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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: Eastern Valleys; Rannagh East and Coolnatullagh

Eastern Valleys (O.S. 6)

Very few prehistoric remains of interest lie east of the central plateau. The caher of Turlough, ‘uamhainn na Turlaige,’ has been destroyed since before 1839. There are several noteworthy cairns. Carnbower on top of, and giving its name to, Slieve Carran, stands 1075 feet above the sea and is of considerable size. Two others are nameless, and stand on Turlough and Knockycallanan mountain; one is on the summit,[23] 945 feet above the sea. We have already noted Cappaghkennedy cairn,[24] with its fine neighbouring cromlech. Not far behind the darkly picturesque glen, bearing the unmelodious name of Clab (‘clob’ as pronounced), on top of Gortaclare Hill (907 feet) is a spot called Creganaonaigh, the site of some ancient ‘fair’ marked by several small circles of stones. Mr. Borlase states that there was a tradition of a battle fought on the hill top.[25] But I could get no definite information about the site.

Cromlech, Coolnatullagh, from N.E.
Cromlech, Coolnatullagh, from N.E.

Rannagh East and Coolnatullagh have three small cromlechs. The former townland contains two of these. One has fallen; it lay in a field below the highest turn of the Castletown road, and is not marked on the new maps. It was a cist, 4 feet 6 inches wide at the west end, and 6 feet 3 inches long internally; it seems to have tapered to 3 feet 6 inches, and the south side was 8 feet 6 inches long.

Plan of Coolnatullagh Cromlech
Plan of Coolnatullagh Cromlech

The perfect cromlech lies further to the north-east beyond a low rocky valley. It is a small cist, nearly buried in the ground. The north and south slabs (respectively 9 feet and 9 feet 9 inches long) support an irregular top block. The chamber tapers from 3 feet 3 inches to 2 feet 3 inches. Coolnatullagh cist was recently found by Dr. G. Macnamara; it lies half a mile east of the ‘kill’, or old burial-place of Kilnatullagh, near the corner of a regular oblong plateau overlooking the valley from Coskeam to Castletown. It is a small cist of thin slabs; in it stands a curious little stone, shaped like a rough cross. There are remains of a grass-grown cairn in this townland, perhaps the ‘tullagh’ which gave it its name. A caher stood on the hill of Coskeam; but it appears to be nearly levelled. The peaks of this hill are called Doonmore and Doonbeg. To sum up, the few forts in the valleys from Turlough and Sladdoo to Kinallia and Glencolumbcille are small, and defaced past all description.

This Paper being confined to the third section of the district (the eastern and central ridges of Burren), leaves the forts of Ballyvaughan and Lisdoonvarna for another occasion. The interesting character of the hitherto undescribed uplands about Carran and the damage done to their antiquities in the last twenty years rendered it necessary to secure as far possible a permanent record of ‘the waste dwellings and desolations of many generations’ for future scholars who may hereafter find so much to censure in the apathy and destructiveness of the vast majority of the present occupants of ancient Burren.[26]