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Inishboffin, Inishlyon to the east, Inishark to the west, and on Inis Turc Northeast of Inishboffin. Extensive deposits of soapstone, copper and gold bearing ores made them particu- larly attractive places to live in prehistoric times.

Iron Age Connemara (600 B.C. – 400 A.D.) Te Iron Age or Celtic period is a shadowy one over much

of Ireland. Te population seems to have declined mark- edly in the years after 1000 B.C. In Connemara this period (600 B.C. – 400 A.D.) brought with it troubled times, which required the construction of cliff-bound forts (Dún Mor and Dún Gráinne on Inishboffin) hilltop forts and lake forts. Like the more famous Dun Aengus of Aran, these were lightly defended settlements used as places of refuge in times of war. Lake settlements (Crannogs) are a distinctive feature of the Connemara lakes; good examples are visible at Bola and Scannive. Tese are man-made or man-modi- fied islands, circular or oval in shape, usually with a stone wall and house sites inside. Tese island forts are also found all the way along the west coast and in the Outer Hebrides off the Scottish west coast. While we have no definite dates for the Connemara examples some of them remained in use for various purposes up until the 19th century and at least one of the Connemara examples was used as a hideout by Fr. Myles Prendergast, a minor legend in the area who fled to Connemara after the 1798 Rebellion.

Irish may have begun to emerge as a distinct language about this time, combining elements introduced from the continent with indigenous forms of speech surviving here since prehis- toric times. Te southern half of Connemara remains largely Irish speaking to this day. Tis is probably the most impor- tant element of Connemara’s heritage. Its continuing survival against the odds is perhaps the area’s greatest contribution to Ireland’s and Europe’s cultural heritage.


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