The story begins in 2009 in Skibbereen, County Cork, Ireland. Donal Bohane had been renting some land from his cousin for farming, and on that land stood a neolithic standing stone that had been placed there and propped up some time in the Bronze Age — which is to say, a long-ass time ago.
And on that stone, a bull liked to rub itself.
As Mr. Bohane explained to the Irish Times:
Every day you would be passing, you would see the bull scratching himself on the stone – it was a nice itching spot but the problem was there was nothing around the stone. I was always told these stones were as much underground as overground but that was not the case with this one. The ground around it was eroded so the bull didn't have much to do to knock it.
At first, Mr. Bohane tried to contact some authorities. Normally, the Irish National Monuments Service would be in charge of taking care of things of such historical relevance; he also reached out to the nearby University College at Cork. But no one seemed to notice or care, so the stone just kind of stood there, laying on its side about 150 feet away from the roadside. And Mr. Bohane let it be.
Unfortunately, over the decade that followed, climate change and other uncontrollable issues have made life difficult for Mr. Bohane — and he began to wonder if that spate of bad luck had anything to do with the bull-toppled stone:
When you look back to 2009, things seemed to be very good but we have had every sort of problem, particularly over the last few years when animals got sick. In August, we had this really bad flooding and we lost 18 acres of maize when the field was flooded to a depth of nearly five feet.
Finally, Mr. Bohane decide to enlist in the aid of two druids* from the Grove of Anú in County Kerry, part of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, to help reinstate the stone. With a little help from a bulldozer, they held a ceremony, "…in the presence of the elements, the directions, three people, and with a request to the unseen, we stated our good intentions: to place the stone in its original location and position. The intention was to clear the spirit road or energy line of any blockage and to put an end to the misfortune cast upon the cattle using the field"
And now the National Monuments Service is pissed. Again, from the Irish Times:
The majority of archaeological monuments in Ireland, including standing stones, are protected under the National Monuments Acts and anyone wishing to carry out work on one must give two months' written notice to the Minister for Heritage.
So to recap: a bull knocked over an ancient stone, which caused a spree of misfortune, so they finally put the stone back where it was, and now everyone's luck is even worse because the bureaucrats are mad about it.
I'm normally not that cynical about local government agencies, especially the historical/cultural preservation ones, which I assume to be working with good intentions. But an investigation feels a little overkill here.
Investigation launched after Cork standing stone reinstated by farmer and druids [Barry Roche / The Irish Times]
Cork farmer believes his bad luck goes back to standing stone [Neil Michael / Irish Examiner]
Kerry druids work their magic on Skibbereen standing stone [Jackie Keough / Southern Star]
Image via YouTube
*As I understand it, modern-day neo-pagan Druidism is different from what we typically understand as "traditional" "druids," which may not have actually been real, but rather were just a name given by the Romans to people they didn't understand, likely derived from a mutation of "draíocht," the Irish Gaelic word for "magic." I may be confused about some of this.