The story of Finn Mac Cool and the Cloughmore Stone is one of many bedtime stories told about the great warrior.
Finn was the leader of the Fianna, a group of warriors tasked with guarding Ireland for the High King. He is also responsible for numerous impressive landmarks around Ireland, most notably the Giant’s Causeway on the Antrim Coast.
The Cloughmore Stone
The famous Big Stone, or Cloughmore in Irish, nestles on a beautiful clearing atop Slieve Martin in the Mourne Mountains.
The area of outstanding natural beauty and the Big Stone attract tourists all year round. Those who are prepared to make hike up the mountain are rewarded with extraordinary views of the Cooley mountains and Carlingford Lough. It takes the 1 hour to walk up from the little village of Rostrevor, (or 15 mins from the car park) .
How did the Big Stone get there?
According to science, the Big Stone is what is known as a ‘glacial erratic’. It was transported from Scotland and deposited by retreating ice during the last Ice Age. But that’s not much of a fun story, here’s what really happened…
The story of Finn Mac Cool and the Cloughmore Stone.
Finn Mac Cool was out hunting boar on the mountain of Slieve Foy in Carlingford. After cooking it on the smouldering volcano, that had long since erupted, he enjoyed a great feast and lay down to rest for the night.
When he woke the following morning, he looked over Carlingford Lough and rubbed his eyes. An enormous shadow had passed in front of the sun completely blocking the light. Looking up he saw a huge giant, as big as himself, standing in front of him. The giant was armed with a sword in one hand, a club in the other and a shield slung over his shoulder.
“I am Ruscaire, the giant of Snow and Ice” said the giant. He challenged Finn, who was the giant of Summer, to a fight.
The battle begins…
A fierce battle began between the two giants. They fought each other with one foot in the lough and the other on the mountain. They fought day and night, the first day with swords and the second day with clubs.
On the third day Roscaire awoke early while Finn was still asleep, he crept over to Slieve Foy and stole his sword.
Finn woke in a rage to find his sword gone and began hurling rocks and boulders at his opponent on the other side of the water.
A stone and rock throwing battle ensued in both directions that shook the very foundations of the mountains.
The Stone that ended two giants
The 50 tonnes Cloughmore stone was on the ground beside Finn. He wrapped his huge giant arms around it and threw it with all his might at the Ice giant across the lough.
The stone landed on him, crushing him and buried him under the ground where he melted away.
Exhausted by his efforts, Finn lay down to sleep, his head on the top of the mountain and his feet resting in the water.
He was so tired that he never woke and over the years his body turned to stone. The outline of this great giant can be seen on the top of the Cooley mountains to this day.
Can you spot him?