About three miles from Charlestown on the road to Carracastle there is a fort from which an underground passage leads to the neighbouring village. It is believed that the Danes, when invading the nearby districts, built the cave in order that they might have some place to live in and keep their booty in safety. The entrance to the cave is very narrow admitting only one person to enter at a time. This plan was followed to save the occupants from attacks made by the Irish.
One day, however, some people thought of a plan to rid themselves of their enemies. Lighting several sheaves of straw and putting them at one end, they rushed to the other side of the cave and waited. The smoke from the straw went through the rooms and almost suffocated the Danes who thought it better to go out by the other side and stay outside for some time.
Being able to move very quickly, the Irish arrived at the other end before the Danes who could come out only one at a time. One by one they fell under the swords of the Irishmen. But the gold which they had taken was never found as it was hidden in some place where it could not be seen.
Forts are very common in my district. Some of the forts are called Liss, but they are mostly called forts. The forts in my district are in a line one after another. The fences that are around them are made of earth and stones. There is a fort about three miles from my district in which there is an opening in to an underground tunnel. The place where the fort is is called [?]. The end of the tunnel is another fort about a mile from it. The place is called Gurteen.
About two hundred years ago a man went through the tunnel. It is believed that there are beautiful houses and roads in the tunnel. No one ever went down there since because the man died a few days after. It is believed by the old people that the fairies are living in them. Some others believe that they are the fallen angels. When God cast them out of Heaven the Archangel Michael said "Let them be as they are" and they stayed in the forts. Others believe that they are the Tuatha De Danans.
There was a man one time and he had a rye-grass field in which there was a fort. He went and picked all the stones and put them into the fort. On the next night there was a lot of roaring and crying. The man got very much afraid and the next day he took out every stone that was in the fort. On that night the people of the village was out listening to the beautiful music they (fairies) were playing. When the harvest came the man was out stooking oats. It was about dusk and the fairies came out with candles to show him light. The man got afraid and ran away, but when he got up in the morning all the oats was stooked.
The people of this district are very slow to interfere with a fort in such a way as rooting or cutting bushes.
There is a fort in Knoxes field Rathfran. It is said that if you go out after twelve o'clock at night and pass that fort you will hear dogs barking and children crying. That field is called the fort field.
There are a lot of Stones in this village. There are some in John Langans field. Breastagh. There is one big stone in the field. It is said that it is a tomb stone over a grave.
People come there every year from far away. Some people that come there cry. That that stone marks the grave of "Gabra son of Awley" It is written on the side of the stone in Ogham. It is said that there is as much of the stone under the ground as there is over it. Because the earth is growing every year. There are other stones in that field besides that one. Some people said that the Pagans used them for altars long ago. Other people say that they are tomb stones.
There are a few old stones around this place. They are standing up straight. They are long. One of the stones is in Tommy Gilmartins field. There is another stone in Currower. It is in Martin Mullen's land. There is another one in Carracrum. It is in John Crean's land.
There is writing on the one in Martin Mullen's field. Nobody around here can read it. It is a kind of writing that was in it long ago. It is called "Ogham". People say that there is music in it. It rattles when it is struck.
The stone that is in Tommy Gilmartin's field is ten feet long, two feet wide and one foot ten inches thick. I wasn't at the other two at all. There is another one in Carralavin. The old people have a name for those old stones. They call them "spílés".
You would think that these old stones come from Foxford and go down towards Sligo. People say that there were giants long ago who were building a big castle for the king. Before they landed at the place they heard the king was dead. They dropped the stones down at the spot they were at and they are standing there since.
Others say that these stones were set up as pagan gods. The pagans used to adore them.
There is another stone in Johnny Igoe's field. It is not very big. About six feet away from it there is another small one. They say that there was a giant buried there.
These old stones are not in the best land. The stone that is in Tommy Gilmartin's field is in the worst of his land. The others are in bad land too.
I'm guessing this is the stone on Tommy Gilmartin's land, as it's near an ogham stone. I love that people say the Ogham has music in it. And that a tentative connection is made between the stones and poor land (though I'd imagine that's actually because poor land is less likely to get ploughed up). Stories from the 1930s School Collection, now being digitised at duchas.ie.
I know, I know, "sacred well" and all that disputed antiquity business. But let me have this one, it comes with its own stone. I can't see the stone on the map, but surely it's still there? Imagine how much fun it would be if they were cupmarks. There's an ogham stone in the neighbouring graveyard. But from the description it can't be that.
There is a stone lying down flat in Kilgarvin. It is opposite St Brians Well. There are marks on this stone. They are supposed to be the tracks of the hands and feet of St Brian.
The stone is four feet long and two and a half feet wide. It is about fifteen yards from the nearest point of the graveyard. It is ten yards from the well.
There is a big standing stone in a field owned by Martin Moran of Caralavin. There is no writing on it.
There is another stone in a field now owned by Thomas Gilmartin of Carracrum. It is sloped a little to one side. This is the stone that gave Carracrum its name.
There are two standing stones like those I have already mention in Cara. Some years ago one of them fell but the people decided to put it up again. It took thirty men to put it up.
Another stone stands in a field owned by Patrick McAndrew of Caracrum. There is no writing on any of these stones.
There is ogham writing on a stone in Carower however. Once some people started digging under this stone for gold. They were not long digging when they saw that the stone was about to fall. When they saw this they ran away.
There are some small stones in a field owned by Thomas Judge of Carrowreagh.
All those stones were supposed to be brought by giants once to build a castle for a king. As they were coming they heard that the king was dead. They then dropped the stones. This accounts for the number of stones in this district.
There are three raths in Brownhall - maybe this is the one discussed, maybe it isn't (but it looks quite visible on the aerial photo so will be there if you visit it). Perhaps they're all connected up anyway...
There are several forts in the District. There is one in Brownhall, one in Rathduff and one in Loona. They are sometimes called dúns. There is a distance of about two miles between each fort.
In the Brownhall fort the ground is raised about twenty feet, the sides of it are very straight and hard to climb. It is circular on the top and surrounded by two rows of trees. In the centre is a square opening at the head of which is a small tree.
A few years ago a cow got lost, the people searched around without success. She was found dead in the fort. This roused their interest and a man went down in it. About a mile down the passage it is slightly blocked. There is a fort in Prizon and another in Brize. They are connected with Brownhall.
In years gone by there was a Danish fortress about a mile and a half from Brownhall. The Brownhall fort was used as an escape from the fortress when it was attacked by the Irish. They were also used for sending secret messages and for hiding in. I was down in it myself and the workmanship is perfect. About every five yards down the passage, there is a hole in the roof to let light and air in. There are three rooms in it with a small opening into each one.
There is a legend saying that "a Dane who rode a white horse is supposed to have hidden there, but, he was caught and killed. After his death he was supposed to ride around the fort every night.
Music is supposed to be heard in it on Danish feasts. Lights are supposed to be seen there but it was afterwards proved that it was the glow-worm.
The grounds around the Rathduff fort are about thirty feet high and the floor is very wide. It is fixed with grass sods and it is circular in shape. There are big trees growing around it. There is an entrance in the middle with three steps on the brink.
The fairy people are supposed to have lived in them. A great many people have seen lights in them and wild cats also. The owners of the land never touched the forts when ploughing or sowing crops.
After the de Dannans were beaten at the battle of Moytura, they went into the caves and the forts and the mountains. These people are supposed to be the fairies who lived under the grounds.
The Loona fort is similar to the Brownhall fort.
There is a fort in the townland of Lisnolan. It is surrounded by a high bank. In the middle of the fort there is a small white-thorn bush growing and no haws ever grow on it. People say it is not a safe place to be passing at night.
One night two men were coming home from a wake and they saw a light in the fort and a lot of people walking about inside. One time the cows used to be milked in the field where this fort is. Every morning when the owner went out he used to find that the cows would give no milk. So one night himself and a few neighbours decided to watch. At three o'clock in the morning they saw a hare coming and sucking the cows. They set hounds on her but they could not catch her.
There was an old man in the village and he told them that if they got a black hound they could catch her. This was done and again they watched. When the hare came they set the hound on her and he caught her by the tail and bit it off. When the man came he found a old woman sitting under the bush and her crying. They asked her why she was crying and she said she was afraid of his hound and then she disappeared through the bushes. Ever afterwards the cows gave the usual supply of milk.
From the Schools Collection made in the 1930s, and currently being digitised at duchas.ie.