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

Part III: Northern Burren: Killonaghan; Balliny

Map of Killonaghan Parish
Map of Killonaghan Parish
(The lightly dotted lines are heights above the sea)


Killonaghan (O.S. 4)
Turning southward along the shore we find ourselves in a long ‘one-sided valley’ between a table-land and the sea, forming the greater part of the parish of Killonaghan and the old merged parish of Crumlin. Of later antiquities there are two venerable churches - Crumlin, the older, being attributed to St. Columba in the year in which he left Aran. The curious round castle of Faunaroosca stands on the higher slopes of the hill, and, like all the ‘valley,’ commands a noble sea view, with the Isles of Aran plainly visible, and the giant peaks of Connemara far away to the north-west.

Balliny [12]
We first find the large caher of Balliny resting on a knoll of crag projecting from the hill-side to the east of Killonaghan church. It was occupied, and partly buttressed, by a small hamlet in 1839, which on my first visit I found subsisting, though the houses in the garth were then unoccupied. Three years later they were inhabited, and, as the house leaning against the wall had never been deserted, we may consider Balliny as the interesting survival of an inhabited caher, which may very probably have been occupied with scarcely a break from early times.

It is a circular fort, 118 feet in internal diameter, the wall 10 feet thick and from 5 feet to 8 feet high. Segments to the south-west and east are built of large blocks, the most massive being on the eastern side, where the caher was undefended by the ground; most of these blocks are 4 feet long, one nearly 7 feet, and several over 6 feet long, and about 18 inches thick and wide; the smaller stones are mostly used as headers. The wall has a slight and variant batter, and has the appearance of a terrace which was formed (as at Ballyallaban) by the removal of the inner face and the filling, leaving the outer facing as a parapet. I found no traces of steps, upright joints, or old enclosures. So much has been patched, rebuilt and overgrown, that the fort is of little antiquarian value, though it has gained in picturesqueness. There are two gaps, one to the east, probably on the site of the gateway, the other in the north, to let in a bohereen. Lord Dunraven has briefly described this caher.[13]

Caher-Balliny (from the East)
Caher-Balliny (from the East)

 

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