The Lake of Blood
The Lake Of Blood
By Willie Dwyer, Local Historian, Rooska, Bantry
“Those stone cairns up there on the hill are not the original cairns made by the Ordnance Survey (in the 1830s), but they are on that the original spot, I believe, of the cairns. Some people used to go out there and knock it down, and the next party that would go up would rebuild it up again. So down through the years it has been preserved. It might have been destroyed, but it was like the phoenix – it always arose from the ashes!
I heard this story from local schoolteacher, Joe Hourihane, who is
dead many years. Tradition has it that in a dry summer many, many years
ago, water was very scarce and there was cattle grazing in the mountain
over the lake. The water was scarce in the hole due to the demand that
was on it by the cattle, and eventually, the cattle fought over the
water and gored each
other. There was no such thing as dehorning of cattle in those days, and the smell of blood drove the cattle mad. The result was anyway that there was nothing left in the end, only some few survivors and a pool of blood in what used to be, due to the dryness of the summer, the little lake. And that’s how it got its name of “Loch na Fuilla”, which when translated into English means “The Lake of the Blood”.
The gap going through in the mountain there, by Loch na Fuilla, the
locals always called it, that’s the old people who are dead and gone
now, used to call it “Barna Mhór”, which means “The Big Gap”, and on the
right-hand side (the north-west corner) before you come to the extreme
top of the track, there’s a round bald rock which was known as “the
Eagle’s Rest”. I don’t know how long the eagles have been gone out of
this part of the country, but it must have been a long time ago. This is
a tradition now, it has been handed down as tradition, how true or
false it is, I can’t prove to you.”
After going over the first two ladder stiles, you come to a “step over” stile. Instead of going over the stile, take a short diversion to the west and you will come to a hut site that was found during the research of this Walk. Numerous hut sites have been found below this northern ridge of the peninsula. These hut sites have been dated from the Neolithic to more recent times, and they have been used for a variety of functions, such as metal working and cooking sites. The walls over these remaining foundation stones would have been wattle and/or sod; these sites are also sometimes associated with ancient pre-bog field systems.