II: Carran and Kilcorney
In our examination of the Clare cahers, 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
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, 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