My name is Danny O’Connor and I am a farmer and I have lived in the parish of Bonane all my life. This story is in my head with nearly 10 years, and I guess it is about time it was told. It all happened between 9.15am and 12 noon on Thursday morning December the 16th 1999.
Since I was a young lad I knew our parish was crammed full of archaeological sites of all descriptions, but the Bullaun stones were of particular interest to me as there are two on my land. At first glance they seemed to be aimlessly scattered about the parish but one cold frosty morning I learned differently. There’s an old saying that you learn something new every day and on that Thursday morning, I found out that this saying is very true.
On that particular morning I was cleaning out the ashes from our stove and I was putting it in the field behind the house. It was a clear crisp morning that you will only get after a severe nights frost. I stood on a high ridge at the back of the house and was taking in the view, I looked South, then West, and then East, the sun had just come up. I noticed its rays were lighting up about an acre of a forest close by. My eyes were transfixed on it for a while, and then I thought to myself there’s a Stone Circle right there at that particular spot. I said to myself the sun must be shining through some unusual crack or split on the horizon to the South East.
I decided I would go over to the Stone Circle to investigate further. The site was a 40 year old overgrown forest at the time and after trudging up through it I eventually found the Stone Circle. It was an eerie feeling to be standing in the circle in the dark of the forest, with the early morning sun glistening through the trees. I walked onwards, my boots crunching the cold withered ferns amongst the stones of the circle, I made my way south east to the edge of the forest a mere 40 paces or so.
I was scanning the horizon with my binoculars for something unusual and then I saw it. This rectangular shaped stone with the sun hovering in the sky just above it. I assumed the Sun had just risen from behind the stone; however subsequent research revealed that it is in fact the moon that rises behind the stone and the sun rises further to the left of it.
I was stunned. I felt like the sailor in the North Atlantic must have felt as he stood in the crow’s nest on the night of the 14 April 1912, when he first saw the iceberg in front of him. I felt my blood go cold, the hair stand on the back of my neck; I went weak at the knees. I leaned back against a tree and I slid slowly down along it, as the full implications of what this could mean slowly dawned on me. How long I sat there I can’t remember.
I was well aware of the time of the year we had, I quickly put the Sun-Rise, the Winter Solstice, the stone on the horizon and the Stone Circle together. I went home and tried to explain what I had found to my wife Moira. We both returned to the wood, where I showed her what I had discovered. Soon after we discovered that the Stone Circle, the rectangular stone on the horizon, the Graveyard, a multi-hole Bullaun Stone and the sun-rise, all seemed to be in a straight line to the South East.
Once I realized there was a Bullaun Stone on this imaginary line we had just discovered, I instantly made sense of the four other Bullaun Stones I knew to be in the Sheen Valley. We went home and studied a map of the valley, where I drew four lines through where the Bullauns Stones should be. I then realized I had four more sun-sets to the west, the rest is history. With the help of one man in particular at that time and several more people later Bonane Heritage Park came into being.