While Offaly has a huge range of Early Christian church and monastic sites it would not have been noted for crannogs, unlike its neighbour in Co. Westmeath. Surprisingly, Offaly has 13 crannog sites recorded in the National Monuments database, however they are in many ways different from the usual picture of the small, man-made island in a lake. Many of these crannogs are located close to natural esker and drumlin routeways and survive as wetland settlements in or close to bogs. One third of Offaly is covered by peatland.
Crannogs in Ireland.
The name crannog is obviously the Irish names of ‘crann’ for tree and ‘óg’ in this case referring to small and not young. But we will see that ‘small tree’ does not account for the size and scale of wood used in the construction of these lake dwellings which are generally in open bodies of water.
There is no agreed figure for the number of crannogs in Ireland. Some have suggested 1,200 over the whole country while others take the number over 2,000! Crannogs were constructed in the sixth and seventh centuries and occupied and used up to the end of the seventeenth century. As a monument in the landscape that has changed considerably with the reduction in water, lake and river levels, along with the drying out of the bogs since the Middle Ages, it is only by accident that a new crannog is discovered. Continue reading