Prosperous – Our Ancient Past
Raths, ringforts or just plain old fairyrings, whatever you may call them, are a reminder to us of the earliest inhabitants of Prosperous. These ancient settlers laid the very first foundation stones for the development of Prosperous as we know it today.
Prosperous has quite a few ringforts or earthforts scattered about its townlands, suggesting that a community structure existed in the village some 1000 years before Robert Brooke accomplished his industrialised village, which he anglicised “Prosperous”.
Probably the best known ringfort in the village is that which is located in Rathview. But one particular ringfort stands out more than any other in the village, not merely because of its location on Carra Hill (the hilly country), which we can assume was strategically positioned for both security and observation purposes.
But because, oral tradition claims that this hill-fort belonged to a local chieftain named Eldon and like many hillforts of its kind, Eldon’s fort has a number other ringforts in close proximity, this again was a defensive strategy, grouping the small forts all within calling distance of each other in the event of any threat.
The simplest type of enclosure, is more often circular or ring-wall, variants of this type have two or more walls and fosses (ditches or moats) possibly even up to seven rings. From OSI maps we can clearly see that several ringforts around the village have more than one circular wall.
It has been suggested that a triple wall enclosure indicated that of a royal fort, this may be assumed entirely on the basis that the owner (possibly a chieftain) required the added protection of a multi-walled structure.
These ancient celtic forts which can be found in nearly every county, come in a variety of forms and sizes to suit their purpose. Some were fortresses, residences, ecclesiastical and even cattle-pens, used to protect cattle from raiding tribes. In some cases they would have been used both for defence and burial.
The largest earthen ringfort of its kind is Dun Ailinn near Kilcullen in Kildare.
Considering their locations, it would appear that many were constructed in very remote or isolated areas, but that would not have been the situation at the time, but over many generations these forts became associated with the small folk (fairyrings) or evil spirits such as the phúca. Now who in their right mind would build near, or interfere with them!