Irish Stone Buildings

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XV

Forts of dry-wall masonry, which are, undoubtedly, the more ancient, are very numerous in the south-west of Ireland. It is probable that similar erections existed throughout the country at a former period, and that their preservation is attributable to the remoteness of the district. The most perfect of these ancient habitations is that of Staigue Fort, near Derryquin Castle, Kenmare. This fort has an internal diameter of eighty-eight feet. The masonry is composed of flat-bedded stones of the slate rock of the country, which show every appearance of being quarried, or carefully broken from larger blocks. There is no appearance of dressed work in the construction; but the slate would not admit of this, as it splinters away under the slightest blow. Still the building is an admirable example of constructive masonry; it is almost impossible to dislodge any fragment from off the filling stones from the face of the wall. A competent authority has pronounced that these structures cannot be equalled by any dry masonry elsewhere met with in the country, nor by any masonry of the kind erected in the present day.[2] Some small stone buildings are also extant in this part of Ireland, but it is doubtful whether they were used for ecclesiastical or domestic purposes.


[2] Day.—Wilkinson's Geology and Architecture of Ireland, p. 59.