Eyeries

The parish in which this village is situated is called Killcatherine, or Killcateerin. There can scarcely be any doubt that it bears the name of some St. Catherine. There are many saints of that name, one being an Irish saint of the 6th century, and it is probable enough that she is the patron saint of the parish.

The scenery of this locality is bold and romantic. Couloch Bay is a noble sheet of water, and the view on to the west towards the New World is grand and impressive. The mountain ranges are fine, and splendid views can be obtained from their tops. The view from Miskish cannot be excelled. There is one great drawback—there are no trees, and the inhabitants say trees would not grow in the locality on account of its exposure to the Atlantic gales. But the fact is the whole place was wooded in the not far distant past so that a squirrel could travel from Eyeries to Ardgroom without descending to the ground.

The parish is rich in old pagan remains, stone circles, goulanes, cromlechs. There is a cashel or caher at Bofficle which has underground chambers. The entrance to these is in the centre of the mound, but one cannot penetrate to more than one or two apartments because the earth has fallen in. A portion of the stone ramparts still remains to be seen.

At Ballycrovane there is a remarkable ogham inscribed stone, the loftiest in the British Isles. It is 17 feet 6 inches above ground, breadth near bottom 3 feet 6 inches. The characters, which were deeply cut, are still legible, with two exceptions. The inscription reads:

MAQI DECCEDA.

SAFITORA NI AS.

Torani appears to be the person commemorated. The prefix Safi may mean a sage or a wise man. The reading would then be: The wise or learned Torani son of Decceda. There can be no doubt that the stone was raised to the memory of some important personage as it required many men to remove it and place it in its present position.

The Dromard fort near Ardgroom is a remarkable one, about go feet in diameter. It has two entrances, one at the west end and which is open, and the other, which has been closed, is at the centre. The passage leading in is about 20 feet long, 3 feet high, and 3 feet broad. No stones were used in the construction. At the end of the passage there is some kind of chamber of irregular shape. It is about 9 feet long, 3 high, and 4 broad. There are two narrow passages leading from this, one to the right and the other to the left. The passages are arched, but so small that one must creep through. The second chamber, to the left, is about 6 feet long, 4 broad, and 3 high. To the right of this there are three entrances leading to different chambers, the one to the left leading to an apartment 18 feet long, 6 wide, and 4 high. This is beautifully arched and so are the others, but not so perfectly. The narrow passage from this opens into a chamber 12 feet long, 5 wide, and 4 high. Here some earth had fallen down, which caused us to end our exploration. It is many years since I visited the fort and was accompanied by John Connell, who then was a young lad, and we were the first to venture so far within living memory. I concluded on the spot that the chambers were made to hold people—men, women and children—and there was in this fort accommodation for a large number of people. The narrow entrances rendered a successful attack impossible. It could not withstand a long siege as there was no well.

Not far to the south of this stands another fort, and hard by is a stone circle consisting of ten standing stones from 7 to 4 feet high, also a pillar stone 8 feet high and 5 wide. Another similar stone I was informed was taken by a man named Murphy and used as a lintel. To the south-west are the remains of an old cashel, the rampart being 9 feet wide. On a hill a short distance to the south is a cromlech, the top stone of which inclines to the east. To the north-west in the direction of the village are two pillar stones, one of which has fallen to the ground. Near these are two heaps of stones which are probably cairns. There may be others which escaped my notice as it is long since I examined the place, and then not very carefully.

Couloch was the home of the famous Morty Oge. His family resided here, and here he ended his days.

We give the following verses from Blackwood's Magazine:—

The sun on Ivera no longer shines brightly,

The voice of her music no longer is sprightly;

No more to her maidens the light dance is dear,

Since the death of our darling, O'Sullivan Beare.

Scully, thou false one, you basely betrayed him,

In his strong hour of need, when thy right hand should aid him;

He fed thee, he clad thee, you had all could delight thee;

You left him, you sold him—may Heaven requite thee.

The mackerel fishery is a big industry. It gives employment to about 400 men besides women and children, and the value of the fish may be put down at £5,000 or £6,000 a year. It was here mackerel curing first started for the American markets.

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