Dennıs fortified history

Denn got its name from the Irish word ³dionga² which means fortress. This may refer to the elevated area of the parish between Sliabh Glath and the Ardkill mountain which because of its height formed a natural defence for the early settlers from attack. Slieve Glath is 1054ft high while Ardkill is 878ft high. By Geraldine Lynch.

The word Denn occurs in the townlands of Denmore (the large fort) and Dennbane (the white fort). Parts of the parish of Denn belonged to three different baronies in older times. The Southern section belonged to the baronies of Castlerahan and Clonmahon, while the greater part of the parish was linked to the barony of Upper Loughtee. For a period in the 19th century five townlands on the Ballyjamesduff side belonged to the benefice of Ballyjamesduff, while some townlands such as Aughavuddy and Drumbarry now in Crosserlough, were part of the parish of Denn.

The “hilly” district has numerous features of historical significance. On Banaho (Banaher) Mountain there are remains of megalithic tombs and of a stone circle. A decorated stone still remains on the site of what appears to have been a passage tomb, like those on the nearby Sliabh na Caillighe. The message on the stone seems to be illegible. The carving dates back to 3,000BC and may be more ancient even that Brú na Bóinne. There are at least seven ring forts in the area, the most prominent of these are to be found in the townlands of Lislea, Aughavaddy, Kilnacor and Loonogs.

The Black Pigs Dyke which was known as the Hadrians Wall of Ulster, was a huge trench between Ulster and the rest of the country and ran from Newry through Monaghan, Cavan and Leitrim to the sea at Bundoran. A part of the Blacks Pig Dyke runs across Ardkill Mountain from Creamfield in the South to Drumavaddy in the north and follows on westward to separate the townlands of Banaher and Pullakeel. Ardkill Mountain is the location of a Mass Rock which dates back to penal era.
In former times, the coach route from Dublin to Enniskillen passed through the village of Crosskeys. An inn in the village, where McCauls Pub is now situated was the stopping place for the coach. The village got its name from the sundial that was erected outside the inn to tell the time. The base of the sundial was made of slate, and there was an engraving of two crossed keys, hence the name of Crosskeys. The Irish name for Crosskeys and the townland in which it is situated, Carrickatubber (Carraig na Tobair) means the Rock of the Well. The old mill in the village was built by Anthony Reilly who was landlord for the area, to accommodate his tenants. The mill ground oats and corn into meal and flour. The stream that runs past the mill is the source of the River Erne, Ireland’s second longest river. There was an old RIC Barracks in Crosskeys village until the general headquarters ordered its destruction together with all RIC Barracks in the country during the Anglo-Irish War. The barracks was set on fire in April 1920. The creamery building was then built on the site of the barracks. When the creamery was closed during the early 1990’s it was purchased by Denn Development Association and tuned into three self catering apartments with a new Resource Centre built behind them.

At the beginning of the 19th century there were two Roman catholic churches in the parish of Denn, one in Drumavaddy and one in Crosskeys village. The church in Crosskeys was built on a site opposite the parish priests house on the other side of the road and was some distance in from the road. The present chapel in Crosskeys was built in 1839 by Rev. J Murray, P.P. The site of the chapel was changed to Carrickatubber to cater for people from areas in Lower Lavey parish. During the building of the chapel the roof was damaged by the big wind of 1839. The parish priests house was built in 1904 by Rev P Donohoe P.P and the curate’s house was constructed in 1900. The Church of Ireland church was rebuilt in 1816 with the aid of a loan of £600 from the Board of First Fruits.
Fairs were held in Crosskeys Village on the 6th January and the 17th March each year. When the buying and selling of the fairs finished, horse racing took place through a course around the village.
Hiring fairs were held annually on the 12th November and the 14th May. At these fairs children and men got hired to work for farmers for periods of six months for small amounts of money.

At the beginning of the 1900s there were seven schools in operation in the parish of Denn. Crosskeys Girls School - was built beside the present chapel and catered for girls and boys up to a certain age. Built by Rev J O’Connor P.P. in 1874, it closed in 1926.

Crosskeys School - built in 1850 by landlord Anthony O’Reilly, was a boys school until it was amalgamated with the girls school. The school was demolished in 1978 to make way for a playing area for a new school.

Lacken School - built in 1894 by Rev P Lynch P.P. This school underwent extensive repairs in 1957 and was made into a two room building but was sold in 1978.

Banaho School - The old school in Banaho was built in 1868 by Rev. P Gilroy P.P.. A new school built by Rev. E McGennis P.P. replaced the old one in 1955 but the school closed in 1977. Dennbawn School - the school was erected in 1875 by Rev. J O’Connor P.P. and was closed in 1955.
Drumavaddy School - The old school in Drumavaddy was built in 1870 on church grounds by Rev. P Gilroy P.P. The school was destroyed by fire on February 1st 1947 and pupils and teachers had to move to Dennbawn school and it remained the school for the area until 1955 when the new school in Drumavaddy was opened. The school closed in 1977 and the building was subsequently developed as a community centre. Denn Protestant School - this was the first purposely built school in the parish of Denn and existed throughout the 19th century and was attended by both Protestant and Catholic children. It is not known when the present unused school was built but it was renovated in 1938. The school closed in 1965.

Denn Parish Banner
The Denn Parish Banner had a green background with gold lettering and gold tassels, and had a picture of Daniel O’Connell in the centre and was carried on two mahogoney uprights with a crossbar on top. It was used during the Land League days and whenever parishioners from Denn joined in the marches.

Townlands in the Parish of Denn and their meaning
Denn - dionn - a fort or fortified hill
Aghalattafraul - Achadh Leachta Fearáil - field of the mound of Farrell
Aghateggal - Achadh An tSeagail - Ryefield
Ardloughter - Ard Luachra - height of the rushes
Ardvarney - Ard Bhearna - high gap
Banagher (Banaho) - Beannchar - a place abounding in peaks. There are two circles in the town-land slightly raised about two feet above the level of the ground. In the centre of the larger circle is a small eminence on which stands the remains of a druids altar.
Carn - Carn - a cairn or heap of stones
Carrickaboy - Carraigheach Bhuí - Yellow rocky place
Carrickatober - Carraig an Tobair - Rock of the Well
Corglass - Corrghlas - Green hill
Cronagrow - Corr na gGnó - Hill of the nuts
Cornamahon - Corr na Meathan - Hill of the Saplings
Cornaseer - Corr na Saor - Hill of the tradesmen
Corraweelis - Corr an Mhaoilis - Hill of the flat fort
Crumlin - Croimghlinn - Curved glen
Dennbane - Dionn Bán - White fort
Denmore - Dionn Mór - Large Fort
Drumavaddy - Droim na Mhada - Hill ridge of the dog
Drumcannon - Droim Ceannain - White topped hillridge
Drumcrow - Droim Cró - Hill/Hillridge of the nuts
Drumliff - Droim Luith - Hil ridge of the herbs
Farragh - Farrach - An old land measure
Gallon - Galún - A land measure
Killynanum - Coill an Anam - Wood of the soul or spirit
Killyteane - Coill an tSiain - Wood of the fairymound
Kilnacor - Coill na Coinne - The hill wood
Kilnacreevy - Coill na Craoibhe - Wood of the branch on tree
Lackanclare - Leacan Clár - Hillside of the plain
Lackenduff - Leacan Dubh- Black hillside
Lackenmore - Leacan Mhór - Great Hillside
Lishenry - Lios Enrí - Henry’s fort
Lislea - Lios Liath - Grey Fort
Lisnneen - Lios Mín - Smooth fort
Loonogs - Lannóg - a little building, a little church
Moher - Mothar - a clump of trees, a thicket
Pullafree - Polla Fraoigh - “poll” of the heather (poll - a land measure)
Pollakeel - Polla Caol - narrow “poll”
Pottle - Poitéal - a land measure
Pottlesoden - Poitéal Sodáin - Soden’s “pottle”
Ranrenagh - Ráthan Raonach - little rath or fort of the paths
Tullytreane - Tulaigh Triain - hill of the third (an old land measure)

Taken from Breffni Blue
April 2003