Mass Rock: Cahirkeem, County Cork, Ireland


Up the hill and around the corner from the Lady of Lourdes Grotto in Cahirkeem, the landscape unfolds into a beautiful sight. The rugged terrain meets an extraordinarily blue sea, anchored by a hill dotted with lush, green farmland. Just up ahead is an unassuming lay by with a very interesting past. Slow down or you just might miss it!

Across the road from the lay by is a hill known as Cnocan an Aifrinn. (The hillock of the Mass) Upon careful inspection stone steps can be seen rising up to an age old, well worn path.

At the end of the seventeenth century the Irish were deprived of their political and civil rights, including the right to educate their children, the right to own property, the right to vote, and the right to practice religion. This desperate period was referred to as the Penal Times. It was dangerous to worship in public places, so isolated areas were sought out for clandestine masses.

The altar used for the ceremonies was known as a Mass Rock.

 Climbing the hill one can almost feel the trepidation that must have accompanied the worshipers in days gone by. The scenic view is gorgeous and reveals the dichotomy of the place. Such immense beauty is laid out before one’s eyes to be appreciated, but also to be scanned with a wary eye for those who would punish the prayerful. The winding path continues to weave upwards until a large, flat rock appears. A handsome stone cross marks the place where the mass would have been said in whispers.


About Susanne Iles

Contemporary symbolist artist, writer,curator,and geek/nerd girl . Interested in photography, mythology, alchemy,ancient history,science,gaming and magic.
This entry was posted in Beara Peninsula, Cahirkeem, Church, County Cork, Historical Site, Ireland, mass rock and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Mass Rock: Cahirkeem, County Cork, Ireland

  1. Fin says:

    That reminds me of a mural I saw in the north, it was all about hedge schools and Masses. Those photographs are excellent btw.

  2. Janet Iles says:

    The photos are beautiful. Thanks for explaining the mass rock.

  3. Ivy and Haley says:

    What a beautiful location!

  4. Vajramate says:

    I've just subscribed. In 2000 I meditated at the Rigpa Centre. I am Buddhist. I was there because my wife is from the Bat O'Sullivan clan, Uncle Paddy has the farm that looks down over the small church about 10 miles on from Rigpa. Your photos took me right back there. Thank you.Peter Wright.

  5. knittnkitten says:


  6. Mountaindreamers says:

    Thank you for visiting, I love blogging as you never know who you might run across, I love your pictures and such a deep ahhh and awe when I look at the country side , I know I have been there before , perhaps not in this present but some wonderful past , stay in touch , Laura

  7. Pingback: Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, Cahirkeem, County Cork, Ireland | The Ring of Beara Blog

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