St Patrick's Chair, Westport in Co. Mayo

The Boheh Stone is 10km south of Westport and 7km from Croagh Patrick.

At first glance it appears to be a pile of stones but a closer inspection reveals that the stones are covered by cup and ring markings. The stones which have been declared a national monument are situated within an area occupied by farm buildings and dwellings. A large flattish stone covers most of the surface of the pile, the stones underneath are lying flat, while others are on edge or end, and they all form a solid mass, which could easily be mistaken for a pile of rocks.

The markings exist on several of the rocks and while other examples of cup and ring features are to be found elsewhere in Ireland, Boheh appears to be the only recorded example in the central western counties. Standing on the west side of sloping ground facing westwards, the horizon is marked on the southwest by the Sheaffry hills, prominent to the west – northwest is Croagh Patrick mountain showing an almost symmetrical profile.

The flat top of the Boheh Stone stands at a maximum of 2.5m above the surrounding ground and extends horizontally for about four metres. The markings are on the top and sides faces and are badly weathered. The stones are believed to date to the Bronze Age.

A connection between the stone, the mountain and the setting sun was first noticed in 1989. Further observations in the spring and summer of 1991 and 1992 showed that on certain dates in April and August the setting sun appears to follow the slope of Croagh Patrick on the north side. The dates on which this occurred were close to 24th August, St Bartholomew’s Day which was traditionally the first day of Autumn and thus it would be associated with harvest time. The other date when the sun follows the mountain slope was circa 18th of April, which would be a sign for planting crops to earlier civilisations.

There are many such stones and remains throughout the world, these are believed to be used by early civilisation to indicate the rise and setting points of the sun and moon which were then interpreted by the people as a way of telling the seasons.

By Bernie O'Malley

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