Corlican is An Taisce's newest property. This unique property is a ring fort and a Quaker burial ground. It links early Gaelic settlement, the Cromwellian period and the arrival of the Religious Society of Friends, [The Quakers].
Corlican ringfort was constructed in the Early Medieval period between the early 7th and the late 9th centuries. It is 34 metres in diameter and has a roughly circular ditch, a crude rampart and a causeway. It was probably used as a fortified farmstead rather than a military fort and consisted of a domestic dwelling made of timber construction with wattle and daub walls and a thatched roof. This was accompanied by a suite of other structures that include sheds, workshops, corn drying kilns and animal shelters. The bank had a deep ditch on the outside and when it was newly built it would have had either a palisade of timber posts on top, a post and wattle fence or a strong blackthorn or whitethorn hedge to keep out marauding animals such as wolves and to provide protection against cattle raiders. Oliver Cromwells’ soldiers may have used the fort during the siege of Wexford but there is no evidence to support this belief. However three Cromwellian soldiers, Robert Cuppage, Thomas Holme and Francis Randall returned to found the Society of Friends in County Wexford. They held their first meeting in 1657 at Francis Randall’s house. The Quaker’s later adapted the ringfort by adding a wall, gate and sentinel tree to create a burial ground. The first internment took place in 1659 and burials continued on this site until 1953. Members of the Cuppage and Randall Families were buried here with Thomas Holme’s wife and children. A well-known Quaker Thomas Holme went to America in 1680 at the invitation of William Penn where he surveyed and laid out the site for the city of Philadelphia. Francis Randall also had connections with America as his descendants were cousins of the American President George Washington. The Quakers have made a critical contribution to the economic life of Ireland, given assistance in the famine years and played a part in the peace process in the North. Todays’ Quakers continue in business and some have become household names, Bewleys, Jacobs, Lambs, Pims, Davis and Goodbodys. In County Wexford the Quakers farmed the land and built mills; for example, Randalls mills at Crossabeg was one of the many Quakers meeting houses in Ireland. They were also craftsmen and artisans. Francis Randall’s name has survived in this area and his descendants are well known local craftsmen.
The ecosystem is a relatively untouched small woodland with 15 different deciduous trees on the bank of the ringfort and at least 44 wild flower species growing in the centre of the ring fort/burial ground. It is home to a variety of birds, insects and small mammals. The wild flowers are best seen in Spring before the full tree canopy has fully developed as they take advantage of the light at this time. For example Bluebells [Hyacinthoides non-scripta], Wood Anemones [Anemone nemorosa], and Wood Sorel [Oxalis acetosella], flower in the Spring and then spend the rest of the season surviving on food reserves in their bulbous roots. Other plants grow along the margins of the wood where light is more available. The yellow flowers of Lady’s Bedstraw [Gallium aparine], and the delicate white of the Stichwort [Stellaria holostea], the mauve Herb Robert [Geranium robertianum], and the Dog Violet [Viola riviniana], are found along the margins in late Spring. Ivy [Hedera Hibernica], and Honeysuckle [lonicera periclymenum], however are epiphytes and root in the ground using tree trunks and branches as ladders to reach the light. Ferns [polypodium vulgare], thrive in the moist woodland floor in the thick layer of moss. In the summer the topped umbelifers like the Pignut [Conopodium majus] flourish. The trees provide food and nesting sights for birds especially rooks [Corvus frugilegus], and also provide food for insects and small mammals. Rooks prefer rural areas and nest in colonies called rookeries. The sound of a rookery in spring and summer is as much part of the countryside as cows and sheep. Sessile oaks [Quercus petraea], and Hazel [Corylus avellana], are excellent providers of food for wildlife.