O is for O’Shea Rock #atozchallenge


I’m going to start with this blog on O day with an iconic line from an iconic book:

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” Book: The Hobbit 

Just a few lines but it sets the tone so brilliantly for what is to come and conveys something essential about hobbits i.e. their love of comfort.

I remember the first time I read the book and was sucked into the magic of it. But enough of that.  Given the strictures of  blog challenge, I want to zoom in on one small element of the aforementioned opening; that being the hole.

Bilbo Baggins hobbit hole has inspired me to think about an entirely different hole. It is the hole behind a rock in the mountain behind my house.

It’s true, just behind my house is a mountain. It’s not a very big mountain, but I am immensely proud of it. It’s called Stumpa  (Knockastumpa to be more precise) and is part of the Caha mountain range.


Anyway, there is a particular rock about half way up, which is large and flat faced. It has a perfectly flat cap stone, and behind it is an amazing cave.

Back in the 1970’s, my father’s brother Sean and his family had the idea to write our family name- O’Shea on the rock face using a big bucket of white paint.




And so, O’Shea Rock has been a part of our immediate landscape ever since. As far as I know, it has never been repainted and yet it remains as bright as ever nearly 50 years on.

I wish memory served me better here, but I recall hearing some stories about the cave from my father, now sadly passed on. Dad was born in 1920 in the house we live in. The 1920’s was a turbulent time in Irish history as first the War of Independence and then the Civil War raged. Our area was a hotbed of activity during this time. Buried, in my half memory is a story that my grandmother, Nora Jane, brought food up to men involved in geurilla activities, who were using the cave as a hideout from British forces.

The sad thing is that the people I need to ask about the validity of this story have now all passed on. Anyway, maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not.

The cave would certainly make an amazing hide out. It’s spacious enough to sleep in and to cook in. The view of the surrounding area is spectacular.

In fact it’s so amazing up there, that I have a little dream. As I’ve said elsewhere, my husband and I run a glamping site here at Chez Shea. We currently have a vintage caravan, a gypsy wagon, and plans for a converted water tank/shipping container.

I would absolutely love to add the cave to our stock of unusual accommodation. Due to the vagaries of the Irish weather, it would only work for a few weeks in the year, but what fun it would be!  It certainly wouldn’t be everybody’s dream of a great holiday, but for right person, I think there might well be a touch of the Bilbo Baggins about this hole behind a rock in the mountain behind our house.








19 thoughts on “O is for O’Shea Rock #atozchallenge

  1. I was one of the painters, even though there is no ‘O’ in my surname, nor in my father’s for that matter, though he usually added one. He used his official name ‘John M. Shea’ more in America, where many people thought he was Italian, but ‘Sean O’Shea’ more after returning to Ireland. It seems about half of his siblings were registered with the ‘O’ and half without, people being quite easy-going about such things in those days, apart from jokes about ‘taking the soup’ which would need a blog entry of their own to explain!

    Your dream is interesting, though serving breakfast might require climbing gear…


      1. During the Great Famine of 1845 to 1850 some Protestant charities set up soup kitchens to convert Catholics. It was said that the converts had to drop the Irish prefixes such as ‘O’ from their surnames on converting. So ‘taking the soup’ meant converting to Protestantism.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh that’s awesome! What a fun idea! I think you’re onto something there. I bet there would be people who would love the glam cave idea. I know there is a kind of appeal to me, being able to shut out the world, being secluded.

    The family stories that come with the cave are pretty awesome. They are pretty believable, if you ask me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I too was one of the painters. We loved climbing that mountain as kids. I got Roman to read about the cave in your blog and he was amazed. Your blog posts are all so interesting and informative.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As a Protestant, I’m appalled at those who made a surname and religion the price you had to pay for food! They should have taken a lesson from Christ, who did not demand the Centurion convert to Judaism before healing his servant.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sorry Marie, for not getting back to you sooner. I’d say it was 1970 when we painted the rock face, we did it in two sittings but only a few weeks or months apart. I remember doing it, we were so excited, as we had never heard of anyone doing such a thing before. It was magical to then look up at it from the ground. Happy happy memories! Thanks for reminding me of them.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Sorry,Marie not to get back to you sooner. I’d say it was 1970 when we painted the rock face, we did it in two sittings but only a few weeks or months apart. I remember doing it, we were so excited and jubilant as we knew of nobody who had done such a thing. It was magical to then look up at the name from the ground. Happy happy memories! Thank you for reminding me of them.

    Liked by 1 person

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