Cahergal Stone Fort, Kerry, Ireland

Cahergal Stone Fort is a 7th century cashel which stands close to a similar fort named Leacanabuaile near Cahersiveen in Co. Kerry. The named Cahergal is derived from ‘an Chathair Gheal’ (the Bright Stone Fort). Its an impressive dry-walled stone structure with seven staircases ascending its inner walls, similiar to the ones at Staigue Fort and Grianan na Aileach. The intereior of the fort is 27 metres in diameter with walls reaching 4 metres in height and 5 metres in thickness. Within the interior of the fort is the base of a circular beehive-hut type structure about 7 metres in diameter.

Cahergal features in a traditional tale recounted by Sigerson Clifford in 1972 titled ‘The Fairy Footballers of Cahergal’, in this story it tells of how the fairy football team from Cahergal lost a player and recruit a mortal named Coneen Dannihy to play for their side in a game against the fairies of Staigue Fort. The recruitment of humans to aid the fairies in their games is a common trait within Irish folklore history and is repeated in many other places around the country. The following is a excerpt from the story,

‘His mother, who was the champion knitter of the seven parishes, opened her eyes wide in wonder as she fingered (the jersey given by the fairies to Coneen). “Indeed,” she said, “the likes of it was never fashioned by anyone in this mortal world.” And she looked at Coneen with a troubled eye for he was her only offspring, and rubbing shoulders with the Good People of Cahergal was something no wise man did lightly. (Coneen’s mother insured that he was late for the next match which caused the consternation of the fairies). In the end he disappeared, and the following year he was found wandering and wild in ‘Gleann na Galt’, the ‘Glen of the Madmen, in the Dingle Peninsula, where the people with queer minds go searching for the secret herbs that have the cure for madness in them. He was locked up then in the mind-hospital and once they put the poor man behind bars he lasted no length, and within a month he was undeer the earth, safe from peelers, landlords and fairies for all time’.

Another fairy story recorded in 1912 mentions a cow that was kept in a pasture by the fort, the farmer believed the cow’s milk was being stolen each night and had some friends spy on her, “one moonlit night, when to their amazement they saw it was milked by a fairy hare”, in Irish folklore fairies often are thought to shapeshift and turn into a hare.

GPS: 51.95597, -10.25763

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