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A Guide to the Ogham Stones of County Waterford

behind the scenes county waterford ogham history ogham origins ogham stones ogham today Apr 04, 2023
Ogham Stones of County Waterford

Take a journey back in time with Lora O'Brien, and explore County Waterford's mysterious Ogham Stones through the eyes, experience and academic rigour of someone who actually lives here! Learn about their history, decipher what they mean, and uncover their secrets as you delve deeper into Ireland's ancient Ogham heritage. First we must ask...


How Many Ogham Stones are in County Waterford? 

To begin any research like this, we go to the archaeology. Specifically, we go to the website which is run by the National Monuments Service, an Irish government agency (unfortunately, it is not all-island, and results stop at the border).

From there we are looking to click on, and open up, the Historic Environment Viewer. So... Home > Archaeological Survey of Ireland > Historic Environment Viewer application.

By clicking to 'Query Data' through the funnel symbol in the top right, we can search the Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) and select by county (Waterford), then search for a specific type of monument 'class'. Typing in 'Ogham' gives us two options - either 'ogham stone', or 'ogham stone (present location)'.

  • For 'Ogham stone' we get 56 records.
  • For 'Ogham stone (present location)' we get 11 records.

Which just a little bit depressing actually, as it means that of the 56 known ogham stone discoveries, only 11 remain in County Waterford today. Or, possibly that more were moved out, and ones from different counties were moved in, at some point, for display or building purposes.

Either way, we have only 11 locations marked as sites where the archaeological remains of Ogham Stones are currently located, in County Waterford. 

Now, to further complicate matters, some of those sites contain multiple stones. In fact, when looking at the map for the locations of these 11 Ogham Stones, we see only 6 locations (marked by yellow circles on the image below).

Image Copyright and Courtesy of the National Monuments Service

Where to Find the Waterford Ogham Stones?

Theoretically, Ogham Stones are extremely easy to spot as they are large stones with carvings etched into them. These stones can be found all over Ireland, but one of the most concentrated areas for Ogham stones when they were in their original positions, was here in County Waterford (in the south-east of Ireland).

Many, however, have been moved, as noted above.

Unfortunately, due to their age and exposure to the elements, a lot of these stones are no longer readable so it's important to take care when exploring them. We don't ever touch the carvings, as over time the rubbing will wear down the stone.

Yes, I know you believe you're super special and it's ok for JUST YOU to touch the Ogham stones. Please don't. Because I promise, it's not just you who believes that.

Thankfully, we have had many experts, going back centuries, who have recorded, transliterated, and translated the inscriptions on the Ogham stones of County Waterford (and further afield). Please be sure to check out the bibliography of resources below, and follow the links back to the online resources of the and the Ogham in 3D projects linked here, to explore them fully for yourself. 



Working from the National Monuments data, there are just these six remaining locations (grouped by townland) for Ogham stones to be seen in County Waterford. So first, we'll go through them in order of appearance on

WA005-012---- Class: Ogham stone (present location)
Description: An ogham stone, originally from the central structure at Tooracurragh church site and known as the 'stone of Formach', is now at a nearby farmhouse. The inscription was read by Macalister as DOMOKI. It also has a cart-wheel design in false relief and an incised Latin cross.

WA015-042---- Class: Ogham stone (present location)
Description: An ogham stone discovered in the Knockalafalla-Rathgormuck area is now kept in the garden of a private residence (Comeragh Lodge). The inscription was read by Macalister as LUGUDI MAQI L...D...QA MOCOI DONM(A).

WA021-003001--- Class: Ogham stone (present location)
Description: Five ogham stones from the church site of Kilgrovan are presently displayed in the Buaille na gCuimhnte - the Corner of Memories - exhibition at Mount Mellaray Abbey. This stone has been recorded as 'greenstone' and the inscription has been read by Macalister as: [CU]NAMAQI LUGUDECA MUC[OI] CUNEA.

WA021-003002--- Class: Ogham stone (present location)
Description: ... This stone has been recorded as 'greenstone' and the inscription has been read as: NISIGNI MAQI ER[….]I by Macalister but as: NISIGNI MAQ ER[….], without a final-I in MAQI, by O'Kelly.

WA021-003003--- Class: Ogham stone (present location)
Description: ... This stone has been recorded as slate and the inscription has been read by Macalister as: DEBRAN[I] MAQI ELTI [A]V[I] [O]GA[TO]S. However, he notes that many of the vowel notches, in particular, are lost and that missing letters have been 'restored by a consideration of the spaces available'.

WA021-003004--- Class: Ogham stone (present location)
Description: ... This fractured stone has a fragmentary inscription that has been read by Macalister as: ...]VAGNI MUCOI CUNIA. 

WA021-003005--- Class: Ogham stone (present location)
Description: ... This fragment has an inscription that has been read by Macalister as: MAQI E[... .

WA021-019023--- Class: Ogham stone (present location)
Townland: LISMORE (Coshmore and Coshbride By.)
Description: An ogham stone from Ballyknock North, Co. Cork, which had been read as: BLATEGSI may have been moved to Lismore castle.

WA025-128001--- Class: Ogham stone (present location)
Description: This ogham stone is one of two from Knockmahon promontory fort which have been set up in the Geological Park at Bunmahon. Measuring 1.20m high x 0.3m x 0.2m, it is pointed at both ends and roughly lozenge-shaped in section. The inscription is only cut on the upper two thirds of the stone, the remainder presumably being below ground when the stone stood as a pillar. A small portion of the top of the stone is missing, leaving the inscription incomplete. This reads: SENAQ MAQ[I]/ [MU]CO[I] ENA. (Translation - 'of Senach son of the descendant of Ena'.)

WA025-128002--- Class: Ogham stone (present location)
Description: This ogham stone is one of two from Knockmahon promontory fort which have been set up in the Geological Park at Bunmahon. Found during the 1990s it measures 0.87m high x 0.59m x 0.25m and bears the following inscription: VEDILIMETO/ MAQI/ TOQITAQ. (Translation - 'of Fedelmid/Feidlimid son of Toicthech?')

WA040-008025--- Class: Ogham stone (present location)
Description: This ogham stone, which was built into the E wall of St Declan’s Oratory, was removed c. 1855 and is now displayed in the chancel of the cathedral. It has two inscriptions which have been read by Macalister as: 1. LUGUDECCAS MAQI [...MU]COI NETA-SEGAMONAS and 2. DOLATI BIGA-ISGOB [... (Translation - 'of Luguid son of ...? descendant of Nad-Segamon'). A second ogham stone was found built into a low wall in the cathedral and is now in the National Museum of Ireland. A third stone was found beside a grave and it is now also displayed in the chancel of the cathedral.


Comparison to the Ogham in 3D Information

An invaluable resource; the ultimate aim of the Ogham in 3D project is to digitise and record in 3D as many as possible of the 400 surviving Ogham stones in Ireland, and to make the resulting images and models freely available as part of a multi-disciplinary digital corpus of Ogham stones. Dr Nora White is the Principal Investigator on the project and Jean-Francois Bucas, IT Systems Administrator at DIAS, is responsible for the design and development of the website. See Full Project Details Here.



Though they have not yet completed the project work, currently listed and catalogued for County Waterford are seven site locations for Ogham stones, some of which are the original locations, and some of which are currently in situ. These are as follows.

Kilgrovan (2 stones): The original ecclesiastical site was noted by Raftery as a 'possible ringfort' but known locally as a killeen. A recent geophysical survey has confirmed the existence of an ecclesiastical enclosure. Five other ogham stones from this site are now at Mount Melleray Cistercian monastery, as detailed above. These two are currently in the National Museum. 

Knockmahon (2 stones): These were found lying in the ditch of the promontory fort against the field fence on the east side in townland of Knockmahon, as detailed above, and are currently located in the centre of Bunmahon Geopark, c.600m from Knockmahon promontory fort. 

Ardmore (3 stones): The first and largest of these stones was found built into the wall of the small oratory on site at Ardmore, and is now located in a niche of the chancel of the cathedral there, as detailed above.

The second was found in the nave of the cathedral, built into a low wall, but has been relocated to the National Museum. The inscription on stone 2 here is transliterated as ...NACI MAQI ... which translates as ?-nach son of ? - with Naci probably being part of a personal name.

The third Ogham stone at Ardmore was discovered in the graveyard on a low wall beside a grave, and remains on site in a corner of the chancel of the cathedral, opposite the first one described above. The inscription on this stone reads AMADU - which according to McManus this is an example of a Latin name, Amatus (meaning beloved), in an Irish Ogham inscription.

Dromore (3 Stones): These are not listed among the Ogham stones in present location during the National Monuments database search. These three stones were found on site at Kiltera burial ground and two of them remain here by the old graveyard of Kiltera, with the third being in the National Museum.

The first stone Dromore I, has the transliteration COLLABOT MUCOI LUGA/ MAQI LOBACCONA, with a translation - Of Cóelub descendant of Lug son of Lubchú? This inscription has the suggested date of early 500s CE according to McManus. It is the larger of the two remaining on site.

The second stone Dromore II, shows the inscription MEDUSI {MACI} {LU}/ MUCOI LUGA. Translation is not certain, though it does seem to feature the same tribal name MUCOI LUGA which occurs on Dromore I, and so possibly (?) could be given as 'Medusi of the tribe of Lug'.

The third stone named Dromore III, not on site, has the transliteration CATTUVIR, and the translation 'Caither'; a personal name appears to be a compound of CAT(T)U- (OI cath 'battle') and WIR- (OI fer 'man'). So, possibly 'Man of Battle'? It's been dated to the mid/late 500s CE by McManus.

Drumlohan (10 stones): This site is not showing up on the National Monuments search for Ogham stones in their present location in County Waterford. Known now as Drumlohan Ogham Cave, this fascinating site is actually a souterrain which was discovered when the outer bank of an early ecclesiastical site was removed.

The original discovery was in 1867, but the inscriptions weren't fully read until the souterrain was dismantled in 1936, and then (mostly) put back together in situ. Ten ogham stones were used in the construction of the rectangular chamber - five as lintels (on the roof), which are now removed and placed upright beside the souterrain, and five as lining stones for the sides, which are still in position. These are as follows:

  • Drumlohan I: The first lintel, over the entrance, now standing. Transliteration MANU MAGUNO GATI MOCOI MACORBO, Translation 'of M. boy (Magounnos) of G. decendant of M.'
  • Drumlohan II: The fourth lintel, now standing. Transliteration CALUNOVIC[A] MAQI MUCOI LIT[EN]Ị, Translation unclear - The first element of CALUNOVICA 'is probably to be equated with the name Culann' (McManus).
  • Drumlohan III: The fifth lintel, now standing. Transliteration MAQI-INI[  ̣  ̣ ?   ̣  ̣ MAQI(?) QE(?)]TTEAS, Translation unclear.
  • Drumlohan IV: The sixth lintel, now standing. Transliteration CUNALEGEA MAQI C[....]SALAR CELI AVI QVECI, Translation 'of Conlang? son of C. follower of the descendant of Q.' McManus noted that the personal name CUNALEGEA contains the commonly occurring element CUNA- 'dog, hound'.
  • Drumlohan V: The eighth lintel, now standing. Transliteration BIGU MAQI LAG[  ̣  ̣ ?   ̣  ̣], Translation unclear.
  • Drumlohan VI: The first lining stone of the east side interior. Transliteration BIR MAQI MUCOI ROTTAIS, Translation unclear, but McManus connected it to BIR, the modern form being Berr or 'short-haired', and ROTTAIS, which is a tribal name Rothrige that was listed among the Déisi tribes of Munster.
  • Drumlohan VII: Originally a larger stone, seems to have been re-used as the third lining-stone on the eastern side. Transliteration [ ... ] MAQI NE[T ... ]AS, translation is unclear but McManus suggests that the Waterford name Neta-Segamonas is excluded, as it would have been preceded by MUCOI.
  • Drumlohan VIII: Originally larger, re-used as the fifth lining-stone on the eastern side. Transliteration DENAVEC[A MU]COI MEDALO, translation unclear but McManus wondered if it was a tribal name Dál Mo Dala?
  • Drumlohan IX: This is a stump of slate, re-used as the first lining-stone on the western side. Transliteration BRO[INION]AS, translation 'of Bróen?', it is noted that the name BROINIONAS is recorded in three other ogham inscriptions (Cork, Kerry, and Waterford).
  • Drumlohan X: Macalister found that this stone was used twice - an older inscription was battered away to make room for a later one. The older one began on the left-hand angle and ran diagonally across the top, and consisted of the name SOVALINI, while the later inscription runs retroversely (up sinister-top-down dexter), and likewise crosses to the back angle. It was re-used as the fourth lining stone on the western side of the souterrain. The transliteration of the new inscription is DEAGOS MAQI MUCO[I ... ]NAI, with no translation suggested.

Kilbeg (1 stone). This stone may have originated in Kilbarrymeaden, and has been has been relocated to the National Museum. Macalister described this as 'inscribed on two angles (up-up)', with a transliteration BIVODON MUCOI ẠTẠR and translation 'of Béoáed descendant of ?'. McManus noted that it might have a date around the mid 500s CE, and the personal name BIVODON contains the elements BIV- 'alive' and, one of the most frequently occurring elements in final position, -AIDONAS 'fire'.

Island (1 stone). This is Schrodinger's Ogham stone, given that I have sought it out twice now at the location as described, and not found it, though I am assured it is there! It is not listed under the search result of present location on the National Monuments database. The transliteration is CUN[A]NETAS MAQ/I MMUC/[OI] NETA-SEGAMONAS, with a translation given as 'of Conda son of the descendant of Nad-Segamon', and is said to be one of our earliest Ogham stones in the country, possibly dating to the early 400s CE (McManus).

The personal name CUN[A]NETAS contains CUNA- and may be translated 'champion of wolves', while the recurring kindred or sept name NETA-SEGAMONAS consists of the element Nad- 'sister's son, champion' and a personal name Segamon. Nia-Segamon is listed in the historical sources as a prehistoric king of Cashel, and MUCOI NETA-SEGAMONAS '(of) the descendant of Nad/Nia-Segamon' is also found on the first stone described above at nearby Ardmore.


Any Other Stones?

Also not included under the National Monuments search for 'present location', is the impressive Ogham Stone at Crehanagh South. The stone is situated on farmland about 200 metres in from the road, in a field up a long track lane - ask permission to enter!

WA003-030--- Class: Ogham stone
Description: ... This is an Old Red Sandstone monolith which was erected as a standing stone with a rectangular cross-section oriented N-S. It has a pointed top which may be the result of an attempt to destroy the stone. An ogham inscription was added to the SE and SW angles. A break at the top of the stone may have resulted in the loss of letters (possibly a final vowel). It has been read by Macalister as VOCAGNI MAQI CUR(I)T. He also suggests that an earlier inscription may have been removed from the stone. 


Seskian or Knockboy Ogham Stones

This is another Ogham stones location that doesn't show up in National Monuments search for present location, nor is it listed if you browse by 'Waterford' on the Ogham in 3D website - but it is there! 

In fact, there are 8 stones listed by Knockboy, Co. Waterford, they are simply not indexed correctly to tie them to Waterford. Nothing shows for the townland of Knockboy either in the NM manual search, but the record number is posted on the Ogham in 3D website, enabling cross referencing... with a small bit of detective work. 

>>> Update: 9th Ogham Stone found at Knockboy!

WA013-034006- Class: Ogham stone
Townland: KNOCKBOY (Decies without Drum By., Seskinan Par.)
Description: Six ogham stones are re-used, mainly as lintels, and a seventh is standing in the corner of the medieval parish church of Seskinan at Knockboy. This lintel is over the window at the E end of the N wall and was discovered in 1851 by G. V. du Noyer. ... Inscription 'chiselled on two angles (up-down) beginning on the right-hand edge, on the face turned toward the inside of the church', read by Macalister as: ….]ER[A]T[I] M[U]C[OI] NETA-S[EGAM]ONAS.

The Ogham in 3D data provides the following:

The parish church of Seskinan was probably built on the site of an earlier church. There were traces of an ecclesiastical enclosure in the field to the South and within the graveyard, but this is no longer evident. There is also the site of Toberatemple Well c. 250m to the West. All of the lintels, except one over the N doorway, have ogham inscriptions, and a seventh ogham stone is standing in the North West corner of the church. An eighth ogham stone, said to have also originated here, was recorded by Macalister at Salterbridge House, near Cappoquin prior to 1907 but it was missing when he returned in 1940.


  •  Knockboy I: This is the inner lintel of the window at the East end of the North wall. Transliteration [ ̣  ̣ ?  ̣  ̣]ER[A]T[I] M[U]C[OI] NETA-S/[EGAM]ONAS, Translation '...? descendant of Nad-Segamon'. Similar to the Ogham stones at Island and Ardmore, here we can see the kindred or sept name NETA-SEGAMONAS which consists of the element Nad- 'sister's son, champion' and a personal name Segamon.
  • Knockboy II: The inner lintel of the South window, close to the East gable. Transliteration [ ... ]RG[ ̣  ̣ ?  ̣  ̣]BC[A]RCEN, Translation unclear.
  • Knockboy III: This is a fragment of an ogham stone used as a voussoir in the arch above stone II in the South window. Transliteration [ ... ]CORB[ ... ], Translation unclear but the surviving element is Corb, which is possibly related to corbaid 'defiles' (McManus).
  • Knockboy IV: The inner lintel of the South doorway. Transliteration Q[E]CC[IAS] M[U]C[OI B]R[O]E[NIONAS], Translation 'of Bróen?', similar to that seen on stones in Cork, Kerry, and Drumlohan County Waterford.
  • Knockboy V: In place above the upper window in the West gable. Transliteration CIR MAQI MUC[ ... ], Translation unclear.
  • Knockboy VI: This is the inner lintel of the lower window in the West gable. Transliteration VORTIGURN, Translation 'Of Foirtchern', with the name VORTIGURN being a compound of the Old Irish for 'on, over' and Old Irish tigern 'lord' (McManus).
  • Knockboy VII: Having been found buried almost to the top of it, marking a grave, this stone is currently upright in the ground in the North West corner of the church ruin. Transliteration VEDABAṚ [MA]Q̣[I . ?   ̣  ̣]LS[M]/ MOCOI ODR/[ ̣  ̣ ?  ̣  ̣]REA, Translation 'Of Fíadbarr son of ? descendant of Odr...?'. McManus breaks down this interesting personal name which appears to be a compound with the element barr 'top, head (chief?), hair of the head', and the element fíad 'wild', applied to wild animals in particular - and with barr 'antlers?' here possibly referring to a stag.
  • Knockboy VII: The lost stone - found in 1869 up at Salterbridge House, whose landlords had control of this church and graveyard. It has unfortunately been misplaced, or stolen, since then. Luckily, drawings were taken before that happened. Transliteration [MAQ]Ị MOG̣ʷ̣EDIAS/ MAQI/ MUIBITI, Translation 'Of Mac-Mo-Guide* son of Mo-Ibaite*'(?). Neither of the personal names appear to be attested elsewhere but David Stifter (Ogam Advent Calendar on Twitter, 2021) has suggested Old Irish Mac-Mo-Guide* 'son-of-my-prayer' and Mo-Ibaite* 'my-drunken-one' (?).

Full Details Here - Ogham in 3D


Another that escaped the 'present location' tag during our National Monuments search is the stone pair at Garranmillon Lower, which the Ogham in 3D project has not gotten around to working on yet.

WA024-006003- Class: Ogham stone
Description: Two ogham stones placed 2.5m apart which may have originally been a standing stone pair, are just North of a church site. The North stone is Old Red Sandstone and is oriented NNW-SSE. Its inscription has been read by Macalister as GOSOCTAS MUCOI MACORBO. The South stone has been re-erected, and the inscription transliterated as MELAGIA (Zeigler).


Honourable mention to the Ballyquin Ogham stone! 

This one is easy enough to access, just inside a field right by the road. Plenty of cow shite in said field, however, so mind how you go if you get there.

WA003-032--- Class: Ogham stone
Townland: BALLYQUIN (Upperthird By.)
Description: Situated on a broad hill, standing just inside a gateway. A conglomerate stone with a rectangular cross-section and a pointed top. It is oriented NNW-SSE, with an irregular profile at N caused by ancient damage. An ogham inscription was added to the SW edge of stone, and has been read by Macalister as CATABAR MOCO VIRICORB.


And Windgap Ogham Stone!

WA003-007004--- Class: Ogham stone
Description: Two ogham stones, the first used as a lintel in a souterrain in a rath. This displaced lintel with an ogham inscription was read by Macalister as MODDAGN[I] MAQI GATTAGN[I] MUCOI LUGNI. The second stone, according to Macalister, was at this location until 1845 - ish - when 'it was taken out and trimmed to make a roller for breaking earth-clods in the fields'. The inscription on this ogham stone was not recorded, and it is now lost to us, unfortunately.


I've visited both of those sites (Ballyquin and Windgap), and found the Ogham stones. Not the lost one at Windgap, unfortunately, but a hike through a very wooded glade on top of an old rath did eventually bear fruit on the other! Again, I'm unclear as to why they are not included in the search for 'present location', but here we are. 


Stradbally More has Two Ogham Stones... or Three?

Pip Powell reported three stones at this site - here - all safe inside the boundary of a well, but the National Monuments record says there are two. I guess a trip over to confirm for myself is in order. 

WA024-061002---Class: Ogham stone
Description: ... Two ogham stones, one broken, that were originally used as lintels over Toberkilleagh Well are now placed beside it within its enclosure. The broken one was read by Macalister as: QRIT [...] MAQ[I LO]BACONA AVE NEAGRACOLINEA. The smaller one was read by Macalister as: NETAVROQI MAQI QIC[... .


The Disputed Ogham

WA029-027006--- Class: Ogham stone
Description: There is an ogham stone used as a threshold-stone to the chancel of Kilmolash church that has been read by Macalister as NN, although its authenticity was doubted by Power. Macalister also noted that `at the upper end of the inscribed face is a cross pattée, flanked by two plain crosses'.

Given that the stone itself was used as a step in the church, it's very worn down now. I couldn't make out any indication of an inscription when I visited, a few years back.


The Recycled Ogham

WA038-026003---Class: Ogham stone
Description: The ogham stone from Lisgennan church site has been re-erected as a grave-marker inside the perimeter of the graveyard at the West. There is a Latin cross with expanding ends on the inscribed face and the inscription has been read by Macalister as MAQI MUCOI IVODACCA. The inscription is very weathered and much of it is now beneath ground level.


And I do believe that is all, for our tour of the Oghams Stones of County Waterford. If you'd like to see more on any particular stone, comment below, and we might find our way to go on a Site Quest to find answers for you, and of course some pictures and videos along the way.


OGHAM - Quick & Easy Reference Guide

>>> Free PDF Download

In this Guide you will find a brief history of the Ogham, and the Ogham letters laid out across two A4 sheets, for easy printing and quick reference or reminders as you learn.
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