Antiquities Near Miltown Malbay

Thomas Johnson Westropp
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Clare County Library


We are far from having exhausted the interesting objects of the district round Miltown Malbay in this somewhat rambling paper. If a school of local antiquaries arises, it will find profitable work for many years to come in the study of place names, local history, and the lesser field antiquities. The earth forts of this district are numerous, and are usually an oval or circular raised platform with a ring, mound, fosse and outer ring. The names of some of these may be here noted—Lissanure, Liscahaun, Lisballard, Rinbaun and Lissaltha near Miltown; Lisclonroe, Lissykeattry and Lisconry near Tromra; Lisnahoanshee on the bounds of Kilmurry and Kilmacduan; Lisbaun, Lisnaleagaun, a rath near Cahermurphy castle; Lisnaleagaun near the pillar stones of Kilmihil; Lissatuan and Lissycreen near Knockalough.

Of stone forts, besides Cahermurphy and Cahercanavan, which I have noted, there are Caherard, Caherush and Caherogan, now levelled or swept away by the sea.

There are hut sites, ring of stones, hearths and kitchen middens in the sandhills at Miltown and on the shore from Tromra to Dunbeg. Near the latter place is a high mound, some ten or twelve feet high, evidently once an early settlement, and a sort of crannoge, a heap of stones and middens in a marsh in Caherfeenick. The exploration of the shore settlements at Dunbeg, Miltown, Freagh, Dough and the Murrooghs has only been commenced.

Of castle, besides those already noted, only the sites and mere fragments remain in Freagh and Caherrush (a mere angle on the shore likely soon to be washed away) in Kilarboy; Finnor, Knockanalban, and Doonogan are in Kilmurry. None are of historic importance.

The submerged bogs and forests off Killard and Lehinch are also of interest to geologists and antiquaries. The phenomenon attracted the attention of Giraldus Cambrensis seven centuries ago and is still fresh and far from being fully studied on a firm basis even in our days.

Wells, like St. Lachtin’s holy wells near Kilfarboy and Stacpole’s Bridge, are also of great interest. The last has been re-dedicated to St. Joseph since 1839. In the middle of the last century it was a centre of riot and faction-fighting at the patterns held there. St. Lachtin’s day was kept on March 19th. He was Abbot of Freshford, Kilkenny, and patron of Lislachtin Abbey in Kerry, and Kilnamona Church in Clare. The beautiful reliquary of his arm was successively preserved at the two latter places, and now rests in the collection of the Royal Irish Academy. The well is a charming spot in a little hollow overhung by bare old trees and bushes, and with the high arch of Stacpole’s Bridge in the back ground. A few poor, old people may be seen, especially on Sundays and Thursdays, making the usual devotions-two sets of rounds, each five in number, the first on the causeway round the well, the latter on a wider circuit. The devotees take off shoes, stockings, hats, and, in the case of women, shawls and bonnets, and starting from the well, “sunwards,” repeating the stated prayers, they climb up to kiss a cross on a branch of one of the ancient trees, and finally pour water from the well on their faces, hands and feet.

In offering these rough notes to persons interested in our lesser antiquities, I make no pretence of elaborate research or finality, I only hope to give an increase of interest and an excuse for wider explorations to the sojourners in the quietest, but for its very quietness (and “unfashionableness,”) one of the most pleasing of the sea-side resorts of the Atlantic Coast of Ireland.

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