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The Craggaunowen Project

Reconstructed Crannóg




Reconstructed Crannóg
Craggaunowen is an attempt to recreate aspects of Irelandís past with the restoration and reconstructionís of earlier forms of
dwelling houses, farmsteads, hunting sites and early Christian eras. The concept was the idea of John Hunt, who was an expert in medieval Art. John Hunt bought the land at Craggaunowen, near Quin, County Clare, restored the castle and began the construction of a modern museum display, including the reconstructed Crannog and Ringfort. He eventually gave the complex, with his hope for its future development, to the Irish people.

Craggaunowen castle was built by John Sioda McNamara in 1550. It is a typical example of a fortified Towerhouse, which was the ordinary residence of the gentry at that time.

The Crannog is a reconstruction of a lake dwelling, common in Ireland in the fifth to twelfth centuries A.D. Settlements of this kind may, however, have been used as early as the late bronze age and in some cases were still occupied up to the seventeenth century. Crannogs were artificial islands on which people built houses, kept animals and lived in relative security. The name Crannog is taken from the Irish word crann which means tree. As the name suggests timber was the most important building material. They were usually built about 100 meters from the shore of a shallow lake. The island was constructed by laying layers of brushwood and other material, such as stones on the lake until eventually the island was formed. In the central area, houses of a wooden construction were built. Access to the Crannog was normally by boat but when times became more settled, causeways or bridges were used.

Ringforts were defended homesteads inhabited in most cases by a single family and servants. A Ringfort was constructed by enclosing an area with an earthen bank, outside of which a deep trench was dug. The soil dug out in the construction of the trench was used to build the bank and to raise the ground level inside the fort. Entry was through a gap in the bank which was sealed with a strong wooden gate.

In May 1976, adventurer and exploration expert, Tim Severin, led a five man crew on the most extraordinary voyage of modern times. Departing from Brandon creek, County Kerry, they set out to prove that the legendary Atlantic crossing and discovery of America by the Irish navigator St. Brendan and his monks, in the sixth century, had taken place five hundred years before the Columbus voyage. Severin and his crew followed the supposed stepping-stones route taken by St. Brendan. After an eventful and difficult crossing, they finally landed at Newfoundland in June 1977. Visitors to Craggaunowen can see the Brendan Boat as she was during her exceptional voyage.

The final part of the project is located at the Hunt Museum, Custom House, Limerick. John Hunt, before his death, donated his entire collection of priceless antiques to the project. This collection contains peices from as early as the early bronze age.

There is no doubt that Craggaunowen project is one of the most unique of its kind and is well worth visiting to see the past coming to life.

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