Stone Fort

I was very excited to finally visit the stone fort at Ballykinvarga. Scrambling across the field walls, I had a visual impression racing through my mind, but I had to tread carefully as I made my way through the remains of the encircling medieval defense system called a Chevaux de frise. Caherballykinvarga is one of only three or four forts in Ireland to have a Chevaux de frise. This defense system consisting of sharp stones set upright in the ground is in two sections. The inner section, about 15 metres wide with pillars about 1 metre high and smaller spikes between, was reported in 1897 by Thomas Westropp as “still nearly impassible”. The outer band extends for 50 feet more but is less thickly set with stones.

Both appeared to have deteriorated during the intervening century. To see the finest example of a Cheveax de frise, visit Dun Aengus on Inishmore. The well-built oval stone fort is approximately 50 metres by 45 metres and at the tallest point the walls are roughly 5 metres tall and 1.5 metres thick. The construction incorporated unusually large blocks of stone (over 1 metre in length) in its lower courses. The fort dates between 500 AD and 1000 AD. To my dismay, threatening weather prevented further exploration of this wonderful fort. I plan to return soon.

Situated: From Kilfenora take the R476 east, then take the first left up a narrow road. After about 1 kilometre you will come to a gate on your left, The caher is visible from here. Walk up to the top of the track, then through a gate. Wear a good pair of boots.

Discovery Map 51: R 1999 9474. Last Visited May 2009.

Longitude: 9° 11' 31" W

Latitude: 52° 59' 51" N

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Photos: Jim Dempsey

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