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

Part II: Kilcorney and the Eastern Valleys

The Ridge above Glensleade:
Poulaphuca; Caherconnell

Following the bohereen eastward from the Mackies’ house, we find, in a field at the highest point of Poulaphuca [16] townland, a fine cromlech. It forms a cist of four blocks, with a massive top slab, 10 feet by 6 feet, and 10 inches thick; the interior is irregular, 8 feet 9 inches long, and tapers slightly eastward (4 feet 4 inches to 4 feet 1 inch). It stands in the remains of a cairn or mound. A small overthrown cist, 3 ft. square, lies in a green mound, 30 feet north of the large dolmen.

Plan and Northern Elevation of Cromlech, Poulaphuca
Plan and Northern Elevation of Cromlech, Poulaphuca

The site commands a very fine view up the Turlough valley [17] to Belaclugga Creek, Galway Bay, and Corcomroe Abbey. Opposite lie the dark Slieve Carn and the finely terraced, cairn-topped mountain over Turlough. Near rise the dark and steep cliffs of Deelin, at the foot of which lies a large and fairly perfect caher, also in Poulaphuca. It is nearly circular; much of the wall is standing to a height of from 6 to 9 ft. It seems to have traces of a terrace, but there are no other features.

Cromlech, Poulaphuca, from N.W.
Cromlech, Poulaphuca, from N.W.

The old road drops from near the cromlech in steep curves to the pass from Rannagh to Turlough, one of the most beautiful glens of the Burren. Descending from Cragballyconoal westward, by the very rough bohereen, we pass three forts in Poulgorm. One is a ring-wall of good masonry, over 9 feet thick; the second lies a short distance to the north, and is a straight-walled enclosure; the third is a small fort named Lishagaun. We then see before us a massive caher (which was seen first from Poulcaragharush) on the opposite ridge, though overhung by greater heights, between the valleys of Eanty and Kilcorney.

Caherconnell (O.S. 9, No. 4) is a large and perfect fort, 140 feet to 143 feet in external diameter, nearly circular in plan, and girt by a wall with two faces and large filling; it is 12 feet thick, and from 6 feet to 14 feet high, being most perfect towards the west. The masonry consists of fairly large blocks, many 3 feet long and 2 feet 6 inches high, with spawls in the crevices, and a batter of 1 in 5. The inner face is nearly perfect, and had neither steps nor terraces. The gateway faced the east; it was 5 feet 8 inches wide, and had external side-posts. The garth is divided by a long wall running north-west and south-east; at its northern end are two house sites, one 30 feet long, and at its southern an enclosed hollow, possibly a hut or souterrain. The names Caherconnell and Cahermaconnella (Cahermacnole) suggest the Ardconnell and Ardmicconnail of the Book of Rights, which appear with names of other places in this district.[18] Perhaps we may also connect it with the legendary Connal, son of Aenghus, of Dun Aenghus; but, like most other early names and legends in Burren, the subject is too misty to justify any positive statement or even a strong theory.