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Ring-Forts in the Barony of Moyarta, Co. Clare, and Their Legends
by Thomas Johnson Westropp

Part II.—Kilkee to Carrigaholt

Kilkee to Carrigaholt

In treating of the earthworks from Kilkee southward, we proceed down the eastern part of Irrus, and then along the north shore of the Shannon to Rehy. We do not pretend to describe all, or even any considerable share, of the remains, so numerous in this part of Clare, but only give the best examples of the lisses. Unlike those of Loop Head, we have discovered very little legend or folk-lore about them, and that of a very fragmentary nature. It is unfortunate that down to the present time none of the inhabitants of this interesting district have concerned themselves with such subjects, else the matter would have been by this on a very different footing. Except for a few O’Briens, Keanes, and MacDonnells, the “educated classes” here, and indeed, all over Clare, disregarded Irish history, archæology, traditions, and literature. “The caviller was esteemed, and the gentle man of learning despised,” as Andrew MacCurtain lamented in his poem to Charles (Sorley) and Isabel MacDonnell, about 1730. His only comfort was the belief that though the settlers’ “herds and wealth shall pass away, like summer mist, the scientific composition shall remain.” Meanwhile, however, the legends passed away, for apart from their rents the gentry only valued the land as “a portion for foxes” and game; the few who had travelled fell victims but too easily to the ponderous books of learned nonsense, the opprobrium of English archæology, and immersed themselves in pseudo-Etruscan, Mithraic, and other speculation, while they neglected the more rational study of the antiquities of their own land. It was left to a poor schoolmaster, like John Lloyd, in 1778, to strangers like Dutton and Mason (angered or discouraged by neglect and discourtesy), and to an invalid lady like Mrs. Knott, to write the only notes on the county published between the reigns of Charles II. and Victoria. Even after 1837, during nearly half a century, few in Clare, save Eugene O’Curry and Lady Chatterton, troubled themselves about the traditions, while Lord Dunraven, Canon Dwyer, and Messrs. Cooke and Marcus Keane alone left us anything tangible on the ruins of Clare, though rarely touching upon its forts. In the last twenty years an attempt has been made to harvest what is left; no slight task if we are to secure even the small fraction that has not as yet followed into oblivion all that has been lost since the last century dawned.