There is a field near my home on Mrs Joe McGlelland's farm in Duffcastle, a large stone standing on four smaller ones. It is supposed to be an ancient druid's altar. It has been told that long ago two men dug under these stones and unearthed one of the smaller pillars in search of gold. When they went back to their home they found that the healthy baby they had left in the cradle was now a sickly child. It seemed to have changed in appearance too. It was said that they had done wrong and the change in the child was their punishment. This child lived for years but never grew any bigger.
In Mr John Magovern's field just at Duffcastle crossroads there is a long stone standing upright.
There are five marks on it supposed to represent the fingermarks of some ancient warrior.
There are some strokes and dots on the bottom of the stone. It is supposed that this is Ogham writing.
There are many forts near my home but there is not much known about them.
Recounted by James Tweedle for the Schools' Collection of Irish folklore in the 1930s. Digitised at Duchas.ie.
I mind seeing the finest crop of potatoes in the parish growing in that field beside Bough Fort. One day, six of us started to dig the potatoes. We had a good lot dug at dinner-time, more than they'd dig now.
We went over to the ditch to eat our dinners when, all of a sudden, what did we see but six women, wearing cloaks and hoods, coming out of the fort. They came, and started picking the potatoes into their aprons.
I can tell you we were well frightened, because something told us they were the daoine maithe you know. We let them alone, and they stayed picking for about ten minutes or so. They never looked towards us, but when they were finished, back with them again, and out of our sight.
We were too frightened to move for a bit, but when we went back to our work what did we find, that there was not a single potato missing. It is said, that it is not right to touch a stick or a stone in these old forts.
According to the information via the Historic Environment Viewer, the rath "is enclosed by a substantial earthen bank and a wide, shallow, partly waterlogged fosse" - I guess the ditch of the story. The "daoine maithe" are the Good People, the fairies.
I was browsing the National Monuments Database at http://webgis.archaeology.ie/NationalMonuments/FlexViewer/ recently and zoomed in on Burren in north-west Cavan. There looked to be a lot more sites marked there than when I'd last visited. In fact, there are 16 separate entries for rock art alone, each with a description. Someone has been busy!
I've a friend living in Cavan town, so a two birds with one stone murder seemed like a plan. It's still a fair old hike to Burren from his nest though, almost the full length of the county, but it is beautiful country. Cuilcagh mountain needs to be circumvented, south on fairly uneven roads, or north, through Fermanagh and back into Cavan at Blacklion. We took the southern route.
The source of the Shannon, the Shannon Pot, is nearby but we kept going as we were late and I wanted to see as much as I could. The Burren archaeological trail is still under construction and there is work ongoing in the forest, including the felling of trees. The first signed site is the portal tomb in the trees on the right.
Next is a piece of rock art – this I hadn't seen before on my two previous trips. It's a split boulder with faint cupmarks, some which seem to be in a rosette formation.
From there we moved on to the signed "Unclassified megalithic tomb". One large capstone-like flag has collapsed over a supposed chamber. Three very worked, almost squares profiled stones lie around it, two in a position that could lead you to believe that this is a simple wedge tomb of the Burren, Co. Clare type.
Further on up the track we came to the Calf House portal tomb. The capstone of this has to be in the top ten of Irish dolmen capstones. Its huge weight has caused the structure to partially collapse and the whole thing is kept semi-erect by modern walling. Both portal stones are now free-standing and impressive megaliths in themselves.
Moving swiftly on we headed over to the Giant's Leap wedge tomb, east of the portal, down a small gully and up the other side to a flat-topped ridge. This is the show tomb in Burren, and that's saying something given what else is on offer. As part of the ongoing works, the trees that enclosed this have mostly been felled and the views opened up. Lough Macnean can be spied to the north. The wedge tomb itself can be seen for a good distance from the west. This has to be one of the best examples of this class of tomb in Ireland, still having much of its structure and all of its roofstones. The nearest comparison I can give is with Moylisha in Wicklow.
With very little time and daylight left we headed back over the valley to the boulder burial and its attendant rock art. There are at least 5 marked stones here, two of which I found and photographed. One is a double, conjoined cup and ring motif, the other a simple cup and ring mark.
There's much more about to be discovered but alas we hadn't the time. You could pass a very busy full day here in Burren, Co. Cavan and probably still not have completed all there is to see. A great place and highly recommended.