Paps of Anu likely to be among world's 'sacred mountains'


The Paps of Anu, a pair of mountains capped by two distinctive cairns several metres high, are likely to be among the world's "sacred mountains", an archaeologist has told a Heritage Council lecture in Killarney.

Frank Coyne said a rich complex of monuments was being uncovered on the Kerry-Cork border, but what was likely to be a sacred landscape was now under threat.

"The landscape has lasted for thousands of years, but recently with the advent of machinery, development and reclamation the monuments are slowly disappearing.

"It's important to look at the Paps not just as cairns on top of the mountain but as a complex of monuments," Mr Coyne said.

The packed lecture room at the Killarney library was shown slides of dumped cars, modern caravans and large diggers in the midst of the monuments.

Called after Anu the European goddess and principal goddess of the Tuatha de Danaan, the Paps of Anu are almost the same height, at 690 metres and 695 metres. The dry stone monuments topping them were part of a complex which extended to areas on the low-lying boglands beneath.

Recent fieldwork had thrown up clusters of "unusual monuments", including stone slabs and tiny huts in circles.

The universal phenomenon of sacred mountains, such as Machu Picchu in Peru and Mount Olympus in Greece, where gods communed with mortals, was not always recognised in Ireland, Mr Coyne said. For instance, it was commonly believed that Mount Brandon, associated in Christian times with St Brendan, was "the" holy mountain in Kerry.