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Cétshamhain, the first of Summer

Cétshamhain, the first of Summer
Beltany Stone Circle, Donegal

Cétshamhain, May Day, Bealtaine. However you want to celebrate, there's no doubt May brings a change in mood. Last summer I was in Donegal and by chance passed a stone circle, Beltany.

It originally had 80 upright stones, 64 still stand today with the rest lost through time. The inner circle is raised and quite bumpy, folk reckon there were smaller burial mounds within and stones were taken by locals over time. The circle is believed to date to c.1400 BC.

The name ‘Beltany’ derives from the spring festival of Bealtaine.

Beltaine, or Beltane was celebrated with bonfires on the top of hills, and moving livestock to summer pastures. These celebrations were believed to ensure a good harvest for the year and protection for the cattle.

It has been suggested that the name of the site is an indication that the site’s function as a pagan ritual centre had survived in the folk memory of the local population.

A folk tale about the site is that standing stones are actually people who were punished by God for daring to dance on the Sabbath. There's one stone that stands outside the circle and that was the musician.

Whatever the reasons for the stones it's a very beautiful place and well worth your time to stop, pause and reflect.