Once upon a time it is said that two giants had a quarrel. One of them was on the Arigna mountain, and the other was on Slieve-an-Iern. They began to throw stones at each other, and the giant that was on Arigna Mountain threw a stone to Slieve an Iern. This stone is supposed to be fifty tons weight and the prints of this giant's fingers are still on this huge stone.
It is called Prevago Stone and one man can shake it at his ease but two hundred men would not lift it.
On the last Sunday of July, Garland Sunday, it is the custom of young people to go to the mountain to pick bilberries and often four youths go up and dance an Irish Reel on the Stone. It is said also that the Arigna Giant killed the other giant with this stone and that he is buried under it.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s. You can see a big rock on the aerial photo on the Historic Environment Viewer. I hope that's the rocking stone. I hope it still rocks.
This is indeed about a mile south of Manorhamilton. So I hope it is the place, the scene of a tough cock-fighting frog.
About one mile south of Manorhamilton is a bog called the Stone Pound. In it is a very large Giants grave. It is said that there are crocks of gold buried there and it belonged to the Giant. There is a frog minding it. One time a man brought a black cock and if he killed the frog he would get the gold. He brought the cock and set him fighting with the frog but the cock was not able to beat him. Another man brought a cock but the cock was unable to beat the frog. So the gold is said to be still there and the frog is still there minding it until the present day.
From the Schools Collection made in the 1930s for the National Folklore Collection, and currently being digitised on duchas.ie.
There are two fairy forts in the district. One of them is situated in the town land of Dromore and the other in Lisacarn. They are all in view of other. They are round in shape and with a fence of bushes around them and a big mound of earth. There is a large hole in the middle of the forth which is situated in Dromore. In the hole there are two large stones. It is said that there is a crock of gold underneath them. And it is also said that before the gold is got that there are three lives to be lost at it. It is said that there is a cat in the fort minding the crock of gold.
There is a story told about this fort. There was a man and he dreamed three nights after other that there was money in the fort and if he went and dug and it, he would get the money and he dreamed that there would be three lives lost at it, so he went to the fort and brought a dog with him. When he started to dig around the stones a little white bird came and lit on the stone beside him. After a while his dog died. Then he got afraid and ran home to his house.
It is said that the Danes built these forts to save themselves from the wild animals. In olden times fairies used to live in them. The owner of the land never interferes with the fort. Some people say that long ago there used to be lights seen at it and there used to be music and churning heard at night.
Forts are places where Fairies live. There is a lot of Forts in the surrounding district. There is one in Lisacarn, Dromore, and Kilthyhugh. They are all in view of each other.
I know a man who got a walk out of the one in Kilthyhugh. One night he was late coming out of town. It was 12 pm when he came into the house. He got a bag and went over to a neighbour's house for turf. He went over safely and the man of the house gave him the turf. The man told him to mind the Fort and not walk into it. The man did not know the place very well because he was only a new comer to the place and his house was in front of the fort. The man put the bag of turf on his back. After leaving the man he walked headlong into the fort. He was thrown out of the fort again and the Fairies walked him through the fields and every ditch he came to both him and the bag of turf were thrown across. When he had come through a number of fields, he came to a very wide river and he was thrown across that too. He never found till he was in Oughteraugh. Then he was turned there again and he was put back through the fields again and he was just passing it again when his wife came to the door and said "is that you Martin". Only for she came to the door would [he] be put back into the fort again. When he went into the house he was all bleeding and his clothes all torn and he was not able to get up for five days after.
On the farm of Mrs Creamer, Druminalass, stands an old fort which is of a round shape. It is about four feet higher than the land around it. It is enclosed by a thick clay ditch in which stout trees are growing. I was told by John Mc Weeny, aged 80, that an old man named Hugh Loughlin of Lurgandill went to the fort one time to cut fire-wood. He climbed up one of the trees to cut some of the branches with a hatchet. When he had a few branches cut his hatchet dropped to the ground. He looked down wondering how he would get it. To his surprise he heard a voice say "Here is your hatchet". Then the hatchet was handed up to him. He looked but could see no person. This man got so frightened that he never again went to the fort to cut wood.
In the townland next to us which is called Gortnatresk, two men were making a mearing fence between their two farms. The fence had to be up a steep hill. The men worked very hard and were glad to see their work completed one day by quitting time, but next morning to their great surprise their fence had been levelled down just about 100 yards from the top of the hill in length. They started to work again and made up their fence and on the following morning the same thing happened. The third time they set out to work again and finished their mearing, and they were astonished to see their work useless and going to the place they looked all round them and just remarked a little ditch in the spot just in a circle with bushes all round. Inside the grass was very green. The men said to each other, there must be something in this spot. We will just make the fence round it and leave this in one man's farm. This they did and there it remains for anyone to see it. It is believed to be a fairy palace and people of the District say that when passing the road late at night which is about a quarter of a mile from the road they often hear great music and see the fairies dressed in white dancing and enjoying themselves.
There is a fairy forth in the town-land of Derryhallow. It is about a mile from the town of Drumshanbo and a half mile from the school. The name of the forth is Cruckawn. It is situated a long the side of the road leading to Slieve An Iarainn mountain. The forth is on a high mound over grown by white thorn bushes and it is surrounded by a low grassy ditch. Many stories are told in connection with this forth but I only heard a few of them.
There was once a man who was fencing and he cut a bush in the forth and put it in a gap. On his way home he felt his eye getting very sore. When he arrived home his eye was still worse. Doctors were attending him for some time but they could not give him any cure. Finally he went to the priest the priest looked in his eye but he could not see anything in it. Thenhe asked him did he do any work that would harm his eye. The man said he cut a bush in the forth and put it in a gap. The priest told him to go at once to the forth and put the bush where he got it. The man did so and on his way home he took the patch off his eye and it was as good as it had ever beed before. Another story is told about this forth.
Once a man was taking a bag of turf from beside the forth. When he was ready to go home with the turf a voice cried out to him "Leave down them turf. The man looked a round him but he could not see anyone. Then he proceeded on his way, but to his surprise the bag of turf was taken off his back. He told the story when he went home. Next morning his brother went to the forth for the turf but to his surprise he found the bag emptied on the top of a ditch.
There is a story told about Mr Booth the owner of the land surrounding the forth. One evening he went for his eight cows to bring them home to be milked but he only could get seven cows. He searched the land untill night fall but could not find her and then he went home. Next morning he came down the land to look for the cow again. He was attracted by great singing in the forth and he went in to it, and there stood the cow chewing her cud. He brought her home to milk her. The wife began to milk her but she had not a drop.
From the Schools Collection, made by the National Folklore Collection in the 1930s and currently being digitised at duchas.ie.
On the farm of Thomas Boothe Derryhallow a fort stood. This man was one harvest day preparing hay for tramping very close to a fort. When ready to make into rooks there came a blast of wind and lifted the hay up into the air and carried it away to another fort.
When out spoke Boothe into the fort, "Come my fairy Queen" and bring back my hay. After a couple of hours manouvering in the air the hay was lift back in its original position.
I think there's at least one more pair of souterrain+fort in Meenymore other than this one, so the folklore could refer to any of them. But I have added this one as it remains unplanted amongst the coniferous wood and might be more accessible.
There is an old fairy fort in the townland of Slievenard. There are lights seen at it often. One night people were coming home from a bottle drink in Pat McPartlins and they saw three little fairies outside of it dancing and singing for all they were worth. They were dressed in different colours. The people went down to see would they catch them but when they went to the place they were gone.
Another day two men went to cut bushes in it for fire wood but when they were cutting the bushes they heard several little voices saying leave them alone or ye will die and they left them alone and no one went near them since.
From an entry in the 1930s Schools Collection, which was made by the National Folklore Collection in the 1930s.
In the townland of Killameen between Miss Mary Ann O'Rourke's house and Mr Charles O'Rourke's house is situated a fairy fort. Many people saw those fairies there, but one particular person, Kate Smyth of Killameen, Carrigallen, was accompanied by them almost everywhere she went.
She said that after six o'clock every evening, she could hear the music of them everywhere around her. If she happened to be out late at night she was escorted home by a band of fairies who talked to her and questioned her.
She often claimed to have heard music and dance in her barn after six o'clock every evening but never before six.
People passing by this fort at night often heard the music, and often stood to listen to it.
From The School's Collection of the National Folklore Collection of Ireland. This story was written down by a schoolgirl from Gortachoosh in the 1930s.
My plan for the day in Fenagh had included a visit to the court tomb in the neighbouring parish of Commons, as many of the standing stones and sundry other pre-christian monuments in the vicinity, and, of course, Fenagh Beg portal tomb and its attendant passage tombs and cairn. So far I'd been put off coming here by a combination of a local lass and Ken's fieldnotes about the bull. It had lashed hail at the court tomb and I'd been attacked by hungry sheep, and the cluster of standing stones north-east of the village had proved utterly elusive. The best laid plans of mice and men…
I had earlier gone up the lane above and to the east of the tomb and had spied it across what now is a lake but is a stream on the maps. The field looked empty, but the very cool response that the local had given to my enthusiastic plan to jaunt across the private land had left me doubting the wisdom of such a venture. My companion and his dog had accompanied me on the fruitless leg of the standing stone search and now we were back in the centre of the village, not 300 metres due south of the tomb. So what to do?
My ventures out in the field have been drastically curtailed by the recession and the perpetual "f*** you, pay me" of my mortgage provider. So I'd killed two birds with one stone – visited my mate in Cavan town, and plotted an attack on Fenagh and its rich megalithic heritage. And here I was, on the verge of bottling the ultimate goal of my trip. Well, bollocks to that, as they say nearly everywhere. I spied a quick route over a farm gate, across an empty field where the remains of the first passage grave are – then it would be over another fence and across the field with the portal. I've done this type of manoeuver so often but never have I been cheered on by a friend and his dog. I said I'd be about 20 minutes and that I'd meet him back in the village and off I set.
I headed straight for the mound with the small chamber at its top. Because of the rush I was in I didn't give this much time. The small chamber is box-like, resembling a small kist. It's about a metre square and sits oddly at the top of the mound and gradually becomes visible as you cross the field from the south. Behind the mound is a fence/hedge and this cuts across the monument. Almost immediately over this is the second passage grave, a strange rectangular structure with a couple of stones from a chamber and some kerbstones on its north side. The odd thing about this is that it's all raised about a metre above the field level, including the kerb. It was excavated in 1928 and "Cremated bone, six bone pendants, the head of a bone pin, and one quartz and two chalk balls were recovered." Again, moving fast I didn't give this much time either.
And then on to the main event: the ivy is really taking over here. The capstone rests precariously on one portal (the other portal, like the capstone itself, having been broken), the backstone and the eastern sidestone. The broken piece of the roofstone is a couple of tons in itself and the complete tomb itself would have been quite a construction. What really gives this place its character though is the mad bush that has parasitically given the tomb a full head of hair. However, from what I could see on my brief visit, this is not as charming as it used to be and some of the ivy trunk/branches are really strangling the stone. As the plant increases in size and bulk I fear it's in real danger of pulling the already damaged and quite precariously balanced capstone down. All of the stone are of the same conglomerate that you find in Sligo and Leitrim and it's really rather brittle and erosion-prone.
Having said all that, this is really a fantastic place. There's an air of ancientness about the place with that really rugged, damp, loaminess to the surrounds. The view immediately north to the beginnings of Lough Reane is gorgeous. The people of the vicinity are aware of what they have on their doorstep but haven't come up with a way to make the most of it yet, what with the tensions between private property and public monuments and the disgraceful lack of a public right to roam movement in Ireland.
I left here way too soon and took a few shots of the very small cairn in the corner of the field. A fascinating and undervalued place that maybe I won't see again.