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

Part III: Ballyganner North and South; Lisket

Journal xxvii. (1897), pp.119-120
Since publishing the former account I have again gone carefully over the southern portion of the ground, and have been able to add a few more notes. To the south of the more eastern of the ‘two rude enclosures’ (which has a spring flowing out of the foot of the rocky knoll on which it stands), and due eastward from the fallen cromlech near Caheraneden is a low grassy mound overgrown with low wild roses. Set in the mound, lying north and south, is a block of limestone about 4 feet long; other slabs are seen nearly buried, and it seems very probable that these are relics of small cist and tumulus. The same large field possesses curious oblong mounds, rising a foot or 18 inches above the general surface of the ground.

The three-chambered cromlech had an annexe of low blocks to the north, like that in the cromlech on the hill top in Parknabinnia.[53] It is nearly buried in earth and moss.[54] There are two fairly large cairns to the north-west of it, near Cahernaspekee, they are 8 to 10 feet in height.

The ‘ring wall, surrounding a sort of cairn,’ is a very puzzling structure. It is a well-built, irregular enclosure, 150 feet by 120 feet, made of blocks laid as stretchers. It has a gateway to the south-east facing the eastern cromlech in Ballyganner south. The outer lintel has fallen, but the inner face is perfect; the outer lintel is 5 feet 6 inches by 1 foot 7 inches by 10 inches, the inner 6 feet by 1 foot 6 inches by 10 inches. The gateway measures 4 feet 6 inches outside, and 4 feet 6 inches inside, being over 5 feet high, but partly buried in rubbish, and was nearly hidden in hazels on the inner side. The ‘cairn’ is a ring wall of large blocks filled up to a height 6 feet over the level of the garth with smaller blocks, the wall having a batter. It is nearly buried in a great mass of fallen stones, evidently remains of some considerable upper building. Occurring, as it does, close to the very noteworthy caher which encloses the eastern cromlech of Ballyganner north, the question at once arises whether it is another of a group of sepulchral enclosures of a kind not yet described.

A circle of slabs set on end remains in the craggy field to the south of the caher with the cromlech, and is either a hut circle or a burial place. There are two slab huts, probably of late date, in the adjoining fields to the north of the cromlech-caher, and another well-built caher with gapped walls a quarter of a mile south-east from the smaller cromlech of Ballyganner South.

In Ballyganner South, to the west of the castle, and about half way between it and Ballykinvarga, there is another caher on a rising ground. It consists of a massive well-built ring wall, 11 feet 4 inches thick, and of unusually large blocks, but now only 4 feet to 5 feet high. The gateway faced the east; the outer opening was only 2 feet 9 inches wide (like Ballyelly and Caherdooneerish); the passage through the wall splays inward to 6 feet 9 inches wide. In the southern side is a long souterrain 6 feet to 6 feet 8 inches wide, the sides slightly sloped. The top has fallen in for about 20 feet, thence it curves near its western end, keeping concentric to the curve of the caher wall. It is 5 feet to 6½ feet high; the sides are of fair masonry, with a couple of ambrey-like recesses, possibly formed by the removal of certain facing blocks. Along the top of the wall on each side is laid a cornice of long slabs projecting 12 inches or 13 inches over the edge, and the whole is roofed by long, thin slabs. It is a conservatory of wall-rue and hartstongue ferns.

Before the gateway is a mound, with a low kerbing of nearly buried blocks, and in the next field to the east there is a heap of large slabs lying one on the other. The new Ordnance Survey maps mark the word ‘cromlech’ between these objects, but I am very doubtful whether this is correct, and the peasantry deny that there was ever a ‘Lobba’ standing there in human memory.

To the west of the fort, but between the bounds of Lisket, a conspicuous and fairly perfect cairn of earth and stones rises to a height of 7 feet or 8 feet, whence the ground slopes rapidly to the Noughaval road opposite Ballykinvarga.

Beside the bohereen from the Kilfenora road is another circle of slabs in the field, a few yards to the south-east of the larger caher on the hill top south of the great cromlech.