Irish Forts

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter X

A remarkable resemblance has been noticed between the pagan military architecture of Ireland, and the early Pelasgian monuments in Greece. They consist of enclosures, generally circular, of massive clay walls, built of small loose stones, from six to sixteen feet thick. These forts or fortresses are usually entered by a narrow doorway, wider at the bottom than at the top, and are of Cyclopean architecture. Indeed, some of the remains in Ireland can only be compared to the pyramids of Egypt, so massive are the blocks of stone used in their construction. As this stone is frequently of a kind not to be found in the immediate neighbourhood, the means used for their transportation are as much a matter of surprise and conjecture, as those by which they were placed in the position in which they are found. The most remarkable of these forts may still be seen in the Isles of Arran, on the west coast of Galway; there are others in Donegal, Mayo, and in Kerry. Some of these erections have chambers in their massive walls, and in others stairs are found round the interior of the wall; these lead to narrow platforms, varying from eight to forty-three feet in length, on which the warriors or defenders stood. The fort of Dunmohr, in the middle island of Arran, is supposed to be at least 2,000 years old. Besides these forts, there was the private house, a stone habitation, called a clochann, in which an individual or family resided; the large circular dome-roofed buildings, in which probably a community lived; and the rath, intrenched and stockaded.