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From ringfort to ring road: The destruction of Ireland’s fairy forts

Some of these ancient mounds date back to 3000 BC, but many are buried under motorways

Manchán Magan

As our faith in fairies has receded in recent years, the fate of Ireland’s 32,000 remaining fairy forts has become increasingly perilous. Many of these circular earth mounds are over 1,000 years old, the remains of stone or wooden forts which housed an extended family in early medieval times. Others are remnants of underground passage tombs dating back to around 3000 BC.

In 2010 the environmentalist and author Tony Lowes first wrote about farmers destroying the forts on their land in the name of modernity and progress. A man on the Dingle Peninsula levelled a large part of the 3,000-year-old Dún Mór fort while the government was in negotiations with him to purchase it, and a farmer near Mallow in Cork destroyed the half of an extensive ringfort that lay on his own land, then tore down the other half when his neighbour was at a family funeral. There was also the story of a Cork dairy farmer who demolished two ringforts on his land, and whose family had previously destroyed three others.

The title of Lowes’ article in Village magazine was The Men Who Eat Ringforts, in recognition of the fact that these farmers (and developers and engineers) are invariably male. The title has been adopted for a volume of book art, Men Who Eat Ringforts, published by the conceptual artists Sean Lynch and Michele Horrigan of Askeaton Contemporary Arts. It’s a large-format book designed by Daly+Lyon, with thought-provoking essays by Sinéad Mercier and Michael Holly exploring the determined desecration of our ancient past.

ryaner Posted by ryaner
14th March 2021ce

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