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The stunning stones of Kerry

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The Old English word wundor means ‘marvellous thing, miracle, object of astonishment’. Kerry is full of them – the sea, cliffs and lakes, the writing and music and sport. And some of the greatest objects of my astonishment are also the most common: the stones. In a few hours we’ve seen three marvellous manifestations of stone.

Dry stone walls wander over the hills, made of uncut rocks that fit together miraculously. I once spent a day dry-stone walling and it takes remarkable skill to stabilise the structure.

Skellig Michael (seen from a socially distanced 11 km; no visitors are allowed on the island at the moment) are true wundors. Not just their jagged jut from the sea (sceilig means splinter of stone) but the miracle of the beehive huts built by monks from the 6th-8th centuries, and the three astonishing stairs of stone steps, either cut from the rock or built with dry stones lugged from around the island.   

The Tetrapod Trackway. These footprints were spotted by a geology student in 1993 on Valentia Island. They are the oldest in situ footprints in the world, made by one of the earliest land creatures, around 360 million years ago and marking the movement of vertebrates from water to land. How wundor-full is that?

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