Last Photographed: Monday 3rd September 2007
Other Names: The Druids' Circle
Kenmare stone circle is the largest in south west Ireland. It consists of 15 boulder stones, 13 standing and 2 fallen, arranged in a slightly elliptical pattern. The circle is approximately 16 metres in diameter, and features a central boulder-burial topped with a huge capstone. The capstone is about 2 metres in length, and weighs an estimated 7 tons.
This stone circle is a far throw from its remote neighbours, set conveniently on the edge of Kenmare town, a mere five minutes walk from the town centre. Sadly, the final stretch of road approaching it is a grim and modern affair, with the land bordering the highway clearly earmarked for development. The entrance to the circle is guarded by a hut, and there is a charge levied for access (although the hut hasn't been manned during any of my visits).
The circle is surrounded by planted and managed trees and bushes, causing it to be know locally as "The Shrubberies". On the one hand, this does restrict the degree to which the modern world imposes upon the monument - the view of the road is entirely eliminated. On the other hand, the circle does feel a little manicured and tame. More importantly, the views of the surrounding landscape are also obstructed, thus obscuring the significance of the circle's location - particularly the river and the slope leading down to it, which might otherwise suggest a ritual path of approach.
Despite its flaws, Kenmare does have much to recommend it. It's a very complete circle, and is unique to the area in a number of ways. It's elliptical shape is atypical, as are the boulder stones - dramatically different from the slender, craggy stones that characterise other local circles. If the surrounding shrubbery can be ignored, it's still possible to appreciate the ambience of the site. However, this does require a little solitude, and Kenmare is a very busy circle - I have waited up to an hour here in order to photograph the circle during a quiet moment. It's not crowded, but there's a constant stream of people wandering up from the town. On balance, Kenmare is well worth a visit if you manage your expectations in advance.