Planning a Visit to Ireland? The Split Rock of Easkey

The Wild Atlantic Way

Welcome to a new feature on Aliisaacstoryteller. Are you planning a visit to Ireland? Over the coming weeks, I’ll be featuring places in Ireland that I love, and which are, I think, well worth a visit. Some will be familiar to you, others will get you off that beaten tourist track, and make your visit to Ireland a more memorable and unique one.

Sligo is a county rich in history and legend, with ancient sites leaping out at you on almost every bend and twist of the road. So it comes as no surprise to suddenly come across this…

It’s known as the Split Rock of Easkey. Easkey is a small village on the Atlantic coast, and its name is derived from the old Irish word  Iascaigh, meaning ‘abounding in fish’. It can be found on the driving route which comprises the Wild Atlantic Way.

The Wild Atlantic Way (Slí an Atlantaigh Fhiáin in Irish) is a 2500km tourist trail along the west coast of Ireland which passes through nine counties and three provinces.

The Split Rock, or An Carraig Scoilteadh, as it’s known in Irish, is a boulder about 6m long by 2.5m high, and is thought to have been carried north from the Ox Mountains (Sliabh Gamh in Irish) and dumped by a glacier during the last Ice Age. It is made from a huge lump of gneiss, which is rock with a course structure and a kind of striped banding, which glitters in the light.

Of course you wouldn’t find such an iconic boulder as this in an Irish landscape without there being some mythology attached to it, and the Split Rock does not disappoint.

Local folklore claims that one day, Fionn mac Cumhail and his Fianna were camped in the Ox Mountains, when Fionn decided to challenge his men to a rock throwing contest. The idea was to throw a stone all the way from the Ox mountains into the sea.

This was something Fionn was good at; there are huge boulders like this scattered all over Ireland from similar competitions he had taken part in. But on this occasion, for some unknown reason, his aim fell short of its mark, and the stone dropped into its current position.

Furious, Fionn leaped down the mountainside after it, and struck it with his sword, whereupon with a thunderous resounding roar, it cracked into two pieces.

It is said that if you’re brave enough, you can safely pass between the two halves of the stone once… maybe even twice, but if you dare to try it a third time, the two halves will snap tightly shut like a clam shell, trapping you within the stone forever.

I’ve not yet met anyone foolhardy enough to try…

You can find the Split Rock in a field just off the R297 near Easkey. 

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38 Comments on “Planning a Visit to Ireland? The Split Rock of Easkey

  1. I’m very tempted to give it a go, Ali. Maybe after a few glasses of wine? 🤔 I’ve never seen or heard of a large rock, quite like that, with a split down the middle. It must be a wonderful sight to see.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, it is! But I’ve since found out there are similar split rocks around the world. I think it’s something to do with the kind of stone it’s made from.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice Ali, never heard of this before. Look forward to this series. Unfortunately my recent little trip to Ireland didn’t build in time for mooching around the countryside.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The myths of Ireland I believe to be some of the best in the world ~ and I love how you note that such a stone being deposited by glaciers (or Fionn, I am undecided right now!) there will be a tale of mythology to follow 🙂 You’ve got the talent to make it a great one too. Wishing you a great summer Ali ~

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Randall. That means a lot coming from you.😊💕 It’s good to see you back… you’ve not posted in ages! I’m guessing you’ve had a busy and adventurous summer… where have you been? Will there be a post coming up soon?


    • It’s for the same reason that people in mountains,or swim the channel, or whatever… just because ‘It’s there.’ 😊 The people of Easkey in ancient times needed to be able to explain this strange feature in their locality. I guess to them it was obvious… or maybe just a tongue in cheek story to entertain. Maybe it was never actually meant to be believed. Who knows?


  4. Fionn had a woeful temper, didn’t he? Going around chucking and splitting things. The least he could have done was gone into the gravel business and contributed something to the driveways of society.


  5. Very cool. We have one over the mountain from here called the loaf of bread. It looks like a huge loaf of bread with the end sliced off and laying on the ground. Used to be right along the highway until they improved things. It’s harder to find now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that it looks like a loaf of bread! 😀 We have a mountain here called Sugarloaf. Looks nothing like a loaf! But a lot like a pointy mountain, exactly as a child would draw a mountain.

      Liked by 1 person

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