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"THE DAFF STONE," MONEYDIG, COUNTY DEHRY.
BY THE LATE REV. GEORGE R. BUICK, A.M., LL.D., M.R.I.A., Fellow. [Read Mabch 29, 1904.]
above is the name popularly given to a large stone which lies on a low mound of earth in a field close to the Moneydig cross-roads. It is roughly diamond-shaped, the longer diagonal measuring about 7 feet, and the shorter about 4 feet. The average thickness is from 1 foot 9 inches to 2 feet. The field in which it lies belongs to
Mr. Morrison, of Fort Cottage, and is on the left hand of anyone coming from Garvagh. On the east it is bounded by the road which leads past the Presbyterian Church.
Recently, Mr. S. K. Kirker, C.e., and myself, happened to be driving past the place. Noticing the stone, we stopped to have a closer look at it. To our astonishment we discovered that it was the cover-stone of a sepulchral chamber. Clearing away some dead thorn-bushes which were
about, we found that the stone did not quite cover the chamber at one particular spot. We were afterwards told that the bushes were designed to prevent some young lambs, which were in the field, from falling through the opening thus formed. Making his way, with much difficulty, into the chamber by this " open door," Mr. Kirkerj after taking some measurements, made a further discovery. He reported that one of the upright stones forming the chamber had some curious markings or scribings upon it. I immediately secured some paper from a neighbouring shop, and he made me a rubbing, which, though not very satisfactory, showed at least that the stone was rudely decorated. This rubbing I shortly afterwards took to Dublin, and submitted to Mr. Coffey for examination; but, on my return home, it somehow got mislaid, and I have not seen it since. I therefore asked Mr. Kirker, in case he happened to be in the neighbourhood of Moneydig again, to try and procure me another, and, if possible, a better one. This he kindly did; and this second one, made on good paper, and by means of cobbler's heel-ball, and not grass, as on the first occasion, brings out the pattern inscribed on the stone very distinctly.
"When visiting the place on this later occasion, he had the assistance of Mr. Morrison himself, who generously came with a number of his farm-labourers, and moved the cover-stone in such a way as to leave a larger opening for entrance. Further measurements were taken, and from these Mr. Kirker has drawn to scale the accompanying plans and section. And here I may say that the credit of the discovery is entirely due to him, though he has left it to me to put it on record, as I chanced to be with him on the first visit, and to have taken some notes of what then came under our observation.
Of the chamber or cist itself little need be said. A glance at the plans will do more than words to give a correct idea of its character. It is 5 J feet in height and about 4 feet in breadth, is roughly circular on.the ground-plan, is constructed of large slabs of basalt, and shows no sign of ever having had a regular pavement. We saw no traces of bones or pottery, but no excavations were made. It is quite possible that if the floor were carefully dug, some traces of interment, as also of pavement, would be found.
The word 'Duff' means in Irish ' a vat or tub'; and certainly the appearance which the chamber presents to anyone looking in justifies the name. Seven large stones form the staves of the ' cask,' if I may so put it, and the cover-stone furnishes the lid. In two instances at least the interstices between the upright stones are filled in with smaller ones. So far, however, as I now remember, only one of these smaller 'staves' reaches the top or cover-stone.
The stone marked X on the plan is the one which carries the scribings. They occur at about one-third of the height from the bottom as exposed, and cover a space 1 foot 7 inches broad by 1 foot high. On an average
they are one-tenth of an inch in width. They are made up of five figures; the largest is a spear-shaped one, and runs almost across the entire space occupied. It also occurs helow the other four. The edges of the blade are formed by a series of scorings, at least five or six on the upper edge, and ten or twelve on the under one. The ends are open, and seem to curl outward—one of them certainly does. The space between these ends is filled with a smaller triangular figure, shaped like an arrow-head, with longish wings and no stem. A similar figure, but longer and sharper, occupies the top corner to the right. The left-hand corner opposite this is taken up with a circular ornament, 5£ inches in diameter. The circle is incomplete, or penannular, three inches or so of an arc being wanting. There is no cup at the centre, but there are some five straight lines running downward from the centre to the circumference, two of which are very distinct. Though the rubbing shows only one circle, or rather partial circle, there are what seem to me faint traces of other concentric circles within this. Mr. Kirker is inclined to think that originally it was a spiral—and it may have been so; but the surface of the stone is so rough, and the scribings so faint, that it is impossible to make anything more out of the figure than what appears on the rubbing. Between this circular figure and the point of the large spear-like one underneath the others is a fourth 'broad arrow.' Its point is in the opposite direction to that of the ' spear,' and also of that which is within the open ends. In both these instances the direction of the point is determined by the shape of the space to be filled with the ornamentation.
I may add, before I leave this, that on the large stone directly opposite to the one bearing the decoration—the largest one, indeed, of all the uprights—there are a few lines scored, but there is no approach to a pattern.
It only remains to add a sentence or two regarding the mound to which this sepulchral chamber belongs. The average height is from 3 to 4 feet; it is composed of clay, and the cover-stone is the only portion of the cist which shows above the surface. It is evidently the remnant of a large tumulus. In recent years much of the structure was carted away. Several of the older residents in the neighbourhood remember when it was much larger, Bound part of what remains there are evidences that the original mound was faced with stones at the bottom. A few of these still remain.
Of its age one can only form a guess. Judging from the size of the chamber, and from the ornamentation, it certainly belongs to the Bronze Age, and probably to the latest rather than to the earliest part of this period. Farther than this I am not prepared to go.
A DIARY OF THE SIEGE OF LIMERICK CASTLE, 1642.
BY M. J. M'ENERY, B.A., M.R.I.A.
't'he Board of Trinity College, Dublin, has kindly permitted me to bring before the Society a copy of the manuscript preserved in their library entitled "A Relation or Dyary of y" siege of y* castle of Limerick by y' Irish from May 18 until June 23, 1642."
It furnishes an account of the siege, day by day, and was kept by one of the besieged royalists. He does not give his name, and makes very few references to himself specially; but there are three entries which would show that he was a person of importance. In the entry for 23rd May he says: "This day all ye horses we had in y' castle (but two of mine) were turned out at y* water port." The entry for 4th June states that " Adam Darling . . . chanced to light upon certaine letters . . . one from the right Hob,e the Earle of Corke to Cap. Courtney, the other from my brother Oliver unto myselfe." And in the entry for 23rd June he states that Oliver Stevenson, one of the enemy's chief commanders, was a kind acquaintance of his.
The manuscript consists of eight pages, very closely written, and is bound, with other documents relating to the period, into a quarto volume classed F. 4.16. So far as I have been able to discover, it has never been published; and I have found no allusion to it in any history of the period.
It records how a most important royal castle was defended against a strong force of Irish who had risen in rebellion, the sufferings of the garrison, the circumstances which obliged them to capitulate, and the methods of attack adopted by the besiegers.
Startling stories of cruelty have been levelled against the insurgents of this great civil war; but the pen of an enemy herein testifies to the contrary in the strongest manner, and proves that even at that early period of the war the Southern Irish had adopted, and were enforcing, usages which would do credit to the most civilized and humane warfare at the present day.
The castle was defended by Captain George Courtenay, a younger son of Sir "William Courtenay, head of the famous house of Courtenay, Earls of Devon; and the garrison consisted of sixty men of his company, twenty-eight warders, and others to the number of two hundred men.
The principal men among the besiegers were General Gerald Barry, Patrick Pursell of Croagh, County Limerick, lord Roche, lord Muskerry,
Ttm.» » s A T ) Vol. xiv., Fifth Series. ( N Jour. R.S.A.I. j Vo, Con!e(. Scr j N