Ringforts Project

Our Ringfort project won a Galway Mayors Award in 2013 for School’s Contribution to Heritage. We held a parish celebration in Clontuskert on the 28th of February to mark this fantastic achievement. Everyone from the parish was invited.
Read about the Award Ceremony here: http://clontuskert.scoilnet.ie/blog/2012/11/08/at-the-county-mayors-awards/ and here: http://clontuskert.scoilnet.ie/blog/2012/11/09/congratulations-clontuskert/
The project has also won a Junior Spiders Award in 2013. Read more here: http://www.juniorspiders.ie/2013/02/21/junior-spider-awards-shorlist-2013/

Our film; Life on a Ringfort in Clontuskert was ten months in the making.
The script was written by the students from 3rd to 6th class. Everyone had varied roles in the project, from Director, Producer, Continuity, Set Designers, Costume Designers and Makers, Camera People, Storyboarders, Actors and finally the Editors who brought it all together in the final film.

Third to Sixth class were involved in this project.
Clontuskert has 204 Ringforts in the Parish. In fact five of the children in the school have Ringforts on their land. In 2010 we visited a Ringfort in Gortnahorna with Fiona Maguire (archaeologist). http://clontuskert.scoilnet.ie/blog/2010/11/08/visit-to-our-local-ringforts-with-fiona-maguire/ This helped the students to visualise what life was like on the Ringforts of Clontuskert for their ancestors. We wanted the students to have a thorough understanding of life on a Ringfort and what better way than to study the lives of those who lived in the area from the Bronze age to Early Christian times and then write, direct and act in their own film using the knowledge they had gained.

We began the project by creating a timeline of Irish history. This helped the students to see where the Ringforts fitted into Irish history. Then we used various cross curricular resources to gain insight into the lives of the Ringfort Dwellers. (See below) All of this information has been collated on our school blog; http://clontuskert.scoilnet.ie/blog/?s=ringfort so that it can be used a resource for other schools and those interested in this area.

St. Augustine’s N.S. has been blessed to have been aided by Heritage experts and enthusiasts during this project;
• Fiona Maguire (Archaeologist)
• Joe Molloy and Seamie Callaghan (Clontuskert Heritage Group)
• Kevin Cunningham (Kilchreest Development Group)
• Brian Hanly (Hanly Woolen Mills, Nenagh)
• Marie Mannion and Gráinne Smyth (Galway County Council)

Engaging with these Heritage experts has meant that the school has a solid connection with the community throughout County Galway.
This means that the resources can be accessed by many people across the world. The location of visitors to our site from across the world can be seen here: http://www3.clustrmaps.com/counter/maps.php?url=http://www.clontuskert.scoilnet.ie

This has ensured both a local, national and global audience for our project; especially as the school is twinned with schools in Spain, Sweden, France, England and Estonia.

1. Class visited Cragganowen in Co. Clare to see a fully functioning Ringfort; http://clontuskert.scoilnet.ie/blog/2011/09/24/visit-to-craggaunowen/
2. Students podcasted research in various areas such as the people’s appearance and lifestyle, being a member of the Tuath, bodies found in the bog that help us learn about their lives, their religious beliefs etc. http://clontuskert.scoilnet.ie/blog/2011/09/29/podcasting-about-ringforts/ and http://clontuskert.scoilnet.ie/blog/2011/10/12/ringforts/
3. Students read novels from Galway County Library based in the Bronze Age. 3rd/4th read ‘Nuala and her Secret Wolf’ by Cora Harrison and 5th/6th read ‘The Druid’s Tune’ by Orla Melling. Student groups podcasted a synopsis of each chapter to aid their understanding and also for revision purposes. These podcasts can be accessed by the public http://clontuskert.scoilnet.ie/blog/2012/02/23/nuala-and-her-secret-wolf-the-final-podcasts/ and http://clontuskert.scoilnet.ie/blog/?s=The+Druid%27s+Tune
4. Hanly Woolen Mills (Nenagh) donated material to the school to help us make costumes that would be appropriate to the times: http://clontuskert.scoilnet.ie/blog/ta-larry-ar-ais/heritage-and-history/ringforts-project/hanly-woolen-mills/
5. Parents created the costumes with the help of student costume designers who had researched how Ringfort dwellers would have dressed. http://clontuskert.scoilnet.ie/blog/2012/04/27/seamstresses-hard-at-work/
6. Students wrote their own stories, edited these and created a script for a film. http://clontuskert.scoilnet.ie/blog/2012/06/29/life-on-a-ringfort-in-clontuskert/
7. Students researched the art of filmmaking to help them decide what roles they would like to audition for; actors or crew. http://clontuskert.scoilnet.ie/blog/2012/04/16/film-making/
8. Students learned Clannad songs as we imagined this was suitable music for the time: http://clontuskert.scoilnet.ie/blog/2012/04/18/clannad-the-theme-from-harrys-game/
9. Students travelled to Slogadh Eachtaí to connect with heritage enthusiasts who would help us with our project: http://clontuskert.scoilnet.ie/blog/2012/04/21/slogadh-achtai/
10. Once roles were chosen each team practised in their area whether they were acting or behind the scenes; http://clontuskert.scoilnet.ie/blog/2012/04/26/ringfort-film/
11. With the help of Kevin Cunningham (Kilchreest) students designed and built a Willow hut on the school grounds to show how the Ringfort Dwellers lived; http://clontuskert.scoilnet.ie/blog/2012/05/18/willow-hut-building/
12. Each student was involved on the day of film making from continuity to camera people, director to editors. http://clontuskert.scoilnet.ie/blog/2012/06/19/doing-our-ringfort-film/
13. Three student editors edited the final shots and the film can be seen here. http://clontuskert.scoilnet.ie/blog/2012/09/03/project-2011-2012-life-on-a-ringfort-in-clontuskert/

Below you can see photos from our day of filming and finally scroll to the end to see the finished film.
You can read the script written by the students following their research.
We are so proud of all our hard work.

Scroll to the end to see the finished film. This has been edited for the Web and in line with our Internet AUP student names do not appear on this version.














Life on a Ringfort in Clontuskert:

RUADAN (INTERVIEWER): Hello everyone! Is mise Ruadan and I’ll be telling you about my life in the Bronze Age, which is after the Neolithic times. Today’s programme is live from Cluain Tuaiscirt outside Béal Átha na Sluaighe i gCúige Connaght. There are many families living here in Carrowmore, here in Clontuskert. It is a very important area as there are over 200 ringforts here.
It was Samhain, 2100 B.C. – when I moved to Ireland from Norway – to start a new life, make more, new friends…and less enemies. I wanted to start a fresh life.
We came by boat without a stop until we reached England, The members of the crew knew lots about sailing in tough weather – like the fog we were getting – they were Irishmen and they knew my father. They simply came for the joy of the journey and they thought we would need a bit of guidance.

When we set sail across the Irish Sea it was foggy but nothing would stop us. We sailed with little difficulty. When we arrived we camped beside a river. It was unpleasant but the worst was over. We had walked for a long, long while until we found a suitable place. We decided to “plant our roots” here in Clontuskert.

ETAIN: Get up Ruadan, come on it is a big day today- you better not have any aches or soreness because you’ll be doing a lot of walking and fetching hazel for the fence.

RUADAN: This is Etain, the mother of our family. Etain is always up early, always on the go.
I need to gather hazel branches, father is working on the house with the help of mother. We are building our ringfort to protect ourselves and our home from many dangers.
When we came here first our neighbours, kindly, offered us shelter, but we hunted for ourselves. Irish people are warm-hearted-this became a routine for several months while we were building our houses and huts.

In my father, Conn’s spare time he sharpens his sword and makes at least two spears, a day.
When we arrived here he went looking for a servant and he found one in no time – a girl named Aoife. As you can see, Aoife would use a quern stone for grinding oats, wheat and barley to make flour for bread.
One year later we are settled in and cosy.
We go hunting and we gather berries and nuts and keep our food in the cold Souterainn. Other people use them to escape if they are being attacked, thankfully we haven’t had to use it for that purpose since we came here. At night it can be very cold.

RUDAN: Over here you can see the Mac Thoirdhealbhaigh clan, Lugh, Sadb, and their children ranging in ages from 2-10 years old. Lugh’s brother, Midir and his wife, Branwen live in the hut next to them, with their five children.
I’m going to begin by asking Lugh and Midir about their ringfort.
Can you tell me a little bit about your home and when it was built?
LUGH: This Ringfort was built by our grandparents over 80 years ago. It’s a half acre site with 3 wattle and daub huts. We thatch the roofs every five years with fresh reeds from the Ballinure River. We have a big, strong fence surrounding our site, made from sharpened branches which we stick into the ground. We need this strong fence to keep out intruders.
MIDIR: We keep our few cattle and sheep inside the sites because they might be stolen.
RAUDAN: If you are under attack, how do you protect yourselves?
LUGH: We have big bronze swords and long sharp spears.
MIDIR: If we are being attacked by too many warriors we can use the secret passage way we built which leads out to Coill Uí Máine. Nobody outside of this family knows about the souterrain; our secret passage way.
RAUDAN: Sadb and Branwen, you have a very busy job looking after your children and cooking. What do you usually eat every day?
SADB: We eat porridge which we eat three times a day which we get from wild oats. We have plenty of wild boar and venison which the men catch when they go hunting. They use spears to kill them.
BRANWEN: We skin and gut the animals and wrap them in straw before placing them into boiling water. We have fulachta fiadh which is a deep hole in the ground which we fill with water and add lots of hot stones. The meat is cooked in the boiled water. For hours we add lots of hot stones to keep the water boiling.
SADB: We also eat whatever berries or herbs that are in season.
RAUDAN: Is it difficult to make clothes?
BRANWEN: Not really because all girls are shown how to weave when they were young. We have one set of clothes each and these are woven from sheep’s wool. We like to dye our clothes with colours we get from berries and wild flowers. Our tunics are worn full length down to our ankles.
SADB: In the cold winters we have coats we make from animal skins and we make soft, warm shoes lined with fur, for the children. We wash with soap made from ash and girls with fair hair wash their hair with lime. We often put berries here to brighten our cheeks and we use a herb called ruam to redden our lips.
RAUDAN: Do your children help you ?
BRANWEN: Of course they do, they have to fetch skins of water from the well and the boys collect wood for the fire. The children have to help us collect berries and herbs. In the springtime we all give a hand to sow and plant the crops of oats, wheat, rye and barley. These are harvested in the autumn. We cut these by hand using sickles.
RAUDAN: I noticed that there are a lot of large flat flag stones in one area of the fort, can you tell me what they are for ?
LUGH: That’s where my parents Aengus and Scatha are buried along with my four babies who died at birth. They are buried in cist graves and we put their bodies lying on their side with the knees tucked up. We buried them with wooden bowls and swords so they would be ready for the next world.
RUADAN: Thank you Lugh. Here we see Clíodhna and Brian children of Sadb coming; Clíodhna, can you tell us a little about your life here in Carrow more?
CLÍODHNA: In my spare time my sisters and I play hide and seek. We also love skipping using the rope dad made from the woven straw. My brother practises spear throwing. On Sundays we all go to the stream to catch fish with our hands. We bring the big ones home and have a special meal. After this meal we go to the tomb where our great grandparents were buried and we honour them by leaving some wild flowers.
RUADAN: What about you Brian?
BRIAN: Dia dhaoibh! Well, you might like to know that when we win a battle we stick our enemy’s head on the fence to scare opponents away. When we kill our enemies we leave their bodies there because to bury someone is to have respect for them. We never stop working to survive. During the day we let our cows out but at night we put them in so someone won’t steal them or so wolves don’t kill them.
RAUDAN: A very big thank you to the Mac Thoirdhealbhaigh family in their Ringfort home in Cluain Tuaiscirt, Béal Átha na Sluaighe.
Web Version Life in a Ringfort in Clontuskert

Gortnahorna Ringfort

Fiona Maguire and Seamie Callanan show the children around the Ringfort

Filling in field records

Ringfort Field Recording

Seamie Callanan tells us some local legends about Ringforts

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