Fearann Dáith or Farrandau is a townland of 45 hectares / 110 acres. In the early part of the 20th century, 30 individual fields were mapped in this townland. 

It is in the Electoral Division of Castlehaven North, in Civil Parish of Castlehaven and the Roman Catholic Parish of Castlehaven and Myross.

Fearann Dáith is bordered by the following townlands: Faiche Úrach (Fahouragh) and Cnoc Droma (Knockdrum) to the north, Na Garráin (Gurranes) to the northeast, An Driseán (Drishane) to the east, An Gort Breac (Gortbrack) to the west and Fearann Deilgín (Farrandeligeen) to the south. At its southern border, it touches the sea along the spectacular cliff known as Faill Dic.

OpenStreetmap contributors, with input from the Castlehaven & Myross History Society, have created a detailed townland map including all its minor placenames. Zoom in for further detail.



Fearran Dáith can be interpreted as the land/estate of Dáith, with the modern version of Dáith being Daithí (David). Bruno O'Donoghue also gave it as Fearran Daithi but speculated that it could also be Fearran Dámha - the land of the barbaric (or possibly bardic) tribe. In his 1913 article in the Southern Star, JM Burke  also interpreted it as the land of David (Fearann Dáithí or Fearann Daibhidh) and mentioned that David was an ancient, Irish, personal name derived from a word meaning nimble or active. In his article in Volume 7 of the Skibbereen and District Historical Society Journal, Eugene Daly also interprets it as David's land or estate but also suggests that it might be the land of the bardic poets (Fearann Dámha).In the Schools Collection (An Dúinín), it's listed as Fearann Dáith' which the teacher R. Ó Motharua interprets as Talamh Dáithí. 

Many attempts were made by English settlers to anglicise Fearran Dáith including Farrenda in 1659, Farinda in 1666 and Farrundagh in 1811. While the Ordnance Survey standardised these attempts c. 1841 with Farrandau, the Census of 1901 still used Farrandaw. 

Today, the Placenames Database of Ireland lists the original Fearann Dáith and the anglicised Farrandau as the statutory spellings. Either version can be used as a postal address or for legal and other documents. Local pronunciation is the same for both versions of the name and still follows the original Irish sound. 




Cnoc Droma / The Fort / Knockdrum Stone Fort: This fort is in the townland of Farrandau (just) even though it carries the name of an adjoining townland. Writing in 1936, the local schoolmaster said, "Knock Drum is the name used by Admiral Somerville, but I have never heard any other pronunciation of the name by the people in general than the purely Gaelic, Cnoc Droma". The Office of Public Works lists it as Knockdrum Stone Fort. Local residents to this day still refer to this renowned archeological site by the original Cnoc Droma or simply "The Fort". It is open to the public all year round and is a popular attraction with locals and visitors alike. 

Admiral Boyle Somerville sketch of The Fort c. 1931

To access the ‘'caiseal", park at St Barrahane's Catholic Church and walk about 200 metres along the R596 road towards Castletownshend where a signpost will direct you along a grassy path to a set of steps. After negotiating the steps, the view from the fort will take your breath away. Built in the mists of time, about 1,200 years ago of local sandstone, this circular monument is maintained by the OPW. 

The entrance has a gatehouse as well as a large boulder displaying Cup and Ring Rock Art. Additionally, a standing ‘gallán’ exhibits intricate carvings of crosses. This was placed here for safe keeping. In the centre are the remains of a clochan and the entrance to three subterranean chambers. A chimney-like stone may give a clue to its use but it was most likely an observational point or a garth for protecting cattle. This site was extensively explored by Admiral Boyle T Somerville - and his findings published in the Journal of the Royal Dublin Society of Antiquities of Ireland in 1931.

Looking out to sea - to the east is the Galley Head, followed by High and Low Island. Castletownshend nestles in the shelter of Horse Island, and Beann tSídháin (the Beann) proudly protects Toe Head. The distant island of Cape Clear gives way to the forested Knockomagh  which rises above Lough Hyne.

Seasann Cnoc Osta (Mt Gabriel) agus Cnoc Daod (Hungry Hill) ag tabhairt scáth ó Chiarraí. “Is féidir Neamh a fheiceáil ar lá deas “.


Murder: A recently published book about murders in West Cork has an entry from the townland of Farrandau. In 1815, Timothy Collins’s wife died and he and his daughter Margaret  went into the care of Mrs. Attridge. However, the child was murdered and the guilty father spent his life in jail. A sub plot of the story is that his new girlfriend wouldn’t accept the child.



As part of Griffiths Valuation in 1853, a survey of house quality was carried out to calculate what rates were due by each household. These were issued in 1850 in the form of house books (Pg 1Pg 2) and a guide on how to interpret these can be seen here. These show that 6 of the 9 houses in the townland at that time were class 3. This means that they were thatched houses with stone walls with mud or puddle mortar. Four are described as being old (more than 25 years) and out of repair while the other two are medium (not old), deteriorated by age and not in perfect repair. There are also three class 1 houses in the townland at this time which means that they were  slated and built with stone or brick and lime mortar - two were described as medium (not new), but in sound order and good repair while the other is medium, deteriorated by age and not in perfect repair. All of the houses in the townland at this time are between 5 foot 6 inches (!) and 7 foot 6 inches tall which indicates that they are probably single storey at this time. 

By the 1901 census, there were only three occupied houses and all had walls of stone, brick or concrete with roofs of slate, iron or tiles.  All three houses have two, three or four rooms with two housies having two windows in front (which indicates that they were probably still single storey while the other house had three windows in front.

When we advance to the 1911 census there are still three occupied houses in this townland and, not surprisingly, all three still have walls of stone, brick or concrete with roofs of slate, iron or tiles. All three houses have two, three or four rooms with one house having two windows in front, another having three and the third was five windows in front. 



Places of Interest 

Poll a'Dubhain: This elevated lochán is 90 metres (295 feet) abover sea-level and is nestled in a small valley just below the caiseal (fort). The poetic placename Poll a' Dubhain can be interpreted as the pool of the dark hollow. It was anglicised to Pollavaun by the Ordnance Survey about 1841. Some documents refer to Poll a'Dubhain as Lake Farrandau after the townland it is situated in.

It has an area of c. 0.6 hectares /1.6 acres and a catchment area of c. 9 hectares / 23 acres. The bottom of the lake is covered in a turfy sediment, so water quality decreases as the level of the lake falls.  In 1901, after years of deliberation, a gravity flow water scheme costing £1,950 bought piped water to Castletownshend from this elevated lake. A reason why a new source of  water was needed in Castletownshend was the installation of a central septic tank in the village. The effluent seeped into the water table.

A more modern scheme bringing water from the Lake Cross (some 5km to the north) was finished in 1983 at a cost of £281,000. A County Council plan at the time suggested placing a tank on top of the ridge. Thankfully this plan was shelved. 


Faill Dic: The southern border of Farrandau sweeps down to Cuan an Chaisleáin along the spectacular cliff known as Faill Dic. While all named cliffs in the parish start with the noun Faill, the etymology of 'Dic' is lost in the mists of time. The only reference to Dic in the Irish language is Lá Sheoin Dic (the day that never comes!) which is similar to Tibb's Eve in English. Experts say hydronyms are among the oldest toponyms so perhaps 'Dic' predates the speaking of Irish in the area. Another possibility is that a 'Richard' had an incident at the cliff. Local historians joke that "while placenames should only be interpreted and never be translated", the translation of Faill Dic is Cliff Richard!!

Whatever the meaning of Faill Dic, it makes for a stunning backdrop to Castlehaven Strand by the old graveyard. A popular route for local openwater swimmers is to swim from the beach out underneath Faill Dic as far as Poll Gorm and back again. The cliff is a nesting and roosting area for various species of seabirds, in particular gulls. 

In Edith Somerville's writings, she mentions that workmen repairing a ditch at the top of Fyle Dick (sic) witnessed the spectacular collapse of the Ó Drisceoil castle just across the way in 1926.

Faill Dic as seen from Castlehaven Strand


An Poll Gorm: This translates to the Blue Pool and is the name given to a sea pool just adjacent to Faill Dic


Lios: There were two ringforts (lios) in this townland, one of which is no longer visible. Ringforts are circular fortified settlements that were mainly built during the Bronze age up to about the year 1000.

The two ringforts mentioned above are mapped on the Historic Environment Viewer. However a souterrain, cross-slab, rock art and cup-marked stones are also mapped at the location of the northern-most ringfort.


Interesting Placenames

Interesting place-names of interest are Poll a’ Dubhain, Faill Dic and An Poll Gorm as mentioned above

Only one field name has been captured and that is the Field East Of The Houses

The Coast Road/Western Road runs through this townland.

If you want to see the actual locations  of any of these, go to detailed townland map  on Open Street Maps. If you know any other field names or placenames in this townland (or if you need to correct any or give further background information), please contact us at [email protected]



Fort: Farrandau and its neighbouring townland of Knockdrum have a fair share of mystery, folklore and myth. The townland seems to have ‘borrowed’ the Stone Fort from its neighbour. The fort was vandalised several times as there were rumours of buried gold. In fact there are many other places where gold was hidden in the parish, normally by thieves (gadaithe) who expired before the exact location could be divulged.

Another story tells of a man going home from a wake alone on a moonlit night. He met a rider on horseback coming towards him. He saw the rider was a stranger, but had no fear, so he addressed him, "Where are you going so late, Sir?" The stranger replied, "I am going to midnight mass on Cnoc Droma". There is no evidence thus far of a church save for a standing stone inscribed with stone crosses. Strangely an old name for the townland was Cill Éigse ( the church of Éigse, possibly).


Hawthorn Tree: Entries to the Folklore Collection include a magical hawthorn tree. On a moonlit night, the fairies can be seen dancing around the tree. Stranger still is that the tree can still be seen today,  more than 80 years later.


Tunnel: Rumours of a tunnel stretching from the fort to the lake below it and then on to the sea are probably fanciful as the local farmer’s efforts to make land ‘where God failed’ would surely have uncovered evidence.


Bonfires: In more recent times, this high ridge was used for bonfires, sometimes happy and other times sad.  As people left for America from Cobh, neighbours and family would gather on the hillside  as the liners passed westwards. No wonder they called the Fastnet lighthouse Deora Éireann (Ireland’s teardrop).  As the local football team returned triumphant to the parish, the bonfires could be seen from afar. They were dancing at the crossroads.


Mass Path: In former times when people used mass paths to arrive at the church and it is often stated that the people from the south waited at the fort and approached the church when the bell rang.



Families and Notable Residents 

The Tithe Applotment books of 1825 list the following family names: ?, Atkins, Barrett,Reardon, Daly, Attridge

Griffiths Valuation of 1853 lists the following family names: Attridge, Evans, Hasil, Daly, Daly, Kohane, McCarthy, Courney (Courtney). In addition, the following families had land only: Somerville, Walsh. Note: Somerville had 112 acres while Walsh leased 4 acres from him. All the remainder were landless. Somerville wasn't resident.

The Census of Ireland of 1901 (where Farrandau is called Farrandaw) lists the following family names: Collins (with McCarthy (servant) and Sheehan (servant)), Crowley and Driscoll. 

The Census of Ireland of 1911 lists the following family names: Driscoll, Keane and Crowley 

Note: the term 'with' refers to a person or persons of a different family name staying in the house. This may have been an in-law or other relative, a guest, or a farm labourer/housekeeper or domestic servant.


Demographics and Landholding

    *Occupiers Population Change Link to record
1825 Tithe Applotment         1825
1841 Census of Ireland 13 65    
1851 Census of Ireland 3 24    
1853 Griffith's Valuation

 2 landholders

 8 landless

 32 est.   1853
1861 Census of Ireland 6 (Incl. 1 uninhabited) 27    
1871 Census of Ireland 3 16    
1881 Census of Ireland 4 25    
1891 Census of Ireland 5 23    
1901 Census of Ireland 3 11   1901
1911 Census of Ireland 3 15   1911

*Occupiers generally equate to households having a house and land but may also include households having houses but no land.

Between 1656 and 1658 the Down Survey mapped all areas of the country to track ownership of land after much had been granted to followers of Cromwell after the war of the 1650's. At this time the proprietor (titulado) of this townland was Farrer Daniell (?).  This townland was part of Sleughteige at that time 

The proprietor of this townland in 1841 was the Archbishop of Dublin. It was all held under lease by Maurice Townsend of Shepperton and Henry Townsend of Castletownshend and sub-let to tenants without a lease. The landlord at another stage in the 19th century was Thomas Somerville (land held in fee).

In 1841 the soil was decribed as one third coarse and rocky with two thirds middling, producing middling crops of wheat, oats and potatoes with a little flax.


Local Business


Timothy Cassidy,

Fine Art Photographer


In 2007, Tim began to focus solely on fine art photography and has exhibited in New York, Washington DC and Ireland.

Tim divides his time between Farrandau and New York with his wife and daughter.

Contact timothycassidy.com 



Drishane House

Book a Cottage


Tom and Jane Somerville have three cottages available to rent in Farrandau. These include Castlehaven Beach Cottage, Cowshed Cottage and Farrandau Cottage.

All can be reserved online.


Drishane House

Tel: +353 (0)28 36126



Poll Gorm



Further Reading

  • Placenames Database of Ireland Logainm.ie entry for statutory version in Irish and English
  • The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0298, Page 101  - Bailtí Fearainn na hÁite by R. Ó Motharua's - notes on local townlands
  • The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0298, Page 216 - The fort on Cnoc Droma
  • The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0298, Page 243 - Midnight mass on Cnoc Droma
  • Castlehaven & Myross History Society Journal Vol. 1 - 2020 
  • Castlehaven & Myross History Society Journal Vol. 2 - 2021
  • Castlehaven & Myross History Society Journal Vol. 3 - 2022 
  • Skibbereen and District Historical Society Journal Vol. 7 - Placenames Based on the Irish Words for Fields and Land Divisions (Eugene Daly) Pg. 15
  • Skibbereen Historical Society Vol. 11 - 2015 - The Cashel at Knockdrum, Castlehaven, Co. Cork (Charlie O'Donovan), Pg 208
  • Skibbereen Historical Society Vol. 16 - 2020 - Ringforts (Jim Byrne), Pg 95
  • Parish Histories and Place Names of West Cork - Bruno O'Donoghue
  • Local Names - JM Burke (J.M.B) - Southern Star - 4th October 1913
  • Murder Most Local, Historic Murders of West Cork by Peter O’Shea
  • The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Seventh Series, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Jun. 30, 1931), pp. 1-14 (20 pages) - "The Fort" on Knock Drum, West Carbery, County Cork

  • See townlands.ie for information on this townland




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