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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: Rathborney Group

Rathborney Group (O.S. 5, Nos. 7, 11, 12)

Part of this parish extends up to the central plateau; therefore we must briefly note its forts and cromlechs.

Garrracloon has two old enclosures, fairly built, but much broken. A third, farther eastward, somewhat D-shaped in plan, bears the townland’s name. Lisgoogan, the Lessaguagain of the 1390 rental, contains a square caher about 100 feet across with traces of an irregular, somewhat circular outer ring, 260 feet in diameter, to the west of the main road. The survey of 1655 names two cahers,[21] Kaheriskebohell and Kaherballyungane, or Kaherballyvanghane, lying between Lisgoogan and Caherwooly (Caherodouloughta, near Cahermacnaughten), these I cannot localise unless they be the forts at Doonyvardan. Berneens is a long, straggling townland. It has a cromlech at its western end on the summit of the hill, and another on the hillside near the Gleninshen group, described below: a very dilapidated little ring-wall, less than 50 feet in diameter, on its southern edge is called Caherberneen. Gleninshen, a bare craggy upland, with no trace of the ash trees which gave it its name, has the remains of a small well-built circular caher in the fields close to Caheranardurrish. There are five other forts: two circular, two rudely square in plan, the southern being Gleninshen caher; the fifth, much rebuilt for a sheep-fold, lies near the southern cromlech. In the western portion, close to the main road, are two cromlechs; the first is nearly perfect, and has been described and figured by Mr. W. Borlase under the name of Berneens.[22] His description is, as usual, very accurate. ‘This dolmen lies E.N.E. and W.S.W. The roofing stone measures 10 feet 11 inches long, and 7 feet 6 inches broad. The sides are respectively, 11 feet 5 inches and 11 feet long.’ It tapers from 4 feet 5 inches to 3 feet 2 inches, and was surrounded by a small cairn. The initials ‘J. O’D.’ are cut on one of its slabs, but we can scarcely attribute them to our great Irish scholar, though he and Eugene O’Curry carefully examined the district. Of the second only the ends and south side rise above the avens and cranesbills. The side measures 13 feet 6 inches by 4 feet 3 inches by 10 inches; the ends show that the cist tapered eastward from 5 feet 2 inches to 4 feet 4 inches: it was perfect in 1862. A third cromlech lies N.N.E. from, and in line with the two last up the slope of the hill in Berneens. Its south side has collapsed since 1862; it is otherwise fairly complete. A more desolate region than exists to the east of these remains is hard to imagine. ‘Silence broods over the dead grey land’; and the absence of all antiquities show that its loneliness is of no modern growth. The lines of habitation and traffic across these uplands seem always to have been the same, namely from Belaclugga to Turlough and Tullycommane, from Glensleade to Lemeneagh, and from Cahermacnaughten to Ballykinvarga, all three meeting the road from Kilfenora, which ran eastward to the ‘Bohernamicrigh,’ ‘the stone road,’ which led to the ford of Corofin, the pass to central Thomond.

 

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