Islands of Lough Ennell

Many of the islands on the lake have been identified as crannogs, although complete excavation has not yet been carried out. Eight islands on the lake have been identified in The Annals of Westmeath each varying in historical importance.

Over time the names of the islands have changed and many have become part of the mainland their original names were:- Fort Island or Dysart , Shan Island, Oge Island, Goose Island, Cro Inis (Cormorant island) or Cro Insho, Cherry Island, Chapel Island and Green Island.

Fort Island

Fort Island or Dysart Island was the largest, there was an important large star shaped fort on the island in the 17th century. Three silver hoards have come from Dysart Island.

Goose Island

The crannog midway along the eastern shore near Belvedere is oval in shape and measures c 50 x 35m. The island is supported by a neat oval cairn of stones. It is surrounded on three sides by a horseshoe of 149 birch timbers. The horseshoe of offshore timbers is a feature Goose shares with the royal crannog Cros Inis. The timbers may have been a defensive feature to protect the crannog. They may also have been used as a docking complex. On the other hand they may simply have provided protection from the elements or they may have served all three functions simultaneously.

Cro Inis

Known as Malachy's Island, Cormorant Island, Cro Inis was in ancient times selected by the kings of Royal Meath as a residence. The Abbe Mac Geoghegan tells us that Malachy the Second who succeeded Brian Boru, A.D. 1014 had a castle here. The King's principal residence was on the mainland at Dun-na-Sgiath on Kilcooley shore

Commenting on the entry in the Four Masters 1022 O'Donovan writes:-

"Cro-Inis Locha Ainninn i.e. the island of the house or hut in Lough Ennell. The island is still called Cro-Inis in Irish and sometimes cormorant Island in English. It lies on the south-west part of Lough Ennell, near Mullingar, in the county of Westmeath and belongs to the parish of Dysart. Some fragments of the ruins of a small castle, or stone house are still to be seen on this island. The Fort of Dun na Sciath, the seat of King Mael Seachlainn (Malachy), which consisted of several concentric entrenchments or circumvallation, is situated on the brink of the lake opposite this island. King Malachy died on Cro-Inis near his house of Dun na Sgiath in the 43rd year of his reign, in the year 1022 A.D.

Cherry Island

Cherry Island is a natural island which was fortified with a circular stone fort between the 5th and 10th century. There is literary evidence to suggest that it was part of a settlement included both island and ring fort.

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