Take time to rest at Atha Thomais and Ahakista Stone circle
Tom Whitty who was one of the founder members of the Sheep’s Head Way is remembered at Atha Thomais, in the townland of Gorteanish (“field of Aonghus” – The O Daly poet) Ahakista (Atha Ciste maning ‘ford of the treasure’). At Atha Thomais one is offered a stone seat to rest and ‘be’ in a peaceful, calm location beside a gentle stream and holly trees. A footbridge bridge crosses the stream and the path (on the route of the Sheep’s Head Way trail) leads to Ahakista Stone circle. This stone circle is a significant archaeological site dating from the Bronze age 3000 years ago. The stone circle appears to have had eleven stones originally, most of which are now fallen. There is a boulder burial immediately outside the circle to the south, this occurrence is unusual, the burial is usually within the circle and it is possible that there was a burial within Ahakista Stone circle also but there is impossible to be certain of this.
Stone circles are from the Bronze Age; 3000 years ago and are thought to be places of ritual, where some kind of ceremony was performed. These types of multiple stone circles occur only in Cork and Kerry.
Some archaeologists feel that there is line from the entrance stone to the axial stone that looking west will point to the sunset of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. That same line, looking east, will point to the sunrise of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Birth, death, and the renewal of the sun and of life in general may have been important for the planting of crops.
Looking at the distribution map of these archaeological sites in Cork and Kerry one is struck by how often they occur near the sea or on a waterway leading to the sea. Many of these sites also have a commanding view of the sea. Did these people come from the sea? How important to them were the events that unfold in the sky during the length of the calendar year?
(Ref: A Guide to the Sheep’s Head Way)