This section deals mainly with the built environment of Calry and covers, antiquities, archaeological and historical sites, listed buildings, public buildings such as churches, meeting places, hostelries and shops.
Pre-history archaeology and antiquities (including Deerpark site)
The website www.discoversligo.com gives a concise summary of Sligo’s pre-historic archaeology:
The earliest signs of human settlement in County Sligo date to the Mesolithic period (Middle Stone Age – c.7000-4000 BC). The presence of these early hunter-gatherer communities who exploited the rivers, lakes, marine and other natural resources around them is indicated by archaeological finds from Lough Gara near Monasteraden, and from investigations at Carrowmore.
There is much evidence of Neolithic (Late Stone Age – c.4000-2500 BC) activity in County Sligo due to the extremely high number of megalithic monuments. The area of County Sligo is only 2.5% of the total area of Ireland, yet c.220 megalithic monuments are found here – 15% of Ireland’s total number (c.1450). Different types of megalithic monuments can be encountered in the county and according to their construction, and to a certain extent to the finds made, these monuments have been categorised into four main types: court tomb, portal tomb, passage tombs and wedge tombs. Towards the end of the Neolithic period henge monuments or earthen embanked enclosures were constructed for ritual and ceremonial purposes and continued into the succeeding Bronze Age (c2300- 700BC).
Court tombs is characterised by a trapezoidal ground plan ending in an open U-shaped court or gallery which was thought to be used for ceremonial purposes and which leads to between 2 and 4 chambers. Irish Court tombs point in various directions but not NW-S. Generally considered to be the earliest type of tomb. These are only known from the northern half of Ireland where there are 390 of them, and the western Scotland. These are particularly common in the Sligo region there being 70-80 so far recorded with famous examples being Creevykeel, Deerpark and Moytirra.
The website http://www.thejournal.ie/deerpark-st-audeons-neil-jackman-1679028-Sep2014/ also describes the richness of Sligo’s pre-historic legacy:
Sligo has an incredible landscape of prehistoric monuments, and it is one of the best places to encounter evidence of our Neolithic past. Set high in the hills with expansive views over Lough Colgagh and the surrounding landscape you can discover an ancient court tomb at Deerpark (also known as Magheranrush).
Court tombs are thought to be the earliest type of megalithic tomb to have been built in Ireland. As their name implies, they usually feature a large courtyard area that was usually in front of a covered gallery that contained the human remains, often in two or more chambers.
The galleries or chambers were usually covered with a large cairn of small stones – though often, as with this example at Deerpark, the cairn has long since been removed. Deerpark is also very unusual amongst Irish court tombs, as the court is in the centre of the monument, rather than being positioned at the front.
It is thought that the open court was where ceremonies were conducted. With the passage of over 5,000 years, we can only speculate at the type of rituals that accompanied burials in sites like this one. Generally speaking, cremation was the dominant burial practice of the Irish Neolithic, though unburned remains have been discovered at other court tombs around the country.
Quite often the burials would be accompanied by pottery vessels, and stone tools like polished stone axeheads, flint arrowheads, scrapers or blades. In some cases the artefacts have been found to have been burned, perhaps suggesting that these were prized possessions of the deceased, and that they were also placed on the funeral pyre.
Deerpark Court Tomb
This large and imposing monument is considered by many to be the finest example of a central court tomb in Ireland. It occupies a magnificent position on top of a limestone ridge overlooking Lough Gill and is surrounded by a panorama of mountain scenery. However, a forest plantation has obscured the views.
It is built with rough, fissured limestone slabs, few of which exceed lm in height. It consists of an oval shaped court, 15m in length, with a pair of twin galleries at the east end and a single gallery opposite these at the west end, which give a total length of 30m. An entrance passage links the court to the edge of the remaining kerb stones and is located on the south side of the monument. Each gallery is divided by jambs into two chambers. Large lintel stones spanned the entrances to the three galleries but two of these fell in the 1920s and lie next to the entrances they once covered. The existing lintel is split in two and in danger of falling. Exploratory excavations took place in the 19th century and these uncovered human and animal bones, mainly those of deer.
On the other side of the forest wall and 600m south of the central court tomb is a wedge tomb in poor condition but a considerable structure remains (G7517/33630). Northeast of this is a good example of a stone fort or cashel. It consists of walled enclosure with an interior diameter of 23m and an impressive entrance on the south side. The walls of the cashel were robbed of stone in the past to build the walls of the Deerpark. In the centre of the site are the remains of a souterrain dug down 1m into bedrock.
In Ireland, over 40,000 sites have been identified as ringforts and it is thought that at least 50,000 ringforts existed on the island. They are common throughout the country, with a mean density of just over one ring fort within any area of 2 km². It is likely that many have been destroyed by farming and urbanisation. Different theories exist on the age and purpose of ringforts. Traditional folklore suggests that they were ancient burial places and therefore should not be disturbed.
Our current understanding of these structures is that they date to the Early Medieval Period, with a peak in construction between AD 600 and AD 900. They represent the enclosed homesteads (farmhouses if you like) of the upper echelons of Irish Early Medieval society. While the term ‘ringfort’ dominates, other terms are also used such as rath, lios, caiseal and dun – rath and lios are normally used to describe monuments with earthen banks while caiseal (cashel) and dun are more generally used in relation to sites with stone-built enclosures. These names are often fossilised in placenames throughout Ireland today, for example Rathmines in Co. Dublin (the Fort of Maonas) and Lisburn in Co. Antrim (the Fort of the gamblers). The decision on whether they were constructed of earth or stone was often influenced by the local landscape and the most readily available material.
More information is available on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ringfort
Calry has its ample share of ring forts. They are cleared marked in the first Ordnance Survey of Ireland maps published from the survey carried out during the period 1829-1842.
Old churches and burial sites
The following is extracted from Extract from “The Diocese of Elphin: People, Places and Pilgrimage” :
At Deerpark stand the remains of a court tomb, one of the best examples of its type in the country, dating from about 2000 BC. A religious site is reputed to have been sited on the same hill, a nunnery called Enach Ard, founded by the female saints, Osnat, Muadhnata and Talulla, all sisters of St Molaise of Inishmurray. In later years their successors moved the foundation downhill to Clogher, at a place called Teampall a Chlochaire, on the shores of Lough Colga, in the modern burial ground of Cloghermore. St Connell’s Well lies on the lakeshore in the townland of Clogher Beg.
An annual pilgrimage to a Mass Rock site, on the side of Edenbaun Mountain, has been revived in recent years. Among the names of Elphin diocesan priests listed during the penal days by Edmund Teige, vicar general of Clonmacnoise in 1668, were: Malachy Conry, Prebendary of Calry and Drumcliffe and Roger Harte, Perpetual Vicar of Ahamlish and Calry. By 1704 Calry parish was united with Sligo (St John’s) parish, under Fr Denis Kerrigan as parish priest. He was ordained in 1685 by Bishop Dominic Burke of Elphin at Caltra in county Galway. In March 1744, at an enquiry at Sligo, Gilbert King, High Sherriff, recorded that “Thomas Brennan, Frier at Cloghermore in the union of Sligoe did exercise Popish ecclesiastical jurisdiction in this county.’ It is possible that this friar was attending the old church which stood at Churchfield or Chapelfield, to the right of the road leading down to Clogher cemetery. This church, possibly a Mass House, was probably in use up until the building of St. Patrick’s Church, Calry in the very early nineteenth century. St Patrick’s was renovated in the 1940s, and again in the 1990s. The sanctuary has been beautifully re-designed, with the installation of a reredos to incorporate the tabernacle, and which forms a fitting backdrop to the altar.
Clogher seems to have been used as a burial ground for several centuries
and the ruins of an old church are still there in the cemetery. The cemetery also has a number of yew trees. The practice of growing yew trees in cemeteries dates back to Henry VIII, who issued a decree to the effect that yew trees were to be planted in all cemeteries in England and Ireland.
At that time yew was used for archers’ bows and a plentiful supply was needed at all times to support English armies in various conflicts. However, the yews were being cut down for firewood and other purposes by the general populace leading to a shortage of yew to make bows. As no God-fearing person would dare cut down a tree in a cemetery, it was ordered that yews be grown in cemeteries to maintain an adequate supply, and to be cut by the army as and when needed.
O’Rorke describes the run-down state of Clogher graveyard circa late1890s as follows:
At the base of the hill is the site of the old religious establishment of Clogher, now and from time immemorial, used as a burying place. The graveyard being neatly walled, and lined in part with trees, looks well from a distance, but a near view shows the interior overrun with weeds, which cover and conceal the tombs, and give the place a neglected and disordered look. Some remains of an oblong building that ran from east to west, and measured 52 feet long and 21 wide, interior measurement, are still in their place, though the eastern gable and south side wall are levelled to the ground, while only about 12 feet high of the west gable and north sidewall continue standing.
Michael A Hargadon immortalized the graveyard in his poem entitled The Country Churchyard
“By Colgagh lake there is a shady spot,
A rood or so, a little walled-in lot;
All folk are sad to enter that abode;
Yet there, the weary leave aside their load;”
An extension to Clogher cemetery was opened in 2003 and the land was kindly donated by relatives of the late Tom Fox of Kiltycahill.
St Connell’s Well (The Wishing Well)
Wishing wells and holy wells are common throughout Ireland and many are associated with saints. These wells are known for the pristine quality of their water and many of them are places of pilgrimage such as Tobernalt in Cleveragh, Sligo.
St Connell’s Well – the “Wishing Well” lies on the lakeshore in Clogher Beg townland. It is referenced by O’Rorke as follows:
“.. the secluded wells of Tubberconnell, and of Tubbernailt, with their rude altars.. “
St Connell’s Island in Lough Gill is visible from the well and is a very small island, presumably associated with or occupied by the saint at some point in time.
St Patrick’s Church, Colgagh
St Patrick’s Church (RC) is located in the townland of Colgagh exactly three miles from Sligo town. It was built in the early nineteenth century, renovated in the 1940s, and again in the 1990s.