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Cahergal and Leacanabuaile Forts

Just north of Carirsiveen is a remarkable pair of forts just 375m (410yds) apart. Both are well preserved, despite some heavy-handed restoration. But why were two such similar forts built so close to each other?

Cahergal Fort

Location

Kerry Map

OS Ref: V 447 806

Last Visited: 1998

Cahergal, (or Cahergall, Caher Gael as it is sometimes known) is believed to be the older of the two, having been dated to AD600.

The walls, with their built in staircases, are impressive and now stand up to 2m high in places, after restoration, and in the centre is the base of a single beehive hut.

There is little evidence of other stone huts, but presumably there could have been some wooden structures against the walls.

External Links and References

  • External Links

    • Cahergall Stone Fort
      Concentrates on the architectural details rather than the history, but there are some nice photos.
      http://irishantiquities.bravehost.com/kerry/cahergall/cahergall.html

Leacanabuaile Fort

Location

Kerry Map

OS Ref: V 445 808

Last Visited: 1998

Leacanabuaile

Leacanabuaile

The interior of Leacanabuaile Fort is much more complex consisting of a single circular building and three square buildings.

The square buildings are believed to be later, dating from the eighth or ninth centuries but the outer wall and the round hut may well date back to the sixth century.

Leacanabuaile is one of the few Irish Forts (or Duns as they are sometimes known) to have been excavated. The excavations produced both Bronze and Iron Age objects suggesting that there was a farming community here from an early date.

External Links and References

  • External Links

    • Leacanabuaile Stone Fort
      As with the Cahergal page, a description and photos.
      http://irishantiquities.bravehost.com/kerry/leacanabuaile/leacanabuaile.html

Why two?

We will, of course, never know why there were two forts so close to each other. Relatively good farming land with access to the sea on three sides would support a large population, and they could just be the headquarters of two rival clans. Alternatively, they may not both have been occupied at the same time; some people have suggested that Cahirgal was abandoned and the occupants moved to Leacanabuaile at some point.

For what it is worth, Cahirgal felt to me more like an amphitheatre with tiered seating round the side and a central 'stage', whilst Leacanabuaile felt more like a house. Was one a church, parliament, court or other place of entertainment, whilst the other was the palace or royal castle? Who knows?