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Stone Mad Beauty And Mysterious Crutches

by Jimmy Rhatigan

Pics by Donal Foley

If photographer Donal Foley were to slip on a banana skin after climbing to the top of Mount Everest, he would land in a new suit.
He is that kind of man; loves a challenge and he would walk, or even climb a million miles – well maybe a few furlongs – to get an out of the ordinary photograph for Kilkenny Press.
On Sunday he motored from his Hugginstown home to a local medieval beauty spot called Leac an Scáil that could well have been the scene of a recent miracle.
Driving his trusty van, he was accompanied by his ever friendly wife, Bridie and pet dog Ben, perched in the back.
Highlight at the site, not too far from Mullinavat is what is described as a type of Dolmen Megalithic (large stone) tomb known as Kilmogue Portal Tomb.
But it was a pair of crutches lying idly, or maybe lazily, on green, green grass that tickled Donal’s fancy.
Lost souls perhaps, the crutches we mean. If only they could talk they could have enquired their way home.
The tomb is fascinating but the walking aids were wonderfully mysterious.
Had some local been so impressed by a stone spectacular that a man or woman who arrived with them performed a ‘take up thy bed and walk’-type miracle?
Donal has an eye for a good picture.
The beauty of the area is sensational, inspiring, particularly for those who, with respect, may consider themselves stone-mad.

But the sunny stroll story kept returning to the crutches that no doubt helped someone to hobble to Kilmogue but forgot or neglected to help him or her home.
There was another possibility.
The pair of sticks may have served their purpose as a local somehow walked tall having soaked up the pre-Summer sun in a region that is steeped in ancient history.
Again information provided at the site, tells us that two portal stones – the tallest stones in the tomb – form the entrance to a stone-lined burial chamber, roofed by two giant stone slabs.
Leac an Scáil is on flat land, a healthy neighbour of the free-flowing River Suir.
Builders were more than likely local farmers who rolled up the sleeves of their shirts or whatever they worn under their jumpers thousands of years ago.
The tomb was for the burial of what were described as ‘important members of the community’ and was often the fulcrum of home, sweet home for a particular tribe.
Thanks to information stones provided by the Board of Works admirers broadened their knowledge of what the area meant to local farmers so many moons ago.
Yet there wasn’t even a hint of where the crutches came from or if some mystery man or other would return to collect them for a lift home.

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