Kilmalkedar Ballaun Stone

County Kerry
The Republic of Ireland


(Ref. Sheet 70, Q401 063)

We had spent a while exploring the ruined romanesque church at Kilmalkedar, once a centre of pagan worship the buriel ground contains many ancient stones and artifacts. It was whilst stood in that graveyard that we struck up a conversation with a local, or at least he was once a local but now lived and worked elsewhere and so was now a 'visitor', the same as we. He told us of Saint Brendan's House nearby and a little of the history of that adventurous saint, he spoke of the features of the churchyard and claimed to have relatives buried here and in the buriel grounds along the road; he then suggested that we visit the "stone of the magic cow" in the field opposite.

The Brief Tale of The Magic Cow as Told in a Graveyard by an Irishman - "A stone in an adjacent field marks the place where a wonderous cow once gave free milk to the poor, hollows are worn into the hard stone where its hooves once were and two more were the milkmaid stood. Then one day a wicked greedy witch came and milked the cow through a sieve into many buckets, at this deceit the magical cow promptly vanished never to return."


A wonderous cow indeed, a similar tale is told of an equally magical cow at Mitchell's Fold in Shropshire, England.


The stone is located a short walk up the road from Kilmalkedar Church, through a gate and in a large grassy field beyond. Unsignposted it can however be located from the road by way of its rocky surface and a small information plaque squatting over it. This large low boulder, some two metre squared, has six basins worn into its surface. The three largest form a line offset from the centre whilst the three others sit to one side.