Irish Forts

FORTS.—According to the Ordnance Survey there are 10,000 of these in Munster, and about 30,000 may be taken as the number for the whole of Ireland. The peasantry hold them in superstitious reverence, and they used to be regarded in times not very remote as the abode of the fairies. They are called Danish forts by the people of the country, but they are to be found where the Danes never settled, and it is beyond dispute that fort-building was practised by the Irish long before the time of the Danes. It is probable enough that the Danes constructed some of them, and the popular belief may have arisen from the fact that many of them were raised in defence against the attacks of the Danes, and hence may be called Danish forts.

The construction is simple. A deep trench was dug, and the earth thrown up, forming a steep enclosing rampart. They vary in size from a few yards to one hundred in diameter. They were for the most part built on hills, rocky headlands, or steep cliffs. The most of them have underground passages and chambers. These were used as storehouses and as a place of refuge for women and children in case of sudden attack. It is probable that the chief and his clan repaired to their fort in time of disturbance, and there protected themselves and their cattle and goods.

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