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Archaeology of the Burren: Prehistoric Forts and Dolmens in North Clare by Thomas Johnson Westropp

Part II: Carran and Kilcorney

Parknabinnia; Creevagh

In our examination of the Clare cahers,[1] we passed from the huge forts round Quin to the district round Inchiquin Lake, and then along the southern border of Burren. We now turn to the largest (if not the most interesting) group extending from Ballyganner and Tullycommane northward. We may define it as lying in the parishes of Carran and Kilcorney, west of the road from Castletown to Turlough, with some remains in the adjoining townlands on the northern and southern borders.

The district contains several shallow valleys in which lie the most massive and interesting of the forts, those upon the ridges being usually small, with slight and coarse walls, now nearly levelled. The cromlechs (with two exceptions) lie on the plateaux, and have not yet been described. In Mr. Borlase’s valuable work a curious misapprehension appears with regard to this district. He writes, ‘Blocks of the size and symmetry of those used by the dolmen builders would nowadays be far to seek.’ On the contrary, blocks as regular, and of the size usually found in the cromlechs, occur over many acres of crag. Some of those employed in the existing structures are dressed to a straight edge. In Parknabinnia, in the field adjoining that in which four cromlechs stand, we find what was very probably a ‘cromlech factory.’ Two slabs have been raised from the rock bed, propped at one edge on rounded blocks, but otherwise in situ. They are practically rectangular, owing to the natural cleavage of the slabs, and measure 12 and 13 ft. long by 8½ ft. broad. Similar raised slabs occur at Ballykinvarga, Noughaval, and Ballymihil, all near cahers and cromlechs.

Parknabinnia (O.S. 17., No. 2, 25-inch map).
These curious remains, lying on the very border of Carran, have not hitherto been described, and are not marked on the maps of 1839. The four northern cromlechs lie in a field sloping northward. A long and very narrow old bohereen leads from the direction of Roughan fort through Caherfadda, while a huge boulder, some 16 feet high, marks their position from a distance. The N.E. cromlech must have been a very fine example. The south side is 5 ft. 9 in. (at the west) to 2 ft. 3 in. high, 15 ft. 10 in. long, and 9 in. thick; a long ‘plank’ of the top slab leans against it, and the fallen north side has strangely regular natural channels across it. West from it is a small wrecked cist 6 ft. square; due south from it is a fine cromlech 17 ft. 10 in. long, tapering eastward from 6 ft. 4 in. to 5 ft. 6 in., with a curious angular gap in the west slab, as at Tobergrania, near Feakle. Here for many nights sheltered a well-known escaped prisoner, whose subsequent surrender occasioned no little interest at a recent assize. South-west from it is a small cist 12 ft. by 8 ft. nearly embedded in a mound, and surrounded by seven slabs 3 ft. high. Its west block has another example of a straight natural fluting set on end. Lastly on the summit of Roughan Hill, the older Reabacain, still in Parknabinnia, near a large low cairn, is a fine cist 13 by 7 ft., with parallel annexes to the sides and end embedded in a mound. The sixth ‘labba,’ recently disentombed from a cairn, is fully described in Dolmens of Ireland, vol. i., p. 77. ‘Parknabinnia’ is said to have been the ‘cattle park’ of Lemeneagh, as its neighbouring townland was the ‘Deer park.’[2]

Creevagh Cromlech, from the North-west
Creevagh Cromlech, from the North-west

Creevagh (O.S. 10., No. 9).
Two nearly levelled ring walls lie near the Castletown road, between Glencurraun and the prettily wooded slopes and abrupt cliffs of the pass of Clooncoose, leading down to Kilnaboy. The southern ring contains a perfect and noteworthy cromlech, a chamber 14 ft. long tapering eastward from 4 ft. 5 in. to 3 ft. 10 in. It has a smaller cist at the east end, small triangular ones to each side and an irregular enclosure, about 7 feet across, fenced with pillar slabs 5 to 7 ft. high to the west. We have already described the cahers of Mohernacartan, and Cahersavaun on the borders of Carran Parish, while the cromlechs of Cappaghkennedy and Deerpark, will be found as fully noticed in Dolmens of Ireland,[3] so we may pass over the rest of south-western Carran by merely recording that it possesses very few cahers, and those few nearly levelled, the only mediæval ruin being the featureless roughly-built church of Templeline.

Creevagh - Plan of Cromlech