Stephen Walsh from Connemara Marble explains the story behind Ireland's “Holed” stones, otherwise known as the Irish Luck Stone. 

Within my folklore library, there are lots of mentions of special stones with holes in them – but I have never got to see one as they are often well hidden, inaccessible, or simply lost. The ancient Celts believed that a stone with a natural hole brought good luck and protection from evil so it was worn during battle or while out hunting. View your enemy through the hole and all ill will intended for you will vanish.

However, my travels have brought me to County Carlow, in fact, I was on my way to visit the town of Tullow but about two miles outside the town I spotted a signpost for Cloch an Phoill (translated: "holed stone" in the Irish language).

The large holed stone lies just beside the main road and after safely parking the car at the edge of the road, I jumped out to take a look and see. We are standing in the townland of Aghade which is an area of rich farmland and gentle hills. As the ancient stone is a National Monument, I gained access through a little kissing gate and walked the few yards along a graveled path at the side of a field.

So, here is the large granite slab lying on its side at an odd angle. The Cloch an Phoill is a huge pillar stone with a circular hole pierced through. It is believed the stone was used as a seal or blocking stone for a megalithic tomb that dates from the Bronze Age some four thousand years ago and it is thought that the hole was used to pass food through to the dead after the tomb had been closed.

No other remains of the tomb can be seen so it’s not certain if the complete tomb stood at this location or if the stone had been moved here. In fact, there is historical mention of the existence of another standing stone nearby – but no evidence of this exists nowadays.

The hole itself is around 30 cm (about a foot) in diameter. It has been an important feature for hundreds of years and as late as the eighteenth century sick children were passed through the hole as a cure for various illnesses and as a protection from evil.

According to legend, the stone is also associated with Niall of the Nine Hostages. Niall of the Nine Hostages was a legendary, semi-historical Irish king who was the ancestor of the Ui Neill dynasties that dominated Ireland from the 6th to the 10th centuries. There is a story that says Niall tied up his old enemy, Eochu, by running a chain through the hole. However, Eochu managed to break free and sought revenge, eventually killing Niall!

You can creep under the stone and take a peep upwards – I have to say there is something magical about seeing the blue sky and clouds through the stone. From the top side we can put our hand and arm through the hole... let’s hope it brings a bit of luck our way.

I hope that you enjoyed seeing this unique stone and hope it will keep you safe and bring you luck too! You can take a look at our Connemara Marble Luck Stone Necklace available here or indeed our Luck Stone which will fit perfectly in your pocket.