VI: Cahermakerrila Group;
Cahermaan; Well; Cahermaccrusheen; Craggicorradan; The Mote; Lislard
Cathair medhoin, first named in 1390, is identified on the new maps
with an insignificant house ring, nameless in 1839. O’Donovan
names it in that year as ‘Cathair meadhoin – i.e., the
middle caher, a large fort in the townland of the same name.’
Evidently the real Cahermaan is the large cathair, 130 feet across,
and nearly levelled, beside the laneway not far to the north-east of
the house ring. All the facing is gone, and it is a mere low ring of
grassy filling, rarely a couple of feet high. Its name evidently alludes
to its position, midway between Cahermakerrila and Caher-macnaughten.
Old people told me that the townland name was not attached to either
of the forts in their time, so the Ordnance Survey too probably secured
the identification by leading questions. The titular Cahermaan is barely
60 feet over all, 3 to 4 feet high, of rough slabs. The wall may be
7 feet thick, but the interior, like that of the previous little house
ring, is full of rich soil and is cultivated.
Before turning from these townlands, I may note that the Ordnance Survey
Letters, quoted correctly by Mr. James Frost, do not state that the
Well of St. Colman was in the fort; but some have taken ‘Cahermakerrila’ to
mean the cathair and not (as it does) the townland. Most
of the wells I have seen in forts are merely flooded souterrains, as – e.g.,
Glasha and Ballymacloon. When
Tulla church and its double-ringed enclosure were blockaded in 1086,
the defenders were nearly reduced
by thirst till the abbot, after a vision of St. Mochulla, found a spring
under a boulder in the sacred edifice. Mr.
Orpen has noted a well in the mote of Castleknock, Co. Dublin. Streams
occur beside several
promontory forts, as Dun Fiachrach, Dunamo, Bonafahy, and Dunallia
in Co. Mayo; Ballingarry, in Co. Kerry; Dunlecky and Dundahlin in Co.
Clare, and many in Co. Cork - Dunkelly, Dunlough (Three Castle Head),
Downeen, Dunsorske, Dunpoer, Ballytrasna, and Dooneenmacotter. One
spring is known to me beside a ring fort in Co. Clare and not in a
fosse - that in the abattis of Ballykinvarga.
Cahermaccrusheen (O.S. 8)
There is a fine oval cathair  near
the fallen dolmen in Cathair mhic croisin, the townland bearing its name.
It lies on an abrupt green
knoll ending in a wall-like cliff, at the crown of the old road from
Doolin northward. It looks up a glen along the straight line of inland
cliffs running from it to Ballinalacken, over which peel tower lies
the pink heathery dome of Knockauns Mountain. A slight rise to the
north shuts off from it the beautiful view seen from its neighbour,
Cahermaclanchy. It was one of the finest forts in the district till,
unfortunately, vandals used it for a quarry, though stone abounded
everywhere around. Nearly every one of the useless field walls near
it show its fine blocks, to the disgrace of the wanton destroyer, whoever
he may have been.
The rampart is 9 feet thick, and is still 6 to 9 feet high, the garth
being 6 feet above the field. The gate faces the east-south-east, it
is 4 feet 9
inches wide, with coursed jambs and a pillar stone at its left inner corner.
The garth is 117 feet east and west, and 144 feet north and south, or 135 feet
and 162 feet over all. Only two courses of large, nearly square, blocks remain
of the outer face. Inside are several irregular enclosures, a house site, a
strange little slab cist, hardly 2 feet wide, and a long ‘traverse’ wall
running north and south.
Craggicorradan (O.S. 8)
The long marshy ridge (which falls abruptly beside Ballinalacken Castle
and overlooks beyond it the bushy crags and rock-gardens of Oughtdarra  and
the expanse of sea to Aran and to Moher cliffs) has two earthworks
of a type very rare in Co. Clare, called the Mote and Lislard. In
eastern Clare ‘mote’ is always applied to a low earthwork,
and in Oughtdarra to stone forts; here, alone, it applies to a high
mound. I incline to the belief that the Mote (with perhaps Lislard)
is not residential, though it has an outer ring and a fosse. The place
was called Cracc I corradain in the ‘1390’ rental.
Craggicorradan and Lislard
At the highest point of the road, at the steep end of the ridge, rises
the mote. It has an outer ring 5 feet high to the south, but levelled
to hardly a foot high to the north. This is cut through by a field
fence to the east, but that segment is otherwise little injured and
is in the same field as Lislard. The outer ring is about 84 feet across
and is 12 to 18 feet thick. The fosse is 5 to 6 feet deep, and 9 feet
wide below, and 15 feet at the field level. The central mound is slightly
rounded, about 12 feet high, the same width on top, but 24 feet in
diameter at the base; it has a ‘berm’ 3 feet high and 3
to 6 feet wide, round its foot; a similar ledge, 9 feet wide, running
inside of the outer ring. It is sheeted with stunted heather and soapwort,
and has furze bushes on the ring.
About 420 feet from the mote, eastward, is another earthwork, called
Lislard. The outer ring in parts is 5 feet high and 88 feet over all.
The fosse is 9 to 12 feet wide, and rarely 3 feet deep, but wet and
rushy to the south-east. The central mound is of two tiers, the base
48 feet in diameter, on its platform is a smaller mound 18 feet across,
6 feet on top and 3 feet high, but defaced by treasure seekers. It
may have been a residential fort in which a burial took place, while
the mote was probably a sepulchral mound, not being flat-topped.