Rossacroo Woodland Site, County Kerry; Archaeological Report

2.6.1 Introduction Location
The site is located approximately 15km east of Kenmare town in the Derrynasaggart mountains, Co. Kerry (Figure 13). The forest site is located within both a 'Special Area of Conservation' (SAC) and a 'Natural Heritage Area' (NHA).

2.6.2 Receiving Environment Placenames
County Kerry or in Irish "Ciarraí"; The descendants of Ciar [Keer] were called Ciarraidhe [Kerry: Book of R.] i.e. the race of Ciar; they possessed the territory lying west of Abbeyfeale, which was called from them Ciarraighe, and ultimately gave name to the whole county (Joyce 1856, 38).

Rossacroo derives from "Ross"; in the south meaning a 'wood or grove'; in the north, 'a peninsula' (Joyce 1856, 38). The Irish spelling is perhaps "Ros-a'-chro" meaning "wood of the cro or cattle-hut" (Joyce 1995ed, 29).

Magunihy: no place name derivation could be sourced for this barony.

Killaha, in the parish of Tuosist, in Irish 'Coill-atha' meaning "wood of the ford" (Joyce 1995ed., 58). Topography
The topography of the site comprises two components:
(i) Small River valley to west and steep hillside.
(ii) Flat land, partially wet and dry 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 third edition of the Ordnance Survey was not available for photocopying for this county due to copyright law.

The Down Survey map of c.1656 for the barony of Magunihy shows little detail of the parish of Killaha (Figure 15). The majority of the parish is shown as mountainous comprising the 'Cleadagh rua course pasture Moantanous', 'Cledagh more course past: Mountainous' in the north of the parish while in the south of the parish are the 'Cumean cullen corse past: Mountanes'. To the east and south-east of these mountains (in the south) a number of smaller areas have been subdivided into areas defined as 'Timber wood (4W)' as well as 'Timber wood and good pasture (3 O)' and 'Timber wood'. All of the areas marked 'Timber wood' have trees annotated on them.

The 1st edition Ordnance Survey map (1841-1846) shows the forest site completely covered by light woodland at this time (Figure 16). The wood is referred to as 'Rossacroonaloo Wood' on this map. The townland is also called Rossacroonaloo and contains 441 acres and 3 perches. An area to the north of the wood within Rossacroonaloo shows regular subdivision in the form of rectilinear field plots with a house and outbuildings noted. Some of the field plots are tree-lined. An area to the north-east of the woodland is marked 'Liable to Flooding' while an area to the south-east is called 'Freaghanagh Hill'. The 'Loo River' borders the length of the townland of Rossacroonaloo. Crohane townland is located to the north of Rossacroonaloo townland. The southern portion of the townland denotes a strip of woodland bordering Rossacroonaloo townland to the south. The wood is called 'Crohane Wood'. In Dromacoosh townland to the south of Rossnacroonaloo the land appears as wet or marshy with Lough Aclaurig and Loughs Doo to the south-east. Curraglass North townland to the west of Rossnacroonaloo denotes 'Curraglass North House' and associated 'Curraglass Wood'. Portions of the woodland is densely wooded around the house with the rest of the townland appearing wet and marshy. History
An early account of the parish of Killaha is gained from Samuel Lewis in his Topographical Dictionary of Ireland during his travels in the early nineteenth century:
"Killaha, a parish partly in the barony of Magunihy, county of Kerry and province of Munster, five miles south-east by east from Killarney on the road from that place to Macroom; contains 2,567 inhabitants. It comprises 38,049 and a half acres of which 34,483 are applotted under the Tithe Act, and is situated on the River Flesk which runs through a wide glen called Glenflesk which is richly wooded with large rocks projecting from its sides and is much visited by lovers of romantic scenery. Filadowne, the most picturesque part of the glen, is said to have been the retreat of a celebratory outlaw, named Owen and a table rock which is situated midway on the declivity and inaccessible without a ladder, is still called Labig Owen or "Owen's Bed". The lake called L. Guttane or Kittane nearly 6miles in circumference lies in a hollow formed by the rocky and precipitous sides of the mountains of Mangerton and Crohane between which also extends the rugged glen of Kippoch; it discharges its superfluous waters by a small river which runs into the Flesk and affords great attractions to the anglers by the excellent and abundant trout. Slate quarries are worked at Filadowne and Annamore. Here is a constabulary police station. Killaha is the residence of J. McCarthy Esq; Brewsterfield, the property of the Rev. B, Herbert and Corriglass, the property of H and Herbert Esq. The parish is in the diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe, the rectory is impropriate in the Earl of Doughmore and H.A. Herbert Esq., and the vicarage forms part of the area of Kilgarvan. The tithes amount to £220 of which £90 is payable to the Earl of Donoughmore, £10 to H.A. Herbert Esq., and £120 to the vicar. In the Roman Catholic division it forms part of the union or district of Glenflesk which also includes that part of Aghadoe which is eastward of Killarney and has a chapel at Rusheen and at Barraduff. There is a public school in which circa 140 children are educated, also two private schools in which 110 children. Near the upper entrance to the glen stand conspicuous on an eminence the ruins of Killaha Castle formerly the residence of the O' Donoughoue's of the Glen and at a short distance are the ivy clad remains of the old church" (Lewis 1837, 96).

There are no notable houses in the vicinity of the forest site. Folklore
There was no material revealed during an examination of the Department of Irish Folklore archive in UCD.

2.6.3 Field Inspection The study area measures 42 hectares and consists of hillsides thickly wooded with deciduous trees (Plate 14) and low-lying areas that appear to be reclaimed farmland and now supporting a mature oak forest. No archaeological sites were identified during the course of the field survey. The low-lying forested areas along the northern fringe of the wood are criss-crossed with field walls (Plate 15), all of which are marked on the Ordnance Survey maps and appear to correspond with existing walled fields to the north. The relationship between these field walls is clearly illustrated on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map. The remains of a small stone building (Plate 16), probably a shed, was located in the low-lying forested area and does not appear to correspond with any of the buildings clearly indicated on the 1st edition O.S. map. The wooded hillsides were not as easily surveyed due to the steepness of the hill and the thickness of the forest cover.

The remains of derelict farm buildings north of the study area (Plates 17 and 18) were noted and clearly represent some of the buildings indicated on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map and thus likely date to the early part of the 19th century. New Sites
There were no new archaeological sites identified as part of the forest survey.

2.6.4 Desk Study The Recorded Monuments (Figure 14)
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 Rossacroo Woodland, County Kerry.

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 Rossacroo Woodland Site Type
KE085:020 820m NW Enclosure possible
KE085:001 920m NW Wedge tomb

There are no recorded archaeological sites located within Rossacroo Woodland.

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

SMR No. KE085:020
Townland Derrybanane
Barony Magunihy
Parish Killaha
Site Type Enclosure possible
NGR 10412/7970
Height O.D. 616.7'
Description The site is not marked on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map (1841-42) or on the 3rd edition Ordnance Survey map (1896-97). No other details appear in the file.
Classification C
Area of Interest 30m
Distance 820m NW

SMR No. KE085:001
Townland Crohane (ma. By.) Flesk ed.
Barony Magunihy
Parish Killaha
Site Type Wedge Tomb
NGR 10420/7994
Height O.D. 616'
Description Not marked on 1st or 3rd editions of the Ordnance Survey maps, 1841-42 and 1895 respectively. P.J. Lynch describes the site thus: " A dolmen lies in the barony of Magunihy, parish of Killaha, townland of Crohane alongside the stretch which divides it from Derrybanane, and close to the most northerly "Waterfall" marked on that stream on the new 6" O.S. sheet No. 85. The elevation is 616 feet. The site is not mentioned by Borlase" (Lynch 1911, 342-345).
Classification C
Area of Interest 50m
Distance 920m NW 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 Rossacroo forest.

Townland Proximity to Forest
Rossacroo Within
Dromacoosh Adjacent to South
Curraglass South Adjacent to South-West
Curraglass North Adjacent to West

There were no stray finds recorded from the townland of Rossacroo within which the forest is located. In addition there are no stray finds recorded from adjacent and surrounding townlands in the vicinity of Rossacroo forest site.

2.6.5 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.