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A Survey of Monuments of Archaeological and Historical Interest in the Barony of Bunratty Lower, Co. Clare by William Gerrard Ryan

Part 2: Chapter 9: Kilconry Parish: Garrynamona Townland

Site A: RINGFORT (Destroyed) (Classification type 1(c) on natural platform
6” O.S. Sheet number : 61 (Co. Clare)
Reference : 12.7 cm West; 10.0 cm North
Height : 40’ O.D.
Shape : circular

Description of site:
Here we have the site of a ringfort which is not marked in on the 1842 6” sheet but appears on the 1922 edition. Field examination found that the site and the land all about it had been levelled to allow for the construction of a new runway in 1959. Fortunately the site was partly excavated before destruction and a report has been written on it (Rynne, E., 1964, pages 258-267, plus diagrams). Because of the availability of this P.R.I.A. publication I will only summarise what has already been written.

Before the site was excavated Garrynamona Ringfort appeared to be a platform-type ringfort with a low single bank and no apparent fosse. It was built in lowlying land and surrounded on the north, east and south by marshy land and on the west by gently rising rocky ground. Originally roughly circular, its western part had been destroyed by an old road cut though it there. The only unusual feature connected with this ringfort, apparent prior to excavation, was a small very low sub-rectangular enclosure immediately inside and to the east of the ringforts entrance which was in the south-west (see plan of site). Originally the site must have averaged about 32 metres in diameter with an internal diameter of about 24 metres.

Excavation showed that the ringforts high interior was not due to artificial raising, as in the normal platform fort, but to its sitting on a rock outcrop which extended from the rising ground to the west of the roadway eastwards into the marshy area. The greater part of the interior of the ringfort was covered with a habitation layer of rather sticky earth containing minute charcoal flecks, but few bones. The building of the bank was shown to be associated with his habitation layer. The very low bank seems to have been built, in part at least, with material from an external fosse which was dug in places around the natural rock platform and which was only discovered during excavation. Twelve stem and four bowl fragments of clay pipes were found as well as twenty one pottery sherds. These latter were highly glazed, multi coloured and were all later than the sixteenth century. Two coins were also uncovered, one a mid-eighteenth century George III penny. A bone comb, pieces of iron, flint, glass, bone and quernstones were also found.

Two main periods of habitation were detected. The site was first occupied between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries without defences. Some time before 1700 A.D. the low surrounding bank was constructed, converting it into a ringfort. It was then lived in for a brief period but the site was abandoned thereafter until its use by tinkers for a temporary encampment in the nineteenth century and in the early twentieth century as a place to break horses in to the use of the reins.

Garrynamona A: Site of this levelled ringfort is under the runway at Shannon Airport
Garrynamona A: Site of this levelled ringfort is under the runway at Shannon Airport

Site plan of Garrynamona ringfort
Site plan of Garrynamona ringfort