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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 10: Kilfinaghta Parish: Coolycasey Townland

Site A: MEGALITHIC TOMB : WEDGE-SHAPED GALLERY GRAVE. (or Wedge-Tomb)
   
6” O.S. Sheet number : 52 (Co. Clare)
Reference : 2.8 cm North; 33.7 cm East
Height : c. 550’ O.D.
Shape : wedge-shaped (see description and site plan).

Description of site:
While engaged (1977-1978) on the archaeological part of this thesis Fr. Martin Ryan, at that time Parish Priest of Sixmilebridge, drew my attention to the fact that a previously unrecorded “wedge” had been noted on Andy’s Hill, Coolycasey Townland, not far from Oatfield village. Even De Valera and O’Nuallain had failed to record this site (1961).

The site itself, at c. 550’ O.D., is 2 miles down the south-west slope of Knockanaurha Hill, 1017’ O.D. From the wedge one has a commanding view over much of the Barony of Bunratty Lower, with Sixmilebridge to be clearly seen in the foreground. In the distance one can make out Shannon Airport, the area about Newmarket-on-Fergus and the small village of Kilmurry.

What are the features of this wedge? Here I refer one to: (a) site plan, at a scale of 4 cm to 1 metre (b) site photographs (c) site description.

While describing the principal features of this wedge one should refer in particular to the scaled site plan and site photographs.

Even on first examination the site plan appears to be somewhat irregular in places. Checking locally I was told that the feature had been damaged on a number of occasions. Around 1960 part of the site’s interior was dug up by people searching for gold. During this digging the stone marked “D” on the site plan was removed from its correct position between “C” and “E” and dumped some metres to the south. Some time later this stone (D) was placed in its present position by the local farmer (see site plan). At the same time as stone “D” was being removed stone “C” was loosened and pushed inwards. To stop it fully collapsing the local farmer has since propped it up using smaller stones. Also during this gold searching (c. 1960) some of the smaller loose stones within the site were either thrown on to the surrounding field or else dumped over the site’s eastern part. Since then the stones in the field have been placed back in the site and some of those from the east have also been placed in the west. However in spite of all this interference the tomb still maintains its characteristic wedge features. Firstly, in relation to orientation. This, as the site plan shows, is south-west by north-east.

Secondly it is also wider and higher to one end (i.e. s/w.) than the other (i.e. n/e.). No clear trace now survives of the original capstone.

What of a cairn? The small stones scattered throughout the site could be the surviving traces of a cairn which once covered this site. The only possible trace now of this feature may be hidden beneath the grass to the north-east.

What heights are the stones as they survive to date (1978)?

Stone West Side East Side
A 85 cm 70 cm
B 60 cm (covered)
C 80 cm 40 cm
D 65 cm (covered)
E 60 cm 30 cm
F 55 cm 65 cm
G On its face and partly covered by stones

Coolycasey Wedge: North face, with the metre stick up against stone “A” (see plan, above)
Coolycasey Wedge: North face, with the
metre stick up against stone “A” (see plan, above)

Coolycasey Wedge: Shot from east through site, with stone “F” to the left foreground and stone “A” in background right
Coolycasey Wedge: Shot from east through site, with stone “F”
to the left foreground and stone “A” in background right

Coolycasey Wedge: Shot from west through site, with stone “A” to the left foreground
Coolycasey Wedge: Shot from west through site,
with stone “A” to the left foreground

 

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