Bullaun stone, Rathcormac, Co. Sligo

A bullaun stone serves as an informal holy water font in front of the statue of St. Colmcille on the grounds of Rathcormac church (St. Colmcille’s). Derived from the Irish word ‘bullán’, meaning a bowl, bullaun stones have naturally occurring or man-made basin-shaped hollows that may have functioned as early grinding stones or mortars. They are often associated with religious sites where they would have been used as holy water fonts in medieval times.

This stone is said to have originally been located in nearby Urlar townland, which is close to Cooldrumman (Cúl Dreimhne) on the lower slopes of Benbulben mountain where, in the 6th century, the Battle of the Book took place . The cause of the battle is attributed to St. Colmcille’s copying of a book belonging to St. Finnian without his permission, which gave rise to the High King’s verdict: ’To every cow its calf and to every book its copy’.

Folklore attributes the hollow to a saint using the stone as a pillow or kneeling on the stone, thereby causing an indentation.  The water gathered in a bullaun stone was said to cure warts and milk from a mythical cow or deer was also said to have healing properties when found in a bullaun stone. 

This stone was formally identified by locally-based archaeologist Tamlyn McHugh.

Tamlyn McHugh
Tamlyn McHugh
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Bullaun Stone Rathcormac

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