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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 11: Kilfintinan Parish: Ballinphunta Townland

6” O.S. Sheet number : 62 (Co. Clare)
Reference : 2.2 cm North; 28.4 cm West (marked “Cromlech”)

Description of site:
Descriptions of this site are available from a number of sources, notably by Westropp, Borlase as well as De Valera and O’Nuallain.

Westropp’s reference is the earliest (1902, pages 104-105) he having first visited the site in 1881. He went back on a number of occasions and in 1887 made some drawings of this wedge-shaped Megalithic tomb. Even at this time it was difficult to examine the site in full detail as it was “nearly buried” (page 105). Prior to publishing his 1902 article he revisited Ballinphunta or Croaghane Wedge only to find “it is now much buried in field rubbish and overgrown with brambles and ash-plants” (page 105). Today the site is in the same condition, very overgrown, and used as a place for dumping stones collected in the surrounding field. While such a covering may “add to its chance of survival” (page 105) it does make a proper examination of the site impossible.

Borlase (1897, pages 86-87) also makes reference to the site. His book contains the following plan and elevations of the site, received from Westropp, (note acknowledgements). He describes the site as lying “East and West and was covered by two roofing-slabs of which the Western one overlaps the other, which seems to have succumbed. A flag 4’ 10” (1.3 m) long and 10” (25 cm) thick crosses and completely closes the West end. The vault is small and is higher at the West than at the East end, the cap-stone slanting in the latter direction. Two side-stones remain in place on either site, measuring 3 feet (90 cm) and 2 feet 6 ins. (75 cm) high. Three stones outside the dolman at the West end show there was a peristyle. The East cap-stone measures 4 feet 8 inches (1.40 m) by 4 feet 2 inches (1.25 m) the West one 6 feet 7 inches (1.97 m) by 5 feet 6 inches (1.65 m) by 10 inches (25 cm) thick”. This information, from Borlase, is based entirely on Westropp’s work. I doubt, in fact, if he (Borlase) visited any of the Megalithic sites in the south-eastern Clare area, based on the nature of his descriptions.

De Valera and O’Nuallain make reference to this site in volume 1 (Co. Clare) of “Survey of the Megalithic Tombs of Ireland” (1961). Due to the present overgrown nature of the site, mentioned previously, they can add little to what has already been said by Westropp and Borlase. Based on Westropp’s plan and elevations, which they also reproduce, they feel the site is “a Wedge-shaped Gallery Grave, completely closed at its west end by a single transverse slab and covered by two overlapping roofstones” (page 69).

Westropp had mentioned “that this cist is double…” (1902, page 104) but apart from the presence of the two roofstones there is, according to De Valera and O’Nuallain “no clear evidence to support this assumption” (1961, page 69).
The mound which envelops the tomb is some 7 m in diameter and about 1 ½ - 2 m high.

Borlase, 1897, Page 86
Borlase, 1897, Page 86

Ballinphunta B (Wedge): Shot from south
Ballinphunta B (Wedge): Shot from south

Ballinphunta B (Wedge): Shot from east
Ballinphunta B (Wedge): Shot from east