Connaught’s Coronation Stone

Map of County Roscommon
https://askaboutireland.ie/narrative-notes/map-of-county-roscommon/index.xml

Ó Broin Tomás’s Celtica, 29 199 (pages 393 – 401) Show Less in A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology] describes the following information: ‘The Irish name for the ancient coronation stone reputed to sing, or to utter a shriek, when a king willed by destiny sits upon it. Conn Cétchathach [of the Hundred Battles] was the first to sit upon Lia Fáil and foretell the future; he saw how many of his line would occupy the kingship as well as the coming of St Patrick. Just which stone is the true Lia Fáil has been a matter of much contention; as the Irish antiquarian George Petrie (1790–1866) observed, ‘It would be difficult to find a monument of antiquity with which so many national associations can be connected.’ The Lia Fáil may be (1) identical with the phallus-like Fál described by the Dindshenchas as being found at Tara from pre-Christian up to medieval times. The pseudo – history Lebor Gabála [Book of Invasions] speculates that the semi-divine Tuatha Dé Danann brought Fál with them from northern Germany or that the Milesians brought it with them from Spain. (2) An Irish stone at Tara that was taken to Cruachain in Connacht centuries ago. (3) An Irish stone standing at Tara until the rebellion of 1798, when it was moved from the ‘Mound of Hostages’ to ‘Cormac’s House.’  Made of granular limestone not found in the area, this stone is 12 feet long, 6 feet of which stands above ground.  It is the most obviously phallic monument from early Ireland. (4) The stone raised at ‘Cormac’s House’ in 1798, now marked with the letters ‘R.I.P.’, may originally have served another function at Tara. (5) The Scottish Stone of Scone. Scottish historians from Hector Boece (1465–1536) have argued that while the Lia Fáil is of Irish origin, the Fál of the Dindshenchas, it was taken from either Cashel or Tara to Dunadd in Dál Riada for the coronation of Fergus mac Eirc. In 846 the Scottish king Cináed mac Ailpín [Kenneth MacAlpin] moved it to his capitals, first Forteviot and later Scone, where it was used in Scottish coronations until 1296 when it was seized by the English. And despite being recovered by Scottish nationalists in the mid-twentieth century, it lay under the English coronation chair until 1996, when it was returned to Scotland.’  [i]

In this article the Coronation Stone called the Lia – Fail of the Irish Traditions has a reference that ‘There it was placed upon the Sacred Hill of Tara: the ‘Fatal Stone’ or ‘Stone of Destiny.’ (‘Chronicles of Eri’ Trinity College, Dublin[ii]

Connaught Stone

There is a large Stone in front of Clonalis House called the Coronation Stone.  It was transported from Rathcroghan in County Roscommon to the present site.  The High Kings of Ireland were crowned upon thisSstone.  There is an indentation like a footprint on the top of the stone that is believed to be where each king put his foot into during the Ceremony.  The new King symbolically married the soil over which he was to rule by this sacred stone that in fact acted as the King’s bride in the Ceremony known as ‘Banais Ri’ the King’s Marriage.  According to Mrs. Pyers O ‘Conor – Nash’s entry in Sybil Connolly’s publication ‘In An Irish House’ (1988 Weidenfeld & Nicolson London) Felim O ‘Conor was one of the last people to be Crowned King of Connacht at this Stone.  He was killed during 1316 at the Battle of Athenry between de Burghs & the de Birmingham’s.  This Stone was probably used to inaugurate thirty O ‘Conor kings.  (This site features a beautiful image of The Coronation Stone also provides a detailed resume of the Family & House’s History)  (16th October 2020) [iii]

The O ‘Conor family were direct Descendants of the last traditional High Kings of Ireland.  Possibly their Demesne at Clonalis was the last remnant of the ancient Kingdom of Connacht.  Clonalis House is now home to the twenty – seventh Generation of the O ‘Conor’s.  This family have a rich history of delivering eleven previous High Kings of Ireland also twenty – six Kings of Connacht.  The Coronation Inauguration Stone of the O ‘Conor Kings is still in situ at the front of this house. [iv]

The Coronation Stone or Inauguration Stone of the O ‘Connors is still visible at Clonalis House.  According to Gaelic tradition of both the Irish & Scottish Clans when a King was inaugurated: He symbolically married the soil over which he was to rule.  A Sacred sSone was in use for this purpose as it acted as the Kings bride.  The Ceremony was known as ‘Banais Ri’ or the King’s marriage.  The Stone at Clonalis was possibly in use at the Inauguration Ceremony of up to thirty of the O ‘Conor Kings.  These Ceremonies took place at Carnfree near Tulsk in Roscommon approximately twelve miles from Clonalis on a hill that overlooked the five Counties of the Kingdom of Connacht.  The Ceremony was highly ritual: it was performed in front of the Bishops, Abbots also the Sub – Kings of Connacht.  One part of the Ceremony required the King to put his foot in the footstep carved into the top of the stone.  The greatest O ‘Conor King was Turlough Mór O’Conor who was High King of Ireland during the twelfth century AD. [v]

The coming of the Tuatha Dé Danann to Ireland with these enigmatic objects was a fantastic arrival according to Lebor Gabála.  ‘In this wise they came, without vessels or barks, in dark clouds over the air by the might of Druidry.  They landed on a mountain of Conmaicne Rein in Connacht’. (10th January 2019) [vi]

This site has information re Clonalis House as the ‘ancestral home of the O ‘Conors of Connacht.  The family here are direct descendants of Connacht’s traditional ruling dynasty and in the 12th Century AD, of Ireland’s last High Kings.’[vii]

Publications that may be of interest

Nitze William A. 1956 ‘The Siege Perilleux and the Lia Fáil’ or ‘Stone of Destiny’ Speculum 31 (page 258)  It may be viewed as a PDF at this link: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2849412?seq=1

FitzPatrick Elizabeth Woodbridge 2004  ‘Royal Inauguration in Gaelic Ireland c. 1100–1600’  A review of this volume by Dr Mark Zumbuhl of the University of Glasgow may be viewed at the following link: https://reviews.history.ac.uk/review/498

Skene William Forbes Edmondstone & Douglas Edinburgh 1869 ‘The Coronation Stone 1809 – 1894’ may be viewed at this link: https://digital.nls.uk/dcn6/7869/78694681.6.pdf

O ‘Connor Roderic 1861 ‘A Historical and Genealogical Memoir of the O ‘Connors, Kings of Connaught, and their Descendants’ McGlashan & Gill Dublin.  The inside of publication may be viewed on this page: https://archive.org/details/ahistoricalandg01goog

The O ‘ Conors of Connaught: An Historical Memoir’ 1891 O’Donovan John & the Rt. Hon. Charles Owen O ‘Conor Don Hodges, Figgis & Co. Dublin may be viewed at this link: http://www.aughty.org/pdf/oconnors_connacht.pdf

Keating Jeffrey ‘The History of Ireland’ (pages 205 – 212) is mentioned at this page: https://celt.ucc.ie//published/T100054.html

‘6th Reader for National School’ PDF Chapter title ‘Antiquities of Ireland’ may be viewed at this site:

https://tipperarystudies.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/6th-Reader-for-national-schools-1880s.pdf

Ó Broin Tomás 1990‘Lia Fáil: fact and fiction in tradition’ Tomás Celtica 21 (pages 393 –  40)

Bondarenko Grigory 2018 ‘Lia Fáil and other stones; symbols of power in Ireland & their origins’[viii]

Nicholls K. W.  2003 ‘Gaelic and Gaelicized Ireland in the Middle Ages’ 2nd edition Dublin may be viewed as a PDF at the following link: https://reviews.history.ac.uk/

Joan Scales  in ‘The Irish Times’ article on 7th December 2017 ‘Follow in the footsteps of the kings and queens of Ireland’ may be viewed on this site: https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/travel/ireland/follow-in-the-footsteps-of-the-kings-and-queens-of-ireland-1.3318860

Byrne F. J.  2001 ‘Irish Kings and High Kings’ Four Courts Press is referenced at this site: https://www.fourcourtspress.ie/books/2015/irish-kings-and-high-kings/

‘The Lia Fail’ is mentioned in the ‘All Ireland Review’ 1902 Vol 3 No. 5 (pages 69 – 71 ) at this site:https://www.jstor.org/stable/20545964?seq=1

Footnotes

The phrase ‘Cruchan is to Connnaught’ is mentioned in this Duchas entry from Newbristy School South, Co. Westmeath:https://www.duchas.ie/en/cbes/5009104/4987056/5121376?ChapterID=5009104

A reference to The O’ Conor Coronation Stone may be viewed  at this link: https://www.europetraditions.com/ireland/int/011.html

The Kings of Connacht Coronation Stone is referenced on these sites with other artefacts at Clonalis House: https://www.discoverireland.ie/accommodation/clonalis-house-and-self-catering-cottages

/  https://clonalishouse.com/guest-house-ireland/our-home/

An image of The Coronation Stone at Clonalis House in County Roscommon may be viewed at this link: https://www.tripadvisor.ie/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g1216340-d1079944-i110443294-Clonalis_House-Castlerea_County_Roscommon_Western_Ireland.html

Clonalis House page may be accessed at this link: https://www.facebook.com/clonalishouse/

The Coronation Stone or Inauguration Stone of the O ‘Conor’s is located at this Clonalis House according to this site: http://www.irishevents4u.com/Ireland/Countys/roscommon/houses.htm

Bibliography

[i] Lia Fail (https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100103672) [assessed 15th April 2021]

[ii] Lia Fail (http://www.biblemysteries.com/library/liafail.htm) [assessed 15th April 2021]

[iii] O ‘Conor Don (https://irishhistorichouses.com/tag/oconor-don/) [assessed 15th April 2021]

[iv] Clonalis House (https://www.visitroscommon.ie/clonalis-house/)[assessed 15th April 2021]

[v] Suck Valley (https://www.discoversuckvalleyway.ie/suck-valley/heritage-culture/monuments/coronation-stone-at-clonalis-house/47/) [assessed 15th April 2021]

[vi] Ancient Sites (https://mythicalireland.com/ancient-sites/the-lia-fail-mystery-screeching-stone-of-tara-brought-by-the-tuatha-de-danann/) [assessed 15th April 2021]

[vii] 10 Things (https://www.abbeyhotel.ie/cmsFiles/10things_roscommon.pdf) [assessed 15th April 2021]

[viii] Lia Fail (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lia_F%C3%A1il) [assessed 15th April 2021]

 

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