The ancient and astonishingly decorated Turoe Stone, located outside Loughrea Co. Galway, has so much history behind it…
The Turoe stone is a beautiful granite stone decorated in a Celtic style dating back to about the period 100 BC to 100 AD. The exact original function of the Turoe Stone remains unknown; however, the amount of craftsmanship and artistic skill lavished upon the sculpture suggests that it had an enormous religious, ceremonial or ritualistic significance.
A masterpiece of Irish Iron Age art, the sculpture known as the Turoe Stone, stands at 5 feet 6 inches in height, and the top half of the stone is covered with a continuous abstract curvilinear La Tène style design. "Turoe'' derives from "Cloch an Tuair Rua" meaning "The Stone of the Red Pasture"
La Tène Celtic art style is considered an important example of Irish sculpture, influenced by Celtic culture of the late Iron Age. Its complex decorative patterns appear to be part of a Celtic artistic tradition that was earlier responsible for the carvings at Newgrange, and later responsible for the High Cross sculptures of the Irish Medieval Christian era, under the influence of missionaries and monasteries after the collapse of Rome.
Some historians believe that the word "Red" in the place name "Turoe" indicates its use as a place of human or animal sacrifice, while others believe the La Tène artistry indicates that the stone was originally carved in France by Celtic sculptors and later moved to Ireland. Nonetheless, the stone marks a crucial step in the history of Irish art, symbolising the creativity of the Ancient Celts.
First located in the village of Bullaun, County Galway, near Loughrea, in the late 19th century the stone was moved to the present location at Turoe Farm, and so the historic provenance has been destroyed. Since 2005 the stone could only be viewed through a window in an aim to protect it. The Turoe Stone was removed by the OPW (Office of Public Works) a number of years ago to be cleaned and to be returned under a weather proof cover, but the farm is still waiting for this to happen.
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Photo by Dirk Huth and shared through Creative Commons on Wikipedia