County Clare

I lived in County Clare for many years. One of my favourite places was walking through the Caher
Valley. I would park my car in the car park of St. Patricks Church Fanore. Then walk the seven miles
through the valley. I would pass through the Khyber Pass which is a more spectacular sight when
coming back. It got its name because local men joined the English army and brought the name back.
They were known as the men who took the Kings shilling.
Along the way I would cross a stone bridge where there is a piece of land between the road and the
river and opening to the river a horseshoe shaped mound, called a fulacht fiadh – a cooking place of
the Fianna, the legendary warriors of pre Christian Ireland. The mound is full of burnt stones and in
its hollow; excavation would show a hearth with a wooden trough between the road and the river.
Stones were heated in the hearth and dropped into the trough to boil the water which was
channelled from the river. Stones were heated in the hearth and dropped into the trough to boil the
water. Meat was wrapped in straw and boiled. It could also be roasted on the hearth.
You come to a house on the left and take the track by the house. Up the hill is a dense thicket hiding
a small crude building: a penal chapel, hidden as it always has been. A small bullaun and which could
be an altar stone survive. What stories this simple building could tell. We can only guess how often it
was used in the days of religious persecution during the 17th and 18th centuries. Higher up the hill is
Formoyle Cillini ( Killeen children’s burial ground). In those days un-baptised babies could not be
buried in Church graveyards. Nearby is the deserted village of Cahernabannagh. The women grew
flax which was taken on a donkey to the river. For four days it was washed on the stones and then
carded through nailed boards. Then the women would weave the yellow strands.
Back down the hill again continue to the ruin of Fermoyle Church at the start of a green road . This
church was in use until 1870. If you look up the hill on the left you will see Caheranardurish stone
fort. Tradition says it housed both a chapel and a shebeen – an illicit drinking place.
Eventually you come to Caherbullog House which has an inscription on the right gate pier which says
that land improvements – famine relief schemes were carried out in 1848.