Early Medieval Tunnel/Souterrain discovered in Co. Kerry

Souterrain kerry

Steps leading into one of the internal chambers (photo James Eogan)

Interesting news from Co. Kerry, where an early medieval tunnel system/souterrain has been uncovered during construction works along the N71 road between Bonane and Glengarrif.

Located in Releagh townland, the previously unrecorded tunnel system is cut into the underlying boulder clay/bedrock and contains two internal chambers, which measure circa 4m wide.

Also known as souterrains, early medieval tunnels such as the Releagh example were most likely utilised as places of refuge during times of trouble. They may also have been used for storing valuables and perishable food stuffs, with the relatively low temperatures inside the tunnels helping to preserve the latter.  The majority appear to date from between 750 and 1250 AD (Clinton 2001, p. 95) and they are often found in association with ringforts (there is no surviving evidence for a ringfort at Releagh).

The Releagh souterrain (KE102-133) is currently being recorded by archaeologists working for Kerry County Council (Michael Connolly) and the National Roads Authority (James Eogan) and it is hoped that further information on the tunnel’s form and function will be available shortly.

Medieval tunnel kerry

The tunnel uncovered during road works (photo James Eogan)


Thanks to James Eogan for informing me about this site and allowing me to use his images


Clinton, M. 2001 The Souterrains of Ireland. Wordwell Bray.


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