Lacca Woodland Site, County Laois; Archaeological Report

2.8.1 Introduction Location
This site is located north-west of Mountrath, Co. Laois (Figure 22).

2.8.2 Receiving Environment Placenames
County Laois or in Irish "Laois".

Lacka: several derivations.
"Lack" or in Irish "Leac" meaning 'a stone or flagstone'.
"Lacka" meaning the 'side of a hill'.
"Lackagh" meaning 'a place full of stones or flags' (Joyce 1856, 29).

Upperwoods or in Irish "Coill-Uachtorach" used to be called "Upper Ossory". The cantred was called "Caill Uachnach"; the tribe lands of the O' Delaney's (O' Leary 1907, 294). Ossory originally stretched from the Slieve Bloom mountains to the sea, and from the river Barrow to Magh Feimhin, with the Roman Catholic diocese of Ossory now including most of Co. Kilkenny, and portions of Cos. Laois and Offaly. The Irish of this name is "Osraí" and Ossory Hill is "Cnoc Osraí" (O' Riain 2000, 53).

Offerlane in Queens County; a tribe name; Ui Foirchealláin [Hy Forhellane] F.M., the descendants [Ui] of Foircheallán (Joyce 1856, 29). Topography
The topography of the site comprises two components:
(i) Steep hillside and stream.
(ii) Flat, dry low-lying areas. Cartographic Sources
An analysis of Ordnance Survey maps from the early nineteenth century to date gives a picture of the development of the townland over time.

The Down Survey map c.1656 shows the 'Leagh of Lackagh' with 'Killanure townland' to the north (Figure 24). Given the location of the forest site, no woodland is marked on the Down Survey for this location. However, given the accuracy of the depiction on the Down Survey and the scales involved it is hard to determine the exact location of woodland within the Down Survey. It must be noted that to the west of Killanure and 'Leagh of Lackagh' is an area called 'Wood of Lenagh & Lackagh' with an area called 'Oaken Underwood' to the south of it. In addition, to the east of the 'Leagh of Lackagh' is an area of 'Bog' with a 'Wood' located to the south of it. This indicates the presence of old woodland in the locality circa 1656.

The 1st edition Ordnance Survey map(1838-41) shows the forest site divided between two townlands (Figure 25). The northern portion of the forest site is located within the townland of Killinure. The townland contains 539 acres 2 roods and 7 perches with little other forest cover besides the surveyed forest site. The southern portion of the forest site is located within the townland of Lacka. Some trails are evident throughout the wood. The area to the west of the forest within the townland of Lacka shows five large rectilinear field plots running north-south with tree-lined field boundaries. Lacka townland contains 238 acres 3 roods and 16 perches. 'Lacka House' is clearly marked to the south-west of the forest site with formal laid out gardens to the west of the house and surrounded by lightly planted trees in the fields nearby.

Lacka townland and Rossadown townland to the south-east show notable woodland coverage at this stage. Within the townland of Lacka some notable features are identified including 'Rape Mill (in ruins)' and 'Kennel' to the south of 'Lacka Ho.' while the 'Site of Flour Mill' is denoted to the west of 'Lacka Ho.'. Roundwood townland containing 230 acres 2 roods and 33 perches lies to the south-east of Lacka townland and shows a notable forested are a called 'Roundwood' close to the forest site of Lacka. 'Roundwood House' is clearly shown to the south-east of Lacka forest with formal gardens and wooded areas around the house.

The townland of Whitefield to the north-west of Killinure townland contains 178 acres 3 roods and 3 perches. The townland is well laid out with a concentration of small linear rectilinear field plots in the south-eastern quadrant running north-west south-east with larger subdivisions to the north and north-west. A notable large house called 'Mountainy' is located in the south-west corner of the townland with a small wooded area to the west and east of it.

The 3rd edition Ordnance Survey (1907-09) map shows no change in the forest cover within the forest site (Figure 26). However, the southern portion of the forest site located within Lacka townland is now called 'Church Wood' possibly due to the presence of a clearly marked 'Church' located along the southern boundary of the forest site. The northern portion of the forest site located within Killinure townland is called 'The Copse' in 1907-09. Killinure townland contains 535 acres 2 roods and zero perches at this point while Lacka townland contains 240 acres 1 rood and 10 perches. To the east of the forest site within Lacka townland are 'Wood Cottages' while to the west of the forest site within Lacka, the area denoted by five rectilinear north-south running field plots, the tree-lined boundaries are no longer extant.

Directly south of the forest site lies a continuation of woodland cover (on the other side of an east-west running road) which is outside the extent of the forest site under survey. This forest shows that the forest comprised an 'Oak Wood' and is called 'Rossadown'. Another name on the site is 'Church Hill' possibly referring to the location of the 'Church' within the forest site. This description may indicate the presence of an 'Oak wood' within the forest site to the north.

'Lacca Manor' is marked to the south-west of the forest site within 'Lacca Demesne'. Much of the area around the house shows woodland and tree-lined field boundaries. Rosadown townland to the south-east of the forest site shows a lightly wooded area at its centre. Roundwood townland to the south-east of the forest site shoes 'Roundwood Demesne' and 'Round Wood' forest. Whitefield townland to the north of Killinure shows 'Mountainy House' with associated woodland around it while the rest of the townland is laid out in rectilinear field plots. History
An early account of the parish of Offerlane is gained from Samuel Lewis in his Topographical Dictionary of Ireland during his travels in the early nineteenth century:
"Offerlane, a parish partly in the barony of Upper Ossory, Queens county and province of Leinster, three and a half miles south-west from Mountray, on the road to Roscommon and on that from Dublin to Limerick; contains 9915 inhabitants. This parish which is also called "De Foralain" is situated on the River Nore and comprises 53,131 statute acres (of which 36,987 are applotted under the Tithe Act), 311 being woodland, 8,000 brown mountain and bog, 4,000 green mountain and moor; 16,820 arable and 24,000 waste and contained a comprehensive range of the Slieve Bloom mountains which stretch from east-west about seven miles long by circa two miles wide, the great part of the land in this extent being too rugged and is a quarry for a fine stone similar to that of Portland; there are also limestone quarries and a slate quarry. Petty sessions take place on alternative Fridays at Castletown and Coleraine; and fairs are held at Castletown on June 29th and at Rushall on 1st Monday in every month. Police stations have been established at Castletown, Coleraine and Castletown. There are extensive flour and oatmeal mills at Coleraine and Castletown which manufacture at least 25,000 barrels annually. The principal seats are Roundwood, the residence of W. Hamilton Esq; Westfield Farm of J.R. Price Esq; Lacca of J. Pim Esq; Cartown of A.P. Jessop Esq; Coleraine House of T. Palmer Esq; Donore of W. Despard Esq; Moorefield of R. Semor Esq; Peafield of R. Belton Esq; Springhill of Capt. J. Knipe; Monderhilt of R. Walpole Esq., Larch Hill of Rev. J. Bourke; Laurel Hill of Bradish Esq; Attavilla of Mrs Watson; Derrynaseera of A. Graves Esq., and Castleview of P. Manseragh Esq. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Ossory and in the patronage of the Bishop; the rectory is appropriate to the Dean and chapter, and the remainder to the vicar. The old church situated in Annatrim is in so bad a condition as long to have been condemned as unsafe for use; a new building is circa to be erected near it by subscription and by a grant from the Ecclesiastical Commission. The glebe house was never finished, it stands on a glebe of 254 acres of which 120 are bog and mountain. The Roman Catholic is co-extensive with that of the Established Church; it is called Underwoods and contains four chapels; one at Cormorass, one at Rushall, one at Castletown and one at Killimore. Circa 350 children are educated in four public schools, of which the parochial school at Coleraine is aided by an annual donation from the Dean of Ossory, who gave the school house and an acre of land; a national school at Castletown is aided by annual donations from the Ladies Fitzpatrick who built the school house and a school is aided by the Dean of Ossory. There are four private schools in which 290 children and two Sunday schools. There is a dispensary at Coleraine.

Ruins exist of the old monastery of Monderhilt of which St Laserian was abbot in the year 600 and of a church at Churchtown near Castletown, there are also remains of the castle of Sharahane and Castletown and the ruins of a castle at Rushall. Several raths are in the pariah" (Lewis 1837, 45).

The parish of Offerlane was also called "Ui Foirchellam" under the Tithe Act. At this time only 311 acres of 53,131 acres were wooded (O' Leary 1907, 294). The surname Pim, prominent in Quaker records, came to Ireland in the mid seventeenth century, and has been identified with Co. Laois. The first Quakers came to Rosenallis, Co. Laois three years after their arrival in Ireland in 1656. The Pims had a breast-shot rape mill at Fancourt and another at Lacka, in the parish of Offerlane. And at Rushin in the same parish Jonathan Pim built a tollhouse. The Directory for 1814 lists a Jonathan Pim at Rushin and a Moses Pim at "Lackey". Lacka derives from An Leacach (place of slabs). The largest Pim holding was of Joshua Pim, Rathgar, Co. Dublin, who had 1,045 acres in Co. Laois (O' Leary 1907; O' Riain 2000, 65-6).

There are two notable house in the vicinity of the forest including Lacca Manor to the south-west and Clondeglass House to the north-west. No details could be gained regarding the structures. Folklore 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:

IFC.M 496:72-73
"There is a rock in a bog at Lacca. There are words written on them but people could not read them, called 'the rock's bog'.

2.8.3 Field Inspection Lacca is a small site measuring only 12 hectares steeply rising on a hillside and consists of young to mature conifers and deciduous trees (Plates 23 and 24). Most of the site was accessible although very overgrown. No archaeological sites were identified during the field survey.

In the centre of the site, located along the north side of the small stream that runs through the site from east to west, is the remains of a substantial stone wall (Plate 25). It was constructed of large stones and stands almost 1m high and 0.70m wide (Plate 26). There is no indication of a structure on any of the maps. The size of the stones and the thickness of its walls indicates it was likely a sizeable structure and was clearly well made to be the remains of a field wall. Its location adjacent the stream suggests it may be the remains of a mill. The fact that it is not marked on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map, or later editions, suggests it could be quite old and may even predate the forest which is clearly outlined on the early maps.

This should be maintained and perhaps further investigated to determine its age and function. It should be well avoided during clearfelling. New Sites
There were no new archaeological sites identified as part of the forest survey.

2.8.4 Desk Study The Recorded Monuments (Figure 23)
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 Lacca Woodland, County Laois.

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 Lacca Woodland Site Type
LA011:013 790m SE Enclosure Site
LA011:005 730m N Font

There are no recorded archaeological sites within Lacca Woodland.

Within the environs of Lacca Woodland the following SMR sites are recorded:

SMR No. LA011:013
Townland Roundwood
Barony Upperwoods
Parish Offerlane
Site Type Enclosure site
NGR 23149/19764
Height O.D. 400'
Description The site is marked on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map (1838, ed. 1841) and also marked on the 3rd edition Ordnance Survey map (1907, ed. 1909). Possibly a tree ring. National Monuments correspondence 1964: according to Tony Condon this site was destroyed when visited in March1989. An aerial photograph of the site includes GSI June 1973. The site is situated in undulating countryside. No visible surface remains of the site currently. Condition: destroyed.
Classification N/A
Area of Interest N/A
Distance 790m SE

SMR No. LA011:005
Townland Killinure (Up. By.) Mountainfarm
Barony Upperwoods
Parish Offerlane
Site Type Font
NGR 23060/19933
Height O.D. 600'
Description Not marked on any edition of the Ordnance Survey (1839, 1888 or 1907). The font was originally in use in Killanure Church, it was moved during Penal times to "Burke's Cross" where Mass was said in the open (Carrigan Rev. W. 1905, 152). A limestone sub-circular font (Dimensions NW-SE c.0.65m, NE-SW c.0.75m, Diameter c.0.23m) with central draining hole. The font is situated to north-west in an upland area. It is in good condition.
Classification N/A
Area of Interest N/A
Distance 730m N The desk study revealed no recorded archaeological sites within the forest and two known archaeological sites within the surrounding townlands. Stray finds
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 Lacca forest.

Townland Proximity to Forest
Lacka Within and Adjacent to West
Killinure Adjacent to North
Rossadown Adjacent to South
Roundwood Adjacent to South-East
Northgrove Adjacent to South West
Whitefield Adjacent to North West
Drimmo To North-East

There are no stray finds recorded from the townland of Lacka in which the forest is located. There are no stray finds recorded from adjacent and surrounding townlands in the vicinity of Lacka forest site.

2.8.5 Predicted Impacts
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.