South Donegal

Friday 4 May

Rapid progress was made towards Donegal. A coffee break was taken at Killadeas Churchyard, Co. Fermanagh (H206540) where the Bishop’s Stone and other monuments were viewed.

Saturday 5 May

Donegal Castle (G930786) is a large L-shaped building at one corner of a trapezoidal bawn. The shorter (and higher) branch of the L is a tower-house, possibly late 15th century, with 17th century alterations. These include a number of large mullioned and transomed windows and a very ornate fireplace on the first floor. At one corner is an intact bartizan set on decorated corbels. On the other corner of that short wall are the remains of a second bartizan. A 17th century manor-house forms the longer branch of the L. This has a large number of mullioned windows, the larger ones having transoms. There is a decorated doorway at first floor level and two simpler doorways at ground level. At the opposite corner of the bawn is a square gate tower. There are remains of a smaller tower at another corner. The scant remains of Donegal Friary (G929786) were inspected. There are some remains of the cloister and a much-damaged piscina in the chancel. There are some 18th century gravestones in the graveyard, one having a skull, hour-glass and bell on it. Another has a simple cross and is inscribed P.M.

On the way from Donegal to Killybegs an unsuccessful search was made for a wedge-grave at Casheltown (G767775). South of Killybegs the court-grave at Drumanoo (G698739) was located. Seven stones form a large chamber with a well-defined portal. An eighth stone lies just outside the chamber. The side-stones project beyond the end of the chamber but there are no signs of a court. The wedge-grave at Roishin (G703742) was spotted from a distance but not investigated.

At Largynagreana (G101774), just north of Killybegs, a wedge-grave was inspected. The capstone of the main chamber is about 3m long and is largely covered with sod.

An unsuccessful search was made for the court-grave at Bavan (G649755) but the tombs at Croaghbeg and Shalwy were located, east of a mountain road running north from the coast road to the main Killybegs-Kilcar road. Croaghbeg (G645751) is a full-court grave with a subsidiary chamber at the NE of the court beside the entrance. The main gallery has two chambers and a huge lintel spans the entrance. Shalwy (G6461752) is a smaller full-court grave without a subsidiary chamber. The gallery has two chambers. The inner chamber has a large capstone and the lintel at the entrance consists of two superimposed stones.

A small megalithic tomb at Malin More (G525822) was investigated. Two chambers are visible and a third may be hidden in the remains of a small circular hut built onto one end. It is classified as a court-grave but there is no sign of the court.

About 1km from this site is Cloghanmore, also in Malin More (G518826). This is a large full-court grave. Two two-chambered galleries, side by side, are set in a large cairn. One of the galleries has a lintel and a capstone. On either side of the entrance to the court is a small subsidiary chamber. The stones which comprise the main chambers are large but not as large as those at Croaghbeg or Shalwy.

About 0.5km north of Cloghanmore is Cloghacorra (G518829), a much-ruined portal-grave. The ruins consist of a single portal-stone and a number of large slabs. Close to the tomb is a large standing stone beside a low cairn.

South of Malin More village is a collection of six portal-graves (G502825). They form a line about 90m long running E-W. Two large tombs flank four smaller ones. The large tombs are formed from massive stones up to 3m long. To the west of the tombs is a standing stone (G499825) set in a small cairn. A small square tower at Malin Beg (G49O795) was inspected. It appears to be relatively modern.

The souterrain beside Glencolmcille Church of Ireland (G532850) was visited. It is entered through a vertical stone-lined shaft which leads to a large rectangular chamber, about 6m long, 2m wide and 1.5m high. Running west from this is a low passage about 9m long and 1m wide. Running east is another passage about 6m long and slightly higher and narrower. In the churchyard are a number of early cross-slabs and to the west of the church is another one set in a small cairn.

Farranmacbride centre-court grave (G534855) was inspected. The court is much mutilated by a disused laneway which runs through it. The tomb at the east has two chambers with some capstones and lintels in place. There are two subsidiary chambers set in the court at this side. The other tomb may have three chambers with some lintels and a single subsidiary chamber in the court. Near the tomb is a cross-slab (G535853) A stroll through Malin More village revealed a bullaun-stone and a dove-cot (G497830)

Sunday 6 May

A cross-slab (G537848) was photographed at the road-side east of Glencolmcille Church of Ireland. Temple Cavan (G542852), a rectangular ruin with an altar-stone and a plain graveslab, was inspected. On the hill overlooking this is a standing stone with a faint cross inscribed (G543853). A rath at Braade Lower (G557845) was noted in passing.

About 2km east of Ardara is Doochill North court-grave (G755907). It is greatly ruined but the remains of a two-chambered gallery and part of the court are visible.

In Kilclooney More there are a number of megalithic tombs. The most accessible is a court-grave (G716969). It consists of a massive single-chambered gallery with two court-stones. A displaced lintel rests across the gallery and a second lintel lies in front of the entrance. About 1km east of this are two portal-graves (G723968). In the larger tomb a great capstone about 4m long rests eccentrically on two portal-stones and a backstone. The portal-stones are almost 2m high. The much smaller tomb, about 10m distant has a lintel spanning the portal.

Once again the Stone Circle took to the water to visit the Bawan or Doon Fort (G700980). This is an oval stone fort which occupies most of a small island in Doon Lough, south of Portnoo. The wall is about 5m high and 4m wide at the base. A short section on the north-west has recently collapsed. Mural passages occur on either side of the entrance. On the left an opening at ground level gives access to a passage about 8m long, rising by a flight of steps to the top of the wall. It is very narrow and a little over 1m high. The passage on the right is entered above ground level. It is about 6m long and lower and narrower than the other passage. At its inner end it turns through a right angle forming a low creep which opens at the base of the interior of the cashel wall face. Inside the cashel are four flights of steps leading to the top of the wall which has a low parapet around its outer edge. The cashel walls are covered in lichen and ivy and have an overall green appearance. A small crannog in Lough Pound (G697988) was photographed at a distance.

A cashel on Dunnarealt Island (G760988) was noted in passing. The remains of a megalithic tomb at Dooey (B764028) were photographed. Only four stones remain forming the entrance and sides of a narrow chamber. WSW of Dunglow, at Roshin South, (B726097) are the remains of a small portal-grave. The tall portal-stones are inclined and the chamber is about 4m long and 1m wide. It is incorporated into a stone fence.

A return was made southwards towards Ardara. The fourth megalithic tomb in Kilclooney More was inspected (G713964) . It is a small portal-grave set in a low cairn. The horizontal capstone is about 2m long and 1.5m wide. About 3km west of this location the remains of Kiltooris Castle (G681967) were noted on an island in Kiltooris Lough.

Monday 7 May

The first visit of the day was to Ardara rath (G139910). It consists of a platform about 30m diameter, with a low bank and traces of an outer bank and ditch. The site commands a very good view of the surrounding countryside.

Rapid progress was made southwards toward Killybegs. A diversion was made to view Carricknamoghil court-grave (C726804). Two chambers 8m apart, are set in a low mound. The larger, western chamber has a lintel over the entrance and traces of a court at its eastern end. It is possibly a centre-court grave. No further monuments were noted until the Circle reached Ballymagrorty Scotch, about 1km west of Ballintra. Here are some remains of a wedge-grave (G701692). There are some traces of outer wall and two stones at the western end may be jamb-stones.

A court-grave at Lurgan (G889677) was inspected. Five stones form two sides of a chamber. At the eastern end four stones form a portal and part of a court. A lintel spans the portal. An unsuccessful search was made for the other court-grave in this townland.

The wedge-grave at Kilbarron (G848647) was photographed. The sides of the tomb are well preserved and there are a number of roof-stones in position. The outer wall is well preserved. Close to this grave is a cashel (G851648). There are substantial remains of a stone wall but the site is greatly overgrown. A number of raths or cashels were observed in the area but precise locations were not noted. The ruins of Kilbarron Church (G850650) were noted nearby.

At Ballyshannon (C870623) a collection of water-mills was examined. Two mills, on either side of the road, share a mill-race. The upper mill has a wheel of large diameter and average width. The wheel at the lower mill has a smaller diameter but greater width. About 50m away is a third and larger mill. The wheel is missing but some of the bearings remain and there is a wheel-mark on the wall. Traces of the mill-race are visible. Close to this site are the scant remains of Ballyshannon Abbey.

About 2km south of Ballyshannon is Ballymunterhiggin (G878592). There is a centre-court grave here. Two two-chambered galleries open off the east and west ends of an oval court. There is a lintel over the entrance to each gallery. The court is entered from the south and two subsidiary chambers set side by side, open into the court on the north. There is a third subsidiary chamber on the west side of the entrance. The entrances to the main galleries are masked by bushes and the stones are covered in moss and lichen.

About 2km east of Ballymunterhiggin is Killeen court-grave (G904596). The monument is greatly overgrown and the entrance is built into a field boundary. A lintel, about 2m long, spans the entrance and one side of the 6m long gallery is formed from two large slabs. The other side has several stones.

At Magheracar, about 2km west of Bundoran, are two monuments. A passage-grave (G795588), about 4m long and 1m wide, is set in the remains of a circular kerb, about half of which has vanished into the sea. There is no surviving cairn. Close to this site a number of low stones form the remains of a wedge-grave (G796587). Parts of a gallery and outer walling can be distinguished.

Progress was made southwards towards Creevykeel, Co.Sligo. The full-court grave here was inspected (G721546). The large oval court is entered through a short passage at the eastern end of a large wedge-shaped cairn. A two-chambered gallery opens onto the western end of the court and there are remains of three single-chambered subsidiary tombs in the western end of the cairn. In the NW part of the court are the remains of a much later kiln where iron-smelting was carried out. Rapid progress was made towards Enniskillen and Tully Castle was noted in passing (H126566).