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Turoe Stone near Loughrea County Galway
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Turoe Stone   ~  Loughrea
The Turoe Stone, located near Loughrea, is one of the most instantly recognisable examples of ancient art in Ireland.

It is the best example, from a select few surviving examples, of a Celtic art style called La Tène.


Turoe Stone near Loughrea County Galway
In fact, it has been hailed as one of the finest examples of La Tène art in Europe, and in its Irish context, the art is assignable to the Iron Age, and specifically the last three centuries Before Christ.

Standing 1.68 metres high, the Turoe Stone is highly decorated, with spirals, circles, curves, and other motifs. The patterns are in relief because the stone was skilfully picked back from the surface.

For reasons that are not yet fully clear (and possibly never will be), it appears that in the case of the Turoe Stone, the pre-Christian Celts raised the strength, sophistication, and complexity of their spiritual abstractions and symbolism to the highest level by far that they ever used in their stone art; and, in so doing, they may (in a way similar to the later situation regarding the Book of Kells) have given to the world the finest example of abstract stone art ever produced.

Believed to have been carved sometime around 150 BC to 250 BC. the top of the stone is bounded by a three-plane set of curved ornaments, cleverly assembled from a collection of basic repeating patterns such as trumpet-ends, triskeles (symbols consisting of three bent limbs radiating from a center), and even stylized animal heads. Some of the designs are present in both positive and negative forms. All things considered, and as with the Book of Kells, it would seem that the production of this piece of art required amazing abilities: which possibly do not exist in our time.

The English name "Turoe" comes from Irish place name "Cloch an Tuair Rua" - which means "The Stone of the Red Pasture"; and it is thought that the word Red in this particular place name is symbolic of the bloody human sacrifices which apparently were part of the pre-Christian Celtic culture.
However incredible it may feel to us in our time (1999 AD), the ritualistic killing (and replacing) of their aging Kings appears nevertheless to have been a core feature of the pre-Christian Celtic culture; and allowing for all the extra thought and care which appears to have gone into the symbols on the Turoe Stone, it seems possible that the nearby Rath of Feerwore (where the Turoe Stone originally stood) may have been their most important site. Whatever the situation regarding other speculations, few seem to doubt that the basic shape of the Turoe Stone was very deliberately chosen to represent what continues to be mankind's most potent symbol of regeneration: and through regeneration, genetic survival which transcends death.
In recent years, and to the dismay of many well informed visitors who travel great distances from all over the world to see it, it looks as though acid rain may be eating away at the Turoe Stone in a way which should seriously concern us all? In addition, there is also concern regarding issues such as vandalism and art theft.

Situated about 5 miles North of Loughrea. Take the R350 North from Loughrea towards New Inn as you come into the village of Bullaun you take a left turn (signposted Turoe Stone). The stone is situated on a Pet farm about 1/2 mile up this road on the right hand side.

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