A team of archaeologists and volunteers from various parts of the world is currently undertaking research excavation of Rathnadrinna Fort near Cashel, which is the largest and most complex fort in Cashel. It’s also believed to be a possible inauguration site of the Kings of Cashel and Munster.
The excavation will attempt to discover the history of Rathnadrinna Fort (meaning Fort of the Blackberries, or Fort of the Contest).
The fort is located in Lalor’s-Lot townland, off the Cashel-Rosegreen road. Two geophysical surveys in 2009 and 2010 funded by the Heritage Council revealed many interesting features buried beneath the ground, and this dig will focus on the excavation of some of these features.
Local archaeologist, Richard O’ Brien, is the Site Director in charge of the international team of archaeologists and volunteers and the participants are from Brazil, the United States of America, Germany, England and from all over the island of Ireland, North and South. The excavation to run for eight weeks is funded through a grant from the Royal Irish Academy.
Pupils of Loughmore National School have participated in a logo competition for Rathnadrinna and School Principal, Ms Angela Dunne, said that the children came up with some very creative and artistic designs for consideration by the archaeologists.
She stated: ”When we arrived at Rathnadrinna we were led up to the fort by Richard O’Brien. There we met his archaeologist wife, Joanne, and their young son, Murt. We also met a number of volunteer archaeologists from all over the world, who were excited to take part in this research project. The children were briefed on the history of this site and its perceived significance to the High Kings of Munster many centuries ago. Being a ‘fairy fort’ the children were interested in whether or not they would be haunted after visiting it! They were reassured that this was a sacred place and that it was a good thing to investigate it in order to give a voice to our lost ancestors. We were allowed to participate in the live digging of certain parts of the site and then proceeded to clean and catalogue some of the items found so far, such as ancient pieces of bone, pottery, clay pipes, flint spear heads, etc. The process is slow and extremely meticulous but it is one the children participated in with much enthusiasm and reverence. This was the living classroom at its very best. We are much indebted to the crew at Rathnadrinna and our teacher, Ms Mary O’Brien, sister of Richard O ‘Brien, for enabling us to become involved in such a rare and interesting historical project. The archaeologists are working to a very tight deadline this summer and were very generous with their precious time to facilitate our involvement to such a degree”
Loughmore NS is located on the banks of the river Suir, in the picturesque village of Loughmore. It overlooks Loughmore Castle – which dates back to the 15th or 16th century, and was the seat of the Purcell family, who were Barons of Loughmoe. The Cormack Brothers tomb is situated on the Church grounds, directly across from the school. There are ancient church sites, mass rocks, Fr. Mackey’s Holy Well, several fairy forts, tales of Jeremiah Grant the highwayman, and countless local legends, songs and stories which the children accept proudly as their heritage. The teachers and parishioners of Lougmore engender a strong respect and love for history in the pupils of Loughmore NS and their appetite for the subject is notable. The school is largely indebted to Mgr. Maurice Dooley for the recovery and transmission of much of this history, and he is particularly au fait with the family trees of most of the parish also, which the children love to hear about.
Loughmore is a village steeped in culture and history and the History Curriculum in the school pays homage to this rich local heritage. The pupils are involved in regular history projects and relish the opportunity to witness historical projects up close. Most recently the pupils of Fifth and Sixth Classes travelled with their teacher, Ms. Angela Dunne (née Goldsboro) to her home village of Ballingarry to visit the Famine War-House, the site of the 1848 Young Irelanders’ Rebellion. They were delighted to learn that the Commons was the place where the Irish tri-colour was first flown in 1848, and were regaled with many tales and facts by the fascinating Johnny Webster, who is in charge of raising and lowering this flag at dawn and dusk each day, ever mindful and respectful of the stringent regulations and rules which govern this patriotic job.
With curiosity and enthusiasm the children of Loughmore NS set out last week for Rathnadrinna, having studied what is known of the history of Cashel and its Kings. An archaeological research excavation of Rathnadrinna Fort in Cashel began on Monday 11th June. The excavation will run for eight weeks”
Miss Mary O’ Brien (Deputy Principal of Loughmore NS) is a sister of the site director and arranged for the children of Loughmore NS, from 1st class up to sixth class to attend this dig in order to witness this first hand and to lend a hand also! Ms. Angela Dunne (Principal), and Ms. Niamh Gleeson (class-teacher) also attended with their pupils.
Ms Angela Dunne stated: ”We set out on Tuesday 19th of June from school at 9.30am. A brief stop along the way to Rathnadrinna was made at the Famine Graveyard outside Rosegreen. We were astounded by the thousand names engraved on a memorial wall here. The children examined these names in detail and were deeply saddened to see the amount of young babies and children that perished here during the famine. In some years noted, every day six or seven people died in the locality. It was truly sobering to visit this graveyard and say a prayer for our poor ancestors. One pupil, who had remarked that he was starving for his lunch in the bus on the way, reported after this visit that he didn’t know how lucky he was to have such a nice lunch to look forward to. This was met with nods of accord from all his peers.
The dig process is slow and extremely meticulous but it is one the children participated in with much enthusiasm and reverence. This was the living classroom at its very best. We are much indebted to the crew at Rathnadrinna and our teacher, Miss O’Brien, for enabling us to become involved in such a rare and interesting historical project. The archaeologists are working to a very tight deadline this summer and were very generous with their precious time to facilitate our involvement to such a degree. We will not forget our visit to the Fort of the Blackberries in a hurry!
Loughmore N.S. is a very happy, inclusive and successful centre of education located in Loughmore Village. The staff, parents and pupils work closely in a spirit of cooperation and positivity to ensure the highest standards of education are met in a holistic manner for all pupils from Loughmore parish itself and its hinterland. The pupils enjoy dynamic and engaging interaction with a packed curriculum and the school excels in catering also for the extra-curricular needs of its pupils, particularly in terms of sport, music, art, environmental issues and culture. This year the school has expanded its sporting facilities and new Afterschool Infant and Homework Clubs have also been established. The staff are friendly, approachable, creative, diligent, highly qualified and are hugely dedicated to delivering the highest standards of education in an inclusive and amiable environment. Trips such as the visit to Rathnadrinna are becoming more frequent as they strive to bring the curriculum to life in a meaningful way for pupils. Small class sizes are ideal for catering for the individual needs of each pupil and your child’s education will be facilitated in a progressive yet tranquil country setting, convenient for children from the wider locality. There are currently 84 pupils on role, with six teachers, four classroom teachers and two special education teachers. There are also two SNA’s, Secretary, Bridie and Caretaker on staff in Loughmore NS. The school is rooted in the community of Loughmore and many community members, and parents contribute in a very hands-on and pro-active way to the school life” Ms Angela Dunne stated: ”We welcome new pupils and enrolments for September 2012 are now being accepted. For further information please contact the school on (0504) 32225 to arrange an appointment and tour of the school and its excellent facilities.”
Photo shows Pupils and teachers of Loughmore National School pictured at the scene of the archaeological dig at Rathnadrinna Fort, near Cashel.Photo: Brid Ryan