Welcome to the Liffey Press!

Were You at the Rock? The History of Mass Rocks in Ireland, by Tony Nugent

More Views

Were You at the Rock? The History of Mass Rocks in Ireland, by Tony Nugent

Availability: In stock

Fascinating history of Mass Rocks in Ireland, which date from the Penal Days when Catholics had to congregate in secret to practise their faith.


The Irish landscape is dotted with sites which are generally known as Carraig an Aifrinn, or Mass Rocks. These important antiquities date from the Penal Days, when Catholics were forbidden to attend Mass, to undertake pilgrimages to their sacred places or even bury their dead as custom dictated. This meant they had to resort to secluded and hidden places to practise their faith. At great personal risk, they congregated at natural flat-topped rocks or, where none was available, a flat slab was erected and utilised as an altar by a visiting priest.

Were You at the Rock? relates the history, location, folklore and legend of these Mass Rocks, which are peculiar to Ireland. Although they typically date from the Penal Days (1695-1829), they actually came into use during the suppression of the monasteries in the reign of King Henry VIII, and continued to be used until the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829, and even later when poverty and bigotry led to continued persecution. With additional material on Cromwell’s campaign in Ireland, the history of the Penal Laws, the notorious priest hunters, the emergence of hedge schools, the development of Penal Crosses and much more, this book is an invaluable record of a key aspect of Irish history and heritage.

About the Author

Tony Nugent retired from the Dublin City Council to return to higher education and received a H. Dip. in Folklore from University College Dublin and an M.A. from Saor-Ollscoil na HÉireann. A keen hill-walker, he is a member of the Folklore of Ireland Society, Dublin Yarnspinners, a storytelling group, and is also a long-time member of An Óige.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Author Nugent, Tony
Editor No
Print Format Paperback
ISBN-10 No
ISBN-13 9781908308474
Illustrations Colour illustrations throughout
Date of Publication November 25, 2013
Number of Pages 272

All content © The Liffey Press