2007:351 - BROGAN HOUSE, DERRYLAHAN, Donegal

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Donegal Site name: BROGAN HOUSE, DERRYLAHAN

Sites and Monuments Record No.: N/A Licence number: 07E0692

Author: Charles E. Orser, Jr., Anthropology, Campus Box 4660, Illinois State University, Normal, IL, 61790–4660, USA.

Site type: Post-medieval house

ITM: E 603151m, N 923186m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 55.056158, -7.950680

For the month of July 2007 student excavators, working under the direction of the writer, conducted limited excavations at the site of the Brogan house ruin in Glenveagh National Park, Donegal. The students were enrolled in the course ‘Archaeological Field Methods’, and this fieldwork constituted the fourteenth season of the Irish Rural Lifeways Project, sponsored by the Centre for the Study of Rural Ireland at Illinois State University. The research was conducted with the kind collaboration of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Donegal County Museum in Letterkenny, and Landscape and Geophysical Services, Claremorris, Co. Mayo. The research was also supported by a generous grant from the Royal Irish Academy.
The Brogan house appears on land purchased in the late 1850s by the infamous evicting landlord John George Adair. The house sits just off the Derrylahan nature trail at the northernmost end of Lough Veagh. The precise dates of its occupation are unknown, but the house appears on both the first (1834–5) and the revised edition (1903) of the OS maps. Griffith’s Valuation indicates that the house was home to Michael McGinley and family in the mid-19th century. The Brogan house was not involved in the Derryveagh evictions at Lough Gartan, but historical information suggests that Adair may have bought out the residents of the house. At present, the association of the house with the name Brogan is unknown, but it may be linked to a later inhabitant. In any case, the house was never levelled as were the houses in Derryveagh.
The house is stone-built and includes three rooms, one of which contains a bed outshot. Approximately two-thirds of the house walls remain standing, with the eastern gable being largely intact. The building has undergone considerable modification over time. The presence of the bed outshot implies that the western room may be the earliest of the three, and a chimney present on the east gable end appears to be of late construction. The exact sequence of construction, however, has yet to be determined.
The excavation consisted of nineteen 1m by 1m squares. Fifteen of the excavation units formed a block in the front garden of the easternmost room. Four units were excavated in front of the westernmost room. All excavation was conducted with hand tools, and all excavated soil was screened. The vertical and horizontal location of all artefacts was recorded for spatial analysis. Two distinctly layered zones of rough cobbling indicated different periods of yard modification, and preliminary analysis of the artefacts suggests that these different layers are temporally sensitive.
The recovered artefacts (1134 in number) date to no earlier than the 19th century, and some of them may date to the early 20th century. Over 75% of the collection consists of refined earthenware ceramics and white clay smoking pipes. Unlike other sites excavated as part of this research project, few pieces of coarse earthenware appear in the collection.