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

Part II: Carran and Kilcorney

South ridge of Carran; Fanygalvan; Cahermackirilla Ridge; The Plateau of Commons; Rannagh

South ridge of Carran [4] (O.S. 9., No. 12).
The country being greatly broken, the groups of ruins must be treated as they lie, rather than by townlands. Passing along the grassy though craggy ridges, famous ‘winterages’ for cattle, along the edge of Poulacarran valley, we find the following remains:- (1) A coarsely built, much dilapidated, irregular caher, close to the Carran road. It commands a grassy pass leading to the valley, and the well of Tobermacreagh; (2) A curious little cliff fort on a peak. It is just 40 feet across, all the eastern side gone, the wall clings to the west crags, one break being bridged with long slabs, and looking like a gateway as seen from the road; (3) A coarse thin ring-wall in a wilderness of low hazels, it is about 60 feet in diameter; (4) Another caher or ring-wall even more dilapidated than the last. These two are in Cahermackirilla townland, on the southern edge of which stand three gallauns; these lie in line N.N.E. (compass), the central one is over 7 feet high, the others about 4 feet.[5]

Fanygalvan - Plan of Cromlech
Fanygalvan - Plan of Cromlech

Eastward is a large though low green mound, and less than 80 feet away; three cromlechs lie in the townland of Fanygalvan - the Fanadhgealbain of the 1380 rental.[6] As shown in the 1839 map, there are three cists lying in line on the grassy hill which falls abruptly at their west end. Now there remain of the western only two small blocks 6 feet long. The central cist faces E.N.E., the fallen sides covered by the top stone, and about 10 ft. long. The eastern is a noble cromlech with two chambers. It is 23 ft. long, and from 6 ft. 3 in. to 2 ft. 8 in. wide; the north side has fallen. It is a conspicuous object, and its bleached stones shine like a red light at sunset, when seen from the road.

Down the slope stands a fantastic rock, somewhat resembling a human figure, and called Farbrega;[7] while, half a mile from the cromlech, along the road between Castletown and Carran, lie three very defaced stone forts. They are, respectively, in Sheshy, Moheraroon, and Fanygalvan, close together along the edge of a low depression, in which on an abrupt knoll are apparent the foundations and scattered stones of a fourth small caher.

Cahermackirilla Ridge (O.S. 10., No. 5).
Starting from the cromlech of Fanygalvan, along the ridge, we find ourselves among many evidences of a once teeming population. Along this bluff, some 550 feet above the sea, lie three more cahers, which we may generally state to be from 70 to 100 feet in diameter and of fairly good masonry, though nearly demolished. Between the second and third, which are only about 350 ft. apart, are some singular slab huts of late date and a souterrain,[8] with built sides and four roof-slabs. The highest caher is of thin slabs, and contains the ruins of several late cabins and some lofty ‘look-out’ piers for herdsmen. It commands a view of the district from Tullycommane to Kilfenora and Moher, with a pretty glimpse of the sea and a bird’s-eye view over Poulacarran. The last of these cahers, on the edge of Commons townland, is a circular ring, about 50 feet across. It has a large and curious straight walled enclosure about 150 feet out from the caher; the walls 8 and 10 feet high to the N.E. and S.E., in the intervening space is a small closed souterrain.

The Plateau of Commoms &c. (O.S. 9., No. 8).
The commonage is devoid of antiquities, save for a small circular fort on a cliff above the O’Loughlin’s house, near Mougouhy, with a fine view of Cahercommane and Castletown Lough, but nearly levelled.
In Sladoo, A Handbook to Lisdoonvarna states that two uninjured cahers stand near the curious late church.[9] These, however, are not marked on the 1839 map; neither could Dr. George MacNamara and I find any trace or tradition of their existence. The only early remain seems to be a low mound of earth and stones, 36 feet across, its centre deeply excavated.

Rannagh (O.S. 9., No. 1).
West of Sladoo and on the edge of a cliff, nearly as straight and regularly coursed as an ashlar wall, stands a rectangular caher; its northern wall is 7 feet high, 11 feet wide; the gateway faces the south, and is 4 feet 4 inches wide; it had stone gate posts on the inner face of a passage, 5 feet long and 5 feet 4 inches wide; the outer piers were built of large blocks, and 6 feet deep; the outer lintel was 7 feet 3 inches long. A steep old road leads from near it down to Poulacarran.