'The Birthing Stone' : Grave or Cross Slab

TownlandInishmurray
CountySligo
Grid RefG 575 538
GPSG 57496 53777 (3m)
Longitude8° 39' 18.05" W
Latitude54° 25' 50.44" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownGrange (9.6 Km)
OS Sheet16
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 20th June 2010

This cross-slab is a fine example and stands around 1.6m tall. It is located just outside the graveyard of the Womens' Church and was used by the women to aid them giving birth.

When entering labour the women of the island would go to the slab and squat before it. There are two slots in the side of the slab and two small holes in the front face (one of the slabs in the cashel has the same features.) The woman would reach up and grasp the slab by inserting her fingers into the slots and her thumbs into the two holes. Then she would pray and probably scream a lot and call everyone around her all sorts of names! The babies would be born with the woman in this squatting position.

The two slots in the side were probably where wooden arms fitted onto the slab to make it into a cross and the two holes were probably to allow pegs to be inserted to hold the arms in place.

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About Coordinates Displayed

This is an explanation of (and a bit of a disclaimer for) the coordinates I provide.

Where a GPS figure is given this is the master for all other coordinates. According to my Garmin these are quite accurate.

Where there is no GPS figure the 6 figure grid reference is master for the others. This may not be very accurate as it could have come from the OS maps and could have been read by eye. Consequently, all other cordinates are going to have inaccuracies.

The calculation of Longitude and Latitude uses an algorithm that is not 100% accurate. The long/lat figures are used as a basis for calculating the UTM & ITM coordinates. Consequently, UTM & ITM coordinates are slightly out.

UTM is a global coordinate system - Universal Transverse Mercator - that is at the core of the GPS system.

ITM is the new coordinate system - Irish Transverse Mercator - that is more accurate and more GPS friendly than the Irish Grid Reference system. This will be used on the next generation of Irish OS maps.

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