Brash Stones

From Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions, 1894

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Leaving outside the so-called Druidical megalithic monuments, about the origin of which, in circles, pillars, &c, we know little or nothing beyond speculation, and which are scattered almost all over the globe, we notice in the Irish certain notions and practices connected with stones that reflect the manners of former times.

The stone of Cuamchoill, near Tipperary, produced blindness on those who gazed on it. Stones of Speculation, Liath Meisieth, used to draw fire were much revered. One object in the Irish Museum, of brass cased in silver, six inches by four, has the precious crystal in the centre, set round with coloured stones. The footprints of the angel Victor were to be seen on a stone in Down County, as the celestial being alighted to deliver his message from on high to St. Patrick.

In the Glimpses of Erin, by S. and Alice Milligan, an interesting notice occurs of the Brash or Bullan stones, in Cork Co., though there is a specimen at the Seven Churches of Glendalough. "The upper surface of this monument," say they, "is indented with four deep basin-shaped hollows. Two of them, the smallest, are quite close to each other at one edge; the other two, of larger size, are at the opposite edge. The devotee placed his or her knees in the smaller hollows; and, repeating a certain number of prayers, dropped an offering of some minute article into the larger. This operation, with certain rounds and washings at the Well, was deemed a specific for rheumatic pains and other ailments."

It is added, of the Brash superstition, "This is a pagan cultus, which all the power of Christianity, the personal influence of the cleric, and national education, have not been able to obliterate." A respectable farmer declared that he was not above saying a prayer at the "blessed stone" when he came that way. The water found in hollows of Bullan stones was held good for bad eyes.

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