Irish Crannogs

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XV

The crannoge was another kind of habitation, and one evidently much used, and evincing no ordinary skill in its construction. From the remains found in these island habitations, we may form a clear idea of the customs and civilization of their inmates: their food is indicated by the animal remains, which consist of several varieties of oxen, deer, goats, and sheep; the implements of cookery remain, even to the knife, and the blocks of stone blackened from long use as fire-places; the arrows, which served for war or chase, are found in abundance; the personal ornaments evidence the taste of the wearers, and the skill of the artist; while the canoe, usually of solid oak, and carefully hidden away, tells its own tale how entrance and exit were effected. One of the earliest crannoges which was discovered and examined in modern times, was that of Lagere, near Dunshaughlin, county Meath. It is remarkable that Loch Gabhair is said to have been one of the nine lakes which burst forth in Ireland, A.M. 3581. The destruction of this crannoge is recorded by the Four Masters, A.D. 933, giving evidence that it was occupied up to that period. In 1246 there is a record of the escape of Turlough O'Connor from a crannoge, after he had drowned his keepers; from which it would appear such structures might be used for prisons, and, probably, would be specially convenient for the detention of hostages. In 1560 we read that Teigue O'Rourke was drowned as he was going across a lake to sleep in a crannoge; and even so late as the sixteenth century, crannoges were declared to be the universal system of defence in the north of Ireland.