Cahir Ui Chruadhlaoich
CAHIR Ui CHRUADHLAOICH
Diurmuid O’Murchadha (Families Names of County Cork) points out that two townlands indicate early seats of the O’Crowleys in the 13th century; CahirUiChruadhlaoich (now CaherICrowley or Caher) in the parish of Kinneigh, North of the Bandon river and on the east side of its tributary the Blackwater, and directly south across the Bandon river CurraghUiChruadhlaoich (now CurraghCrowley) in the parish of Ballymoney. It is striking to note that on the highest hill of the townland Cahir Ui Chruadhlaoich lies a ring fort, which evidently gave the name to the townland; “The Fort of O’Crowley”. The Cork Archeological Inventory describes the fort;” In pasture, atop rise. Circular, slightly raised area (37m N-S; 37.5m E-W) enclosed by earthen bank (H 1.9m); external fosse (D 0.6m) E->WSW. Entrance to E (Wth 3m) revetted on N side by two slabs; either side of causeway defined by two recumbant slabs. Large boulders dumped in S half of interior; souterrain (CO108-01502-) in interior.”. Associated with this fort is a set of smaller forts on the lower ridge of the hill, including Knoppogue fort. The network of these forts represents a typical Gaelic tenure system with the Chief fort in the highest location with farmstead families in the lower locations.
The denomination “Caher” indicates that this fort was the residence of the chief (other ring fort denominations include rath, lios, cashel).
North of CahirUiChruadhlaoich lies “O’Crowley’s Bed” (County Cork Archeological Survey) classified as a souterrain. “O’Crowley’s Bed” is located in the townland of Conna, whose original name was “Connaghta” which may refer to the “lands of the Connacht men”, a possible reference to the O’Crowleys Connacht origins. O’Crowley ‘s Bed, marked by slab stones may have been the proclamation place of the O’Crowley clan chiefs or a burial place. In most likely more ancient than the O’Crowley establishment and reused from previous landowners, O’Mahoney and O’Coghlan clans.
Per Diurmuid O’Murchadha we may reasonably assume that these lands were the first residences of the O’Crowleys upon their coming to Kilshallow, which is prior to the great castle building times of the Irish in the 15th and 16th centuries. As Professor Elizabeth Fitzpatrick has indeed demonstrated within these forts, houses made of timber, wattle and clay existed offering very comfortable dwellings. Some of these forts were used through the 17th century.
By Michael-Patrick Crowley