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Carnaun Seniors, Ireland


Fullachta Fia - Ancient Cooking Places - in the Athenry Area

The Area around Athenry is divided into Townlands. Our school is in the Townland of Carnaun, which means The Stony Hill of the Cairn Grave. Nearby is the Townland of Tobar na bhFiann or the Well of the Fianna.
The Fianna were a band of warriors who protected Ireland in ancient times. They were famous for their great deeds.
In the townland of Moanbaun are the remains of a ''Fullacht Fia'' or an ancient cooking place where the Fianna cooked the deer they hunted. There are many of these grassed over mounds, which are ancient cooking places untouched for the last 3,000 - 4,000 years, in the Athenry area.

There is usually a hollow, which was once the hearth, and a kidney shaped mound of broken and burnt stones around it with a water source nearby in a sunken trough. The stones were heated in the fire until they were very hot and were then dropped into the water to heat it and the meat was then cooked in the boiling water.

These cooking places are referred to by Keating in his History of Ireland Foras Feasa ar Eirinn. He describes them as being used by the Fianna in their hunting expeditions during the summer months - Bealtaine (May) until Samhain (November) - for the cooking of meats procured in the chase. In translation the passage continues:
And it was their custom to send their attendants about noon with whatever they had killed in the morning's hunt to an appointed hill, having wood and moorland in the neighbourhood, and to kindle raging fires thereon, and put into them a large number of stones; and to dig two pits in yellow clay of moorland, and put some of the meat on spits to roast before the fire; and to bind another portion of it with suagans in dry bundles and set it to boil in the larger of the pits and keep plying them with the stones that were in the fire, making them seethe often until they were cooked. And these fires were so large that their sites are today in Ireland burnt to blackness, and these are now called Fullachta Fiadh by the peasantry. As to the Fianna, when they assembled on the hill on which was the fire, each of them stripped off, and tied his shirt around his waist; and they ranged themselves round the second pit we have mentioned above, bathing their hair and washing their limbs: and after this they took their meal; and when they had taken their meal, they proceeded to build their hunting tents and so prepared themselves for sleep.