Township: Balephetrish

Map Reference: Balephetrish 9

Name Type: shore

Meaning: This medieval ScG name for the amphitheatre derives from coire ‘circular hollow surrounded by hills; ring’ (Dwelly) < EG coire ‘cauldron’ + the EG mythological personal name Finn mac Cumaill (Fionn mac Cumhaill, Campbell 1891, 16). Names based on the warrior-hunter Finn mac Cumaill, who lived ‘outside society in a wilderness boundary zone’ (Fitzpatrick 2015, 28), are found throughout Europe, but particularly in Ireland, Man and Scotland, for example Seefin in County Wicklow and Suidhe Coire Fhionn or Fingal’s Cauldron Seat (Canmore ID 39705), two stone circles on Arran. They derive from the Finn Cycle of Tales (the Fiannaigheacht), which appear for the first time in Ireland by the seventh century (Fitzpatrick 2015, 25), and in Scotland by the twelfth century (Meek 1998, 149). Finn-names are particularly located in places of geological transition or prehistoric significance (Fitzpatrick 2015). This isolated spot on the northern shore of Tiree appears to have been a cultural and mythological node in prehistoric and medieval times.
Coire occurs in two other locations on Tiree: Poll a’ Choire ‘the pool of the hollow’, and An Coire Geur ‘the sharp hollow’, Barrapol; it is a very common element in Gaelic-speaking Scotland, for example Coire Liath on Lismore (SP).

"It emits a hollow sound like a kettle; hence its name of Clach a' Choire, or 'kettle stone'. New Statistical Account Tiree and Coll 1840, 205

Other Forms: Kory Finmackoul - The map MVLA INSVLA in the Atlas of Scotland, Atlas Novus, by Joan Blaeu, 1654. These maps were largely based on work by Timothy Pont who mapped Scotland between 1583 and 1596. NLS, 123.

The Ringing Stone or Clach a' Choire - MMcK

Related Places:

Information:The Gaelic Otherworld, ed Ronald Black, p 396-7:

...a 'rock gong' similar to Clach a' Choire, listed by John MacKenzie (1845, p8) as one of the seven wonders of Scotland - a huge granite erratic covered with 53 cupmarks, the deepest of which are at the most resonant parts of the stone...According to Fagg (1997 p86), Clach a' Choire was 'said to contain a crock of gold - but if it ever split Tiree will disappear beneath the waves.' If true (Mrs Fagg mistakenly attributes the staement to SHIS) the legend thus contains both a motive for destroying such stones and a warning against doing so...Compare Newton 1992 p145 where it is claimed that if Clach a' Choire 'ever shatters or falls off the pedestal of small stones on which it rests, Tiree will sink beneath the waves.'

Local Form:

Languages : Gaelic, English

Informants: Mairi MacKinnon, Parkhouse, 1/1994