Must See Places in Ireland: Drombeg
Ever since we came to live in Ireland, over five years ago, reinventing our life from the United States to Europe we have enjoyed seeing the historic views of Ireland. Of all the places to go in Ireland, that or a day trip out of Kinsale we probably take people to Drombeg circle the most. This makes this stone circle one of our "must see places" in Ireland and one that we recommend to anyone who is traveling in Ireland.
About an hour outside of Kinsale, the visitor is recommended to take R600 the south of town, across the bridge, and on through Ballinspittle, Coolmain, and Timoleague (the subjects of other must-see places articles) and into Clonakilty where the road merges with N71. You can enjoy the relative fast pace of driving on N71 through to Rosscarbery, where you will see the Celtic Ross Hotel on your right. Slow down a bit, as you will make the next left turn after going over a stone bridge on the road. There are many signposts on the column there, and at least one of them used to be Drombeg circle. You are now on R597, but like many Irish roads you may or may not be any sign indicating that fact. Continue between 4 and 5 km and watch for a sign for Drombeg pointing left. This puts you on a single-track road, and many times, I have been very thankful I have not met someone coming the other way. After a short distance you will see a metal bar over at entrance to a small car park where you want to pull in. After getting out of your car, take the footpath at the far end of the car park that runs off to the left and it will direct you to the circle.
Originally there were 17 closely spaced stones spanning about 29 feet in diameter of which 13 survived. While there are over 300 standing stone remnants in County Cork, Drombeg is the largest and most complete, due to archaeological work that was undertaken in the 1950s. As is true with many prehistoric structures the midpoint of the recombinant stone was set in lying with the winter solstice sunset which would be viewed looking through the notch in the distance hills. While some sites such as Newgrange (the topic of another one of our must-see in Ireland articles) enjoy absolutely perfect alignment, Drombeg's view of solstice is said to be good, but not precise. Be sure to look for the cup and ring marks on top of the recombinant stone, as these are indicative of prehistoric art found all over the world.
Drombeg is more than just a stone circle, although that in and of itself is worth the visit. It also features the ruins of two rounds stonewalls huts dating back to before the fifth century A.D. The signs at the site will explain which were the houses and how the cooking took place, but the remains are typical of those found throughout the Celtic regions up as far north as the Orkney Islands in Scotland. Stone is very difficult to carbon date but it is believed that this circle was built between 150 BC and one 130 AD.
Coming from a country where nothing is older than 200 years, with even the early Anasazi cliff dwellings from our homeland in Colorado only go back 1000 years, it is remarkable to stand in a place that has remained for two or three times as long as that. Of course no one knows for sure exactly what the use was of the stone circles, but it is clear that people work very hard to put them in place as the rocks often had to traverse long distances to be placed where they are now found. This one had a pot in the middle with someone's remains, and many of the archaeological sites are also burial grounds.
We recommend stopping and seeing Drombeg for anyone traveling in County Cork, or on a day trip out of Kinsale. Visitors leave feeling as though you have stood on a place that reminds you of the mysteries of the universe. We know you will enjoy it. Slainte'