The City, Shrone May Day 2013

‘The City’, or Cathair Crobh Dearg, is a local pilgrimage site in Shrone, Rathmore, Kerry, on the northern slopes of the Paps. The name ‘The City’ refers to the locations role as a cathair (ringfort). The surviving walls and features of the antiquity serve as setting for the pattern that is performed there.  It is believed that this has been a place of continual devotion and worship over several millennia.

Both the location and possibly a pagan deity were Christianised with the space being associated with St. Craobh Dearg ( a sister of St Gobnait of Ballyvourney). In a further pagan/Celtic connection, the pattern is performed on May Day, that is the feast of Bealtaine and it is linked with ensuring the health of cattle, or sometimes agriculture more generally.

The Well is located on western side of the City. It is the last station on the pattern. It is enclosed by a stone wall with a small amount of votive offerings present.

The Well is located on western side of the City. It is the last station on the pattern. It is enclosed by a stone wall with a small amount of votive offerings present.

Some work was done in the recent past with the well being located within concrete piping, with surrounding steps which facilitate access.

Some work was done in the recent past with the well being located within concrete piping, with surrounding steps which facilitate access.

At the western station of the pattern, there is a statue of Our Lady with the Infant Jesus and a number of cross slabs. Devotees make the shape of the corss as part of the pattern. The deep groves speak to the age of this practice.

At the western station of the pattern, there is a statue of Our Lady with the Infant Jesus and a number of cross slabs. Devotees make the shape of the corss as part of the pattern. The deep groves speak to the age of this practice.

The Well from the road, with a woman doing the rounds and a man at the well.

The Well from the road, with a woman doing the rounds and a man at the well.

A woman doing the rounds, circling the outside of the City. The flow of people that day has created a 'path' in the grass.

A woman doing the rounds, circling the outside of the City. The flow of people that day has created a ‘path’ in the grass.

The water is taken away on sprinkled on cattle or the land. It is also kept to give to sick cattle. Some people take several bottles of water, collecting it for their neighbours and friends.

The water is taken away on sprinkled on cattle or the land. It is also kept to give to sick cattle. Some people take several bottles of water, collecting it for their neighbours and friends.


A recording of me collecting some water from the well.

A video of me walking around the outside of the City, along the pattern route. The flow of earlier pilgrims has left a clear on the route.

Suggested Reading:

Cronin, D. (2001) In the Shadow of the Paps

City of Shrone‘ : Stone Fort posting on Megalithomania

The City and the Paps of Anu posting on Voices from the Dawn

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