The Hill of Truth,
Knockfierna – its legends & traditions, hill of the fairies, wealth of ancient lore, cross erected, ancient cromlech cave and its legends. Christian traditions, the strickens, picturesque glen. Marvellous view – the view on a fine day has to be experienced to be appreciated.Limerick Leader June 23rd 1951 – by Orjay
Knockfirena Flora (over 100 species)
This area is classified as heathland and dominated by Ling, Bell Heather, Cross Leaved Health, Bilberry, Gorse, Cranberry, Bog Rosemary, Bracken, Rushes, Sedges, Bog Cotton, Purple Moor Meadows, Foxtail, Fescues, Mosses, Lichen (dosens of species), Fern, Woodrush, Purple Orchard, Note, Meadow Saffron and yellow Foxglove and the Hen Harrier (very rare, and on official endangered list).Fauna: Butterflys, Caterpillars, Hawks, Darter etc.
Knockfierna Giants Grave
On the northern slope of Knockfierna it is very imperfect cromlech, called by the peasents the giants Fawha’s grave. Its capping stones are, for the most part, inclined or fallen. They are fine slabs of plutonic rock, some of them measuring 7 feet in length and 2 feet in thickness, with 3 ½ feet above ground. The dimensions of the cromlech are 25 x 9 feet externally and 21 x 5 feet internally and its long diameter lies east and west.
According to Lewis, was the site of the ancient temple of Stuadhraicin. The suthority for this statement is not given but the heath-covered hill for about a mile west of the dome is known locally as the “Strickeens”.The following lines are taken from “The Festival of Lughnasa” by the late Maire McNeill.“it has been my good fortune to have stood on a few of the heights of Lughnasa, viz on Croagh Patrick, Church Mountain, Downpatrick Head, Knockeyon, Drunghill, Ganiamore, Knockfierna, the Rock of Barnare and Cashel. The majesty of the view of Croagh Patrick has often been described, it is perhaps on the inland heights that one most realises the effect of the festival assembles and to understand how irish imagination was drawn to roam over areas and embrace the whole country”.
“most memorable was a fine August day when my husband and i stood on top of Knockfierna, a hill of only 950 – feet and yet commanding tremendous all-round view of wide windy acres of rich Munster Land, and beyond them the Shannon estuary, the Kerry Hills, among them the twin shapes which truly do resemble the breasts of goddess. The Cork ranges and in the eastthe Galtees and the Keeper Hills, formerly the twelve mountains of Ebhlenn, another goddess. To know that every year it has been the custom of our ancestors to assemble on these hills in festivity and high spirits, to look out over the plains and pick out landmarks, is to understand better Irish History”
(extract from Ancient Churches and Topography of Ballingarry by Henry Maloney, M.A., M.D., submitted Feb 28th, 1905)
On the Strickeens is a remarkable fort called Lisnafeen, made out of the crumbled-down sandstone of the soil, at an elevation of about 775-feet above sea level. It is circular and consists of an outer rampart or bank, then a fosse, and then the fort proper, surrounded by another rampart. The diameter of the fort proper is 100-feet, and the distance from the inner to the outer rampart is 44-feet. The fosse has been much filled up by the slipping down parts of the ramparts during the many ages of its existence, but it still has a depth on its steepest side of 30-feet 6-inches, measured from the top of the inner rampart. I was puzzled to know what the original in habitants did for water at such an altitude without any spring near a very old man,who owns the place and who kindly followed me and acted as my cicerone, showed me a depression near the centre of the fort where rushes are growing and told me that when levelling the space he found a well there, filled up with debris.
Ancient Churches and Topography of Ballingarry Parish, County Limerick
Dr. P. W. Joyce derives the name from Cnoc Firinne, “the hill of truth”, as a weatherglass, its dome when cloud capped presaging rain and so on, but there is also a local tradition connecting it with Donn Firinn, “a fairy king”.
Geologically, it is interesting as it is of volcanic origin, the plutonic rock of which it is composed having erupted through the red sandstone of the rest of the range. On its summit is a cairn of stones, regarding with awe by the neighbouring peasantry, so much that when in the last Ornance re-survey it was removed to find the triangulation mark at its base, the peasents collected afterwards and piled up the stones again.With the awe, however, there muct be a leaven of ridicule as, while they say Knockfierna is the hill of truth, they call its cairn Buchail Briag, “the lying boy” because between its frequently slipping down and being built up again no one re-visiting it can foretell at what height he will find it.
Population of Knockfierna
Knockfierna was the most populated district in the area at the time of the famine and was also the most accefted and are now only ruins of the many houses to be seen on the hill. Population of Common Townland, Knockfierna being the area from the Tinker’s Cross, bounder on the north side by the red road and on the south side by the road from the Tinker’s Cross to Knockfierna Village.
Year Population Number of houses inhabited
1841 629 123
1851 464 87
1901 91 26
1911 81 23
The most historic scenic hill in County Limerick, rick in folklore and legend. With a height of 951- feet (351m) it gives panoramic views of six counties. The hill is associated with the ancient god Donn Firinne – the fairy king who gave his name to the hill.
The hill is very accessible from the Ballingarry - Killmallock road, the R518. The ancient roadways will take you by stone houses which were inhabited during the great famine of 1847 – 1850.
You will see pre-famine unfinished field patterns, walls and potato ridges (lazy beds). These ridges show that the last crops were never dug out because of the potato blight. A megalithic tomb is visable on the northern slope of knockfierna and the remains of a cairn on the summit. The Mass of rock is on the southern side of the pinnacle which was used during Penal times (1700 – 1800).
Knockfierna had a lot of “common” ground meaning that it was not owned by a landlord, so many evicted families moved to the upper slopes between 1830 – 1845. The hill was densely populated with over two hundred stone cabins and a total population of over one thousand persons. These people had plots of land, and depended on potato crops totally so when this crop failed in consecutive years they faced death or emigration.
“workers on FAS Schemes are re-building the houses where and as they were, with their own stones and soon they’ll be roofed with sods and thatch. Then Knockfierna will be left alone again – except that visitors – we, the survivors can go and look. Irish Times, July 1994 written by Nuala O’Fáolain