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|Archaeology of the Burren: Prehistoric Forts and Dolmens in North Clare by Thomas Johnson Westropp|
Part VI: Ballyganner Group: Ballykinvarga; Caherlahertagh; Caherminaun; Ballykeel; Lisket; Cahermon; Fanta Glebe
Though apparently on a rather low site, there is a wide outlook; one can see from its wall the Telegraph and Snaty peaks in Slieve Bernagh in the far east of Clare, Inchiquin hill, Inchovea tower, Callan, Doon fort, Tully-commaun ridge, and the Noughaval forts and carns.
A coin of Alexander, King of Scotland, has recently been found in Ballykinvarga fort; it (like the hoard of coins of Edward II, found in the abattis, near the gateway) was probably plunder from the wars of the Bruces, in 1315, against whom Murchad O’Brien, King of Thomond, served. A coin of King John has also been found recently in the gateway of Cahermacgorman fort, near Corofin; coins earlier than the reign of Elizabeth have rarely been found in Co. Clare.
I may add a late record of the place to my former notes. Morough O’Brien, nephew of Boetius Clanchy of Knockfinn, in his will, Nov. 16th, 1630, mentions his properties of Ballykinvarga, Carrowkeele, Cahermeene, Ballykeile, and also Cahirmeenan (all fort sites). He leaves bequests to his cousins Gorman, Thomas, and Arthur, of Limerick, and Donogh O’Brien, and desires to be buried in Killilagh Church.
The only notes I need add are that two upright joints occur to the west of the gateway and one to the east. The supposed dolmen to the south-east of the fort, beside the old hollow track from the gateway near the east wall of the field, consists of two small set slabs and two ‘covers;’ of the last, the southern measures 9 feet 3 inches by 7 feet 6 inches the others 7 feet 5 inches by 1 foot and 7 feet by 6 feet 6 inches. All is so pulled about that no plan is possible; the slabs probably belonged to a simple cist about 7 feet long.
In the next field to the south is the unmarked foundations of a ring wall, 87 feet over all, with an outer facing of large blocks; all the rest of the stonework has been removed.
The gateway is also unusual in having small pillars at each angle of its entrance; rarely do even two occur, and those are always at the outer side. The four measure - the outer, left 10 inches by 14 inches, right 9 inches by 14 inches; the lower ones nearly the same. They rise 3 to 4 feet above the debris, and are perhaps 6 feet high if cleared. The lintels have been thrown down, and are 4 feet 6 inches long by 30 inches by 18 inches, a broken one, 3 feet 8 inches long, also remains.
The wall is 10 feet 6 inches thick at the gate, which is 3 feet 8 inches wide between the pillars. The wall is 4 feet to 5 feet high at the gate, but is lost in heaps of debris; it is 8 to over 10 feet high round the south and west segments; the inner facing is nearly entire, though (as usual) of far smaller stonework than the outer face; the filling is large and carefully packed; the batter is 1 in 6 and in parts as much as 1 in 3½, a very unusual slope.
There are two flights of steps; the north-eastern was hidden in debris
and coarse grass, and the southern nearly so in 1895. The latter now
steps over the debris, each is 10 inches wide, and is of two or three blocks
in a recess 4 feet wide, and going straight up the wall. I incline to think
this an older type than the ‘sideways flight.’ The other stair,
instead of being in a recess, projects from the wall face; the steps are 5
to 6 inches wide and 8 to 13 inches high, 33 to 48 inches long; these flights
most probably led to a terrace, but if so, this has left no trace. The rampart,
when entire, may have been 14 or 15 feet high. The garth is 102 feet wide,
the fort 123 feet overall, approximately circular. Only late pens remain inside.
The larger one on the east border of Ballykeel is the ruin of a fine
structure, and is well seen from the road to Corofin. It consists of
two concentric rings,
and was a well built ‘handsome’ fort, but not very large. It is
nearly all knocked down, and is in the same field as the last. There is a short
reach of the facing of the inner ring about 8 feet long. The central fort is
47 paces across, the outer ring lies 10 to 12 yards outside it, and is 67 yards
in diameter. It was built with blocks of unusual size - one 9 feet long, and
apparently was a single stone wall, always a late feature.
Lisket is an earthen fort 135 feet across: the ‘platform’ is 105 feet across and is flat-topped, but had a rampart rarely a foot high, giving the garth a slightly cupped appearance like one of the Coolreagh forts near Bodyke in the east of the county. The fosse is about 14 feet wide, the platform rising 5 feet above it. The fort, called ‘Ballybaun fort’ on the map, is nearly obliterated by tillage; it was about 30 yards across (north and south). A similar liss, 35 yards across (north and south), lies east of Ballybaun House where the ‘R’ of the parish name ‘Kilfenora’ is marked on the maps. The herdsman of Ballybaun knew of the other forts, but said that they were hardly noticeable. There is a curious single block of stone with a battlementled outline in the last described liss, 6 feet by 3 feet by 8 inches, like the side of a dolmen save for its irregular top.
Caheremon  is hardly traceable at a bend of the road north from Kilfenora. Petrie calls it ‘a fine remain’ if he be not confusing it with Ballykinvarga. Dutton in 1808 calls it Caheromond, and adds that its walls were covered with orpine. It is said to have had two rings, but I found bare trace of the ring of small filling of one. I seem to recollect the walls as standing in 1878 and 1887, but may be mistaken.
Fanta Glebe contains a cathair, utilised as a feature in the Rectory garden, the former residence of the Protestant Deans of Kilfenora. It is a fairly complete ring of small stonework, 105 feet over all, and is thickly planted and quite featureless.