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|Archaeology of the Burren: Prehistoric Forts and Dolmens in North Clare by Thomas Johnson Westropp|
Part III: Northern Burren: Killeany and Caher Valleys: Caherbarnagh; Cahercloggaun
Killeany and Caher Valleys (O.S. 4 and 5)
A long valley lies to the east of Slieve Elva - a great brown bluff, 1109 feet high, ‘with its brow to the land,’ and a belt of trees on its sheltered face. Elva was the legendary scene of seven battles of King Cormac MacAirt, and overlooks the whole reach of Burren to Berneens, Cragballyconoal, and Tullycommane. On the south-eastern slope, above the little valley, where stands the interesting church of Killeany, founded by the evangelizer of Aran, lie two large cahers on a craggy ridge.
The fort stands on a craggy knoll, with a fine open view to Callan and Moher, and overhangs the valley of Killeany, where a stream breaks out of the rocks not far away. The fort was an ancient residence of the O’Loughlins, who, probably in the fifteenth century, built a peel tower in its garth preserving the ring-wall as a bawn, as was done at Ballyganner and Ballyshanny. The place is named ‘Kaercloghan’ on the Elizabethan map of Munster, circa 1560. Hely Dutton ingeniously revises its name to ‘Cahercallaghan.’ Its inhabitants seem to have been in constant trouble with the Government; in 1570 Brian O’Loughlin of this place needed a pardon; the next year another inmate, Donough Mac Rorie O’Loughlin, needed another, and in 1585 a large group of its inmates received pardon, Donough appearing again with his tenants or retainers, Edmond and Owen Mac Swyny, Teige Mac Brien and Teige O’Tyerney. It subsisted as a castle till 1652, when it was allotted to the transplanted Pierce Creagh of Adare, county Limerick, who eventually settled at Dangan, near Quin.
The caher is a strong ring wall of 99 feet internal, and 119 feet external diameter, and nearly circular in plan. The wall is 8 feet to 9 feet high to the north, and at least 16 feet or 18 feet to the south, where it arises out of a deep hollow to several feet above the level of the knoll that formed the platform. It is of large, well-shaped blocks, laid in courses, and from 3 feet 6 inches to 5 feet long and 3 feet high in many instances; the masonry is of unusual character, for it is laid as if the builders strove successfully to avoid breaking joint, producing a close series of upright joints which, while allowing for settlement must have greatly weakened the wall. It was fairly perfect when I first saw it in 1878, and, indeed, even in 1885, but in 1896 much had been demolished, and a large heap of road metal indicated the destroyers and possible doom of this fine fort. It is some slight comfort that when the Society visited it in 1900 the demolition had evidently ceased for some time. It would be a disgrace to the people of Lisdoonvarna if they took no steps to preserve an interesting antiquity in their neighbourhood from destruction by sordid individuals and road contractors, who have abundant limestone all round. The gate-way faced the S.E. It had been demolished long before 1878, and, indeed, probably before 1839. To the left (south) of its gap heaps of grass-grown masonry, with traces of an ambrey and steps, mark the site of the castle. In the garth are the foundations of four regular curved enclosures, three to the south and one to the west.