Sunday, 30 March 2014

An Irish Fort

           Prime site with commanding views
           of  Youghal Harbour.

 Not too long ago the above statement and accompanying picture would not have been out of place in  the property section of any of our national newspapers. However, the site which I speak of is not available for building as it has already been built on by our ancestors. The site that I am talking about is Tinnabinna, overlooking Youghal harbour at the mouth of the River Blackwater.

Tinnabinna at the head of Youghal Harbour

 At Tinnabinna is a prime example of one of many ringforts that are dotted around the countryside as a reminder of the lives that our ancestors lived. What is a ringfort you might ask? A ringfort was one of the original homesteads which started to appear in the Irish countryside in Neolithic times as people began to domesticate animals and farm crops. The remains of these ringforts would be known to many people as fairy rings or fairy forts as legend has it that they were also used by the mythical little people and curses would befall any person who should interfere with these structures.
           A ringfort consists of an earthen circular bank with a wooden pallisade in top or sometimes a thorny hedge planted on top with the dwelling house built in the centre of the circle. There would sometimes also be an underground passage known as a souterrain which would be used as a place of refuge in times of attack or maybe for cold storage.
    In our recent "Celtic Tiger" period many people would like to show their status by the size of their garden walls, their electric gates or the number of dormer windows in their roof. This was not a new phenomenon, as in the days of building ringforts your status could be seen by the height of, or the number of earthen banks surrounding you round house. Some things never change!
 
Two thousand years of Irish housing!
The ringfort in Tinnabinna is quite important as it has a D-shaped annex added to the circular structure which is fairly unusual. This was pointed out to me by Mr. Michael Lee of Youghal who did an extensive study of it a couple of years ago. A big thank you too Mike for his help with this information.
         The siting of the ringfort where it is, gives it fantastic views all around and would have been very hard to attack or approach unnoticed. This must surely indicate that it was the home of a very well to do family.
     The reason that I went up to the ringfort recently was to photograph a nice sunset but before I post the sunset pictures I have made two videos showing the vista from the ringfort and they give a nice insight into how well informed the original inhabitants would have been of all approaches to the fort.
    Also I must thank the landowner Mr. Liam Collins for allowing me access to the site.



 

And finally, the sunset.These were all taken from the same area as the videos but were two days apart.







I`ll finish this post with a couple of links which might be of interest to anybody who would like to read some more about our history and it`s remains which are scattered all over the country.
Irish sacred sites 
 Interactive map of national monuments
http://www.megalithomania.com/