Eightercua Stone Row – The Grave of Scéine

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Eightercua Stone Row – The Grave of Scéine

Eightercua Stone Row is located near Waterville on the Iveragh Peninsula in Co. Kerry. The alignment comprises of four stones, the tallest of which is 2.7 m (9 ft) high. It runs for 7.6m (25ft) in a West/Southwest-East/Northeast orientation and appears to be aligned with Cnoc Bhólais, a mountain situated across Ballinskelligs Bay. The whole monument sits on the edge of a raised horseshoe-shaped mound which was likely to be a ritual enclosure possibly containing an ancient tomb. Sadly this enclosure was all but destroyed by road-builders more than a century ago. The stone row itself is estimated to be from the Bronze Age, c. 1700 BCE.

Eightercua is taken from the Irish – Íoċtar Ċua (or possibly Íoċtar Ċuan), meaning the ‘holy place’ or ‘harbour’ that is ‘Íoċ’ or ‘below’. The name is probably a reference to the nearby Inbhear Scéine (Bay of Scéine) where, according to mythology, the Milesians first landed in Ireland. The Milesians were the last of the mythical peoples to settle in Ireland, said to represent the Gaelic (Irish) people. Scéine was the wife of Amergin, the Poet/Druid who led the Milesians. She died at sea, just within sight of Ireland and Amergin vowed to name the place where they landed after her. Tradition tells that the four stones of Eightercua mark her burial place.

One of the seven sons of Mil (from where we get the term Milesian), Amergin was reputed to have been the first Milesian to set foot upon the soil of Ireland. It is said that once ashore he chanted a magical incantation to the spirit of Ireland, known as The Song of Amergin;

“I am a wind across the sea

I am a flood across the plain

I am the roar of the tides

I am a stag of seven tines

I am a dewdrop let fall by the sun

I am the fierceness of the boar

I am a hawk, my nest on a cliff

I am the height of poetry (magical skill)

I am the most beautiful among flowers

I am the salmon of wisdom

Who (but I) is both the tree and the lightning strikes it

Who is the dark secret of the dolmen not yet hewn

I am the queen of every hive

I am the fire on every hill

I am the shield over every head

I am the spearhead of battle

I am the ninth wave of eternal return

I am the grave of every vain hope

Who knows where the sun rests

Who can tell the ages of the moon

Who gathers the divisions, enthrals the sea,

sets in order the mountains, the rivers, the peoples.”

Of this ancient Irish poem, the world-renowned Celtic scholar Kuno Meyer wrote: “Whatever may be its intrinsic merit, its importance as the earliest voice from the dawn of West European civilisation cannot be denied”. While Douglas Hyde maintained that this particular poem which comes from Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book of the Taking of Ireland), may well be the oldest surviving lines of any vernacular tongue in Western Europe. According to the ancient chroniclers, Amergin is buried at Millmount, on the south bank of the river Boyne in Drogheda, County Louth.

Monumental Ireland - Eightercua Stone Row - The Grave of Scéine