1Bland, F.C. "Description of a Remarkable Building, on the North Side of Kenmare River, Commonly Called Staigue Fort." The Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy 14 (1825): 17.
The author began with, "It stands upon a hill comparatively low, between four and five hundred feet above the level of the sea, in a kind of basin or rather amphitheatre of lofty mountains; open to the sea on the south, with a gradual descent to it, and distant about a mile and a half from the coast. When the appearance of the country, which is barren and uninviting, is considered, it must create surprise..." The "lost and bewildered..." phrase in the quotation is from a popular eighteenth-century play entitled Cato a Tragedy, by Joseph Addison.

2Bland 17-29.
Bland, who was an author of scriptural commentaries, was described in a biography as "...devoting himself in part to the management of the estate, which, under his care, emerged from the barbarism in which many parts of Ireland were sunk at the time of the potato famine, and in part to the amusements and hospitalities of an Irish country gentleman in a county as noted then for its social pleasures as it is famous at all times for its extraordinary natural beauties. A man of commanding presence and charming address, Mr. Bland was a special favourite with his fellows, and among the tenantry his word was law. Throughout the estate, indeed, his rule was a 'benevolent despotism.'"

3Harding, James D. Picturesque Views of the Antiquities of Ireland. From the Sketches of Robert O'Callaghan Newenham, Esq. 2 vols. London: Thomas and William Boone, 1830.
The authors claim that Bland, the owner of the property, "...with a laudable zeal and good taste, has preserved this singular and interesting structure..." This might indicate that some restoration had occurred. Archaeologist Peter Harbison indicated that was the case in his 1992 Guide to the National and Historic Monuments of Ireland. However Harbison partially retracted that interpretation in a 2006 journal article. (Harbison, Peter. "An Architectural Enigma." Irish Arts Review 23.3 (2006): 100-01.)

4Harbison, Peter. Guide to the National and Historic Monuments of Ireland. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1992. 185.
In a later publication Harbison concludes, "it is now widely accepted that it probably belongs to the early centuries of Christianity in Ireland." (Harbison, Peter. "An Architectural Enigma." Irish Arts Review 23.3 (2006): 100-01.

5Westropp, T.J. "Ancient Forts of Ireland: Part II - The Kerry Coast." The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 27 (1897): 316.
Westropp also cites another local name for Staigue, Pounda-na-Staigue, indicating its use as an enclosure for cattle, a cattle-pound. (Westropp, Thomas Johnson. The Ancient Forts of Ireland: Being a Contribution towards Our Knowledge of Their Types, Affinities, and Structural Features. Dublin: Printed at the University, by Ponsonby and Weldick, 1902. 60-63.)

6Harbison, Peter. "An Architectural Enigma." Irish Arts Review 23.3 (2006): 100-01.
The author states, "The various etymologies suggested for the word Staigue do not tell us anything about the fort's origins, though we do know that it was used as a cattle·pound in the 18th century. Even local folklore enlightens us little, and all that John Windele was able to glean in 1848 was that the fort was once occupied by a stranger named Ruanoch, the 'Brown Shuler', who so tyrannised the natives that they rebelled and killed him. Was Staigue, then, a barracks, or the home of some affluent farmer or tourist/intruder some fifteen hundred years ago, or could it even have been built as a protective hostel for pilgrims on their way to and from Skellig Michael? Who knows? Like Chesterton's donkey, it keeps its secret still, and its very mystery will doubtless help to fuel speculation and discussion about it for many generations to come."
This speculation about Staigue continues with modern authors. In Secret Sights: Unknown Celtic Ireland, (2003) author Rob Vance writes, "It may have been used for ritual, as their god, Bolg (the god of lightning) was venerated during storms and the fort would have been a suitable amphitheatre for such observations..."

7General Charles Vallancey came to Ireland c. 1770 to work in the military survey, and made the country his adopted home. He was fascinated by the history, philology, and antiquities of the country at a time when such studies in Ireland were not fashionable. He published a number of books with theories regarding the non-native origin of Irish prehistoric monuments, theories later judged to be fanciful and without foundation. Although he never himself visited Staigue, he sent William Byers, his assistant on the Military Survey of Ireland, there to do the first known drawing of it in 1787. This is included in the gallery on the page. (Harbison, Peter. "An Architectural Enigma." Irish Arts Review 23.3 (2006): 100-01.)

8Vallancey, Charles. An Account of the Ancient Stone Amphitheatre Lately Discovered in the County of Kerry, with Fragments of Irish History Related Thereto, etc. etc. etc. Dublin: Graisberry and Campbell, 1812.This pamphlet may be read in its entirety here.
Most of Vallancey's pamphlet was devoted to his theories regarding the non-Irish origin of the builders of the monument. From p. 2: "Before I enter into further description, it appears necessary for the information of the reader, to say something of the ancient inhabitants of Ireland, who were all Scuthae:, as stiled by the Greeks, but of very different stocks. One, rude, ignorant, and unlettered; the other, a polished and lettered people since the invention of letters." From pp. 56-57: "I do not aver...that there never was a Druid in Ireland: when they and the Bards were expelled by the Britons, a few may have secreted themselves in this country; but I mean to aver, that Druidism was not the established religion of the pagan Irish, but Budhism." Vallancey was not alone in his generation of antiquarians in harboring a prejudice that regarded the native Irish as unsuitable candidates for the construction of the great monuments of prehistoric Ireland.

9Vallancey 19-20.

10Bland 26-27.
Regarding his evidence that the builders of the fort may have been ancient miners, Bland writes, " I have been led into this conjecture from the circumstance of there being two excavations made into the solid rock, obviously attempts in quest of ore, in the neighbourhood of this fort; both of them executed before the art of mining was understood. One of these...is sunk about eight feet into a rock of quartz, decidedly in search of ore, and is situated within a mile of [Staigue]. The other is within four hundred yards of it, and is an indentation made into a hard silicious rock...These attempts seem to have been made in the first and rudest period of the art of mining ; and most likely by the occupiers of this fort."

11The sign explains, "This is one of the largest and finest stone forts in Ireland and was probably built in the early centuries AD before Christianity came to Ireland. It must have been the home of a very wealthy landowner or chieftain who had a great need for security."

12Harbison, Peter. "An Architectural Enigma." Irish Arts Review 23.3 (2006): 100-01.
The author writes, "Comparisons with other Kerry stone forts indicate the likelihood that there would have been no more than two or three houses inside Staigue originally, accommodating scarcely enough people to necessitate the building of the ten sets of steps." However NUI-Galway archaeologist Michelle Comber writes, "The stairs clearly reflect a need or desire for easy access to the top of the enclosing cashel wall. This is common at all large stone cashels along the western seaboard of Ireland. Accessing the wall-top may relate to defence and/or communications. The wall terraces would also have allowed the viewing of activities within the enclosure, if such occurred. A high-status settlement, like Staigue, would have been concerned with all of these – defence, control of communications, and social/political events that may have taken place within the cashel on occasion" (email, February 14, 2012)

13O'Shea, Paddy. "Underground Passages at Staigue Fort." Personal interview. 18 June 1979.

14O'Farrell, Jackie. "Bombardment near Staigue Fort." Personal interview. 18 June 1979.
In the same interview O'Farrell told of a visitor who was brave enough to spend the night alone in Staigue Fort. ""There were few people who would take a night's sleep inside the fort. There was an artist once, a man not from these parts, who wanted to spend the night there. Everyone around here thought he was a brave man for doing that, to sleep there inside by night alone. That's because when we were young, there were so much fairies put in our heads, that it was haunted, you know. But that was just handed down, it didn't happen for real you see. That was just the entertainment, before they had television or radio."
In 1920 Lady Gregory was told by a miller that, "'...if anyone was to fall asleep within the liss [fort] himself, he would taken away and the spirits of some old warrior would be put in his place, and it's he would know everything in the whole world."' (Gregory, Augusta, and W. B. Yeats. Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland. New York and London: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1920. II, 211.)

15Croker, Thomas Crofton, and Sigerson Clifford. Legends of Kerry. Tralee, Ireland: Geraldine, 1972. 21-22.

16Vallancey 1.
"Fortunately it stands in a wild and desolated part of the country, where no gentleman or wealthy farmer has thought proper to settle; or, like all the ancient buildings of this country, there would not now have been left one stone upon another."

17In the decades following the publication of these books of engravings, some of them were unbound so that their pages might be sold separately as antique prints. Some engravings have been reprinted with color applied, sold as antique prints in some Irish bookstores. We have not seen the Newenham Staigue engraving in a colored version, but as an experiment, we created one ourselves. This may be seen here.

18Harding, James D. Picturesque Views of the Antiquities of Ireland. From the Sketches of Robert O'Callaghan Newenham. London: Thomas and William Boone, 1830. v.