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Inscribed Stone from Gortroe - August 1996


In September 1988, Mr Anthony Waldron, of Kingsland, Athenry, brought me a small block of limestone, 21.5 cm. by 10.8 cm. by 10.4 cm., which bore an inscription in low relief on one face. He had found this block about 1985, some three years previously, in a stone-built railway wall near “The Red Bridge”, to the west of Athenry, across the Galway Road. The townland is Gortroe, and the find-spot can be plotted on sheet number 84 of the Ordinance Survey six-inch scale maps for County Galway, at the point about 12 cm. from the western margin and about 2.3 cm. from the southern margin.

The stone seems to be entire, except for one end where it is badly damaged and perhaps broken short; apart from the inscribed face, all of the other four faces have been dressed flat, in such a way as to indicate that this block was fitted into a carefully made wall or other structure.

The inscription consists in two lines of what appear to be letters. There is a ridge-like border along the bottom of the inscription and indications that there was a similar border along the top, though this is now much chipped and not easily distinguishable.

Irrespective of the damage and chipping at both ends, it seems to be only part of a longer inscription as will be clear from the drawing (by Angela Gallagher, Dept. of Archaeology, U.C.G.) with this note. The letters are ribbon-like and average about 8 to 10 mm. in width and stand about 4 mm. above the cutaway background. The letters at the end of the upper line and at the beginning of the lower line are now incomplete, and some of the others are not clearly identifiable. The inscription seem to read : AVOC[?]  [???] OW

However, you are free to make up your mind on that interpretation – and if you have any bright ideas about it please let us know in the next edition of The Athenry Journal.

This interesting, if enigmatic, inscribed stone probably dates from the late 18th or, more likely, the early 19th century, and is been kept safely with a view to exhibiting it in the Athenry Heritage Centre when it opens.

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Written by Etienne Rynne

Published here 14 Nov 2022 and originally published 1996

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