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

Part V: Corofin District: Dysert, Rath and Kilnamona Parishes:
Caherahoagh; Caherbullaun; Cashlaungar; Caherfadda; Caherscribeen; Sheshy

Dr. George Macnamara got the bushes in the overgrown garth of the fort cut away, disclosing once more the curious ladder steps sketched by me [44] long before, but hidden for many years. I give a plan and details of the curious ring-wall. The gateway is of cut stone inserted about 1480; the steps near it are possibly as late, but have been nearly destroyed since my first visit. The laneway to the fort is called Bohereenacaheragh (Boithrín na Cathrach).


It lies 58 feet to the south-west of Caherahoagh, and is now quite levelled; the walls are 8 feet thick, the garth 82 feet across. To the east of this townland is Ballard; the local name for the adjoining part of it is ‘Bohaunnascraw,’ while Ballyeighter is locally Beol eighter, and Lough Cullaun is known as Loch Monanagh. Aglish is Ballaglish.[45] Ashfield is called Garraunawhinshog.

Cashlaungar (O.S. 10)
The townland of Tullycommaun is probably the Tuluauch-comyn held by (King Torlough) O’Brien in 1298 as given in the Pipe Rolls.[46] Through it in 1317 the army of Prince Dermot marched on his way to Corcomroe Abbey, ‘along the fortress-begirt tracks’ between Leana and Crughwill. Hugh O’Donnell’s troops plundered it in their great raid into Thomond 1599. In again visiting the curious rock-fort I found two middens inside the wall at the south end of the platform, with bones of deer and oxen. The destruction of a bush revealed another fragment of wall not given on my first plan in 1896. I also found, utterly hidden in thick hazels on the platform spur below the rock tower on the north, a very massive walled enclosure or bawn, now nearly levelled. Mr. Richard Ussher made some experimental diggings in some of the caves in Glencurraun near the fort, and found very early traces of human habitation, such as he found at Edenvale. Unfortunately he was unable to carry on any works there. In Cahercommaun I also found a midden in the rock-cut drain; it yielded bones of oxen, deer, and swine, with shapeless iron implements greatly decayed. The fort name occurs in various records, as Kahirekamon in 1585 [47] and Cahircomaine in 1655. The divisions of Tullycomon in the latter year were Glencrane, Leshene, Slewbegg, Lisheenageeragh, Dullisheen, Cahir-comaine, and Cahir-comane or Lyshinlyane.[48] The personal name Chumann or Coman has been long connected with the district of Burren and Corcomroe; its earliest recorded chief, Celechar, slain in 701,[49] was son of Coman.

Caherfadda (O.S. 16)
The cathair now bearing the townland name is most insignificant. It is a ring-wall of poor coarse crag slabs nearly levelled when some houses were built in it. The epithet, ‘fada,’ long, does not seem justified in any fort on these townlands. As may be seen (in the next section), the townland was ‘Carrowfadda,’ long quarter, in 1551 (Ceathramadh, not Cathair). The names, both in Irish and English forms, frequently interchange; but in this case the townland, not the fort, was ‘long,’ and the epithet probably passed to the fort. I may again point out that groups of nouns with the same terminal occur in place-names, e.g., Dun-savan, Clochan-savan, and Cluan-sumain, Cloghan-savaun, near Loop Head. The forts between Caherfadda and Lemenagh Castle are a levelled ring-wall near the avenue, a low fort of earth and stones over the little valley, and another low earth-ring on the summit of Knockloon Hill. Traces of two small ring-walls lie between Caherfadda and the dolmens of Parknabinnia.

Cahermullagh and Caherscribeen
Cahermullagh and Caherscribeen

Caherscribeen (O.S. 16)
I need only add to my former description of this rude but interesting and important fort [50] its plan and a record bearing on the early form of its name which hitherto I found in no document (though well known on the ground) till it was inserted on the new maps. The will of Murrogh O’Brien, ‘The Tanist,’ last recognized king and first Earl of Thomond and Baron of Inchiquin, is fortunately preserved in a contemporary copy at Dromoland, and dates 26th July, 1551.[51] In it occurs this passage – ‘Item. Altri filio tertio Donato relinquo castellum, vulgo nuncupatur Leamneh, cum quinque quarteriis sibi vicinis quorum nomina sunt haec, scilicet. tres quart. terr. Cnokloine et Carah-Scribnib et quarteria in Clundin (Clooneen) et dimidiate quarteriae Fahafane.’[52] In the inquisition taken in 1626, after the death of Conor O’Brien in 1609, the three quarters of Lemeneagh are called Carrowcastle, Carrowmoyle, and Carrowfadda. The last two are evidently Cahermoyle-Roughan and Caherfadda, which also appear in the marriage settlement of the later Conor O’Brien and his formidable wife Maura Rhue, Mary, daughter of Therlogh Roe Mac Mahon of Clonderlaw,[53] October 19th, 1639. The gateway with his arms and an inscription in 1646 has only recently been pulled down and removed; it stood before Lemeneagh Castle, and was most injudiciously taken by the owner to his garden in eastern Clare.

Sheshy (O.S. 9)
This townland, lying to the north of Lemeneagh, has two ring-forts. Cahermore occupies a good position on a gently rising crag; it has fine rock masonry of the usual type, and is from 5 to over 6 feet high for much of its circuit. Caheraclarig, in a thicket of hazel bushes, near the Carran road, though far more dilapidated, has an unusual feature in the lower courses of its masonry. The bottom course is of large more or less rectangular crag blocks, but on these rests a course of thinner (header) slabs set on end like books on a shelf. I have only seen similar work in a cathair near Carrahan in eastern Clare, and even there all has been removed since 1892,[54] when I fortunately sketched it. There are somewhat similar courses in the upper part of the wall in Cahercommaun and Caherscrebeen, but they rather radiate like rude flat arches than stand upright.

Near these forts are two dolmens, one in the deep little glen of Deer-park or Poulquillika. Borlase published my description and plan of it in Dolmens of Ireland.[55] It stands on a low ridge, and consists of a chamber narrowing and lowering eastward, in all 18 feet long (in two compartments), and 7 feet to 5 feet wide. It has a fence of slabs around it. The covers are respectively 8 feet 2 inches by 5 feet 3 inches and 6 inches thick and 13 feet by 10 feet 3 inches to 9 feet and 9 inches thick. The remains of a small well-built house-ring appear on a small knoll to the west; the mere ring of large foundation blocks of a second cathair is seen on a boulder cliff between the Carran road and the old road to Castletown near their angle. There are also some defaced, roughly built, rectangular ‘mohers.’