On a little hill near the beach the remains of a little castle or fort still stands. It is most likely that this was built as a look-out post by a local family or by a few families together. Situated as it is on this hill, it's original inhabitants were able to see anyone coming in from the sea, travelling down the bay or in the valley below.
Maghera's Cashel (or little castle) consists of a subcircular area that is enclosed by a partially collapsed stone wall, except on the north and northeast sides, where the natural slope may have negated the need for a defensive wall. The wall survives up to 2.38m in height to the southwest. There is a definite entrance to the south-southwest. This entrance has been deliberately blocked by the building of a rectangular structure 2.4m east-west x 1.5m north-south. The site is located on top of a knoll in an exposed, but naturally defended position. The internal diameter of the Cashel is 23.5m north-south. There is pasture and arable land nearby.As with all Cashels to be found in Ireland, this Cashel would have been enclosed by drystone walls, akin to the larger examples of the Grianan of Aileach and O'Boyles Fort - which have been reconstructed in more recent times. This particular Cashel is dated to the same period as the earthen ringforts, ie 5th or 6th century. These Cashels are understood to have no military significance, but represented the more protected farmsteads of the wealthier classes of the time.
Directly above we can see the northwest facing walls as mentioned above, as well as the rectangular structure which blocks
What would this rectangular structure have been used for? Was it an extra means of defence?
In 793 the first incursions of Vikings was recorded in Ireland. It is likely that their presence was felt in a variety of areas in the country during a period when fortifications were certainly necessary - to protect against raiders from inland and from the sea. We can see the spectacular views that this site affords: out to the open sea, right up the bay, across the Loughros Point, the Rosses, and Nairn / Portnoo. In those precarious times a look-out post such as this could have proved invaluable. For those of us who visit today, the view are well worth the short climb to the castle. This spot is not far from the road, and may suit those who aren't content to lie on the beach all day, but prefer something a little more vigorous. For those who want to try a more strenous trek, the mountains behind the castle will provide more stimulation.
This forms part of a common trek used by hill walkers that follows the coastline from Maghera to Port, and on in to Glencolmcille, depending on how far you want to go. There is some variety in the routes taken. Some guidebooks may show a path crossing the cliffs below, but that path has deteroriated is now impassible. Those trekking over the mountains follow a route that safely crosses the mountain without any need to go near the sheer cliffs.
When trekking in mountains make sure to bring a mobile phone (to call if you need help), suitable hiking boots, perhaps some rainproof clothing and a small amount of food & drink.
This is an unspoilt area of natural beauty and is designated as a conservation area for the rare plants and birds that are found in these mountains.
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