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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 14: Kilmurry Parish: Knocknalappa Townland

Site B: “DERMOT AND GRANIA’S BED” (Megalithic Tomb: Wedge)
6” O.S. Sheet number : 43 (Co. Clare)
Reference : 8.3 cm South; 0.2 cm West
Height : c. 230’ O.D.
Shape : see comments below.

Description of site:
Reference has been made to this site from three main sources – Borlase (1897), Westropp (1902), De Valera and O’Nuallain (1961).

As found in relation to other sites said to be megalithic tombs in the Barony the reference by Borlase only gives one an indication as to the approximate location of the site. He does not refer to condition, finds, associated folklore, etc.: “In the townland of Knocknalappa, and Parish of Kilmurry, is a dolmen marked Dermot and Grania’s Bed in Ord. Surv. Map No. 43…” (Borlase, 1897, p. 85).

Westropp, on the other hand, provides much more detailed information on the site including a plan. His description and plan show this to be the site of a wedge-shaped gallery grave:… “It is at present 11 feet long (3.34 m) and tapers eastward from 4 feet 7 inches (1.40 m) to 3 feet (.91 m) internally. A single block, 6 feet 3 inches long (1.90 m.) and 2 feet 8 inches (.81 m) thick, remains; a second was, I hear, blown up; and other stones bear marks of crowbars… The west end is 5 feet 7 inches (1.70 m) long and from 17 inches (.43 m.) to 24 inches (.61 m) thick. The cover is irregular, about 8 feet 6 inches (2.58 m.) by 8 feet (2.43 m) and of varying thickness” (Westropp, 1902, page 103).


De Valera and O’Nuallain also provide information on this site. Based on their field examination and a study of Westropp’s 1902 article, they concluded that: “Westropp states that the tomb was damaged by blasting before he planned it and it seems to have suffered further damage since” (De Valera and O’Nuallain, 1961, page 68). They go on to state that the northern side stone, the more westerly of the two southern side stones and the stone crossing the west end of the chamber, all remain in place as shown in Westropp’s 1902 plan. However the more eastern stone of the southern side has collapsed. The roofstone which, based on Westropp’s plan, rested on the three side stones is now out of place and rests only on the northern side stone and the collapsed stone of the southern side.

The plan by De Valera and O’Nuallain (1961) shows:-

For information relating to the sizes (i.e. length, width, height) of the various stones above refer to De Valera and O’Nuallain, 1961, pages 68 – 69.

One of the problems found at this site was the extent of the vegetation cover about it. The photograph provided by De Valera and O’Nuallain (1961, plate 15, number 6) shows heavy cover in the interior of the site. Field examination during 1977 – 1979 found that this cover had even increased further and it is now quite difficult to examine the features of this “wedge”. At present only one face of the western stone is visible. Through the vegetation cover one can see parts of the capstone as well as areas of the two side stones to the north and south.

In Westropp’s 1902 article a photograph is provided of Knocknalappa wedge shaped gallery grave. I include a copy of this here to give one an indication of the site’s features at the turn of the century.

Compare the above photograph with that in De Valera and O’Nuallain’s book (1961, plate 15, No. 6) or with the following photograph taken during 1979:-

Knocknalappa B: From the south-west
Knocknalappa B: From the south-west

Finally, as mentioned by Westropp in 1902, a gold fibula was found quite close to this site. He described it, based on local information, as being “…about 3 inches (c. 7 ½ cms.) across and as thick as a cedar pencil, with however, slightly expanded ends but without cups”. (Westropp, 1902, p. 103). Locally I was told that it was uncovered during ploughing within a few metres of the site. The finder sold it and its present location is unknown.