Staigue is one of the finest examples of a stone ringfort (Caithair-Cahir) in Ireland. Located at the head of a valley on the southern coast of the Iveragh Peninsula (Ring of Kerry) with spectacular views over Kenmare Bay and beyond to the Beara Peninsula.
Access to the fort is through a narrow 1.8 metre high double linteled doorway leading into a 4m long passage through the wall. Inside is an elaborate network of criss-crossing stairways built along the circular internal wall giving access to the top of the rampart. There are also two small 2 metre high chambers built inside the North and West side of the wall.
Staigue is believed to have been built in the Late Iron Age / Early Christian Period c.400-500AD, although some theories suggest a much earlier date, even going back as far as the Bronze Age (2500-500BC). The fort is surrounded by a deep ditch measuring 8 metres in width, which could pre-date the stone construction, making it possible that the stone fort we see today was built on top of a much older site.
The Irish for Staigue is ‘an Stéig’ which usually translates as ‘portion’, however, locals used to call it ‘Stig’ or ‘Steague’, which was understood to mean ‘steps’. It was also known as ‘Staig an air’ which was thought to mean ‘the windy house’, although a different spelling of the same name ‘Staigue-an-ár’ may denote ‘the staired place of slaughter’. Legend associates the fort with the Fir Bolg, the semi-mythical race who are also said to have built Dún Aonghasa and Grianán of Aileach.
Local folklore tells of the faeries of Staigue playing football against the faeries of Cahergall (another fort on the northside of the peninsula), who took a local boy onto their team with disastrous results. . .
You can read the full tale in our previous post on Cahergall at https://www.facebook.com/monumentalireland/posts/1397245386996868
For more information on Staigue and other ancient sites please visit the brilliant www.voicesfromthedawn.com