Saturday 3 March

South of Kilbeggan a single rath (N429506) and rath pair (N427456) were noted in passing. The first stop was at a single rath about 40m diameter with faint traces of an outer bank and ditch (N400426).

Kilbeggan Waterwheel

At Kilbeggan (N331356) the old distillery, with its very wide waterwheel, was noted and photographed.

St Manchan's Shrine

A slight diversion was made to Boher Catholic Church (N182306) to view St Manchan's Shrine a 12th century reliquary. Taking the main road to Ferbane we stopped at Lemanaghan (N173270) to view the remains of the old church and some early gravestones.

Lemanaghan Rag Tree

A small carved stone was also noted. A bullaun stone was found at the road junction, almost buried under the wall of the traffic island. Traces of a castle were also noted (N170270). About 3km east of Ferbane the ruins of a castle were noted (N146246). Just south of Ferbane, at Gallen Priory, is a collection of early gravestones and a bullaun, 40cm diameter and 18cm deep (N118235).

Cross-inscribed Stone, Gallen Priory

At Banagher, just inside Co Galway, a military fort and martello tower were noted and photographed (N004136).

Banagher Martello Tower

We then moved on to Clonfert to view the highly decorated Romanesque doorway of the cathedral (M960210).

Clonfert Cathedral

Lunch was taken about 3km SSE of Clonfert beside a tower-house (M951190). The tower has square bartizans at opposite corners and a machicolation over the doorway.

A return was made to Banagher where the extensive remains of a castle and bawn were photographed (N020136). At Meelick, Co Galway (M943138) the church of the Franciscan Friary is still in use. A carved panel of St Francis was photographed and the church also contains a number of 18/19th century memorials and a piscina.

A large conical well cover, 5-6m high, was photographed near the entrance to Longford House (M873113). A castle beside the house was noted (M878119). A windmill stump was noted in passing (M860096).

Derryhivenny Castle, with 7 fireplaces and 6 chimney pots, was visited (M872084). There is much pecked-stone work on the underside of the stairs and on the entrance doorway. Some hinge-stones are in place at the doorways leading from the stairs. A number of slop-stones was also noted. The tower-house stands inside a bawn with corner turrets.

Portumna Castle (M853040) is a large gutted early 17th century house with formal gardens and a grand entrance at the first floor.

Clonony Castle

Clonony Castle (N052205) is a tower-house on a rock. It is surrounded by a bawn wall with a machicolation at the entrance gateway.

Sunday 4 March

The first site visited was on a hilltop near Bealin (N102430), a much-weathered granite cross with figure carvings and geometric patterns.

Detail of Bealin Cross

Travelling NE towards the main road a small rath, 15m diameter, was spotted (N115433) and visited. About 5km north of this site a ruined church and late 17th century mortuary house, with round-headed doorway and window was visited (N122489).The church is associated with Goldsmith. Nearby is a fragment of a castle. Another castle fragment, much overgrown with ivy, was noted in passing (N085506). The Circle stopped at a third castle ruin (N083528) on top of a mound. Two raths were visited (N162525). One is 45-50m diameter with much stone in the bank and the second, about 150m distant, is 30m diameter.

An extended visit was made to Uisneach Hill (N290490). Excavation of the site has revealed a number of cairns, earthworks and souterrains. During this visit four raths, one mound and one cairn were noted.

About 2km NE of the hilltop some ruins of a castle were noted (N302500).A rath, about 40m diameter and 6m high, with a single bank and ditch and a house platform, was visited (N286524).

The Royal Canal basin, bridge, lock and lock-keeper�s house at Ballynacarrigy (N307590) were visited and photographed. Another lock, bridge and house were observed at N275590, with a third lock at N280590.


The remains of a Cistercian Abbey were visited at Abbeyshrule (N228588).A small cross in the graveyard was photographed.

Two mill buildings beside the river (N214584) were examined.

At N160608, just outside Barry, a large polygonal mound was visited. There is a smaller mound of rubble close to one edge indicating the remains of a castle. Close to Raheen at N212442 is a rath about 40m diameter, with a good outer bank and ditch, and traces of a second bank. West of this at N208445 is a hill that has been adapted for use as a rath. The hilltop is surrounded by a low bank about 55m diameter, within which are traces of a house platform and a rectangular depression indicating a possible souterrain. The whole is surrounded by a deep ditch and a high bank.

Moyvoughly Standing Stone

The first standing stone of the tour was sighted and photographed (N186431). It is 230cm high by 120cm broad and 50cm thick. A very large motte near Mount Temple (N153418) was spotted and climbed. It is made from part of an esker and may have a bailey on the west side.

Monday 5 March

The first visit was to Clonmacnoise with its many ecclesiastical remains (N010307) and castle (N007305). The highlight of the visit was the Nun�s Church, with its highly decorated Romanesque doorway and chancel arch.

 Chancel Arch, Nun's Church

Other features of the site are two Round Towers, High crosses and a collection of early gravestones. The castle is greatly ruined but sits on a very large earthwork. Just SW of Clonmacnoise is St Ciaran's Well (N005300), with a crucifixion stone, a carved head and a cross-inscribed slab.

Continuing through Shannonbridge and leaving the main road at Clonony we came to Shannon Harbour (N032189) where we examined the Grand Canal basin with its locks, bridge, canal buildings and derelict hotel.

About 3km south of this location we examined a large circular earthwork,about 150m diameter, with an outer bank and ditch and traces of a second bank. There are some low mounds near the centre (N028162).

After lunch near a church (N000070) the Circle continued to Lackeen Castle (M950041), a 16th century tower-house with a straight intramural stairway to the second floor and a spiral stairway to the higher floors.

Lackeen Castle

A garderobe and a secret chamber may be entered from the top floor. There are remains of a bartizan at one corner and slop-stones and hinge-stones were also observed. There are substantial remains of a bawn wall.

Just outside Lorrha we examined a motte and bailey (M922043). Almost half the motte has been completely removed. There are a number of ecclesiastical remains at Lorrha. Attached to the Church of Ireland church is an old church with antae and a 13th century doorway into which a 15th century doorway has been inserted. It features a carved pelican. In the churchyard are the remains of two High Crosses (M920045). To the north of this is St Ruadhan's Church with fine east and west windows and a very ornate west doorway.

St Ruadhan's Church

The Dominican Priory (M916044) has a number of lancet windows in the north and south walls and remains of a five light east window. Portumna Castle and Priory were again visited.

After a slight detour Pallas Castle was located (M758083). It is a fine tower-house with a complete bawn wall and gatehouse. There is a secret chamber entered from the top floor and a fireplace with a carved head.

Between this location and Aughrim there are at least seven raths but the exact locations were not noted.

Tuesday 6 March

The road from Athlone to Roscommon was taken and a detour towards the west shore of Lough Ree was made. A castle (N008540) was photographed from a distance. At Roscommon the Abbey (M874640) was visited. It has a fine effigy tomb with military weepers.

Effigy Tomb, Roscommon Abbey

Roscommon Castle (M873651) was entered with difficulty before the easy entrance was found. It is a large keepless castle with four D-shaped corner towers and a double D-shaped gatehouse in the east wall. In the west wall is a smaller rectangular gatehouse.

Roscommon Castle

The Royal Canal was crossed (N087704) and the lock and lock-keeper�s house was photographed. No further monuments were noted until Granard was reached at lunchtime. The large motte and bailey (N329808) is surrounded by a very high bank and a deep ditch, partially rock-cut.

Granard Motte

SE of Granard are the remains of Abbeylara Cistercian Abbey (N367796) with one small carved stone.

Carved Head, Abbeylara

A mound was sighted on top of a hill south of the road between Castlepollard and Fore. Closer investigation showed that there were four cairns, two of which were closely joined to form a double peaked mound (N485702).

On the outskirts of Fore is one of the town gates (N509706). Just beyond it is St Feichin's Church (N509703), a simple rectangular building with antae and with a Greek cross in relief over the flat-headed doorway.

St Fechin's Church

There is a font inside and a carved head on the chancel arch. The Benedictine Priory (N511707) may be reached down a muddy lane.

Fore Benedictine Priory

The church has three round-headed east windows and a piscina with some original colouring in the plaster. Portions of the cloister have been re-erected. To the north-east are the remains of a dovecote. On the road from Fore to Kells we stopped to investigate one of two raths in a field. It was found that there were at least five raths and three standing stones in the region (N587525). Another large earthwork was sighted a few miles distant to the north-east.