|In the Footsteps of St. Finbarre (Part 184)A Sense of Place at Rooves|
|Written by Staff Reporter|
|Thursday, 01 October 2009|
Page 1 of 2
Continuing eastwards along the southern bank of Inniscarra Reservoir from Canovee, the road travels alongside the Kame River as it enters Inniscarra reservoir. Rooves bridge provides access across the reservoir to Coachford. Rooves Mór and Rooves Beg are two large townlands. Rooves, or Ruaidhtibh, can be translated as 'reddish spots of land'. Here I was intrigued to see so many archaeological features associated with past settlements in the area on the ordnance survey map.
The monuments all date from different centuries, with features such as Bronze Age cooking sites, or fulacht fia in abundance, as well as several ringforts, church ruins, old farm houses and holy wells. On my first visit I came across a very well-preserved and cared for well house on the roadside. I soon discovered from the nearby house that it was local farmer Finbarr Crowley who had such pride in the area. Finbarr has a passion for Irish and local archaeology and history. His passion is fuelled by the presence of a ringfort, stone row and holy well on his land.
On my tour of the local area with Finbarr he pointed out that his sites are among thousands in Ireland, but the sites on his land are as important as the rest in promoting local identity. He observes that the sites should be preserved for generations to come: "They have been here for a long time. We should be honoured to have them on our land. You can work around these monuments — you can incorporate the past and present successfully. We should mind what has been left behind."
Finbarr Crowley's ringfort stands 150 metres above sea level, is approximately 30 metres in diameter and provides panoramic views of the area. There are four other ringforts visible to the east, west and south. Ringforts are early Christian farmsteads and like modern farms are corralled spaces. Finbarr himself discovered a souterrain to the north of the fort. An exploration by UCC Archaeological Services revealed two chambers/passages, both one metre in height and containing a calf bone and the base of a furnace for smelting iron. The iron had some lime incorporated into it, which reduced the required temperature for the smelting process. The addition of lime to the process is a medieval technique. Finbarre's theory for the underground chamber is that it was a refuge in times of attack.
Finbarre's stone row is one of six pairs of stones extending in a semi-circle in the immediate area. These stones are all large, on average three metres in height. They are the nearest stone alignments to Cork city. Finbarr observed that because of the overall semi-circle shape occupied by the six pairs of stone rows, they must have had some sort of ritual function. There are also fulacht fia, or Bronze Age cooking sites in Finbarre's townland. Those sites for the most part have only been discovered when fields were ploughed up and burnt and broken up stones are revealed.
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