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Poulnabrone dolmen, Republic of Ireland - travel guide

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Local time: 23:44:20

Poulnabrone dolmen, one of the symbols of the emerald island, is probably the most photographed megalithic monument in Ireland . This "hole of sorrows" is situated in the western part of the country, in the Clare County, in the region Burren .

Basic facts

Poulnabrone dolmen is a portal dolmen, created from a large rock weighing 5 tons, which is supported by two erected stones from both sides. The whole formation creates a 9-metres deep tomb. Its entry is directed towards the east. That makes the impression, that it might have been used as an old Celtic sacrificial stone. This mysterious place is most charming during the sunset, when the sun lights up the surrounding fields in clear purple shine. Archaeological findings in 1985 proved that 16-22 adults and 6 children were buried at the site, along with their personal belongings, because back then people believed that the dead need them for making their way to the other world. Among the findings were e.g. stone pendants, ceramic tools, quartz crystals, weapons and stone axes. In the 12th century, Gerald of Wales wrote about the popular Irish axes: "It is both a good and a bad habit that they still carry an axe in their hand just like a stick, so that they can easily manage anything bad that comes across their minds. Anywhere they go, they carry it with them. It is always at hand, perhaps directly in the hand, always ready, ready to kill."

Mysterious tombs

If you are interested in natural conditions, the vegetation in the region Burren is quite poor and there is not enough earth there. In the tomb Poulnabrone, there is only about 25-cm thick layer of earth and underneath it only rock. The way they buried their dead is still covered in mystery. The bodies were buried without the meat and the bones were separated from each other. Nobody knows how the bones were separated from the meat. If the meat had been post-mortally separated by cutting, the bones would have born traces of a knife or an axe. If they had let the bodies exposed to little predators, the bones would have been damaged as well. The most probably theory is that it was used for a ritual burial, i.e. the dead bodies were buried somewhere else, dug out after some time and carefully placed into their new tomb.


Poulnabrone dolmen is located near the road R480, about 9 km south of the town Ballyvaghan. The entrance is free. There are about seventy other tombs in the vicinity. You might also be captivated by hundreds of smaller dolmens in the area. However, they might be old just a few minutes, as the stones serve the tourists for amusement.

Information and Facts

GPS: 53.0487, -9.14
Altitude: 141 m
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Last update: Oct 19, 2012 7:41:01 PM

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Cities around

Ballyvaughan (7km)Lisdoonvarna (10km)Doolin (16km)Ennistymon (16km)Lahinch (19km)Gort (22km)Liscannor (20km)Ennis (25km)Oranmore (26km)

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