A description of Oilean Ui Mhaothagain (Mehigan's Island), a crannog in Lough Allua between Ballingeary and Inchigeela, Co. Cork
This study of the 'Crannog' was done by Máire Uí Léime as part of a U.C.C. course. This Crannog is the only one of it's kind in Co. Cork.
The crannog is in the townland of Tir-na-Spideoige, half way between Beal-athan-Ghaorthaidh and Inchigeela. You take the Beal-athan-Ghaorthaidh road from Inchigeela, and when you have travelled 3. miles, turn right at the bridge park your car, come back to the main road and follow the river until it reaches the lakeside. That clump of trees in the lake in the distance is the Crannog.
The land here is 200 feet above sea level, it slopes gently to the lakeshore. Cattle and sheep are grazed on the land, silage is cut 2/3 times a year. The ground is boggy and marshy in places and liable to flooding during the wet weather. Again we see ash, holly, black/whitethorn and sally bushes growing in the hedgerow. Rushes and reeds cover large amounts of this ground, swans are known to return here year after year to nest.
The Crannog is a typical lake dwelling settlement. (Michael J. O'Kelly 1989). This Crannog is home to 10/12 sally trees, some rushes and reeds, a few blades of grass and a lot of moss. During the wet weather the Crannog with the exception of the trees is covered with water. The trees are 6/7m high and hang out over the crannog and it is difficult to get on to it but it is well worth the effort. You are surrounded by water, green fields sloping to the lakeshore, the Shehy Mountains to the South, The Derrynasagart Mountains to the North and West, hills and rich green fields Directly to the North and the water to the East.
Since this is the first real live Crannog that I have visited, it is in pretty good nick. When you think of the water around it, the trees growing in it, it has passed the test of time.
The Crannog is in a little cove on the Northern shore of the lake. It is roughly circular in shape, it is very uneven under foot. The trees have twisted downwards and re-rooted in the ground and a lot of the roots can be seen twisting around the stones. Some clay, tree roots and stones litter the ground underfoot. From North to South the Crannog measures 9.47m and from East to West it measures 13m. It is roughly 0.82m above the water level.
The stones are of similar size, they are about 40cm diameter. The stones slope gently away from the edge of the Crannog, they can see them for 1m under the water from the Crannog. Using an oar while on the boat the stones extend 2m beyond the edge of the Crannog, it became very muddy the further away from the edge of the Crannog the boat went. On the South West and Western side of the Crannog the soil is being washed away, and nothing is growing here. The stones can be easily seen here they extend 2m beyond the surface of the Crannog and slope gently away from the sides of the Crannog. Beyond these stones it gets 1.5m deep and it is very muddy and the oars begin to stick in the mud, the day was windy and the boat drifted a lot so we had to head for shore.
A local farmer told me that some timbers can be seen around the Crannog during very dry summers, it failed us locate any timbers with the oars. A stone causeway leading from the Crannog to the shore on the North is also visible during dry summers. We crossed this area several times and failed to hit anything.
In Irish the Crannog is called Oilean Ui Mhaothagain (Mehigan's Island). Some say that Maothagain was an O'Leary chieftian others say that the word should be Meathain which is the Irish for twigs and sapplings. This word Meathain appears in the name Doire an Mheathain (Derryvane) which is a townland close to Tir- na-Spideioge. I prefer the name Maothagain, whether there was an O'Leary named Maothagain or not I have to find out.