Archaeological Inventory of County Cork.

 

Volume 3. Mid Cork.

 

 

 

This is the third volume of the inventory of every archaeological feature in Co. Cork to be published, and will be followed by the fourth and final volume to cover North Cork. The Mid Cork volume, includes our Parish of Uibh Laoghaire. The County Cork Inventory is part of a series which will eventually cover the whole country, but at present has been completed for ten of the 26 counties.

It is a large and handsome book, and the Inventories allow a paragraph or two for every Archaeological feature which has been noted by the compilers. These compilers were a team of Archaeologists from UCC assisted by a large number of other experts. They have done a marvellous job, and everyone interested in Local History should study this book. Unfortunately at £25 we cannot all warrant buying a copy, but it can be examined at most Libraries.

The experts mentioned above include Tony Balfe the underwater Archaeologist who is well known to us, and who has contributed the item in the Inventory on our Crannoga at Tirnaspideoga, Inchigeela.. Another expert is Dr.Daphne Pochin Mould the Aerial Photographer. She has been responsible for the discovery of many sites by observations from the air, and has contributed to many items in this Inventory.

With nearly 3500 entries it is clear that Mid Cork is rich in Archaeological features. Our own Parish is also very well endowed but, as will be noted, some items are more numerous on the ground than others.

The most numerous item is the Fulacht Fiadh of which 850 have been noted in Mid Cork. Astonishingly, we only have 2 in our Parish, and these two in Kilmore are only shown in a later added Addendum. When one sees that a single neighbouring Townland, Mashanaglass near Macroom, has no less than 18 Fulachta Fiadh listed, it is difficult to believe that we only have 2 in our entire Parish. There would seem to be scope here for a Project by our Historical Society to either find the many more which probably exist, or to propose a theory as to why they are so scarce here.

We know of three to be added, one in Turnaspidoga, and two in Currahy, but there must be many more to be found yet.

The second most numerous item is the Ringfort or Lios and when one adds the Cashels, which are separately listed, these come to 834 for Mid Cork. There is no point in considering Cashels as a separate item in this context. They are different in construction, but served exactly the same purpose when they were in use. We hold the more respectable number of 20 Ringforts (including Cashels), and adding to the list the Ringfort in Graigue which does not appear on the Inventory. But even this is below par, when one considers the % of items in the Inventory.

 

 

 

Here is a break down of Uibh Laoires sites

Item Our Parish Total %

.

Fulachta Fiadh 2 850 0.2

Ringforts 20 834 2.4

Gallauns 19 408 4.7

Souterrains 10 286 3.5

Stone Rows 5 75 6.7

Burial Grounds 7 65 10.8

Megalithic Tombs 15 53 28.3

Stone Circles 1 51 2.0

Tower Houses 3 18 16.7

 

When we compare the percentage of an ‘Item’ in our Parish with relation to the ‘Total’ in all the Mid-Cork area, there is of course no standard available for any one feature. It could be argued that there are good historical reasons for the high proportion of Tower Houses in our Parish. But the very low figures for Fulachta Fiadh and the very high figure for Megalithic Tombs both require further investigation.

 

We now consider some of the findings of the Inventory for our Parish in further depth.

Single Stones or Gallauns are in a normal density. Each stone at some time has marked an important geographical point which we usually nowadays do not comprehend. Possibly a grave or a Townland or Tuath boundary. Sadly such considerations do not count for much today, and we all know of stones which have been thrown down to suit some requirement of the landowner. One day perhaps we will be able to educate people to a better understanding of the importance of these and other artifacts which are in their temporary ownership and responsibility.

We do have the pleasure of having the largest Gallaun on the country in Patrick Ring’s land in Gorteenakilla ( Bawnatoumple). This monster stands at 6.65 m high, and is being well looked after by the Ring family.

Of our extraordinary high count of 15 Megalithic, or Wedge Tombs, no less than 8 are grouped together in one corner of the Parish. There must be some good reason for this large number in the Cloghbuola, Cornera, Carrignamuck, Derryriordan and Derryvacorneen area, ie in the NE shadow of Douce Mountain.

Another group of three Tombs are to be found in Keamcorrovooly and Gurteenflugh Townlands.

Perhaps our Neolithic and Early Bronze age ancestors in the period of 3000 to 1500 BC brought their deceased from long distances to these chosen places in the mountains. Perhaps our high density of Tombs was patronised by the dead from a much wider area than our small Parish alone.

The Burial Grounds refer to later, Christian burial and four of these are what we call Killeens today. A recent Parish Survey discovered 14 Burial Places in the Parish, but did not include those shown in this Inventory in Tiranassig, Cornery and Cloghbuola.

It was interesting to learn that we have five Stone Rows in this Parish. Apparently two of these have been partially destroyed, but there are three good specimens in Dromcarra, Monavaddra and Cloonshear Beg.

Our Souterrains, ten in number, correspond as usual with our Ringforts. One is in Coolnacrannagh, one in the Early Ecclesiastical Site in Kilmore. A further seven are to be found in Ringforts. The tenth appears to be in the middle of a field in Carrignadoura, but the field is called "The Lios Field" so we can draw our own conclusions from that. Even the one in Coolnacrannagh suggests further investigation to detect a possible missing Rath.

As a Parish we are richly endowed with our Crannog in Lough Allua off the shore of Tirnaspideoga. This is said to be the only example in County Cork. As a man-made Island home it was obviously associated with the occupants of Tirnaspideoga Rath.

We are also happy to have an Ogham Stone in Kealvaugh North, an Early Ecclesiastical Site in Kilmore, and the site of a Leper Hospital in Gortnalour. Another particular item of interest is the Long Cist in Coolnacrannagh, one of the few in Mid-Cork.

But it is also interesting to note where we are deficient in Archaeological remains. We have already discussed the low count in Fulachta Fiadh. But we seem to be low in Mass Rocks or Mass Houses for such a large Parish. We have the Mass Rock in Curraheen shown in the Inventory, and one in Kilmore in the Addendum. We now also know about Seipeal na Gloire, a Mass House in Currahy. There are probably more to add to this list in the course of time.

 

All in all, this Inventory makes a great read for anyone interested in our Parish and it’s History. It also suggests a lot of further research to fill some of the gaps in our knowledge so that a future edition of this Inventory can be brought right up to date.

Peter O'Leary