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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 17: St Patrick’s Parish (part of): Ballycannan Townland

Site A: RINGFORT (Classification type 1 (c))
6” O.S. Sheet number : 53 (Co. Clare)
Reference : 5.7 cm South; 18.9 cm West
Height : c. 215’ O.D.
Shape : oval nature, north-south axis greater of two

Description of site:
By careful examination of the relevant 6” O.S. sheet one will notice that part of the eastern bank is missing at this site. This is not a new development as the 1842 sheet also represents it in this manner. Such damage must have taken place during the construction of the nearby north-south running road.

A number of factors made a thorough examination of this site difficult. Firstly the single bank area, and part of the interior, is covered beneath a heavy vegetation cover of a permanent kind. According to locals the full site was formerly in this type of state but some trees and bushes have since been cleared from the sites central interior. Secondly the land here, in spite of its sloping nature, has quite a high water table. Thus we find that the ground around, and in, the site is very swampy. Cattle moving through the site have been responsible for making this situation worse by their hoof marks.

Though traces of the single bank can be seen over most of the site it is especially well represented to the north, near the road. Here it is 2 ½ - 3 metres high by 3 ½ metres wide, on average. The average bank height in the south is less, 1 ½ metres, but the width averages 3 ½ - 4 metres.

The fosse can be traced in the south-west corner of the site. It now survives to an average depth of ½ metre, and a width of 3 metres. There are wide areas to the north, east and south where no traces of this feature now remain. Even in the west it is difficult to examine it due to the nature of the vegetation cover.

There are two entrances into the site. In the north is a gap some 6 metres wide. To the south the entrance area is 3 metres. Both are used by cattle, who have also damaged traces of the bank on either side. Of the two the northern entrance may have been the original, as the southern one suggests it may not be long in use.

As the relevant 6” O.S. sheet shows there is a type of internal subdivision within the site’s interior, which runs east-west. Field examination found little trace of this. Across the sites interior, at that point, is a line of thick vegetation covering the “feature”. Where the vegetation is open there appeared to be no definite evidence of a bank, wall, etc. A local, who has been in the site, does not remember hearing of any low bank or wall here.

Because of the nature of the vegetation cover it was difficult to be accurate when dealing with the sites interior. As stated previously the north-south axis is greater than the east-west one. I estimate the site to have internal diameters of approximately 38 metres (north-south) by 34 metres (east-west).

Folklore: Locals say this site contains the burial place of a King of Munster.

Ballycannan A: Photo taken towards this ringfort, from the west
Ballycannan A: Photo taken towards this ringfort, from the west