Piper Stones, an Irish Legend

Permission to use:                        Piper Stones

To: Don Kelly
From: Norma
Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2002 11:32 PM
Subject: Re: Piper Stones of Ireland

Don, here is the photo of the Piper Stones in Ireland. Will see if I can find the Article. It is in the vast belly of this monster. I do need to do something with my files. Still in the book Mother of Kings. Found a few more things about Vikings for you.  I will be in Sacramento for 10 days so will go to the library there with my grandchildren. I found another lady besides me and my son that has the mark of the Viking in the palm of their hand. Later Norma.

Introduction: Location and physical description.

Athgreany, also known as the Pipers' Stones 53.1, N930 030 in County Wicklow four miles east of the town of Dunlaven and 1 1/2 miles south of Hollywood. A small historical sign marks where to climb over the fence, and along a row of gorse before turning to walk up the gentle slope of a hillock. The tone circle is a collapsed ring on the south eastern side, with land falling away to the north-east. These stones are considered a true circle 75' 6" in diameter, consisting of fourteen stones of local granite and the remains of a possible sixteen. It is believed that there are several missing at the north and the west. The shapes are between oval and rectangular and may originally have been planned to alternate. The field is known locally as "Achadh Greine. In ancient Irish Mythology, "Grainne" was the Goddess of Grain, or seed in the fields, Luv Norma

The famous Hawthorn Tree stands near the Piper Stones hilltop.


When this story about the Piper Stones first broke on Ireland-L mailing list, reporters in Ireland and England reported knowing the legend, and the stories did not substantially differ.

There is probably an official version written somewhere, but for now we will relate the story based on a composite of the two.

As a lead in to the story about the Piper Stones, there was a time in Ireland when the government was repressive, groups were not permitted to congregate, so dancing wasn't permitted, Catholics were prohibited from attending mass or to teach school, citizens could not meet anywhere sponsored by the English, a man could be hung for being out of their house after curfew. 

But the Irish young people, rebels at heart,  met to dance at lonely crossroads. They posted lookouts for any approaching soldiers, placed planks on the crossroads and danced. They could not take musical instruments with them that could be seen by the enemy, and they Invented a curious type of Irish music with their mouth, hands and feet, and a curious dance with feet only where hands and arms were not used for fear a distant foe might catch them.

In the legend of the Piper Stones the young people were similarly prohibited from dancing, but like the story above, they did it anyway.

On a hill outside of the village with pipers and harpers in tow, the  young people danced. Once they started to dance they could not stop. On and on they danced, the pipers played faster and faster until they collapsed to the ground in exhaustion where they turned to stone.

The Field of Medieval Piper Stones