Connaught’s Coronation Stone

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

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. (See Tomás Ó Broin, Celtica, 29 (1990), 393–401.  Show Less in A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology) [i]

In this article the Coronation Stone called the Lia – Fail of the Irish Traditions mentions 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 this stone.  There is an indentation like a footprint on the top of the stone that is believed to be where each king put have 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 Berminghams.  This stone was probably used to inaugurate thirty O ‘Conor kings.  (This site has a beautiful image of The Coronation Stone plus gives 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 is 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 plus 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 stone was in use for this purpose as it acted as the Kings bride.  The Ceremony was known as ‘Banais Ri’ or the Kings 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

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

‘Royal Inauguration in Gaelic Ireland c. 1100–1600’ 2004 FitzPatrick Elizabeth Woodbridge.  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

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

‘A Historical and Genealogical Memoir of the O ‘Connors, Kings of Connaught, and their Descendants’ 1861 O ‘Connor Roderic McGlashan & Gill Dublin.  The inside of book 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

‘The History of Ireland’ Keating Jeffrey 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

‘Lia Fáil: fact and fiction in tradition’ 1990 Ó Broin Tomás Celtica 21 pages 393 – 401.

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

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

‘The Irish Times’ article ‘Follow in the footsteps of the kings and queens of Ireland’ Joan Scales 7th December 2017 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

‘Irish Kings and High Kings’ 2001 Byrne F. J.  Four Courts Press is mentioned 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

The O’ Conor Coronation Stone is mentioned at this link: https://www.europetraditions.com/ireland/int/011.html

The Kings of Connacht Coronation Stone is mentioned 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]

 

No Comments

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this page!

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *