By BRIAN MOORE
THE site of one of Ireland’s first universities – the O’Daly Bardic School in Kilcrohane – is to be mapped by archaeologists.
An archaeological survey team, funded by the Heritage Council and commissioned by the Muintir Bháire Community Council, arrived at the Sheep’s Head location this week to begin work.
The site, which is located high on the cliffs overlooking Dunmanus Bay, consists of a cluster of ruined stone buildings and a medieval well. The Sheep’s Head Way walking trail runs right through the bardic school site.
The school is thought to date back to the late 15th century and would have housed scholars from across Ireland and indeed Europe.
‘There are six of these sites in Ireland and two of them are here on the Sheep’s Head peninsula,’ John Tierney, field archeologist with Eachtra Archaeology, told The Southern Star.
Local lore has it that a Spanish king sent two of his sons to Kilcrohane to study at the bardic school. Unfortunately, the two Spanish princes were – so the story goes – drowned in a lake not far from the school.
‘I wouldn’t discount the local legends and stories,’ Tierney said. ‘Many nobles did indeed send their sons to these schools for their education so you never know, the story of the Spanish princes and their untimely deaths could be true.’
The archaeologists are using a high-tech remote camera to product a 3D image of the structures at the site. ‘Our task here at the moment is to complete an assessment and conservation plan for the bardic school site,’ Tierney said. ‘However, I would like to see future excavations here.’