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Archaeology of the Burren: Prehistoric Forts and Dolmens in North Clare by Thomas Johnson Westropp

Part V: Eanty and Poulgorm; Caherlisaniska; Caves

In Kilcorney parish, two of the forts passed over with bare mention in a former paper [26] deserve full description. On either side of a picturesque gorge is a fort, Caherlisananima and Caherlisaniska; the first is an extremely dilapidated ring-wall on a slight knoll on the hillside; the second is an interesting link between the ring-fort and promontory fort.

‘ The fortified fort [27] of the water’ - the name occurs as Drumliseenysiyach in 1655.[28] This fort, called from the little pool at the foot of its cliff, affords a very good example of how well the ancient builders accommodated their plans to the sites chosen for forts. The spur had only cliffs to one side, so could not be defended like a promontory fort; its plat-form was too narrow to make it a simple crescent fort, while the knoll at the end of the spur lent itself to a ring-fort, and the builders adopted the characteristics of the three designs.


An oval cathair occupies the rounded south end of the spur, being 74 feet north and south, and 50 feet east and west. The inner facing is much dilapidated; the outer is of good, coarse work, 6 to 8 feet thick and high, save to the south-east, where it is over 9 feet high, of large blocks without filling, and only laid in courses at the south entrance. The gate was apparently only 30 inches wide, and 6 feet high and deep. The east pier is intact; the lintel lies at the entrance 6 feet 8 inches long by 3 feet wide, and 5 to 6 inches thick, and, perhaps, covered the passage length way. A gap, with no trace of piers, opens to the north into the outer court. This is formed by a loop of wall joining the ring, running straight along the edge of a low crag, and turning sharply across the spur to meet the edge of the cliff. Its northern end is overlooked by a bold, higher bluff, suggesting that missile attack was not foreseen, or at least not feared, by the designers. The wall of the outwork is far better than that of the ring-fort, which is very unusual, as the annexe is usually an afterthought; it is 4 to 5 feet thick, and 6 to 8 feet high, on a ledge of the same height.

Several small caves, including the ‘robbers’ cave’ of Sturgaddy (evidently Sturagaddre, 1665), lie along the base of the cliffs to the west of the gorge, and Poulawillen Cave in the gorge itself. It probably is at the denomination called Powlewollen in 1655, the divisions of ‘Enogh’ (Eanty) being then Moher O’Laghlin, Kerragh, Anaghbeg, Drumliseenysiyach, Kraganalossaf, Powlewollen, Lisananamagh, Enoghbane, ffanaghleane, Stunagaddre (Sturagaddre), Lisneglayragh, Moylan, ffodree, Boolemore, and Cloghbooly.[29]

Excavations in these caverns should be profitable both to science and archaeology, to judge from the results of Mr. Richard Ussher’s work in the caves at Edenvale and Newhall in the same part of the county.[30] His slight examination of the caves in Glencurraun yielded evidence of very early human occupation, but his methodical work disclosed relics of a very cold period, the bones of elk, reindeer, lemming, wolves, and huge bears, with primitive human settlements, yielding charcoal layers, flint implements, bone pins, and pierced shells, with possible traces of cannibalism. Of early civilization, bronze and golden bracelets, an inlaid silver belt-clasp, amber and medieval skeans were discovered.
Going up the hillside to the north-west of the caher we find a narrow, trench-like cutting in the rock adapted as a dwelling by roof-slabs and dry-stone partition walls. Crossing the old road which leads along the ridge from the great stone fort of Caherconnell up to the dolmen of Poulaphuca and down into the Turlough valley towards Corcomroe Abbey, we reach a small, low fort named Lishagaun. A few blocks projecting from its northern segment show that it was partly of stone. On top of the ridge above the valley of Poulgorm are two other forts.[31]