the Lea Castle Conservation Project. The report will be launched at the end of the month and the pictures are now on the site. We also had a bit of a technological disaster and lost all of our pictures from 2014. We had some great stuff which is now all gone. We still hold out hope that we will be able to get them back.

We took a trip to Sligo recently where I presented a paper in the Weather Beaten Archaeology conference in Sligo IT. The paper was called "Coolbanagher Castle and Social Media Outrage." The paper along with the others presented will be collected and published at some point in the future. We then spent a week in the North and visited some interesting sites that I hope to upload here in the coming months.

Saturday, 19th July, 2014: It's been a while since I've updated this page so I thought I'd check in a give a little update. I've been updating old pages and I'm nearly through that now and I'm slowly going through the process of watermarking all the pictures. I'm doing that because people have been taking them without permission. I don't mind people using the pictures as long as then credit them and link back to the original page. We've made a few visits to places around Laois, Carlow and Tipperary. We visited Tullaun Castle in Tipperary which is being restored and had a very pleasant afternoon with Kevin and Sonja who are so passionate about heritage and restoration. They are doing great work there.

Things are moving forward on the Lea Castle Conservation Project (find us on Facebook). We've had an conservation architect, an ecologist, a bat specialist and a landscape archaeologist will be visiting the site soon. Hopefully in September we will be beginning clearance of the growth around the castle. It remains closed to the public.

I've been making semi-regular updates. Still not back to my three updates a week, but at least months aren't slipping by so I'm happy at the moment.

Friday, 14th March, 2014: Things are picking up. Since my appearance on RTE Radio 1 the hits have nearly doubled on the site and still going strong. It's also been busy offline as well. Last weekend we travelled to Sligo for the weekend and visited various places while there and on the way. Knocklane promontory fort was particularly spectacular and Ballinafad castle was also pretty amazing. We also spent some time in Roscommon and visited the friary and castle in the town there. The castle is one of Ireland's biggest castle and should be much more known about. We were lucky enough to meet Frank Scott there who is part of the Roscommon Heritage Society and he kindly gave us a tour of the site and pointed out various interesting features that we would never have spotted on our own. We also made a list of places in the vicinity that we want to come back to visit including Rindoon Castle which sits on a small peninsula. The remains of an abandoned town also sit near by.

This week I also attended a meeting in Portarlington in Co. Laois about the proposed conservation of Lea Castle, one of only three remaining medieval castles in Laois. The meeting was well attended and a conservation report is now in the early stages of being developed. I am going to a second meeting next week and the ball should well and truly be rolling at that stage.  

Saturday, 1st March, 2014: It's been a crazy week. Following Storm Darwin, portions of Coolbanagher Castle in Co. Laois fell over. Following an inspection by the National Monuments Service permission was given for dangerous parts of the castle to be removed. However, the entire castle was demolished and it is little more than a pile of rocks. I went out the site immediately and I have just posted the pictures (go to the recent additions menu in the sidebar for the link) today. I've spoken to RTE Radio 1 for their Morning Ireland show and the interview should be broadcast between 7-9am on Monday morning. It appeared in the Irish Independent today and will be in the Herald on Monday. There is also the possibility of a TV piece next week. I have also been asked by the Laois Heritage Society to write an article about the castle for their summer journal. I will be collaborating with Sean Murray from Laois Archaeology on this as he has done the bulk of the work in getting this story promoted to the national media.

In other news I am pleased to announce that The Standing Stone team has expanded. I have had many people accompany me on outings over the years but it is great to have another person on board. Maria J. Guillen will be taking the majority of the pictures for The Standing Stone in the future. I still have a vast about of my own to upload so I will state when they are her pictures as opposed to mine. Maria is a photographer and captures the sites much more effectively than I ever have. I am very excited by this.

Wednesday, 1st January, 2014: Happy New Year to all of you that use this site. I've had about three years of neglect of the Standing Stone but my number one resolution for 2014 is to get this site going again. 2013 was a bad year for many many reasons so I am looking forward to a better year ahead and getting back out there to see the sites and post them up here. All the best...

Sunday, 3rd November, 2013: What a few months. My laptop died and then did my internet connection which was away for repair for nearly a month (it was supposed to take three days). However, I'm with a new laptop at last and the modem is back and I'm up and running again (I hope). Preparing some updates at the moment. I should also announce that my partner, who is a student photographer, is taking a lot of pictures for the site now so some of them will be hers from now on. Hopefully, we'll get out to see some sites soon. 

Sunday, 4th August, 2013: We took an impromptu trip down to Co. Kilkenny on Friday. We saw a very ruined church near Galmoy and then pressed onto Grangefertagh to see the beautiful round tower and carved tomb. Then it was onto Johnstown to see the doorway that had been removed from Grangefertagh. We were going to look at some other local castles and a star shaped fort but the weather closed in and we had to abandon any further explorations for the day. This is an area that I will have to go back to soon. It was also my first venturing into Co. Kilkenny so once I've been to a few more sites there I will start putting them onto the site. Also planning some visits to Meath and Wicklow over the coming weeks hopefully.

Sunday, 26th May, 2013: What a few months. I can only describe the first half of 2013 as one of the hardest in my life. I won't get into the details since they are personal but between various issues it's been a hell of a time and finally it seems to be ending. We are finally entering a period of calm and I find myself, once again, with some time to do things. I've been to a few sites lately and preparing some updates for the site (long overdue) and hopefully that will be up soon. Also I've set up a new Facebook page in addition to the profile so please like and share. It can be found by clicking here.

Friday, 11th January, 2013: Finally, Clare is part of the Standing Stone! I've been meaning to get this online for over six months but finally it's up! Expect more Clare sites in the following week. I started big by posting up Holy Island which has a multitude of sites. Two other things to report. Firstly, the iPhone, Android app the 'Ireland Travel Kit.' no contains articles from the Standing Stone and this can be downloaded from iTunes and Android stores. Lastly, some users have been experiencing issues with viewing the site on Firefox. I have no idea what is happening, but pages are not loading correctly on the current version. This bug might fix itself with subsequent updates but for now I suggest using a different browser while viewing the site.

Sunday, 6th January, 2013: Happy New Year to you all. My New Years resolution is to get out to site more often and spend some time each week working on the website. 2012 was a slow year indeed but this isn't surprising considering I became a father. Everything else seems to fall behind when you have a child. But this year I'm making some time for other things and it's a good excuse to start taking my son to places but obviously I won't be dragging him to the tops of mountains just yet! I've started uploading a large update which should be linked in by the end of the week and finally Co. Clare will be on the Standing Stone.

Monday, 6th August, 2012: I have just looked at my last news entry where I promised to upload something in April. Well that didn't really happen. It's now August and I've got nowhere. Between being a new dad, finishing some important work stuff and starting a whole load of new stuff I have done nothing to the site. Well I have at least answered some months old emails and I'm now sitting down to write an update now. So at last things are moving again but I can't promise it will come with the same gets in the way. Anyway, thank you to those of you who check back in every now and again. I hope it's not getting too boring.

Monday, 23rd April, 2012: Sorry for the prolonged absence. They seem to be coming more frequently these days. I took a few weeks off doing anything website related to spend with my new son who was born on the 26th March. Naturally, he is my prime focus at the moment. I've started preparing some updates again which should start appearing in the next week or so. I will try to get something up for April so I don't go two months with nothing going up. Also realised that I seriously need to archive the old news. I haven't done that since January 2011. 

Tuesday, 21st February, 2012: Made a second trip out for this year exploring South Clare, near Limerick. There is a wealth of sites in that area and I only scratched the surface. Plenty of ancient sites and a few later medieval ones. Quin Abbey was a highlight, although I will have to return there as the gates into the abbey itself were locked until the high season after Easter comes around. I hope to add Clare to the site in the next week or two beginning with Holy Island in Lough Derg. I think I could spend a life time in Clare and not see everything.

Thursday, 9th February, 2012: Busy start to the year and life seems to just be getting fuller. I've been posting up stuff most weeks but not with the regularity I would like. Work and the impending arrival of my son has kept me busy. I made my first trip out of the year and explored Glendalough with a group of fellow enthusiasts. Last year I didn't add a single county to the Standing Stone, so this year I'm going to be adding three to make up for this. My aim is to have stuff for every county and I've been neglecting this target. I am hoping to add Wicklow, Clare and Meath in the coming weeks and months. I like to have a few sites ready for a county before I add anything and I have Glendalough, Holy Island and Loughcrew all sat there so it makes sense to get them up onto the site. This should inspire me to add further stuff to those counties soon. I want to start exploring Kilkenny soon as well. It's one of those things that has been on my to do list for years. Belated Happy New Year to you all...

Saturday, 31st December, 2011: Wow...what a year! For me this year has been a rush and unfortunately it has been the website that has suffered as a result. I can't promise things will get better in 2012 but hopefully I will be able to make more updates but I will be a father soon and that will be my priority. I also successfully defended my doctoral thesis just before last. I wish all my readers a happy new year and a great 2012 and thank you for still reading and making this site more successful in 2011.

Saturday, 19th November, 2011: It's been a busy busy couple of months. I've been busy finishing rewrites of my PhD and hopefully that is now it. Because of that I have really been neglecting the site but now I have some time I will be giving it some care and attention. Apart from a weeks holiday soon I will be working on here every day making updates and editing old pages which I really want to get wrapped up. I don't know if I will be able to get the updates going at the speed I like because I'm now an expecting father and I just don't have the time to get out and about to see places like I use to. However, I will persevere!

On a sadder note, I just wanted to say how sad I was to hear about the imminent closure of It's been miles ahead of the rest of us online and it will be a huge loss to the online community.

Tuesday, 16th August, 2011: One of my long term goals for this site was to set up a forum. However, there were other forums and another was not necessary. Unfortunately, things have changed and I can now set up my own forum, although it comes only because another has disappeared. I have no idea how successful this forum will be and it all depends on how many people join and more importantly, how many are active. So feel free to get involved. The link to the forums is in the side bar and do read the conditions before you join. Security is strict and initially you will be required to make an introduction before being given more permissions. This is purely an anti-spam measure. Have fun!

Tuesday, 5th July, 2011: I'm glad that I'm finally managing to get this site running again. I'm not at the speed I use to be but I'm definitely making progress. New updates are being prepared and I'm also going back to the my early posts and updating them with hi-res pictures and new formatting so that everything has the same format. It's taking a while but I'm nearly there. Only about 15 posts to reformat. I still have loads offline that needs to be put on the site so keep an eye out for that. I don't think I'll be getting anywhere this weekend as I have a lot of work to do but hopefully I can a few updates prepared. Last weekend I took my fiancée to Roscrea to show her the lovely castle and other sites in the town. I finally got into the Blackmills Museum and saw the original high cross and the Roscrea Pillar which is a mysterious 8th century Christian box, probably from Monaincha Abbey. I had wanted to see this for quite sometime and was delighted to finally get to see it. I will make this a priority and get it uploaded so that Roscrea is finally properly covered. There is just one tower house outside the town in Dungar that I am yet to see and then that's Roscrea completely covered.

Wednesday, 22nd June, 2011: I have been quietly busy this past month and made a few little but productive trips out. I've visited a few old churchyards in Offaly and Tipperary and made a trip into Carlow and Kildare so I have plenty to be getting on with. I've finally managed to upload Carrowmore in Sligo which was a mammoth project but is finally done! I've recently been back to Clonmacnoise which is always a delight and I will add those pictures soon, including those from St. Ciaran's church which was covered in plastic and not visible the last time I was there. I went to the lovely Clonkeen church in Co. Limerick last weekend and am planning to do the 'tourist' trial in Limerick this weekend. They will, of course, eventually find their way on here eventually. It's been an exciting year for visits so far and I hope it continues. The problem is finding the time to upload.

Tuesday, 24th May, 2011: Finally I am back online. I have been moving house recently and have only today got my internet connection sorted out. I've made a new upload and there will be more to come. I've been pretty busy lately and have managed to get out and about to see lots of places. I have been into both Meath and Clare and have seen Loughcrew and Holy Island. In time I will get these onto the site. I am trying to write things about Carrowmore in Sligo and get that online which will be a worthwhile and big upload. Glad to be back with you.

Friday, 15th April, 2011: Again...sorry for the lack of updates. I'm moving in little over a week and anyone who has moves knows the time involved in much to do and so little time. When I am settled in my new home I will be able to start with the updates again. Thanks for you patience. 

Tuesday, 5th April, 2011: Busy busy busy. I'm moving soon to that's taking up my time but I'm getting something new up each week and I hope to continue this over the next while and in May I will be able to increase that when I'm settling into my new home. This weekend though I am off to Meath to look at the ancient tombs at Loughcrew. This is the last major megalithic cemetery for me to visit then I will have been to the four sites and then I will be adding Meath to the site. I will be going to Knowth and Dowth in the summer as well and get them up with Newgrange which will be the first Meath site to be uploaded. Thanks for your patience.

Saturday, 26th March, 2011:  Sorry for the lack up updating in the past few weeks. 2011 is turning into a very hectic year and I had hoped to to some updating this past week but I've been laid low with Salmonella poisoning so I haven't been up to much. Being ill also scuppered my plans to get out and about this weekend. So hopefully next weekend will be fruitful and I hope to make it to a few places in Kildare and Carlow. I feel that these counties need a bit of attention. I want to get stuck into Kilkenny soon and then I will turn my attention to Limerick for a bit during the summer. As for updates I will have new ones this week and hope to have a major update soon as I plan to upload Carrowmore in Co. Sligo which will involve updating pictures and information for 20 tombs. There are more than 20 there but that's all I have for now. 

Monday, 7th February, 2011: Last Saturday the weather was good and perfect for getting out and seeing a few places I've had on my list for a while in county Sligo. The first stop was Deerpark court tomb. Located in forestry land it is easily accessible (with a short walk) and all the pictures I had seen it was surrounded by trees but these have now been cleared and you can get a 360 degree view from the site including good views of Knocknarae which is roughly W of the site but not aligned. Next, we pressed onto the nearby cashel which also has a souterrain. This is a nice little site but is in a field adjacent to the forestry. We spent time carefully climbing over the wall only to find on the way back that there was access further down the wall. We couldn't get to the wedge tomb because of some horses who didn't like the look of us. After this we pressed onto Drumcliff and saw the great high cross and the remains of the round tower.The final stop for the day was Creevykeel court tomb. What an amazing place! It is worth spending some time here to get your head around the unusual layout of the site. The main tomb is standard enough but the extra passages at the rear really stumped me. However, with all manicured sites it has that garden ornament feel - but a very nice one at that. 

This weekend we travelled down to the very Southern tip of county Carlow to look at St. Mullins ecclesiastical site. Now while the weather was against us we saw all that the site had to offer and some other local sites. What an amazing place! The motte and bailey there was of particular interest because it is possible to get to the top. Most are overgrown. Since the site was very close to both Kilkenny and Wexford we wandered across the boarders and saw a few places in these counties. That might just be the thing I need to begin work on these counties. Next weekend I am back in Sligo to tackle the mighty Knocknarae in order to see Maeve's Cairn. This all depends on the weather of course.

Good news - I found my GPS!