News from times past with Brian Gabriel

Ring Fort Location: This Ring Fort is located on the left-hand side of the Blarney to Courtbrack road, 2.6 miles from Blarney. The road bends around the north-eastern perimeter of the Ring Fort. Bibliography: Cork Historical and Archaeological Journal, Caulfield Centenary Number, Jan-Dec, 1987 has an article entitled “Pitt-Rivers in Munster, 1862-1865/6” by Dr. Elisabeth Twohig which gives some details of the excavation of the Ring Fort by Pitt-Rivers and Caulfield on 11th and 17th May 1864. They found ashes and burnt bones in a collapsed souterrain there. Papers and manuscripts containing details of the joint field-work of Pitt-Rivers and Caulfield have found in the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum in England. Map Information: (a) This site is marked and named on the 6” Ordnance Survey Map Sheet 62 Cork (Blarney), easting 37.8 cm northing: 27.1 cm. (b) On the enclosed copy of part of Sheet 62 (First Edition) it is marked Site No 2. (c) The Site is situated in the town land of Loughane East in the Parish of Grenagh in the Barony of East Muskerry. (d) Lisnaraha Ring Fort consists of a high bank surrounding a very gentle sloping area about 70 m in diameter and almost circular in shape. Outside the bank is a wide and deep fosse and on the outside of the fosse along the adjoining fields and roadside there is a low wall mainly built of stone. (e) The site is known as Lisnaraha. (f) The Ring Fort is marked on all three editions of the 6” Ordnance Survey Map Sheet 62 Cork (Blarney) 1844, 1904 and 1937. It is also shown on the Sites and Monuments Record Map as Site No. 135 (01) and 135 (02), the latter referring to the possible souterrain. Field Survey: The Ring Fort at present is in a reasonably good condition. The bank and the fosse are so large that it would be difficult to damage it on a major scale so any erosion or flood damage or damage to walls is relatively minor. One regrettable fact is that the farmer has cultivated the interior or enclosed area for many years – usually under cereals or hay – so that any raised areas or hollows on the surface have disappeared and the top few inches of soil have been interfered with. The inner side of the bank all around is sloping and well protected by briars and bracken and there is a small number of oak and silver birch trees and furze bushes on it too. There is a narrow path on top of the bank the whole way around. The outer side of the bank slopes steeply into the fosse for most of the way and there has been some erosion of this in places but at the moment it is well covered in grass, bracken, bluebells, briars and some trees, particularly oak. The fosse is quite deep and varies from over 4 m to over 8 m in width and water lodges in it in three different places. Local people say there was a high level of water in it during the heavy rains last winter. Cattle grazing in the two fields to the south and west of the Fort have caused a little damage to the low wall outside the fosse. There are whitethorn and blackthorn tree growing along this wall and that of the private garden to the northwest. There is a good wall by the road along the north and east sides except at one spot. The east wall is covered by briars and willows. The ground level of the fields and road is on average about 2 m above the bottom of the fosse. All the fields about the Ring Fort are used for grazing and the whole area from the northeast of the Ring Fort slopes gently south-westwards into the valley of the Shournagh. Related Monuments: There is a small levelled Ring Fort just 150 yards to the south and nearby is a Fulacht Fia: Sites 133 and 134 respectively on the Sites and Monuments Record Map (1988). Just across the road to the northeast of the Fort is a Standing Stone (Site 136) and 300 yards to the north is the remains of a levelled rectangular enclosure, locally called “Monaister” (mainistir), and also another Standing Stone and a Fulacht Fia: (Sites 137,138 & 139 and all on the Sites and Monuments Record Map). About a half mile to the west is the site of an old church and graveyard (Site 140) and a Gallan (Site 141) (both on the Sites and Monuments Record Map, 1988). Farther away to the east and north are many Ring Forts, Fulachta Fia and Standing Stones. Measurements. The only entrance at present is from the road to the east side of the Ring Fort. The causeway over the fosse is 2¼ m above the bottom of the fosse and the entrance through the bank is 4¼ m wide and it looks as if it was widened some time ago, maybe to allow farm machinery in. The interior of the fort is almost circular with a very slight “bulge” (1 or 2 m) towards the east and northeast sides. From north to south the levelled cultivated area is 69 m. and from east to west is 70½ m. The bank for most of its length is 3 m to 3.55 m above the interior of the fort but at the western side is only 2.3 m high. At the south-western side there is what seems like a narrow entrance and the bank has been interfered with and has pits dug in it for about 7 m on either side of this entrance. These may have been only excavations as there is no causeway over the fosse at this point though the fosse here is only 1½ m deep and waterlogged. The Ring Fort bank varies in height from 5½ m to 7 m over the bottom of the fosse and the fosse itself is widest on the southeast at 8.5 m and narrows to 4.6 m at one point on the northwest but is generally from 5.8 m to 8.2 m wide. The walls of the fields and the road on the outer side of the fosse are generally 1m. to 1¼ m. high on the outside. In a few places they are damaged and are lower as a result of this. The tops of the walls are mostly from 2¾ m to 3.35 m above the bottom of the fosse and except at one point on the north by the road the walls slope very steeply into the fosse. The walls above ground level are mainly stone and below ground level they are just earth. The road outside the Ring Fort is 384 feet above sea-level.


Blarney and District Historical Society starts the New Year with an illustrated lecture which takes place on Thursday 10th January 2019 at 8pm in Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál (Blarney Secondary School). Titled ‘Crime and Punishment in Victorian Cork’, guest speaker Ronnie Herlihy of Cork South Parish Historical Society takes us back to the early Victorian era of 1837 to 1859 with this evening’s presentation which is based on a selection of the various crimes, court cases and the punishments of the time. Please note date. Charge for non-members €4.

A limited number of ‘Old Blarney’ back issues are still available by contacting 087 2153216, or or at the monthly lectures.