Derrygill Woodland Site, County Galway; Archaeological Report
This forest site is located approximately 3km south-east of the village of Woodford, Co. Galway (Figure 5).
2.4.2 Receiving Environment
County Galway; in Irish "Chontae na Gaillimhe" or "stony river" (Flanaghan & Flanaghan 1994, 213).
Derrygill derives from "Derry" or in Irish "doire", an 'oak grove or wood' (Joyce 1856, 34). Derrygill means "wood of the foreigner" (McKay P. 1999, 37).
Leitrim; the name of more than forty townlands and villages; in Irish "Liath-dhruim" [Lee-drum], F. M., meaning "grey drum or ridge" (Joyce 1856, 19).
Ballynakill; Ballynakilla, Ballynakilly; meaning 'the town of the church or wood' ("cill or coill") (Joyce 1856, 34). Ballynakill or in Irish " Baile na Cille" meaning "Homestead of the church" (Flanaghan & Flanaghan 1994, 179).
The topography of the site comprises:
(i) Flat, boggy land.
An analysis of Ordnance Survey maps from the early nineteenth century to date gives a picture of the development of the townland over time. No Down Survey map (circa 1656) was available for this county. The forest site within Derrygill townland is divided between two Ordnance Survey 6" sheets within county Galway, sheets 131 and 132 respectively.
The 1st edition Ordnance Survey map (1838-1840) shows the forest area within Derrygill townland as densely forested (Figure 7). Derrygill contains 544 acres 3 roods and 18 perches. Numerous tracks are mapped which transverse the forest throughout. Several houses located within rectilinear field plots are located bounding the forest to the south-east while a larger unnamed house is located to the north-east of the forest site. The land to the north of the forest within Derrygill has been laid out in rectilinear field plots. An area which is densely forested within the townland of Derrygill but outside the forest site in question is denoted as 'Royal George Plantation' on the 1st edition O.S. map. In addition a 'waterfall' is identified to the north-west of the forest site where Derrygill townland adjoines Derrycrag townland to the north.
Derrycrag townland containes 283 acres and 32 perches and is densely forested for the most part except to the south-east and west where the land has been divided into rectilinear field plots with some sparse housing evident. In the townland of Derrycrag to the north of Derrygill townland, a 'corn kiln' is identified as well as the site of a 'Meeting Bush'. Oghilly townland to the south is devoid of forestry except in the vicinity of 'Oghilly House' and other small portions loosely dispersed. It contains 326 acres 3 roods and 27 perches. Looscaun townland to the east is also devoid of forests and contains 363 acres and 23 perches. The townland of Gorteeny to the south of the forest site appears 'open' i.e. not laid out; and has no features marked on the 1st edition O.S. map (1838-40). To the north-east the townland of Cloncoe is partially densely wooded in the south-western quadrant called 'Clonco Wood'. The townland contains 683 acres and 1 perch with a large house located in the north-east of the townland called 'Bourke's Court' with an area of pasture located in a field directly north-west of the house. Many of the roads in this townland are tree-lined with other portions of land lightly planted.
The 3rd edition Ordnance Survey map covers two date periods (Figure 8). The western half of Derrygill townland is mapped between 1929 and 1933 while the eastern portion was mapped in 1948. The forest site appears more lightly wooded on this edition with the subdivision of field plots still evident to the north and south of the forest site within Derrygill townland. The townland now containes 541 acres 1 rood and 33 perches. The trails are still evident at this stage while a new linear road appears running north-west to the townland boundary with Derrycrag. The forested area is denoted as 'Derrygill Wood' at this point. 'Stepping Stones' are located north-east and north-west of the forest site, but still within the area called 'Derrygill Wood' on the map, at a point on the townland boundary between Derrygill and Cloncoe Townlands. The 'Royal George Plantation' is still clearly evident in the southern portion of the townland. The western portion of the townland is slightly more wooded where before field plots were recognisable, now woodland exists.
'Cloncoe Wood' is evident to the north-east as is 'Burke's Court' house within Cloncoe townland. Within Derrycrag townland to the north of Derrygill a 'foot bridge', 'Ford and Stepping stones', 'Stepping Stones' and 'Meeting Bush' are denoted at points where townland boundaries meet. Within Gorteeny townland to the south, the land is still not laid out and appears as if it is wet or marshy land. Looscaun townland to the east is devoid of forests while Oghilly townland to the south-east shows a wooded area previously noted on the 1st edition O.S. map. An area called 'Drummin Wood' is evident just east of Oghilly townland within the townland of Drummin.
An early account of the parish of Ballynakill is gained from Samuel Lewis in his Topographical Dictionary of Ireland during his travels in the early nineteenth century:
"Ballynakill, a parish partly in the barony of Leitrim, county of Galway and province of Connaught, seven and a half miles west south-west from Portumna; contains with the town of Woodford, 13,103 inhabitants. This parish is situated on the road from Portumna to Gort and comprises 12,006 statute acres as applotted under the Tithe Act; about 800 acres are woodland and the remainder arable and pasture. Marble Hill from Gortenauppogue, the seat of Sir J. Burke is finely situated in a demesne extensive woodland
commanding great views and distinguished by its great variety of surfaces; in the grounds is a spring called Macduff's well, within a few yards of which are vestiges of a stone altar. The other seats are Shannon Hill, the residence of M. Connolly Esq; Ballinagar of the Hon. A. Nugent; Cloncoe of Ulick Burke Esq; Moyglass of J. Burke Esq; Eagle House of Capt. H. Piggott; Brook ville of Martin White Esq; Ballycorban of Matthew White Esq; and Carroroe Lodge of H. Clarke Esq. Fairs are held on the 1st June and 26th October. It is a rectory in the diocese of Clonfert, part appropriate to the see and Deanery and part forming a portion of the union of Lickmolassy. The tithes amount to £299.15.1 of which £50.15.4 and a half payable to the Ecclesiastical Commission; £13.18.11 and a quarter to the dean and the remainder to the incumbent. The church is at Woodford and the Ecclesiastical Commission have recently granted £213 for repairs; the glebe at Ballynakill comprises 6 acres and 3 roods. In the Roman Catholic division the greater part of the parish is divided into two entire benefices called Ballynakill and Woodford and the remainder forms part of a third. There are chapels at Cloncoe, Loughtorick, Marble Hill, Knockadrian and Woodford; the last erected in 1837 at a cost of £400. A National School has been built and there are 9 pay schools in which 178 boys and 363 girls are educated. There are ruins of an old castle which appears to have been of great strength; and numerous forts. In the demesne of Marble Hill is a subterranean passage now so choked up with reeds and other obstructions as to render it impossible to ascertain its extent; and there are numerous vestiges of antiquity in the grounds. At Ballinagar, 1.5 miles from the vill are Mullins Wells, well visited during the summer, the grounds around them being tastefully laid out" (Lewis 1837, 29).
Folklore Archive Collection, UCD
The following references refer to excerpts from the Irish Folklore Commission held within the Department of Irish Folklore. These include two main archival sources: (i) Irish Manuscript Collection (IFC.M) and (ii) Irish Schools Collection (IFC.S). The excerpts refer to accounts by locals of popular belief, customs, local place names and incidents that occurred in the parish as follows:
The first reference describes a holy well and children's burial ground in the parish of Ballynakill, Co. Galway.
"St. Anne's Well at Ahanass in Woodford, county of Galway. Well has a " pattern" associated with it and for curing illnesses, mainly sore eyes. Cloths are tied to a nearby bush and is associated with the Blessed Virgin".
mile from Looscaun church beside stream-crooked river-small stone
mound; unbaptised children's ground".
The following excerpts attest to the presence of a prosperous forest in the parish:
"A good huntsman; long ago, a very strict game keeper minded the game in the parish and the woods and hills were abounding with game like deer, rabbits and hares. Oats along the forest often eaten by deer. Mike Mahon snared a small rabbit and sold it in Loughnua for four pence".
Reference to the "shooting of a deer one day" which was "brought home by a donkey". Another incident refers to a person being caught by the game keeper for hunting in the woods.
2.4.3. Field Inspection
188.8.131.52 The study area of Derrygill Wood, located outside Woodford Village, consists of 20 hectares of both mature conifers and recently planted conifers (Plate 8). The nature of the tree cover and terrain meant that the site could be walked in its entirety. The presence of drains throughout the site (Plate 9), necessary on such waterlogged land, highlights the destructive nature of planting. The excavation of these drains by machines would have had a serious impact on sub-surface archaeological remains if present. No archaeological features or sites were located within the study area. No vernacular structures or field walls were evident.
184.108.40.206 New Sites
There were no new archaeological sites identified as part of the forest survey.
2.4.4 Desk Study
The Recorded Monuments (Figure 6)
The Sites and Monuments record (SMR) of Dúchas-The Heritage Service, Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands refers to the following sites within and in the environs of Derrygill Woodland, County Galway.
From the 6" Ordnance Survey maps, a list of the archaeological sites and their proximity to the woodland site was compiled.
SMR No. Distance to Derrygill Woodland Site Type
GA131:011 700m SW Well-Secular
GA131:010 750m NW Holy Well
GA131:027 1350m NW Metal Working-Stone
GA132:002 1180m NE Enclosure
GA132:025 1360m SE Mansion
GA132:024 1380m SE Garden Feature
GA132:027/01 1400m SE Holy Well
GA132:027/02 1400m SE Burial Ground
There are no recorded archaeological monuments within Derrygill Woodland.
the environs of Derrygill Woodland the following SMR sites are
Site Type Well-Secular
Height O.D. 200'-300'
Description Natural Spring-Non-antiquity. The site is not named or marked on 1st edition Ordnance Survey map (1838-1839). On 3rd edition Ordnance Survey map (1914-1948) it is named as a "Spa Well (Chalybeate)". Access to the site is gained via a bank on the side of the road. The feature is sited in hilly forest and bogland with good views to the west and south. There is no trace of any man-made structure here. The site may simply have been a pool or natural spring which rises here. Definitely not in use, nor has been for along time.
Area of Interest N/A
Distance 700m SW
Site Type Holy Well
Height O.D. 200'-300'
Description The site is not named or marked on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map (1838-1839) but is marked and appears on the 3rd edition Ordnance Survey map (1914-1948) as "Holy Well". Access is gained via a path from the road north of the wood. The site is situated in hilly woodland in a small clearing. The wood is an old oak wood. The site consists of a holy well still in use. The place is dedicated to Our Lady. A small drystone roughly built sub-circular well (c.1m in diameter), which is now dry, has four stone steps leading down to it. It is 1m deep and is now filled with dead vegetation. A few yards to the north-east of this a small stone cairn on which stands a little wooden press with flowers and a statue in it. Some leaflets in the press have interesting facts about "sins of the flesh", what ever they are. Old rags and many beads hang on a nearby tree while vessels left around the place are probably used for taking or drinking the holy water from the well. The site is in good condition.
Area of Interest 10m
Distance 750m NW
Site Type Enclosure
Height O.D. 100'-200'
Description Oval enclosure not named or marked on 1st edition Ordnance Survey map (1838-1839). The site is not named on the 3rd edition Ordnance Survey map (1914-1948) but is partially marked. Access to the site is gained via the road running north-south. The site lies in the first field east of the road and almost adjacent to it. The site is situated on top of a slight rise in generally flat fertile pastureland with good views in all directions. The site consists of a slight oval scarp all around the rise. If it were once an earthen rath it would have measured c.50m north-south and c.30m east-west. The siting would be typical of a rath but no trace of anything of archaeological value could be seen. The site is now almost completely destroyed.
Area of Interest 30m
Distance 1180m NE
Site Type Mansion
Height O.D. 100'-200'
Description The house is marked on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map (1838) and named "Oghilly House" and appears on the 3rd edition Ordnance Survey map (1948) and is named "Oghilly House". The house is approached via the road running roughly south-west to Gorteeny. It lies to the east of same with access via a gateway adjacent to the road. The house is located in an area of level to slightly undulating grassland of fair quality just north-east of Gorteeny village. The aspect is generally limited by trees except to the east. The house is two storied and roughly L-shaped in ground plan. The main doorway faces the east. The nineteenth century house is in good condition and is presently occupied. Outhouses are attached to the south-east section of the main house and form a small courtyard to the rear.
Area of Interest 100m
Distance 1360m SE
Site Type Garden Feature
Height O.D. 100'-200'
Description Non-antiquity; tree copse. The site is not named or marked on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map (1838-1839) and is not named on the 3rd edition Ordnance Survey map (1914-1948) but appears as a circular area at this stage. The site lies ENE of Oghilly House. It is situated on top of a hillock in a field of pasture in generally poor quality land, some of it wooded. All that can be seen here is a small circular enclosure 24m in diameter. It consists of a nearly totally collapsed drystone wall of the same dimensions as the surrounding field walls. The wall does not seem to have been built upon an earlier mound or wall. The interior is very uneven with out cropping rock visible and trees. The siting would be typical of a cashel/ringfort but the nature of the wall and the interior along with the size of the enclosure argue for it being a small enclosed tree copse. The site is in poor condition.
Area of Interest N/A
Distance 1380m SE
Site Type Metal Working Site
Height O.D. 100'-200'
Description Non-antiquity; quarry pit. The site is not named or marked on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map (1838-1839) and is not marked on the 3rd edition Ordnance Survey map (1914-1948). However, the site is partially denoted on this edition. The site is approached via the road running NE-SW with the site lying in the first field north of the road and adjacent to it. The site lies in fertile pastureland much of which has recently been cleared. Absolutely nothing remains to be seen. From the map it appears that the site may have been a natural hollow or more likely a disused quarry pit, similar to many others in the area.
Area of Interest N/A
Distance 1400m SE
Site Type Metal Working-Stone
Height O.D. 200'-300'
Description Forge wheel, in fair condition, probably nineteenth century in date. Not marked or named on 1st edition Ordnance Survey map (1838-1839) or 3rd edition Ordnance Survey map (1914-1948). The feature is approached via the road running east-west leading west of the village of Woodford. The feature lies to south of the road and immediately adjacent to it. It is situated in the south-west outskirts of Woodford village, lying against a garden wall directly south of the road. The aspect is limited in all directions. The site consists of the remains of a forge wheel once circular in shape, its present base is partially broken. It has a maximum diameter of 1.35m and an average thickness of 0.14m. The central perforation has a diameter of 0.40m. Locals suggest that it originated from the forge in Woodford village and was used in making cart wheels.
Area of Interest N/A
Distance 1350m NW
220.127.116.11 The desk study revealed no recorded archaeological sites within Derrygill forest and seven known archaeological sites within the surrounding townlands.
The Topographical Files of the National Museum of Ireland were examined in which all stray finds are provenanced to townland. The following is a list of the townlands within and in the environs of Derrygill forest.
Proximity to Forest
Oghilly Adjacent to South-East
Derrygill Within and Adjacent to South
Woodford Adjacent to North-West
Looscaun Adjacent to East
There was one stray find recorded from the townland of Derrygill within which the forest is located. This comprised a socketed bronze spearhead dating to the Middle to Late Bronze Age described below. In addition there are no stray finds recorded from adjacent and surrounding townlands in the vicinity of Derrygill forest site.
6" Co-Ordinates 2.2cm from west and 7.5cm from north
Registration No. 1981:350
Find(s) Spearhead, bronze, socketed
Purchased £60 from Mr Pat McNam, Derrygill, Woodford, Co.
Description Socketed bronze spearhead with pitted surface and patchy dark green patina. The blade is kite-shaped with a pronounced mid-rib. The loops are hammered flat on the outside with worn original lozenge shaped surfaces.
Length 10.20cm; Maximum width of blade 2.70cm; Diameter of socket 1.70cm. The object was found at a depth of 4' to 5' while digging a drain.
The scale of works planned for this site will involve both clearfelling and planting. Both of these processes are inherently destructive with ground disturbances associated with the use of heavy machinery (for tree removal) and preparation of the land for planting (with the excavation of drainage ditches).
While the areas to be affected have been surveyed in an attempt at locating and identifying previously unknown archaeological sites, no new sites were revealed. However, it must be borne in mind that archaeological remains with little above ground surface expression may survive below the ground surface. Such features would only be revealed during earthmoving and ground preparation works where such archaeological sites would be directly compromised by these subsequent works. Please see the mitigations and recommendation section in volume 1 for suggested mitigations.
*Please note that it was not possible to reproduce figures for inclusion on the website version of the reports.