The Poulawack Horses

Cast a cold eye

On Life on Death

Horseman, pass by!

From ‘Under Ben Bulben’ by William Butler Yeats (1939)


Rock art is a worldwide phenomenon. It is the realization of artistic pieces on natural stone. Rock art in Ireland has Mesolithic origins (7000-4000 B.C.) though only a couple of art works from this period have been thus far recorded west of the river Shannon.
A piece of rock art stopped me in my tracks in the Burren yesterday. The piece is located in the townland of Poulawack on the R480 between Leamnaneh castle and Ballyvaughan village. It features two horsemen riding out.

I have no date for the work and can only surmise that it may have been inspired by the legend of the wild horses in the cave in the bordering townland of Kilcorney. Fairy horses are said to have come out of the cave, and left descendants in the Kilcorney valley. The Poulawack art piece is known as a petroglyph. It is an engraving made by battering a hammerstone against rock. A small body of rock art has been recorded in County Clare. The Poulawack piece is probably the most visible in the county as it is etched on a rock face overlooking a regional road.
Steal a glance the next time you pass by the horsemen.

© Text by Tony Kirby / Images by Carsten Krieger

2 thoughts on “The Poulawack Horses

    • Donal a chara,
      Sorry only picking up on your question now! The answer is I don’t think so. Even though fairy horses are the link, I think they are both separate and highly localised folklore stories. Slán. Tony. P.S Hope the book launch went swimmingly!

      Liked by 1 person

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