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NUMBER 41 (Volume 11 Number 3)

Autumn 1997 Published Quarterly


Tom Condit (Editor) Gabriel Cooney Emer Condit Nicholas Maxwell Una MacConville B rian W illia m s Jen Brady

Una MacConville

PRODUCTION Jen Brady Nick M axwell

TYPESET by— W o rdw e ll L td

FILM OUTPUT— L ith ographic P la te Plan

PRINTED BY— B rookfield P r in tin g Company

COLOUR ORIGINATION— L ith ographic P la te Plan

PUBLISHED BY— A rchaeology Ire land L td P.O. Box 69, Bray, Co. W icklow Tel 01-2862649 Fax 01-2864215

Subscription rates: Ire land/ UK IR£14/£15stg. Europe IR£20 E lsewhere $35

Cover— Background: P ic torial map o f K irw ans Lane1651. Main p ic tu re: The m outh-puller a t Castletown Castle, Co Louth.



In p ra ise o f f ie ld -w o rkers: some recent 'm egalithic' d iscoveries in Cork and K e rry

The o r ig in s o f Carlow Castle 13

'To be o r not to be '— The question o f K irw ans Lane 18

Photographic feature: V ic to rian im ages o f the past 20

P rehistoric fa rm in g a t M ooghaun— a new pollen d ia g ram from M ooghaun Lough


The ta le o f Royston's Horse: connections between the U lster Museum and A frica in the n ineteenth and tw entieth centuries 27





Book news and reviews



Spoil Heap







/4 rc h creol o cry I R E L A N D 0 7

PSYCHOTIC ANNIVERSARIES IN RECENT YEARS THERE has been an increasing tendency, of almost psychotic proportions, to celebrate the anniversary of some event or other (usually derived from determinations based on the decimal system). Some of the anniversaries to be marked are loaded with contemporary political motives. Others are more innocent and are driven by chamber-of-commerce-type psychology, commemorating the alleged foundation date of some town or other.

The Year of the Bronze Age was laden with political overtones to do with European Unionism. The commemorations of the Great Famine mixed contemporary political argument with an almost poetic and emotional review. More anniversaries are in store, including the 200th anniversary of the 1798 rebellion, Civil War commemorations (bring a weapon in case the other side turns up), and the inevitable 308th anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne. As the next millennium approaches, preparations are already in train to do something or other (probably involving the release of a number of balloons).

Nevertheless, such celebrations can be useful reminders of events that have shaped our lives and perceptions. Armed with our understanding of such events, we can refer to the past to justify why we are what we are today. But we should also remember that many of the most significant developments which formed present-day Irish society are not dramatic enough, or even contentious enough, to be celebrated: the Neolithic revolution, the Celticisation of the island and the creation of a dairy economy, to name but a few. These concepts unfortunately do not have a convenient calendar date to facilitate a commemoration. It is archaeology that allows us to identify, explore and understand these events and to celebrate them on a daily basis.

One anniversary that we are delighted to celebrate is the tenth anniversary of Archaeology Ireland. To mark this great event, and in conjunction with Heritage Day, a one-day conference on 'Ireland and the Roman World’ will be held on 20 September in the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin. Eminent speakers from Ireland and Britain will explore contacts between Ireland and Rome in the earlier part of the first millennium AD

With only a few exceptions, Ireland’s relationship with the Roman Empire has been a neglected subject for many years. The nature of Hibemo-Roman contacts is a problem which will no doubt intrigue scholars for many years to come. It would be so much simpler if some classical author had stated explicitly that the Roman armies had invaded wintry Hibernia, built villas, straightened a few roads and did their imperial stuff. This period of pre-Christian Irish history is particularly enigmatic. In the absence of clear documentary evidence, we must rely entirely on the often cryptic archaeological evidence to indicate the nature and level of Roman activity in Ireland.

Recent articles in the daily press and in Archaeology Ireland have indicated that there is considerable public interest in the Romans in Ireland. The conference promises to be an interesting forum, with talks, questions, debate and public participation.

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