A Number of Ancient Cooking Places in the Athenry Area – Dec. 1996

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In the Athenry area there are a number of low, grassed over mounds which are the remains of ancient cooking places untouched for the last 3000 – 4000 years. One splendid example of such a monument can be seen directly across the road from the Lady’s Well carpark in Kingsland. Just over the wall and adjacent to a stream there is a very large kidney shaped mound which consists of broken and burned stones which are the remains of ancient cooking place.

These monuments usually have a depression or hollow which, on excavation, proves to be the remains of a hearth with an adjoining sunken through. The cooking method employed was to heat stones in a fire until they were red hot and to drop sufficient of them in the water to boil and hence the meat to cook. When the cooking was complete the stones were removed from the trough and dumped close by, resulting in the horse-shoe shape of these sites.

Fulachta Fiadh, the name given to this type of monument are invariably located close to a water source as is the case at Lady Well. They are also to be found in marshy ground and two fine examples can be seen from the roadway at Derrydonnell. The name “Fulachta” translates as cooking place while “fian” or “fiadh” can mean “deer” or “out of doors” or “of the wild”.

Scientific excavations of Fulachta Fiadha throughout Ireland have uncovered very few bones or remains of animals, fuelling speculation that these sites may also have been used as bathing sites or devised to produce large quantities of hot water and steam for curative purposes.

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About this record

Written by Martin Fitzpatrick

Published here 12 Jan 2023 and originally published December 1996

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