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  • Kilchreest
    Photography © 2006
    Knockbeha Mountain
    Knockbeha Mountain

    O'Grada [1] took all
    The bountiful Cinel Dunghaile, [2]
    His yellow-hilted polished swords,
    Weapons that slaughter meetings. p. 125

    Royal dynast of fine incursions
    Is Mac Conmara [3] of Magh-Adhair, [4]
    The territories of wealth are his country;
    Is over the Cantred of Ui-gCaisin. [5]

    The host of the O'Dobharchons, pleasant company,
    Are the Muintir-Lideadha [6] I mention,
    These are the Clanns of Sinnell,
    Ready are they with the nobles. p. 127

    [1] O'Grada, now anglicised O'Grady.

    [2] Cinel-Dunghaile. This was the tribe name of the O'Gradys, and became, as usual, that of their territory. Since the year 1318 this district comprised the parishes of Tomgraney, Inishcaltra, and Clonrush, of which the two latter are now included in the county of Galway, though belonging to the diocese of Killaloe.

    [3] Mac Conmara, now anglicised MacNamara. This family derives its name from its ancestor Cumara, son of Domhnall, who was the twenty-second in descent from Cormac Cas. His son Domhnall died in 1099.

    [4] Magh Adhair, a level district lying between the towns of Ennis and Tullagh, in the county of Clare. See Annals of Four Masters, A.D. 981, 1099, and 1599. It would appear that the family of the O'Hehirs were seated here before the MacNamaras.

    [5] Ui-gCaisin, The name and exact extent of this territory is preserved in the deanery of Ogashin, which comprises the parishes of Quin, Tullagh, Clooney, Doora, Kilraghtis, Kiltalagh, Templemaley, Inchicronan, and Kilmurry-na-Gall, in the eastern part of the county of Clare. But in the year 1318, when after the defeat of De Clare and the expulsion of his allies the Ui-Bloid O'Brien gave the MacNamaras possession of a more extensive territory than Ogashin, lying between the rivers Fergus and Shannon, the exact limits of which, in 1584, are defined in a MS. account of Thomond, preserved in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, E., 2, 14.

    [6] Muinter-Lideadha, i.e. the O'Liddys, still extant, but reduced.

    "The Topographical Poems of John O'Dubhagain and Giolla na naomh O'Huidhrin" (1862)
    Translation, notes, and introductory dissertations by John O'Donovan, LL.D., M.R.I.A.

    Source: Internet Archive


    ...the children of Lir continued to delight the Milesian clans with the very sweet fairy music of their songs, so that no delight was ever heard in Erin to compare with their music until the time came appointed for the leaving the Lake of the Red Eye.

    Then Fingula sang this parting lay:

    "Farewell to thee, Dearg the king,
    Master of all Druid's lore!
    Farewell to thee, our father dear,
    Lir of the Hill of the White Field![1]

    "We go to pass the appointed time
    Away and apart from the haunts of men
    In the current of the Moyle,
    Our garb shall be bitter and briny,

    "Until Deoch come to Lairgnen.
    So come, ye brothers of once ruddy cheeks;
    Let us depart from this Lake of the Red Eye,[2]
    Let us separate in sorrow from the tribe that has loved us." p.6

    After that they took to flight, flying highly, lightly, aerially till they reached the Moyle, between Erin and Albain. p.6

    [1] The Hill of the White Field is near Newton Hannton, in the county of Armagh.

    [2] The Lake of the Red Eye is Lough Derg, in the Shannon above Killaloe. p. 220

    "More Celtic Fairy Tales" (1895)
    Selected and Edited by Joseph Jacobs

    Source: Internet Archive


    Ptolemy places the Ganganoi near the Shannon estuary, there the Firbolgs Gann, Genann, and Sengan [1] appear. Cormac mac Airt wages war on the inhabitants of the Burren, defeating them on Slieve Elva in the third century, while in the fifth the Dalcassian kings have their palaces in Co. Limerick, and do not yet hold Aughty or Elva, and the king of Aran seeks refuge with the pagans of Corcomroe. If the smith legend of Glasgeivnagh is ancient, [2] the Celtic warriors of the third century found the hills behind the Fergus at Corofin garrisoned by Tuatha De Danann. This may represent, in outline, an early fact of the Dalcassian conquest, [3] and that proud tribe boasted to the king of Cashel, about 840, that they had won the land by their own swords; yet many of the fort-names and legends are of Celts alone. [4] p. 145

    [1] For these tribes, see our Journal, 1879-1882, pp. 469, 475. It may be a mere coincidence, but we find the Ganganoi round the Shannon mouth in Clare, and the Ganganon Akron in Carnarvonshire, both districts having these stone forts. Gan and Sengann's cupbearer wooed Echtge "the awful", from whom Slieve Aughty is named ("Revue Celtique", 1894, p. 458). This connects their legend with Clare.

    [2] See our Journal, 1895, page 227.

    [3] The Dalcassians under Lughad Menn engaged in the conquest of Thomond from the King of Connaught soon after King Crimthann's death, circa 378, well within the limit of reliable tradition: see inter alia "Silva Gadelica", p. 377, from Book of Ballymote.

    [4] It is just possible that the legend of Crochan and Dolv, son of Dal, two of the Tuatha De Danann of Slieve Echtge, found its counterpart at Cahercrochain and Lisdundalheen, at Loop Head (see O'Donovan, Ordnance Survey Letters, Galway 11., p. 36, on Ceanncrochain and Drumcrochain). Petrie, in ''Military Architecture of Ireland" page 122, points out that dry stone forts in parts of Western Scotland are called "Dun na Firbolg".

    "Prehistoric Stone Forts of Northern Clare" (The journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 1896)
    Thomas J. Westropp, M.A., M.R.I.A.

    Source: Internet Archive


    The forts occasionally enclosed objects of popular veneration (if not formerly of worship), Magh Adhair, Clare, possessed a "Bill" or ancient tree, connected with the inauguration of the Dalcassian chiefs. Roevehagh in Co. Galway takes its name from a famous "Red birch tree" (Ruaidh Bheitheach). The Clare tree was maliciously cut down by the Ard Righ Malachi in 982, and its very roots dug up. Its successor met the same fate from the troops of Aed O'Conor, King of Connaught, in 1051. The Roevehagh tree was cut down and its stone fort demolished by Turlough O'Brien, King of Thomond, in 1143, vendettas being long-lived at that period. p. 67-8.

    "The ancient Forts of Ireland: being a contribution towards our knowledge of their types, affinities and structural features." (1902)
    Thomas Johnson Westropp, M.A.

    Source: Internet Archive


    Notwithstanding this former abundance of timber in Ireland, trees are at present the grand desideratum of its scenery; and the shattered tower and riven arch of "works of old defence" are often seated in the midst of such unvaried bleakness, that they become worthless in the eye of a painter, as formal and unassociated objects the general pictorial effect of the landscape is however much assisted by the numerous ruins of abbeys and castles with which it abounds.

    To whom shall I dedicate my prints? once asked a publisher, about to produce some Irish views: the reply was, If your dedication is prompted by gratitude, I know of no one more deserving it than Oliver Cromwell, whose cannon has made so many dilapidated buildings for you.

    "Researches in the south of Ireland, illustrative of the scenery, architectural remains, and the manners and superstitions of the peasantry." (1824)
    Thomas Crofton Croker

    Source: Internet Archive


    Mr. Westropp collects from the little known Cromwellian Account Books, in the Public Record Office, material for a sketch of the Puritan "local government" of Limerick, which fully confirms the tradition of the stabling of horses in the cathedral. p.viii

    Cromwellian Account Books, Limerick — I have recently examined with much interest, not only the fine Account Rolls, but the paper books relating to the district round Limerick, from the fall of that city in 1651 to the time of the great Surveys in 1655-7. p.202

    The works done in County Clare were less extensive (Roll 6E. 1. 2.). In 1652-3 £80 was spent on Killaloe Castle and garrison, with sums of 30s., 100s., 29s. 2d.; "for making two doors at Killaloe Bridge," 20s., and 100 shillings on "repairing the highways."

    The Account Roll, 1654-1657, is of less historic but equal local interest. In 1656-7, are a number of rewards for the capture and items for the transportation of priests and Tories; £5 head-money was given to the captor (m.3d). p.203

    "The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland" (Vol. XVI Fifth Series, 1906)
    T. Johnson Westropp

    Source: Internet Archive


    That same year [1727] Sir Edward O'Brien of Dromoland granted the timber and underwood of Crattelaghkeale for six years to John Scott. This possibly levelled the last old timber of the last remnant of this great forest.[1] On the other face of Slieve Bernagh, a bad custom prevailed (it is a striking fact that it falls almost exactly in the same decade of the eighteenth century) which cleared away the woods of the beautiful valley at the southern end of Lough Derg, where that great lake narrows into the outflow of the Shannon.[2] When a son of the Purdon family was about to marry, his father settled the timber of certain townlands on the prospective wife and children. The woods were then cut, sold, and the money invested. I have met with two such deeds, of which unfortunately I seem to have kept no note. Another — perhaps one of those named — is cited by Simon Purdon of Tinneranna in his will in 1721. The settlement of his son George, by which Simon gave him £3,000 worth of timber on certain lands, reserving that on Island Coskora, is first named. Then the testator, by a codicil of the same date as his will,[3] 28th February, 1720 (1721), charges the lands and woods of Aghnish and Carhugare, giving them in mortgage for £500 to Richard Harrison, to whom Purdon had given also those of Ballyorly for £500, for the uses of the will; but if his son George pays off both charges, the grants shall have no effect. p. 286.

    [1] Dublin Registry, Book 54, p. 413, Book 81, No. 37049.

    [2] De Latocnaye, in his "Promenade dans I'lrlande," 1797, names no woods on these hills, only stating that they were covered with turf at Glenomera.

    [3] Prerogative Wills, P.R.O.I.

    "The Forests of the Counties of the Lower Shannon Valley" (Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Vol. XXVII. Section C, No. 13, 1909)
    Thomas Johnson Westropp

    Source: Internet Archive


    The Irish names of places are peculiarly significant; and to a person conversant with the Irish and other northern languages, might afford the means of explaining a great many curious facts relating to the history of the country, as well as to the manners and customs of the inhabitants, which must otherwise remain dark and obscure.

    A great part of the devastation which has rendered wood now so scarce in Ireland, was effected above a century ago by burning the timber into charcoal for manufacturing the iron ore with which the mountains abounded; as appears by the Journals of the Irish House of Commons for the year 1697... p. 528

    ...the acres belonging to the different episcopal sees cover an immense extent of country, independently of the other lands belonging to the church. But bishops have been found greater enemies to timber than persons holding only a life-interest; as the bishops live in the hope of being translated to a better see, they frequently sweep away every stick from those lands on which they have no permanent interest.

    October 12th, 1808. — Ballyvalley, near Killaloe. To the north of this house is a bare mountain, called Crag, which, within the remembrance of persons now living, was covered with wood, and formed one of the greatest ornaments of the country; but a bishop of Killaloe, named Carr, to whose see it belonged un-moved by the beauty of sylvan scenes, cut down every stump, in order that he might profit by the devastation. p. 535

    "An Account of Ireland, Statistical and Political" (Vol. I, 1812)
    Edward Wakefield

    Source: Internet Archive


    Northward from Killaloe the road, keeping to the river bank, passes the beautiful woods of Ballyvalley on the left; to the right, on the great drift spur, in a grove amidst the fields is the fort of Beal Borumha. Popular legend says that the great spur was an artificial embankment made by King Brian to dam up the Shannon and drown out the Connacht men. p.28

    The name probably originated in the fact that the cattle tribute of Eastern Thomond was brought across the ford to the Kings of the Craglea line of the Dal gCais. There were two other palaces, one up on the flank of Craglea, the other probably on the site of the town of Killaloe, named respectively Grianan Lachtna and Ceann Coradh. p.29

    At the end of the upper ford a Stone Age settlement seems to have existed, as implements have been found on several occasions. Safe in the river valley, flanked on both sides by mountains, it was an ideal place of settlement; the lake and river were rich in fish and fowl, the rich pastures on the shore most desirable for cattle, and the hills and forests abounding in game lay behind. The ford was evidently much used in the bronze age, several weapons of that period having been found when it was dredged away. Craglea was the seat of a famous supernatural being, Aibhinn "the pleasant", possibly an early war goddess venerated (or adopted) by the Dalcassians as their tutelary banshee.[1] p.28-9

    [1] See Folk Lore, vol. xxi, pp. 186, 187. See also Revue Archéologique N.S. vol. xviii, p. 1, for the war-goddess Catubodua in Gaul, and Dublin University Magnzine, 1834, p. 463, and Proc. R. I. Acad., vol x p. 425.

    "Killaloe and Castleconnell" (in "The Antiquities of Limerick and its Neighbourhood", 1916)
    T. J. Westropp

    Source: Internet Archive


    As to names of forts with personal compounds in Co. Clare much of interest could be written. Leaving out the mythic Fearbolg Irgus, whose name is connected with Caherdooneerish, at the beginning of our era we have Lismacain near Magh Adhair, named from Macan, slain in the raid of king Flann to the latter place in 877.[1] p. 51.

    Grianan Lachtna, near Killaloe, is most probably called after the early chief Lachtna (whose "camp" was on the slope of Cragliath above the Borhaime Ford[2] at the raid of king Felimidh of Cashel, about 840) rather than from the later king, uncle of king Brian. p. 52.

    [1] Book of Ui Maine. Mr. R. Twigge gave me the extract. See Proc. R. I. Acad., vol. xxxii, p. 60, Macan was the first person slain at the siege of Magh Adhair.
    [2] Book of Munster (MSS., R. I. Acad., 23 E, 26, p. 39). See Journal, vol. xxiii, p. 192. Proc. R. I. Acad., vol. xxix, p. 196. Thomas Johnson Westropp (1915)

    "Prehistoric Remains (Forts and Dolmens) in Burren and its south Western border, Co. Clare." (Part XII: north western part, from The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland formerly The Royal Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland. Founded in 1819, as The Kilkenny Archaeological Society. (1915))
    Thomas Johnson Westropp, M.A.

    Source: Internet Archive


    Killaloe, with its palaces of Grianan-Lachtna, Boruma, and Kincora, has attained a wider celebrity in the Empire than many places of much greater importance, from the days when the Scandinavians sang of "Kincaraborg" and told how "Brian, the best-natured of all kings, had his seat in Connaught"[1], to recent years, when, to our constant annoyance, it figured in popular British melody as a place averse to foreign culture.

    This Paper being intended to describe features in existing antiquities in and around Killaloe, with the history bearing on them, we need not strive to penetrate to the period "in the dark backward and abysm of time" when the old capital of Thomond first arose. From the beauty and convenience of the site and the abundance of fish and game in its neighbourhood, it is probable that even long before the rise of legendary history, a settlement, already called Ceann Coradh[2], the head of the weir, had been established at the lowest point navigable from the Upper Shannon.

    Here a ridge of rocks forms a natural weir below the wooded hills and towering grey crags where Aoibhell, the great banshee (perhaps the goddess of pagan Thomond), abode, high on Craiglea – that "wild Badbh" who accompanied the Dalgais to battle, "shrieking and fluttering over their heads" accompanied by a weird train "of the satyrs, the sprites, and the maniacs of the valley, the witches, goblins, owls and destroying demons of the air and firmament, and the demoniac phantom host" [3]. St. Lua or Molua next settled near the river, and it thus became a religious settlement in the later sixth century, but none of the present edifices were constructed for many generations later, unless, perhaps, the minute "Damhliag" of Friar's Island. p. 398

    [1] Worsaae's "Danes and Northmen," p.310; and Dasent's "Niala Saga".

    [2] It is called Cenn Coradh in a poem of the reign of Kennedy, the father of Brian. The early legends of Clare are very fragmentary. Maev, Queen of Cruachan, is said to have given the lands, formerly occupied by the Firbolgs in Thomond, to the Clan-na-Deaghaid, and Lughaid, son of Aongus Tireach, made sword-land of all eastern Clare, taking the district from the people of Connaught and adding it to Munster. In the time of St. Brendan (died 577), Aodh of the Dalgais was King of Cashel. His predecessor seems to have been Connall, 530; and his successor, and perhaps son, Cathal, who was father of Torlough, king in 640.

    [3] "Wars of the Gael and Gall", p. 175. MS., R.I.A., 23.M.27, has an Irish version of the "Dies Irae" in which Aibhell (instead of the Sybil) testifies with David. See also our Journal [of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland] 1868, p. 315, and 1891, pp. 467-469.

    "Killaloe: its Ancient Palaces and Cathedral" (Part I, from Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Vol. XXII, Series V, Vol. II, Part IV. (1892))
    Thomas Johnson Westropp, M.A.

    Source: Internet Archive


    About a mile and a half before reaching Killaloe, another canal cut is requisite, owing to some inconsiderable rapids. The canal skirts the domain of the Lord Bishop of Killaloe; whose palace and grounds are sufficiently inviting: the fine long meadow-grass of the bishop's lawn, reminded me by contrast, of a saying I had heard of the county of Kerry, where grass is so scarce, that it is said, the cows won't lift up their heads to look at a passer-by, for fear that they should not be able to find the grass again. I reached Killaloe about four hours after leaving Castle Connell.

    Killaloe, I found an improving town. This improvement arises from several causes; but chiefly is owing to the spirited proceedings of the Inland Steam Navigation Company - a company, whose objects are most closely connected with the improvement of Ireland, and which are too important, and too vast, to be left, in the present infancy of the establishment, to private exertion, or even to public patronage.

    The town is very agreeably situated on the rising ground above the river, and within a mile of the noble expansion of water, called Loch Derg. p. 319-322

    "Ireland in 1834: A Journey Throughout Ireland, During the Spring, Summer, and Autumn of 1834." (Vol. I, 1835)
    Henry D. Inglis

    Source: Internet Archive


    ...marched out of Limerick and lay this night at Killaloe, the men without tents or quarters in the gardens. The officers were quartered in the town, the great ones taking up the best houses which are not many, the inferior were crowded into very poor cabins that only served barely to cover them from the weather. These eight miles from Limerick is part of the county of Clare and is all very bare, there being in this way scarce any corn or meadow, but only a hilly common in some places boggy, everywhere covered with fern and rushes, which is all it produces. The road is hard and pleasant for the most part open and often crossed by small brooks and springs, near a mile at first is a large causeway over a bog, not unlike to the old Roman ways being raised high because of the floods. A little above the midway is the wood whence we had the palisades, it is not large nor produces any large timber. Killaloe is a bishopric, but as to the town the meanest I ever saw dignified with that character, except St. David and St. Asaph in Wales, having but very few houses that are anything tolerable, the rest and even those in no very great number are thatched cabins or cottages, in fine it has nothing beyond many villages in England, nor is it equal to some, except the church be reckoned which indeed is large, and so all is said of it, having nothing else beautiful or commendable. The bishop's house like the rest has nothing worthy observation. The Shannon runs by the town, and in this place is so rocky it is not navigable, so that all goods must be carried from Limerick till above the town by land, and being embarked there the river is again navigable for many miles. The most remarkable thing here was that the protestant bishop of the place continued then and long after in his diocese under his Majesty's government.[1] p. 152

    [1] John Roane was Bishop of Killaloe from 1675 to 1693.

    "The Journal of John Stephens, Containing a brief account of the war in Ireland 1689-91." (1912)
    Edited by the Rev. Robert H. Murray. Litt. D.

    Source: Internet Archive


    The eye dwelt on it with surprize and delight, and the Shannon, so much admired by us at Limerick and its environs, as well as near Portumna castle, seemed now to surpass itself, to expand, and assume grander beauties, to delight in mountain scenery, and run into creeks and inlets, whilst his waves, agitated by winds, which had arisen since early morning, dashing and foaming on the shores, almost confirmed the illusion that the sea itself was before us! We saw several beautiful places contributing to adorn these romantic and wonderfully fine scenes; but the general appearance of the country bespeaks poverty. Few smiling cottages or good farm-houses enriched them. Nature had done every thing, man little, to make them all the eye could desire. Scenes, which are not excelled by those of Wales or Switzerland, here sadden the mind, when it reflects on the destitute situation of the poor mountain-cottager, and cannot repress a sigh in the midst of all their beauty.

    The rain began to pour in torrents on us, as we got near Killaloe. The mountains were overcast with dark mists, and the river looked gloomy, as the storm swept over its surface. As we proposed reaching this last night, we continued our way, heavily drenched with rain, and almost petrified with cold. p. 573

    "Walks through Ireland in the years 1812, 1814, and 1817: described in a series of letters to and English gentleman." (1819)
    John Bernard Trotter

    Source: Internet Archive


    As we dashed through its foamy waters, and passed rapidly along its diversified shores and rocky islands, we felt the propriety of the terms applied by Inglis to this, the largest of British rivers. It is indeed "a river of billows - a river of dark mementos!" Here, adorned with verdant pastures and waving woods, and broken into numberless bays and inlets — there, crowded with picturesque ruins, speaking with a voice of awful import to the Present from the Past — its banks present a succession of objects of varied and untiring interest. The weather, though unsettled, was propitious. Sometimes the sky became dark with clouds, and poured down its rain in considerable quantities; at others, the clear blue of the heavens spread sweetly above us, and the sun shone out with gladdening brightness. The thin mists, too, that flew wildly through the air, added grandeur to the gloomy mountains of Tipperary. Greatly as I had heard the Shannon extolled, the reality infinitely exceeded my expectations.

    It was evening before we arrived at Killaloe, which is in the county of Clare, on the western bank of the river, and built in a commanding situation. p.79-80.

    "The Miseries and Beauties of Ireland" (Vol. II., 1837)
    Jonathan Binns

    Source: Internet Archive


    One morning, ere yet Titan thought of stirring his feet,
    I went up to the summit of a high pleasant hill,
    I met a band of charming, playful maidens —
    A host who dwelt in Sidh Seanaibh of the bright mansion in the north.

    A magic prosperity of hue not dark spread itself around,
    From Galway, of the bright coloured stones, to Cork of the harbours;
    The top of every tree ever bears fruit and produce;
    In every wood are acorns, and sweet honey continually on stones.

    They light three candles with a blaze I cannot describe
    On the top of high Cnoc Firinne in Red Conollo;
    I followed the band of hooded women over the waves to Thomond,
    And ask the secret of the function they were performing in their rounds.

    The maiden Aoibhill, not dark of aspect, gave in reply
    The reason for lighting the three candles over every harbour:
    In the name of the king for whom we yearn, and who will soon be with us
    Ruling the three kingdoms and defending them long.

    I started up from my reverie without delay,
    And I fancied that Aoibhill had spoken truth in all she had said;
    The way with me was that I felt weak, oppressed, sad, and troubled
    One morning ere yet Titan thought of stirring his feet. p.23

    "Dánta Aodhagáin Uí Rathaille, fl. 1670-1724; the poems of Egan O'Rathaille; the poems of Egan O'Rahilly, to which are added miscellaneous pieces illustrating their subjects and languages." (Edited with Introduction, Translation, Notes, and Glossary. Vol III., 1900)
    Rev. Patrick S. Dinneen, M.A.

    Source: Internet Archive



    She cast herself upon the ground
    And rent her clothes and made her moan:
    'Why are they faithless when their might
    Is from the holy shades that rove

    The grey rock and the windy light?
    Why should the faithfullest heart most love
    The bitter sweetness of false faces?
    Why must the lasting love what passes,
    Why are the gods by men betrayed'

    But thereon every god stood up
    With a slow smile and without sound,
    And stretching forth his arm and cup
    To where she moaned upon the ground,
    Suddenly drenched her to the skin;
    And she with Goban's wine adrip,
    No more remembering what had been,
    Stared at the gods with laughing lip. p. 8-9

    "The Grey Rock" (from: Responsibilities and Other Poems‍, 1916)
    William Butler Yeats

    Source: Internet Archive


    Above the Shannon gorge, overlooking a beautiful mass of mountains, the southern arm of Lough Derg, and the river and Killaloe with its weirs, rises the great brown and purple bluff of Craglea. Above the low earthworks and mound of stones that mark the ninth-century fort of Prince Lachtna ascends a rough lane. Further up on the east flank a little well, Tobereevul, gushes out from under a low rock amid the ferns[1], and on the west side, - up a lonely valley, a long-forgotten battlefield, "Crag Liath where shields were cleft", in one of Brian Boru's earlier combats with the Norsemen, - rises a high crag called Craganeevul. The names of both well and crag commemorate the tutelary spirit of the House of Cass, Aibhill or, more correctly, Aibhinn, "the lovely one", once, it may be, the goddess of the House. p. 186

    [1] It still exists, though marked only "site of" in the new Ordnance Survey maps.

    "A Folklore Survey of County Clare" (from Folk-Lore: A Quarterly Review of Myth, Tradition, Institution & Custom being The Transactions of the Folk-Lore Society And Incorporating The Archaeological Review and The Folk-Lore Journal, Vol. XXI, 1910)
    Thos. J. Westropp

    Source: Internet Archive


    About a mile northwards from Killaloe, and rising over the road as you go towards Tomgraney is the rocky mountain of Cragliath, far famed, in Irish story, and well known as the habitation of Aoibheal, the banshee of Munster and of the Dalcassians. Her palace is shown in a wild glen of the mountain, from which rises a peak forty feet high, and most romantic in appearance. A well, called after the fairy, springs from the side of the hill. She has been celebrated in verse by several Irish poets. In Cragliath also is found the site of Grianán Lachtna, which according to the Annals of the MacBruodins, was built as a place of residence by Lachtna, the brother of Brian Boroimhe in 953. It is well called Grianán (the sunny) from its southern site and from the noble prospect it commands. In the northern part of the townland of Cragliath is a field called Park-na-neach (of the horses) where, it is said, Brian Boroimhe kept his horses. p. 178-9

    "The history and topography of the county of Clare, from the earlies times to the beginning of the 18th century" (1893)
    James Frost

    Source: Internet Archive


    While standing, not far from Killaloe, observing a stout young fellow driving out manure in baskets on a horse, and a young woman stooping and spreading it with her hands, Major P. came up, with his lady and parasol, in a gig; and, with much complaisance, entered into conversation with me. But, when I hinted, among other improvements in each county, the propriety of raising a subscription to buy something with prongs for spreading the manure, and preventing women from the humiliating employment of doing it with their hands, and said I was certain that every feeling person would be glad to give less or more, the Major, who has extensive estates in this corner, sneaked off, without saying a word.

    A few miles from Killaloe, on my way to Woodford, I found high words, which ended in blows, between three men with some pigs and cows, on the one side, and two men on the other. The three men were the tithe-proctor and his assistants, who were carrying cows, calves, pigs, and the like, to the pound-park of the parish; and the two other were the sons of tenants in the vicinity, who would not permit the tithe-proctor to carry off the cow of a widow in their neighbourhood, who had got a few shillings in arrear to the parson. p. 318-9

    "Tour through Ireland; particularly the interior and least known parts." (Vol. I, 1813)
    The Rev. James Hall, A.M.

    Source: Internet Archive


    The river Shannon here forms itself into a spacious lake, called Lough-Derg, of which you have a fine view along this road.

    Within three miles of Killaloe on the L. is Tineranna, the seat of Mr. Purdon. Two miles further, on the R. is Ballyvalley, the seat of Mr. Carr; and a little beyond the bridge of Killaloe, on the L. are the ruins of Templeically church. p. 391

    At Killaloe is a bridge over the Shannon of 19 arches. Below the bridge is a ledge of rocks, which prevents the navigation of this river up to Lough Derg. Here is a considerable salmon and eel fishery; but there is nothing beautiful in the town, except the situation. The river is navigable to Carrick-on-Shannon, near 100 miles, by water. There are many antient buildings in and about Killaloe. p. 170

    Near a mile beyond Killaloe is Clarisford, the seat of the bishop of Killaloe. Clarisford was the old English name of this place, given it by the first settlers in or about the time of Thomas de Clare, Earl of Glocester. It was so called from being the only ford over the Shannon into the county of Clare. p. 391-2

    "The post-chaise companion: or, Travellers directory through Ireland. Containing a new and accurate description of the direct and principal cross roads, with particulars of the noblemen and gentlemen's seats,cities, towns...forming and historical & descriptive account of the Kingdom." (1786)
    William Wilson

    Source: Internet Archive


    As we ride along we skirt on the right hand a pleasant pastoral country, rising to a gentle but respectable height, while on the left, the sombre shadows of the Silvermines form a barrier that is broken now and then by gaps, and diversified here and there with shrubby hillocks and dales, until it gradually opens out into a pretty valley, at the bottom of which the rail runs now. This is Birdhill and, our road lying to the right, we are shut out for the nonce from the view of our picturesque surroundings, until we are brought face to face with the dark blue range of the Keeper. And so we travel up hill and down dale in the blithest fashion until we come out on the banks of the Shannon, and a charming landscape opens before us. Indeed we might say that from this point the country is unsurpassed in beauty. The river making a wide detour and throwing both its banks into the foreground, is spanned by an ancient bridge of many arches, crowned by the turreted steeple of its venerable cathedral, while a purple mountain range forming an impressive background, and the romantic groves and waters of Lough Derg stretching far away into the distance, add to the attractiveness of the picture.

    Arriving at the village of Ballina, the ancient Bel-an-atha, or town on the ford, we cross the great stone bridge that leads us to the town over against us, which is no less than the historic Killaloe, one of the most ancient in Ireland, principally known now-a-days as the Paradise of Anglers. p.130-1.

    "Types of Celtic Life and Art" (1906)
    F. R. Montgomery Hitchcock., M.A.

    Source: Internet Archive


    On Sunday night he rode to Killaloe, distant twelve miles above Limerick on the river. The bridge here was guarded by a party of the enemy; but, favored by the darkness, he proceeded further up the river until he came to a ford near Ballyvally, where he crossed the Shannon, and passed into Tipperary County. The country around him now was all in the enemy's hands; but he had one with him as guide on this eventful occasion whose familiarity with the locality enabled Sarsfield to evade all the Williamite patrols, and but for whose services it may be doubted if his ride this night had not been his last. This was Hogan, the rapparee chief, immortalized in local traditions as "Galloping Hogan." By paths and passes known only to riders "native to the sod," he turned into the deep gorges of Silver Mines, and ere day had dawned was bivouacked in a wild ravine of the Keeper Mountains. Here he lay perdu all day on Monday. When night fell there was anxious tightening of horsegirths and girding of swords with Sarsfield's five hundred. They knew the siege train was at Cashel on the previous day, and must by this time have reached near to the Williamite lines. The midnight ride before them was long, devious, difficult, and perilous; the task at the end of it was crucial and momentous indeed. Led by their trusty guide, they set out southward, still keeping in byways and mountain roads. p. 432-5

    "The Story of Ireland" (1909)
    A. M. Sullivan

    Source: Internet Archive


    At Killaloe I was again in Clare. The antiquities of this place are, we found, well deserving of attention, as well as its natural beauties. It has a fine old Gothic cathedral of much architectural merit, and close adjoining to this building is an oratory, supposed to be built by the Danes in the ninth century. With regard to its present condition, Killaloe is improving: it has a fine salmon-fishery, and it is the head-quarters of the Inland Steam Navigation Company, which is extending its projects in various directions, and promises to render the resources of Ireland much more available to her prosperity than they have hitherto been. There are also slate quarries near Killaloe, of great value in themselves, and affording much employment to the immediate neighbourhood. The river navigation between this town and Limerick is impeded by the rapids; but a canal is cut in two places, so as to enable both towns to keep up water-communication. And here a sad mortification befel us: we had fully reckoned on an excursion through Loch Derg, a noble expansion of the Shannon, bordered on its eastern coast by Munster, on the western by Connaught. It properly came within the limits we had assigned to ourselves, but the weather set in just at this point so steadily rainy, that we could not stir from Killaloe for nearly a week. p.155-6

    "The Irish Tourist; or, tales of the people and the provinces of Ireland" (1843)
    Emily Taylor

    Source: Internet Archive


    Killaloe, a pass of the Shannon thirteen miles above Limerick,is a bishop's see of considerable antiquity. The town is built upon the ascent of a hill, and surrounded by well shaped mountains; a long bridge of many arches extends across the river, which is here wide and shallow....the place, which wears a poor appearance and seems to be little frequented by strangers, as the inn, if it deserves the name, included the business of publican, linendraper, hosier and chandler under the same roof. One room was appropriated for a table d'hote, where my companion and myself joined a noisy good-humoured clerical party, none of whom could be accused of fastidiousness. On my rising to ring the bell, a jolly looking parson, observing that I sought for one in vain, exclaimed, "May be 'tis a bell you're looking for; and are you so unreasonable then as to expect to find one, sir?"

    Killaloe, in former days, was the resort of many religious pilgrims attracted by its reputed sanctity; and the walls of some old buildings are still to be seen in its vicinity. Little more is known of the cathedral than the name of the founder, St. Molua, (whom Dr. Ledwich declares an imaginary saint,) and his disciple and successor St. Flannan, who was consecrated bishop about the year 639. The building of the present cathedral is attributed to the O'Brien family, many of whom are buried here. p.55-6

    "Researches in the south of Ireland, illustrative of the scenery, architectural remains,and the manners and superstitions of the peasantry." (1824)
    T. Crofton Croker

    Source: Internet Archive


    To Killaloe on the Shannon is a pleasant hour's journey by rail. The town is small, with a population of about 900, but it is very large in the measure of its environal beauty and its natural advantages of location. The mountains, great and green, arise around it, the river rushes before it, and Lough Derg stretches away to the northward. An attractive hotel, most pleasantly situated and surrounded by artistically kept grounds and gardens, assures the comfort of guests. Of the quiet yet lavish loveliness of the place too much can hardly be said in way of praise. It has its industries and its antiquities, a venerable cathedral, and the traditional site of a famous palace of Brian Boru. Its recreative advantages are numerous. A tired man, a man wearied of the city's din, or determined on the sports of forest and stream would find delight at Killaloe. Darkness gathers very slowly in this latitude, the twilight lingering as though loath to relinquish the glorious landscape. Being fond of evening walks and starry skies, I indulged myself for a time in that gentle form of excitement. The air was cool and vocal with pleasing sounds—the splash of water, the sigh of wind, the silvery call of birds from the woodland, the echo of laughter and song from the village. Ursa Major spread out his huge form overhead, and great Arcturus was swinging his blazing light low over the Western hills. Cygnus, once a swan, now a cross of diamonds brooched upon the Milky Way, shone like the sign of Constantine. The heavenly host swung on in noiseless march, filling the night with the glory of their pageantry. p. 67-9

    "Around the Emerald Isle; a record of impressions" (1910)
    William Charles O'Donnell, Jr. Ph.D.

    Source: Internet Archive


    Killaloe Parish. The name is usually interpreted as Kill-da-lua, or Kill-O'Mollua, from a famous saint of the 6th century, who is believed to have flourished here. (Lanigan, quoted at Clontfert-Mollua,infra.)

    The parish is situated on the western side of the Shannon, in size 13,045 acres; and is bounded on the north by the parish of Ogonello and Kilno; on the west by that of Killokennedy; on the south by Kiltenanlea; and on the east by the Shannon, which separates it from the county of Tipperary.

    Killaloe was once the resort of many pilgrims. There is a well dedicated to St. Flannan at the east end of the town. On an eminence, just where the Shannon contracts above the rapids, is the spot where the great King of Ireland, "Brian Boriomhe, fixed his residence, at Chann-Coradh (the Head of the Weir), in the immediate neighbourhood of his own ancestral residence of Grianan Lachtria, the ruins of which are still to be seen on the south shoulder of the hill of Craigh-Liath, about a mile north-west of Killaloe." (E. O'Curry's "Manners and Customs," vol. 2, lec. vi.) p.472

    Cragliath Mountain is the widely-known haunt of the great evil spirit, the banshee of Munster and the Dalcassians. Curious that all the saints and bishops have not exorcised her. Has she gone since the potato-blight and the emigration? p.473

    "The Diocese of Killaloe from the Reformation to the close of the eighteenth century: with an appendix." (1878)
    Reverend Philip Dwyer, A.B.

    Source: Internet Archive


    'Brother, the bards and the gleemen are an evil race, ever cursing and ever stirring up the people, and immoral and immoderate in all things, and heathen in their hearts, always longing after the Son of Lir, and Aengus, and Bridget, and the Dagda, and Dana the Mother, and all the false gods of the old days; always making poems in praise of those kings and queens of the demons, Finvaragh, whose home is under Cruachmaa, and Red Aodh of Cnocna-Sidhe, and Cleena of the Wave, and Aoibhell of the Grey Rock, and him they call Donn of the Vats of the Sea; and railing against God and Christ and the blessed Saints.' p. 90-1

    "The Crucification of the Outcast from The Secret Rose: Stories of Red Hanrahan, The secret rose, Rosa alchemica." (1914)
    W. B. Yeats

    Source: Internet Archive


    It seems most probable that the divine heroines, Tea, Tlachtga, Tailltiu, and Carman (from whom the names of the chief holy places of the pagan Celts, from Tara down, were asserted to be derived) originated in the reverent use of the local name of the sanctuary for the personal name of its now unknown deity. So, in most, if not in all, the names of mountains, lakes, and rivers, called after a god or hero, there is evidence for their godhead apart from the mere probabilities. Mís, Echtge, Eblin, Febra, Nemthenn, and the forgotten Mer, daughter of Treg (who gave its oldest name to Bernan Ele, the "Devil's Bit") were, like Dega and Deichet (of Lochs Degaid and Deichet), and the goddesses of the Shannon and the Boyne (Sinann and Boind, Segais or Macha) actual gods, not in any case found in the pantheon of Gaul and Britain,[1] and their conquering Celts. pp. 56-57

    Edar, or Etar, was wife of Gann, son of Dela, King of "Fremu". She was the first woman who died of grief for her husband's death in Ireland.[2] It will be recalled that Gann, Genann and Sengann were leaders and eponymi of a large group of "pre-Milesian" tribes round the Shannon mouth, from Slieve Aughty, across Co. Clare, into Kerry, where Ptolemy marks the "Ganganoi".[3] p.70.

    The extraordinary confusion and mass of variants seems endless, for Ethne, daughter of Crimthann, is confused with Echtach, or Echtge, daughter of the god Dega, or Nuada, who was fed on children's flesh in the wilds of Slieve Aughty.[4] p.73.

    [1] "Folk Lore," xxxi., pp. 112-3; Metr. Dind Senchas (ed. Gwynn. Todd Lecture, x.), pp. 1, 26, 40, 48, 286, 298; Rennes Dind S. (Revue Celtique, xv.), pp. 277, 309, 317, 330, and often. For Mer see Mesca Ulad, p. 19.

    [2] "First Battle of Mag Tura " (Eriu, viii., pp. 13, 15). They landed near Lehinch, Co. Clare.

    [3] Metr. Bind S., vii., pp. 51, 65; x., pp. Ill, 127; Rennes Bind S., Revue Celt., xv., p. 331.

    [4] Echtge's father, Nuada Argetlamh, dwelt on the Shannon (Cath. Finntraga, ed. Meyer, p. 15). See Irische Texte, iii., p. 362; Silva Gad., ii., p. 127; Revue Celt., xv., p. 126, p. 458 for Echtge.

    "The Promontory Forts and Adjoining Remains in Leinster" (Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 1922)
    Thomas Johnson Westropp, M.A.

    Source: Internet Archive


    A cloch atá a n-Eachthghe áird
    fud atá ger mór in mhairg
    Sealbach úa Duibhne ba deas
    óigfear ris nár chiall coimmeas
    iar gcur deargáir Féine Finn
    maidin a marbhtha a gCruimglinn. p. 94

    O stone in high Eachtghe,
    beneath thee (though it was a great grief)
    lies Sealbhach, grandson of lovely Duibhne,
    a youth with whom it were not wise to make comparison:
    having made a fierce slaughter of Fionn's Fian,
    on the morning of his death in Cruimghleann, [he was buried beneath thee]. p. 95

    "Duanaire Finn: The Book of the Lays of Fionn" (Part II. Irish text with translation into English, 1933)
    Gerard Murphy

    Source: Internet Archive


    Three fields of schistose rocks, chiefly argillaceous, occur in the eastern mountain division of the county: the smallest measures about 8 statute square miles in area, and extends, east and west, on a narrow belt, upon a line about 5 miles north of Limerick; the largest measures about 55 statute square miles in area, and extends 15½ statute miles south-south-westward from the Shannon, in the immediate northern vicinity of Killaloe; and the third measures about 40 square miles in area, lies north of the former, surrounds Lough Graney, and touches both the western and the northern, but not the north-western, boundary. Three or four small patches of the same schistose formation occur near the outskirts of the last or most northerly of the three fields. An old red sandstone formation, partly stratified and partly conglomerate, completely surrounds and insulates all the schistose fields, and, of course, follows the outskirts of the two larger beyond the limits of the county; yet it is divided into two great sections by a long tongue or peninsula of carboniferous limestone, which comes down to Lough Derg at Scariff; and it probably measures, in aggregate area, very little if any more than the aggregate extent of the schistose formations. A very narrow zone of yellow sandstone, partly stratified and partly conglomerate, engirds the northern section of the old red sandstone; and follows it, as that formation follows the schists, beyond the limits of the county. The Slieve Baughta mountain region, or eastern upland territory, has, in consequence, been not very inaccurately, though rather loosely, described as "consisting of a nucleus of clay-slate", only the nucleus is comparatively a very large one, "supporting flanks of sandstone, intruded through a break, in the surrounding limestone plain, in the same manner as the Slieve Bloom range on the opposite bank of the Shannon".

    "The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland" (Volume I, p.401-2., A. Fullarton and Co., 1846)

    Source: Internet Archive


    The general character of the surface is mountainous. The north-western extremity beyond the Shannon is overspread by an irregular group of hills or mountains, of which Slievh Boughty, or Sliebh Baughta, and the Inchiquin Mountains, form part.

    This district, at an early period, consisted of two districts; one of these, which was sometimes designated South Munster, and included the district of Desmond, and probably of Ormond, comprehended all that part of the province which is south-east of the Shannon (Finglas's Breviat of Ireland) and is now divided into the five counties of Waterford, Tipperary, Cork, Kerry, and Limerick. The other part was northwest of the Shannon (Finglas's Breviat), and comprehended the present county of Clare. This part was antiently known as Thomond, North Munster, or O'Bryen's Country. p. 487

    "The Penny Cyclopædia" (Volume XV, 1839)
    Edited by George Long, Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge

    Source: Internet Archive


    From Cormac Cas, king of Munster, or according to others, from his descendant Cais, who was king of Thomond in the fifth century, their posterity got the name Dal Cais or Dal Gais anglicised Dalcassians, the various families of whom, were located chiefly in that part of Thomond which forms the present county of Clare, and the ruling family of them were the O'Briens, kings of Thomond.

    In the latter end of the third century, Lughaidh Meann, king of Munster, of the race of the Dalcassians, took the territory afterwards called the county of Clare, from Connaught, and added it to Thomond. Conall Eachluath, or Conall of the Swift Steeds, son of Lughaidh Meann, became king of Munster. Criomthan, monarch of Ireland, who was also a descendant of Oilioll Olum, and is celebrated for his foreign expeditions into Gaul and Britain, during his absence appointed Conall Eachluath as regent of the kingdom, being distinguished for his great valour. Cais, the son of Conall, was prince of Thomond, and Carthen Dubh, the son of Cais, succeeded as prince of the Dalcassians. In the seventh century, A.D. 622, Guaire, king of Connaught, having collected a great army, marched into Thomond, for the purpose of recovering the territory of Clare, which had been taken from Connaught, and fought a great battle against the Munster forces commanded by Failbe Flann and Dioma, kings of Munster, but the Conacians were defeated, and, according to some accounts, four thousand of them were slain. The place where this battle was fought was called Carn Feradaigh, which, according to Steward's Topography, is now called Knock Aine in the county of Limerick.

    Ceallachan, king of Cashel, died A.D. 952. Lorcan, king of Munster, of the Dalcassian race, died A.D. 942. Cineidi, son of Lorcan, succeeded as king of Thomond, and dying A.D. 950, was succeeded by his son Mahon, who became king of Munster. p. 147.

    "The Annals of Ireland" (Translated by Owen Connellan, Esq., Irish Historiographer to Their Late Majesties George IV. and William IV. Annotations by Philip Mac Dermot, Est., M.D., and the translator, 1846)
    Michael O'Clery

    Source: Internet Archive


    Lorcan Mac Lachtna about this time was fixed in the possession of the crown of Thumond. The tribe of the Dalgais inhabited this country, and their territories extended to the gates and walls of Cashel: they had twelve cantreds in their divisions, which reached from Leim Congculion to Bealach Mor, in the county of Ossery, and from Mount Eachtighe to Mount Eibhlinne. p. 114

    The authentic records of Ireland expressly assert, that from the reign of Aongus, the son of Nadfraoch, king of Munster, to the time of Matthew, the son of Kennedy, who likewise governed that province, there had reigned forty-four princes lineally descended from Eogan More, the son of Oilioll Ollum; and during this space of time it is observed, that the tribe of Dailgais had the possession of no more lands than the kingdom of Thomond; but after the decease of Cormac Mac Cuillenan, the succession to the crown of Munster devolved upon Lorcan, who was of the line of Dailgais, and governed that province till his death. p. 117

    "The General History of Ireland. Collected by the learned Jeoffrey Keating, D.D. Faithfully translated from the original Irish language, with many curious amendments taken from the Psalters of Tara and Cashel, and other authentic Records." (1841)
    Dermod O'Connor

    Source: Internet Archive


    ...from about A.D. 250, Munster was divided into Desmond and Thomond, and Thomond is to-day represented very fairly by the Diocese of Killaloe... p. 290

    Ecclesiastical boundaries in Ireland nearly always mark some ancient political division: and the position of Cashel as an archi-episcopal see is very significant. Cashel belonged neither to Eugenian nor Dalcassian, though Thomond stretched to its walls. It was the seat of the King of Munster, and in theory passed alternately from Eugenian to Dalcassian, and vice versa. In practice, for centuries the kingship was monopolised by the elder branch. But it was clearly admitted that when the Dalcassian line were deprived of their succession, they remained independent, exempt from all vassalage or tribute to the Eugenian King of Cashel.

    The Dalcassian kingdom itself was, after the Irish usage, divided up into a number of sub-kingdoms, or principalities, each possessed by a sept of the clan. Just as the clan had a common ancestor in Cormac Cas, so every freeman in each of the septs traced his descent to that one of Cormac's eight sons from whom his sept sprang. Eldest of these sons was Bloid, from whom the O'Briens came, and the chief of Hy mBloid was the recognised chief of all Dalcassians, though the land owned by this sept was only a district about Killaloe - still defined as the rural deanery of Omulled. Macnamaras, Macmahons, O'Carrolls, or any other of the Dalcais septs, might on occasion levy war on their tribal chiefs; but the supremacy of the O'Briens in Thomond was always admitted - long before they were known as O'Briens. p. 291-2

    "The Fair Hills of Ireland" (1906)
    Stephen Gwynn

    Source: Internet Archive


    Patrick went into the province of Munster, to Cashel of the Kings. p. 162.

    Thereafter Patrick went into Findine, to the north-west of Domnach Mór, a hill from which is seen the country to the north of Luimnech. And he gave a blessing to Thomond, because of the willingness with which the people had come bringing abundance of goods to meet Patrick. Cairthenn, son of Blat, senior of the children of Toirdelbach, believed in the Lord. And Patrick baptized him in Saingil, that is to say a different (sain) angel (aingel) went to converse with him there, and it was not Victor. To Cairthenn up to that time no children had been born. Then was Eochu Redspot born to Cairthenn. Patrick had formed him of a clot of gore, and that spot was on his body as a sign of the miracle. p. 163

    God's blessing on Munster,
    Men boys, women!
    Blessing on the land
    That gives them fruit.

    Blessing on their peaks,
    On their bare flagstones,
    Blessing on their glens,
    Blessing on their ridges.

    Like sand of sea under ships,
    Be the number of their hearths:
    On slopes, on plains,
    On mountains, on peaks. p. 164

    "Life of Patrick", from "Lives of the Irish Saints from the Book of Lismore" (1890)
    Edited with a Translation, Notes and Indices by Whitley Stokes, D.C.L.

    Source: Internet Archive


    In the topographical poems of O'Dugan, O'Heerin, and Giolla Iosa Mor Mac Firbis, the termination am, or eam, is almost invariably used for denoting the first person plural, as in the following examples: triallam timcheall na Fodhla, "let us travel round Ireland," O'Dugan; labhram do chloinn Chorpmaic Chais, triallam tar Sionainn sruth-ghlais, "let us speak of the race of Cormac Cas, let us proceed across the green-streamed Shannon," O'Heerin; Clann Fiachra úir ar m'aire, leanam lorg na laechraidhe, "the race of the noble Fiachra are my care, let us follow the track of the heroes," Giolla Iosa Mor Mac Firbis. p.180

    "A grammar of the Irish language, pub. For the use of the senior classes in the College of St. Columbia" (1845)
    John O'Donovan

    Source: Internet Archive


    Díothughadh buidhne críche Fódhla,
    Lagughadh grínn ís gnaoi na cóige,
    Mar do díogadh ár n-daoine móra,
    As a bh-fearannaib cairte is córa. p. 180

    The ruin of the people of the land of Fodla,
    The weakening of the joy and pleasure of the provinces:
    That our nobles were drained out
    From the lands which by law and justice were theirs. p. 181

    D'imthig Brian na g-cliar ón m-Bóirmhe,
    Do bhí tréimhse ag Éirinn pósda,
    Ní bh-fuil Murchadh cumasac cróda,
    A g-Cluain Tairbh badh thaca se comhlann. p. 182

    Brian of the hosts has gone from Borumha,
    Who for a season was espoused to Erin;
    Murchadh the powerful, the valiant, is no more,
    Who was a stay in the conflict at Clontarf. p. 183

    - On the Banishment of the Nobles.

    "Dánta Aodhagáin Uí Rathaille, fl. 1670-1724; the poems of Egan O'Rathaille; the poems of Egan O'Rahilly, to which are added miscellaneous pieces illustrating their subjects and languages." (Edited with Introduction, Translation, Notes, and Glossary. Vol III., 1900)
    Rev. Patrick S. Dinneen, M.A.

    Source: Internet Archive


    The original manuscript... is... a small quarto on paper, containing 957 pages, all of which, with the exception of a few towards the end, are in the handwriting of the compiler, the celebrated Irish hereditary antiquary, Duald Mac Firbis; and the pages not written by him are in the handwriting of the no less celebrated antiquary Michael O'Clery, chief of the annalists, popularly called the Four Masters... p.4.

    The contents of the volume may be described in general terms as historico-genealogical, being a history of the several colonies who established themselves by conquest in Ireland, with genealogies of the principal families who descend from them, carried down in many instances to the time of the compiler. p.4.

    "The place, time, author, and cause of writing this book, are: the place, the college of St. Nicholas, in Galway; time, the time of the religious war between the Catholics of Ireland and the heretics of Ireland, Scotland, and England, particularly the year 1650; the person or author, Duald the son of Giolla Iosa more Mac Firbis, historian, &c. of Lecan Mac Firbis in Tireragh on the Moy; and the cause of writing the book is to increase the glory of God, and for the information of the community in general." pp.4-5.

    "With regard to our later writers," he adds, "who flourished within the last 600 years, here follow the names of some of them: the O'Mulconrys were the hereditary Bards of Connaught, and some branches of them were Bards of Thomond, some of Leinster, and some of Annaly, (now Longford); the Clan-Firbis were the hereditary Bards of Lower Connaught, (i.e. of the County of Sligo), of Hy Fiachrach Moy, of Tir-Amalgaid, (Tirawly), of Cera, of Hy Fiachrach Aidne, of Eachtga, and of the race of Colla Uais, that is, of the Clan Donnell... the O'Duvegans in Hy Maine... the Clan Crutins and O'Brudins in Thomond, and so on." p.5.

    "Remarks on the Book of Mac Firbis, an Irish Manuscript lately transcribed for the Academy" (1837)
    George Petrie, Esq., R.H.A., M.R.I.A.

    Source: JSTOR. Internet Archive


    Oilioll Oluim: This monarch ordained that the sovereignty of Munster should be held alternately by the descendants of Eoghan and Cormac Cas. The posterity and dependents of Eoghan (called Eoghanachts), who was killed in the battle of Magh Macruimhe, A.D. 195, possessed all South Munster. Being the more numerous and more widely extended, whenever they could they disregarded the will of their ancestor, and consequently we find them possessed of the throne of Munster much more frequently than the descendants of Cormac Cas. These latter ruled in North Tipperary and Clare. From the time that Luighaidh Meann, the fourth in descent from Cormac Cas by his wife, the daughter of Oisin, and grand-daughter of Finn Mac-Cumhaill, [1] wrested Clare from the Firbolgs, this county became the patrimony of the principal families claiming descent from Cormac Cas. To Luighaidh Meann [2] succeeded his son, Conal Eachluaith, or Conal of the Fleet Steeds. This Conal had a son called Cas, after his great ancestor, and to this Cas are traced back all the chief Clare families, called after him by the well-known and illustrious title Dalcassian, the O'Briens, the MacNamaras, the MacMahons, the O'Deas, the O'Gradys, the O'Molonys, the MacClanchys, the Maclnernys, the O'Quins, the O'Hehirs, etc. p. 17.

    [1] The visit of Finn MacCumhaill to Conan of Ceann Sliebhe (Mount Callen), in Clare, forms great part of the Ossianic Legends.
    [2] O'Curry Man. Mat. p. 209.

    "History of Clare and the Dalcassian Clans of Tipperary, Limerick and Galway" (1893)
    Very Rev. P. White, PP.,VG.

    Source: Internet Archive


    Do shaoileas dá ríribh gur uachtarán
    tíre nó taoiseach dob uaisle cáil
    an daoiste dubh díobaighthe duairc gan dán
    do chlann Ghiolla Choimhthigh í Thuathaláin.

    Do bhí an staoionse 'na rídhuirc i n-uachtar Cláir
    's an mhuinntear ag tíodhlacadh cuach iona láimh,
    do shuidheasa iona chuibhrionn le huamhain cháich
    go bhfuighinna fhios cia an fhíonfuil ó ar ghluais a dháid.

    Do stríocar go híseal mo chluas iona dháil
    is ba dís liom go scaoilfeadhran ualach árd:
    i n-insgne an fhir chíordhuibh tan duaidh a sháith
    seadh fríth liom go fíreannach tuata bán.

    I thought him of nations a governor really,
    Or a chief, at the least, of the noblest celebrity —
    The surly, illiterate, black-visaged, blasted boor,
    Sprung from the children of Alien Vulgarson.[1]

    This boorish dolt posed as a monarch in Upper Clare,[2]
    And many a goblet did people hand unto him;
    I sat down and shared the feast - everyone wondering -
    To try and find out from what blue blood his daddy sprang.

    Low I bowed down my ear, listening attentively;
    Anxious I felt till he'd throw off the lofty load;
    By the talk of the jet-black churl, when he had eaten his fill —
    That's how I found he was nought but a boorish clown. p. 14-15.
    [Authorship doubtful]

    [1] Clann Ghiolla Choimhthigh uí Thuathaláin is a fictitious name, formed on the model of Irish names, here used to denote the illiterate Cromwellian planters. Giolla Coimhtheach means a stranger, foreigner, alien, and Uá Tuathalain is a descendant of Tuathalán, a man's name derived from Tuathal al. Tuaithbheal, the left side, wrong side, awkwardness, rudeness, incivility, &c.

    [2] Upper Clare, the southern portion of Co. Clare. Like the ancients the Irish conceive the earth as high at the equator and gradually sloping down from that to the poles — hence such expressions as going down to the north, up to the south. Owing to the way in which the world is represented on modern maps, the custom has arisen in some languages of referring to the north as higher and the south as lower. The names of the double baronies in Ireland usually adhere very accurately to the ancient mode of speech, though there are a few exceptions; for instance, in the case of the baronies of Upper and Lower Bunratty and Tulla in Co. Clare.

    "The poems of David Ó Bruaidair, 1635-1698" (Part II. Edited with Introduction, Translation and Notes, 1913)
    Rev. John C. MacErlean, S. J.

    Source: Internet Archive


    After bidding farewell to Eoghan's race I shall go to Cas' gentle race — no journey of an ignorant man — set on following up impartially their stock.

    What ravens of hosts are better of all that strove for Eire's honour than the stock of Blod, source of the race whence comes the seed of Brian Boroimhe?

    Though a change of name disguises them, of Brian's stock is McMahon's race. Of it is Tadhg's race from yewy Ara,[1] that fair high land of rich-borders!

    From Blod too spring a race - not to be forgotten though not as exalted as Brians — the lofty wood of fair Cliu.[2]

    The O'Kennedys of Loch Deirgdeirc,[3] McGraths[4] brave in deeds of fierce anger, the O'Maras of bright fair repute, the O'Herlihys and O'Hogans.

    The O'Caisins, McNamaras and one of their branches the O'Clancys, the O'Heas from the fair plain of Eachtgha,[5] are branches of the great tree to be followed up. p. 245

    [1] O'Briens of Ara.
    [2] McBriens of Cliu.
    [3] L. Derg.
    [4] In Co. Tipperary. The Waterford family were of O'Sullivan line.
    [5] Borders of Clare and Galway.

    "Iomarbhágh na bhFileadh - The Contention of the Bards." (Edited with Translation, Notes, Glossaries, Etc. Part II, 1918)
    Rev. L. McKenna, S.J., M.A.

    Source: Internet Archive


    In the Lower Barony we again find evidence of extensive oak-forests—Derrynaveagh, Keelderry, two Killaderrys near Broadford, Derryvinnaun, Coolderry, Knockaderreen, and Barnanderreen, the last in Ross; Oakfield (if old), and Derryfadda, lying in nearly every case on the slopes of the Slieve Bernagh hills. There is a yew-tree name at Killuran, the Kelldubirayn of the Papal Taxation of 1302, Kilhurayn in 1407, and Kylleibaran in 1405 in the Calendars of Papal documents. A "greenwood" named Kyleglas is found in Killokennedy. Even in 1655 there remained 2976 acres of forest, and 1650 of dwarf woods; but the upper parts of Craglea and the hills over Killaloe were open and heathy; and slate quarries had already been opened in them. There were woods round Clonlara and shubberies in Doonass. Killokennedy parish, in the wildest recess of Slieve Bernagh, had about 700 acres of wood, the rest being mountain pasture; the oak wood of Derryarget had been all cut away, but there were 5 acres in Killuran newly planted, Keilderry, in Kilseily, retained 45 acres of the wood from which it derived its name. The woods of Doon, near Broadford, were planted by Captain Massy, and those of Caher by Mr. O'Hara before 1808.

    The plainland had very little timber; Clonlea and Kilmurry only 26 acres of timber at Mountallon, and 430 acres of shrubs, usually "stony ground, with little thickets of brushwood intermixed"; there was a dwarf wood near Ballycullen Castle, on the east slope of Slieve Bernagh, and other woods in the rough mountain uplands.

    In the eastern part of Clare, the Dalcassians often found refuge from the Danes before 904; "they dispersed themselves over the forests and woods of the three tribes,'Ui Bloid, Ui Caisin, and Ui Thoirdhealbhaigh; "the woods, solitudes, deserts, and caves of Ui Blait," "on the hard, knotty, wet roots of the trees," says the book of "The Wars of the Gaedhil with the Gaill." O'Huidhrin, before 1420, alludes to the woods in Hy Torlough, "near unto Flannan's Celldalua, their lands and woods extend to the Shannon."

    As to the names between Slieve Bernagh and the Shannon, we find Garraim (thicket) to the south of Clonlara; and a now-forgotten Derryanlangfort was held by Donogh Mac Namara in 1633, apparently near Trough. The Four Masters record the plundering bands of O'Briens as hiding in the woods and hills near Killaloe in 1602, when the country was evidently thickly wooded. p.283-5.

    "The Forests of the Counties of the Lower Shannon Valley" (Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Vol. XXVII. Section C, No. 13, 1909)
    Thomas Johnson Westropp

    Source: Internet Archive


    In our saint's second Life, we are told, when St. Patrick came to preach the Faith of Christ, in that part of the country, called Hy-Fidhgente,[1] he predicted the future birth and greatness of St. Senan. While St. Patrick brought over many from the errors of idolatry, in this part of the country,[2] a report of his extraordinary success and great virtues circulated amongst the people of Corcobaschind, in Clare County, on the northern bank of the Shannon. p. 213.

    Having provided a great number of boats, they passed over the Shannon, at a place, called Donoghmore, a parish church, in Limerick diocese... But, the Corcabaschind people, not satisfied with receiving Christian baptism themselves, requested the saint, that he would come as soon as possible to their country, so that their wives, children and servants might enjoy a like inestimable privilege. p.214.

    At last, St. Patrick relieved himself from their importunities, by saying, that he could not go with them, until he had more fully instructed those people of the country, where he then preached, in the mysteries of faith, and until he had built churches, and provided good pastors for them. He enquired, however, if there was any elevated place near him, from which he could obtain a view of their country. When conducted to a mountain, called Findinne,[3] which he ascended, he obtained a view of the boundaries of Corcobaschind, towards the North and East. He then predicted, that in course of time, their bounds should be enlarged, on the East, as far as the mountain Echtge,[4] and on the North, to another, which he pointed out in Corcomroe. p. 215.

    [1] The country of the Hy-Figeinte embraced the greater and better part of the county of Limerick; it extended from the Shannon to the middle of Slieve Loughra, and from Kerry to Limerick, according to John O'Donovan.
    [2] Colgan makes Hy-Fidhgente a part of Kerry County, and he refers to the Life of St. Molua, who belonged to the country, inhabited by "nepotes Fidhgente."
    [3] The name now seems to be obsolete, in that part of the country.
    [4] This mountain was situated in the north-eastern part of Clare, and on the borders of Galway County. It is now called Slieve Aughtee. The ancient territory of Tuath Echtghe comprised the greater part of this mountain, from which it was named. Dr. O'Donovan states, "this territory is mentioned in Mac Namara's rent-roll published by Mr. Hardiman, but in no other authority is it mentioned as a distinct territory. It comprised the entire of the large parish of Feakle, but we do not find that it formed the estate of any petty chief, at any period of our history. Before the year 1318, it was a part of the country of the Hy-Bloid, and is still placed in the deanery of Hy-m-bloid, or as it is Anglicised O'Mulled. It is my opinion, that it originally formed part of O'Shanahan's country." — "Letters and Extracts relative to Ancient Territories in Thomond, 1841," Signed "J. O'D., February 13th, 1841" p. 71.

    "Lives of the Irish Saints" (Vol. III, 1875)
    Rev. John Canon O'Hanlon, M.R.I.A.

    Source: Internet Archive


    The term "Thomond" is not used here in its almost prehistoric meaning of northern Tipperary and north-eastern Limerick, nor in its fullest meaning, when the might of the Dalcassians had added to these the present county Clare, a fragment torn from Connaught. p. 102

    St. Patrick, we are definitely told, never preached in the Clare portion of Thomond, and the absence of his name from the ecclesiastical legends and earlier churches bears out the statement. Even if his alleged journey with Caeilte, in the "Colloquy of the Ancients,"[1] was not absolutely mythical, it could only imply a hasty crossing from Cratloe to Lough Graney, and nothing more.

    A certain amount of Christianity may have spread across the Shannon from Singland, where the converted prince, Cairthinn, held his Court; but there is no legend of any church formed earlier than by Cairthinn's grandson Brecan.

    Brecan, son of King Eochy Bailldearg[2] lived late in the fifth century... probably conceived the idea of founding a mission in the centre of the present county Clare... he fixed his establishment at a place called Noughaval, in the district of Magh Adhair. It was a low green ridge, not far from the Fergus, and commanding a view across the whole plain of Clare to Burren, Echtge, and Slieve Bernagh. p. 102-104

    Divided as Thomond was between three great groups of tribes - whom we may roughly name the Dalcassians, the Corcomodruadh, and the Corcovaskin - it is not wonderful that in early times it was divided into three tribal bishoprics. p. 111

    The Synod of Rathbreasail,[3] about 1112, made provision for a new arrangement, by which it would appear that it wisely intended to establish one bishopric over all Thomond. It appointed, as bounds to the enlarged see of Killaloe, limits from Slige Dala to Cuchullin's Leap, at Loop Head, and from Mount Eachtuige to Vide an Riogh (a summit of the Cratloe Hills, at Glennagross, near Limerick, and from thence to Glen Caoin, in Tipperary, which does not concern our present county Clare. The neighbouring sees were thus bounded where they touched the bishopric of Killaloe: Clonfert by the Shannon, and along Eachtige to Buirenn; Limerick from Tairbert, on the south bank of the Shannon, to Cuinche, in Thomond, to the cross[4] on Mount Uidhe an Riogh, and to the Dubh Abhainn, or Blackwater, a little stream running into the Shannon not far above Limerick. p.112.

    [1] " Silva Gadelica," vol. ii., "Colloquy of the Ancients," p. 126.
    [2] For collected account, see Journal R.S.A.I., 1895, P. 252, and Lord Dunravan's "Notes," vol.I., under Temple Brecan in Aran.
    [3] Keating's "History of Ireland" (O'Connor's edition) p. 101.
    [4] Hence Glennacross

    "The Churches of County Clare and the Origin of the Ecclesiastical Division's in that County." (1900)
    T. J. Westropp, M.A.

    Source: Internet Archive


    "Caiseal is derived from 'Cais-il', i.e. a stone on which they used to lay down pledges; or 'Cis-ail', i.e. 'the payment of the tribute', from the tribute given to it by the men of Eire. Sidh-dhruim ('fairy hill') was the name of the place at first." Then follows the description of the appearance of an angel on the hill to swineherds, who foretold the coming of St. Patrick, and blessed the hill and the place. "The figure which appeared there was Victor, the angel of Patrick, prophesying that the grandeur and supremacy of Eire would be perpetually in that place. Accordingly, that town is a metropolis to Patrick, and a chief city of the King of Eire. And the tribute and service of the men of Eire are always due the king of that place i.e. the King of Caiseal, through the blessing of Patrick the son of Alplainn. Now, here are the stipends of the kings from the King of Caiseal, if he be King (monarch) of Eire, and his visitation and refection among them on that account." [1] It is curious to find this prophecy of supremacy gravely attributed to an angel, in presence of the well-known fact that the supremacy of Eire had not for many centuries rested in the King of Cashel or Munster. The only explanation I can find for this notable incongruity is in the supposition that in the time of Brian Boroimhe the story was invented, with a view to establish the right all along of the supremacy of Cashel by virtue of the blessing of St. Patrick; and now, when the supposed right had become a fact, the stipends and tributes to the subordinate princes were decreed in order to secure their allegiance. A monarch so vigorous and so successful as Brian Boroimhe may well be credited with a desire to retain, for the throne of Munster, the supremacy of all Ireland, which he had won for it with his good sword; and what better means could be devised than, first, to invest it with a kind of Divine right by reason of the blessing of St. Patrick, and then prop it up by paying for the support of some of the provincial kings and petty princes? p. 36-7.

    [1] Book of Rights, p. 31.

    "History of Clare and the Dalcassian Clans of Tipperary, Limerick and Galway." (1893)
    Very Rev. P. White, PP.,VG.

    Source: Internet Archive


    Synod of Ráith Breasail. [A.D. 1110 or 1118] The division of Ireland into the two Ecclesiastical provinces of Ard Macha and Caiseal is founded, as the text[1] expressly states, upon the ancient political division of Ireland into Leath Chuinn (Northern Ireland) and Leath Mhogha (Southern Ireland)... The dioceses also were made coterminous with the smaller principalities or groups of tribes, and the knowledge we have of the boundaries of the latter helps to supplement the information given by the Synod about the boundaries of the former.

    The system followed by the Synod in defining these boundaries was to give the names of a certain number of places lying at opposite ends of the diocese. p. 5

    Diocese of Cluain Fearta
    From the Sionainn to Boirinn
    and from Eachtghe to the Suca. p. 14

    Diocese of Ceall Dá lua
    From Slighe Dhála to Léim Chon gCulainn
    and from Eachtghe to Sliabh Uidhe an Ríogh
    and from Sliabh Uidhe an Ríogh to Sliabh Caoin or to Gleann Caoinn. p. 15

    [1] Keating in his History of Ireland, Book II, Section xxviii, extracted the acts of this synod from an old book of annals belonging to the church of Cluain Eidhneach, which is now lost.

    "Archivium Hibernicum or Irish Historical Records." (Vol. III, 1914)
    Rev. John Mac Erlean, S.J.

    Source: Internet Archive


    An old story tells that in the time of Corc, king of Mumu, Cashel was "discovered"[1] in a region wholly deserted and uninhabited, when swine-herds driving their flocks into the woods to feed were led to the site by "a most beautiful person" singing and prophesying; and that the king hearing of the miracle was moved to set up on the rock his place of assembly and seat of customs for rent and tribute. According to Córus Béscna, a seventh-century law-tract, Corc was a hostage at Tara when Patrick came there, so that the occupation of Cashel, in Gaelic Caissel Cuirc, or "Corc's castellum," could not be much earlier than 440: it is known as the only Latin name among the fortresses of Irish kings - the one place of note in ancient Ireland which does not bear a Gaelic name.

    Great changes followed the advent to Cashel of the new rulers. At some unknown time kings of Mumu extended their power over Clare, formerly a part of Connacht, and even to the Aran islands where there is a territory that still preserves the name of Eóganacht. They annexed what are now the counties of Clare and Tipperary, a small part of Limerick, and the larger part of Waterford. p. 55

    [1] P. 55. MacNeill: "Phases of Irish History," p. 127; Keating: "History of Ireland" (Ed. Dinneer), I, 123, 125.

    "History of the Irish State to 1014." (1925)
    Alice Stopford Green

    Source: Internet Archive


    Luig Meann otherwise Luig Lamh-dearg, the son of Aongus Tirach... fought seven bloody battles with the Conatians, in all which he had the advantage, and killed seven of their chief princes... and... deprived them only of the country now called Thomond, extending from the bay of Killcolgan near Galway to Limerick; and from Lough-dearg to Leim-Cuchullan, now called Loop-head, otherwise Cape Leane at the mouth of the Shannon; to this tract of ground he had a just and antient claim, inasmuch as it was within the limits of Leath-mogh traced out from Galway to Dublin; thus the victorious Luig Meann contented himself with the glory of recovering the right of his ancestors, and acquiring for his posterity the enjoyment of those lands as a perpetual memorial of his valour.

    The Psaltar of Cashel, here cited by the original, and other antient records, describe the entire patrimonial estate and dominion of Luig Meann and his posterity, according to the following delineation and limits, viz. from Leim-Cuchullan, or Leim-na-Con, in the west of Thomond, to Sliabh-Bladhma or Bloomy mountain in Ossory, now between the King and Queen's counties; and from Carran-Fearaidh or Knock-Aine in the county of Limerick, to Ath-Lucad on the frontiers of the county of Galway. Others have traced them from the Isles of Aran, to Sliabh-Eibhline near Cashel, as well as to Knock-Aine, and from the said Leim-na-Con to Slighe-Dala in Ossory; which is a more exact delineation of the length and breadth of the Dal-Cassian estate, than that of O'Flaherty, who gives them no other breadth than from Sliabh-Eachty on the north side of Lough-Dearg, to Sliabh-Eibhline in the county of Tipperary. p. 441-2.

    "The Tanistic Law of Senior Succession illustrated in an historical and genealogical account of the Kings of Munster of the Dal-Cassian race, connected with the history of the Eugenian Kings of Cashel and those of the other provinces of Ireland." (Colectanea de Rebus Hibernicis. Vol. I., 1786)
    Charles Vallancey

    Source: Internet Archive


    After the death of Corc, Crimthann, monarch of Ireland, conferred the sovereignty of Munster on Conall Each-luath, as Keting[1] writes, whom he had adopted: he was the great great grandson of Cormac Cas, king of Munster. But he is not enumerated among them in the poem of the kings of Munster.

    His sister Mongfinna poisoned her brother king Crimthann at Inisdorn-glas, an island of the river Muad... and her brother, on his way to Munster, died of the plague at this side of Limerick[2].

    Lugad Meann, the father of Conall... obtained the country between the city of Limerick and the mountain Ectga, (which we call now the county of Clare) divided by the river Shannon from Munster, and by the bay of Galway from West Connaught: it has been taken from Connaught. He gave it the name of Thumond, and his posterity were called Dalcassians. The territories of the Dalcassians extended from the leap of Cuculand, near the Western Ocean, in Thumond, to the bounds of Ossory; and from the mountain Ectga, in the confines of the county of Galway, to the mountain Eblinna. Cass, the son of this Conall, being surnamed Dolabra Mac-tail, from his foster-father, who was a smith, the original founder of the Dalcassians, from whom his posterity were called Clann-tail, had twelve sons... p. 307-310

    [1] Keting, in the reign of Crimthann.
    82 Cormac Cas Meann, king of Munster, c. 69.
    83 Mogcorb, king of Munster, cap. 70.
    84 Fercorb
    85 Ængus Tire
    86 Lugad Mean
    87 Conall Eachluath, in the year 3790.

    [2] Sliabh oidhe an Righ. The mountain of the death of the king.

    "Ogygia: or, a chronological account of Irish events: collected from very ancient documents, faithfully compared with each other and supported by the genealogical and chronological aid of the sacred and prophane writings of the first nations of the globe." (Vol II, Written originally in Latin by Roderic O'Flaherty. Translated by Rev James Hely, A. B., 1793)

    Source: Internet Archive


    Do leathtaoibh Lúachra Dheaghaidh
    seach dhorus Bhealaigh Luimnigh
    tar slíabh Oigidh tar Eachtghe
    glúaismit ar gceitri buídhnibh

    By the side of Luachair Deadhaidh, past
    the gate of Bealach Luimnigh, over Sliabh
    Oidhidh, over Eachtghe, we go in four bands. pp. 8-9

    "Duanaire Finn. The Book of the Lays of Fionn." (Part II. Irish Text, with translation into English by Gerard Murphy, 1933)

    Source: Internet Archive


    Occupying a district which served as a frontier ground between Munster and Connaught, it was upon these brave warriors that always fell the first brunt of invasion in any incursions from the latter province...[1]

    Some writers have asserted that, in despite of the solemn will of Olill Ollum, enjoining that the succession to the throne of Cashel should be enjoyed alternately by the Eugenian and Dalcassian branches of his family, yet so often had the former tribe encroached on the rights of the latter, that little more than one third of the princes elevated to that throne had been of the Dalcassian race. pp. 51-2

    [1] "There existed, from an early period, a constant enmity between the two provinces, Connaught and Munster, and the present county of Clare was the bone of contention; the Conacians claiming it, as being included in Northern Ireland. At an early period the Momonians were obliged to make Fearan Cloidhimh, or Sword-Land, of all the western coast; as they were, after the death of Goll, of many other parts." — Note on a Translation of the Ode of Goll, the Son of Morni, Transact. Of R.I.A Academy, 1788.

    "Cormac Mac Culinan" (from The History of Ireland, 1846)
    Thomas Moore

    Source: Internet Archive


    ...the so-called principle of alternate succession between the Eoganachta and Dál Chais is an audacious falsehood that cannot have arisen long before the composition of the Caithréim. The guilty propagandist may well have been the author of the Cogadh Gaidhel re Gallaib, where the claim, propounded in the manner of an after-thought, seems to be formulated for the first time (p. 54). There was nothing gross or brutal about the inventor’s method. Quite simply, with a touch so deft that it was scarcely perceptible, he made a dexterous alteration in the past and brought it into harmony with the actual political situation.

    The itch to pat history into fairer shape is common to all generations! What the concocter of the legend worked upon was the fact that in Munster there existed for many centuries the small state called In Déis Becc. It was in two parts, one north of the Shannon in east Clare, known as In Déis Tuaiscirt, and the other south of the Shannon, in east Limerick, known as In Déis Descirt. From a tract preserved in the Book of Ballymote (172a, 174a; cf. Pender, Déssi Genealogies, pp. 87f.) Professor MacNeill has shown (Ériu, XI, 35ff.) that each section of this little state had its own king and that there was "a close relation on terms of equality between the kings of the Déis Tuaiscirt and the Déis Descirt." As In Déis Becc as a unit would not have two kings but one, it is extremely likely that the succession passed alternately north and south. In Déis Tuaiscirt became known later as Dál Chais. We may take it then that Dál Chais or In Déis Tuaiscirt enjoyed equal rights with In Déis Descirt south of the Shannon in Limerick, while both together formed a state subject to Cashel. When the Dál Chais became powerful in Ireland it was easy to pretend that their special relationship south of the Shannon embraced not merely In Déis Descirt but the whole of Munster. pp. 95-6

    "The Historical Content of the 'Caithréim Ceallacháin Chaisil.'" (Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 1941)
    The Rev. John Ryan, S.J., M.A., D.Litt., Fellow.

    Source: Internet Archive


    The right of the king of Caiseal from his territories.

    Tosach lais i(d)-tír n-aili
    la rí Dál Cais—ní cheile
    lorg na righ Dáil Cais in Cheoil,
    ic taidheacht i crích n-naineoil.

    The first with him [1] into another country
    Belongs to the king of Dal Chais [2] — I will not conceal it;
    To take the rear of the king belongs to the Dal Chais of music,
    On coming from a strange land. pp. 70-71.

    [1] The first with him, i.e. to lead the van.
    [2] Dal Chais, i.e. the families of O'Briain (O'Briens), Mac Maghthamhna (MacMahons), Mac Conmara (Mac Namara), O'Deaghaidh (O'Deas), O'Cuinn(O'Quins), and their correlatives in the county of Clare.

    "Leabhar na g-ceart: or, The Book of Rights." (Edited with translation and notes by John O'Donovan, Esq.,M.R.I.A., 1847)

    Source: Internet Archive


    The militia, or knights of Thomond or North Munster, were the Clanna Baoiscne[1], so called from Baoiscne, their principal ancestor, who, according to the Book of Ballimote, now deposited in the library of the Royal Irish Academy, was the second son of Nuada Necht of the royal race of Leinster, and fifth direct ancestor of Fionn the son of Cumhall, the son of Treanmor, the son of Salt, the son of Elton, the son of Baoiscne. p.XXVI.

    The guards of... the kings of Thomond, or North Munster, were a detachment of the Clanna Baoiscne; but in latter times for these were substituted the Dal Cais, a most intrepid body of men. The palace of Brian Boroimhe at Killaloe was called Tigh Chinn Coradh, or the house at the head of the weir. p.XXVII-XXVIII.

    The hereditary marshals of Thomond, or North Munster, were the Mac Namaras; the standard-bearers the O'Deas, and the O'Gradys were the captains of the guards until about A.D. 1200, at which time they were succeeded in that trust by the O'Gormans or Mac Gormans... p.XXX.

    [1] Clanna Baoiscne. For further particulars of this tribe and their territory, see Leabhar na g-Ceart (Book of Rights), p. 48. n. g.

    "Transactions of the Ossianic society, for the year 1856. Vol. IV." (1859)
    John O'Daly

    Source: Internet Archive


    Heavily-productive, truly-pleasant chace and stag-hunt was appointed by Fionn Mac Cumhaill, and the noble, handsome, fair-featured Fenians of the Gael, on the mountain of Torc[1], which towers over Loch Lene[2], over the district of Fear More[3], and Hy Connall Gabhra[4]. The chace was extended by them over the green pleasant mountain of Eachtaidhe[5], and from thence it spread over other green-capped mountains, through dense impassable woods, over marshy, rugged, reddish hills, and across the smooth extensive plains of the adjacent districts. Every Fenian chief chose the place which his taste suggested, his starting point, and the pass of danger, where he had been accustomed to exercise his power in every chace, in which he had been previously engaged; and the shouts which they raised in the turns and doubles of that hunt, re-echoed throughout the woods around; so that they started the nimblest bucks in the forest, caused the smaller red-furred game to clamber up the summit of the rocks, scared foxes astray, aroused badgers from the mountain clefts, drove birds to the wing, and fawns to their utmost speed. p. 119

    [1] Torc, now Turk mountain, contiguous to the lakes of Killarney. This celebrated mountain adds grandeur and sublimity to the surrounding scenery, and enhances in no small degree the beauty of the adjoining landscape.
    [2] Loch Lein is the old Irish name of the Lakes of Killarney.
    [3] Fear More, a district in the west of Kerry, now Corca-Duibhne, or Corcaguiny.
    [4] Hy Connall Gabhra, now the barony of Connelloe in the county of Limerick.
    [5] Eachtaidhe, alias Slieve Aughty, a mountain situated between the counties of Clare and Galway.

    "The Festivities at the house of Conan of Ceann-Sleibhe, in the County Of Clare." (1855)
    Edited by Nicholas O'Kearney, Esq.

    Source: Internet Archive


    Lethat Túadmuman a túaid
    Sloinnfet tré dúan-molad dóib:
    Ó hAichtgi co hÉblinn áin
    Is é a dail fri hÉrinn hóig.

    The breadth of Thomond from the north
    I shall relate to them in a laudatory poem:
    from Sliabh Aichtghi to noble Sliabh Eibhlinne,
    such is the distribution of it as compared with the whole of Ireland.

    Aichtge (nom.), dat. Aichtgi - the present Sliabh Eachtaighe, or Slieve Aughty Mountains, in the Baronies of Leitrim and Loughrea, Co. Galway. It is also found spelt Echtge.

    "The Five Munsters" (Ériu: The Journal of the School of Irish Learning, Dublin, 1905)
    J. H. Lloyd

    Source: Internet Archive


    Of the subdivision of Munster here. The race of Oilioll Olom having acquired the two provinces of Munster, they divide them into five parts, which are called the five Munsters. The first part which is called North Munster,[1] its length is from Léim Chongculainn[2] to Slighe Dála, i.e. the great road in Osraidhe,[3] and its breadth from Sliabh Eichtge[4] to Sliabh Eibhlinne.[5] And notwithstanding that all that is from Sliabh Eichtge to Limerick was in the ancient division of Connacht, yet Lughaidh Meann, son of Aonghus Tireach, son of Fear Corb, son of Mogh Corb, son of Cormac Cas, son of Oilioll Ólom, made sword-land of all that is from Eichtge to Limerick, and from the Shannon west to Leim Chongculainn, so that he annexed it[6] to Munster: and the name it was usually called was the rough land of Lughaidh, and the Dál gCais[7] had it free without rent, without taxing, from the kings of Ireland. p. 127

    [1] Thomond, i.e. Tuadhmhumha.
    [2] Cuchulainn's Leap, now 'Loop Head'.
    [3] One of the great ancient roads. Osraidhe, i.e. Ossory.
    [4] Now corruptly Slieve Aughty, near Loch Derg.
    [5] Slieve Eelim or Slieve Phelim.
    [6] i.e. the present Co. Clare.
    [7] Dalcassians, i.e. the tribe of Cas.

    "Foras feasta ar Éirinn. The history of Ireland by Geoffrey Keating, D.D." (Vol.I., Edited with translation and notes by David Comyn, M.R.I.A., 1902)

    Source: Internet Archive


    There were three non-tributary races, evidently later conquerors of "pre-Milesian" tribes — the Aine Cliach, the Ui Fidgeinte, and the Dal gCais. The latter were the kings of the district: under the Provincial King of Cashel, and sat "next his shoulder" at banquets; they led the van in his wars, and covered his retirement or retreat. From the tenth century they alleged an alternative right of succession to Cashel; but during the early historic period there is little or no evidence of their having obtained this position until Mathgamhain, son of Cenedig, was made king. p.13.

    The Dal gCais do not appear in the historic Annals before the reign of Cenedig, father of Mathgamhain and Brian Boroimhe. They appear to have split into two lines about 571, one reigning at Bruree and Singland, the other, at first more obscure, at Cragliath, near Killaloe. The first disappears after a great Norse raid in the ninth century; [1] the other, by a strange chance of fortune and their own fine qualities, fought till they overthrew the Danish rule, and became kings, first of Thomond, then of Cashel, then of Ireland. Innumerable O'Briens, MacMahons, Kennedys, and others represent them all over the world to this day. p.14.

    It is only important to recall that the first under the successive princes, Lughaidh Meann, Connall Eachluath (A.D. 377), and Eanna Airigthech (after 400), conquered the central part of the present Co. Clare from the Luimneach (or Shannon Estuary) up to Inchiquin Lake and along the hills of Burren to Luchid heath. This battle, the site of the decisive victory gained by the first king, extended his realm from Cahernarry (Carn Fearadhaig) to the present border of Clare and Galway. p.15.

    [1] Circa 830, before the rally of the Ui Chonaill in 839.

    "On Certain Typical Earthworks and Ring-walls in County Limerick." (Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Volume XXXIII. Section C., 1916)
    Thomas Johnson Westropp

    Source: Internet Archive


    Mogh Corb governed Munster for twenty years, and died A.D. 334; he left a son called Fercorb, and he a son Angus (Tireach, or the land grabber [1]), a name probably derived from the conquest which he initiated of that part of Thomond now known as county Clare.

    Lughaid Menu was a son of Angus, and it was reserved to him to drive the King of Connaught out of Clare and to subjugate the Firbolgs who occupied that part of the country. Lughaid, therefore, was the first of the Dalcasian princes who was able to take full possession of Thomond, or North Munster, including Clare.

    We are able to ascertain pretty accurately the date of this conquest of Clare by reference made to it in the "Death of Crimthan, King of Ireland." From Mr. O'Grady's translation of this Celtic MS. we learn that, in Crimthan's reign, there was a great war, "and for a lengthened space of time, carried on by the Dalcasians of Munster to win the soil on which to this day they are still planted in Thomond; and this matter was the efficient cause of all the future fighting between the Dalcasians of Clare and the King of Connaught"; the latter held this territory as part of his province. From the MS. above referred to, we learn that "Lughaid-menn was the first that violently grasped this part of Thomond," for which reason he is called Lughaid; he is said to have made Clare "sword lands," or, in other words, lands taken and held by the sword. The historian adds, "the country which the Dalcasians acquired was taken by force; not because they had any title to it; it belonged by right to the province of Connaught." p. 64-65

    [1] "Silva Gadellca", p. 378, also 174; O'Curry's "Lectures", p. 209.
    [2] "Silva Gadellca" by Standish H. O'Grady, p. 377.

    "The story of an Irish Sept: their character and struggle to maintain their lands in Clare." (1896)
    Nottidge Charles Macnamara

    Source: Internet Archive


    ...the Fenian Saga, as a whole, does not seem to have had its origin among the Gaelic population proper, but among some tribes dispersed in early times among the general population and looked down upon by them as the remnants of an earlier and inferior race; the people whom the genealogists of the tenth century called the Firbolg. p.17

    The only sept that claimed descent from Fionn is the Dal Cais, i.e., the O'Briens of Munster. It is said that Fearcorb, their progenitor, was son of one of Finn's daughters by Grainne, d. of Cormac mac Airt. As the Dal Cais, or Dalcassians, were unknown to fame until shortly before the time of Brian Boromhe (Boru) and his brothers, it is clear that this Munster genealogy was invented after that time to dignify the ancestry of their race. p. 23

    "A Text Book of Irish Literature" (1906)
    Eleanor Hull

    Source: Internet Archive


    Finn Cycle. Clare has been less forgetful of the far later saga cycle referring to Finn mac Cumhail and his warriors, the events of which are attributed to the third century. Finn, Conan, Caeilte, Dermot, and Oisin have left obvious traces in the place-names. The Agallamh says that Cluan Chepain in the mountains of Echtghe was named from Chepan, son of Morna, who fell there.[1] The site is now forgotten, but was to the south of Lough Graney. The elopement of Dermot and Grainne, Finn's wife, has given many names. I have already recorded their association with dolmens,[2] at one of which, Tobergrania, the use of a flooded dolmen as a holy well has replaced the pagan lovers by two Christian ascetics from Feakle. Several hill tops are called Finn's Seat, viz. On Slieve Bernagh, on Inchiquin Hill, and a carn at Black Head. p.100

    [1] Silva Gadelica, vol. ii., p. 126.

    [2] Vol. xxiii., pp. 91-2.

    "County Clare Folk-Tales and Myths" (Folklore. Vol. 24: A Folklore Survey of County Clare, 1913)
    T.W. Westropp

    Source: Internet Archive


    Solace in Winter. [1]

    Chill the winter, cold the wind,
    Up the stag springs, stark of mind:
    Fierce and bare the mountain fells —
    But the brave stag boldly bells.

    He will not set side to rest
    On Sliav Carna's snowy breast;
    Echta's stag, also rousing,
    Hears wail of wolves carousing.

    Cailté I, and Diarmid Donn,
    Oft, with Oscar apt to run,
    When piercing night was paling,
    Heard rousing wolves a-wailing.

    Sound may sleep the russet stag,
    With his hide hid in the crag;
    Him, hidden, nothing aileth
    When piercing night prevaileth. p. 134-5

    [1] "Silva Gadelica." Colloquy with the Ancients

    "Bards of the Gael and Gall: examples of the poetic literature of Erinn, done into English after the metres and modes of the Gael." (1897)
    George Sigerson, M.D., F.R.U.I.

    Source: Internet Archive


    Great nature exhibits her grand primeval forms, unhurt by the officious hand of tasteless art, "it seems the haunt of wood-gods only." During our passage across the mountain, we started innumerable large deer, who ramble over those hills, unrestrained by wall or fence, in all their wild original state.

    We left Silvermines this morning early; it required an exertion to part from so delightful a spot, and from such kind friends, to whose politeness we felt ourselves very much indebted. The road to Killaloe leads through a north tract of fertile country but thinly inhabited. We crossed the Shannon, over a bridge of nineteen arches, which connects the counties of Tipperary, Limerick, and Clare. Killaloe stands upon the latter; it excites no prepossessing ideas on approaching it, being a very old town, and with little or no trade. p.47-8.

    "Sketches of Some of the Southern Counties of Ireland, Collected During a Tour in the Autumn, 1797, in a Series of Letters." (1801)
    George Holmes

    Source: Internet Archive


    To O'Brien's bridge (by the low road, — woody with occasional glimpses of the river); Village, white; lower end of it pretty, in the sunshine; upper part of it squalid, deserted mostly: relief-work road, — half breadth cut away, and so left: duckwood ditches, drowned bog, inexpressibly ugly for most part, some cleared improved spot, abruptly alternating with the drowned squalor which produces only bad brown stacks of peat... Two drunk blockheads, stagger into a cross road to be alone; are seen kissing one another as we pass, — just Heaven, what a kiss, with the drowned bog, and gaping full ditches on each hand! Long meagre village, hungry single street "Castle Connell"—? p. 174

    Up the river; hills of Clare, hills in Limerick county; wide expanse, not without some savage beauty, far too bare, and too little of it absolutely green. Talk of Browne and his "blind farmers". Assassination of a poor old soldier he had sent to watch a certain farm; ominous menace before hand, then deed done, "done with an axe", no culprit discoverable. Killaloe, Bourke's house across the river among rather ragged woods. p. 178

    West side of Lough Derg: pleasant smooth-dry winding road. Clare hills stretching up, black-fretted, and with spots of culture, all treeless to perhaps 1500 or 2000 feet, gradually enough, on the left. Greener high hills on the other side of lake with extensive slate quarries, chief trade hereabouts... Hail shower, two policemen, on the terrace of the stony hills, A country that might all be very beautiful, but is not so, is bare, gnarled, craggy, and speaks to you of sloth and insolvency. "When every place was no place, and Dublin was a shaking bog"; Irish phrase for the beginning of time. p. 180

    "Reminiscences of my Irish Journey in 1849" (1899)
    Thomas Carlyle

    Source: Internet Archive


    Many fine seats lie on the left of the road, towards the river, particularly Mount Shannon, the residence, at least the property of the Earl of Clare; and glimpses are also caught of several other fine domains and villas, amongst others, those belonging to the numerous family of Massey.

    I went as far as a holy well, dedicated to St. Senanus...the trees that over-shadowed the well were entirely covered with shreds of all colours — bits and clippings of gowns, and handkerchiefs, and petticoats, — remembrances also of those who drank. These, I believe, are the title-deeds to certain exemptions, or benefits, claimed by those who thus deposit them in the keeping of the patron saint, who is supposed to be thus reminded of the individuals whose penances might otherwise have been overlooked. I noticed among the offerings some strings of beads, and a few locks of hair.

    About two miles up the river from Castle Connell we reached O'Brien's bridge; an old bridge, with a castle, and small village, on the Clare side of the river. The bridge has thirteen arches, and is only interesting from its antiquity. There is a slight fall of water; but not so much as to occasion any difficulty or danger, either in ascending, or in shooting the arch. Beyond O'Brien's bridge, the country improves; fine cultivated hills appear at some little distance from the river; and although a deficiency of wood may be remarked, the views on either side present many sweet pictures of quiet pastoral scenery — verdant slopes, and drowsy cattle, and nodding water lilies, and here and there, a farm-house, and its more animated accompaniments. p. 315-320

    "Journey throughout Ireland, during the Spring, Summer, and Autumn of 1834." (Vol I, 1835)
    Henry D. Inglis

    Source: Internet Archive


    Above the rapids, the river flows in a broad stream forty feet deep, but here it is broken into great flurries and whirlpools by the rocky bed, which rises in dark irregular masses above its surface, and the roar and the dash and the white foam and flying spray are very picturesque...We sat down for a time at the margin of the river and watched the changing water, and then set off to find St. Senan's well.

    This whole valley of the Shannon, from Killaloe to the sea, is dominated by the patron of this well, St. Senan, a holy man who died in 544...We sat for a long time before his shrine, looking at the tokens and the crutches, and wishing we had been there the day they were abandoned. To be made whole by faith is a wonderful thing, whatever form the faith may take, and I should like to have seen the faces of the cripples as they felt the miracle working within them, here in this obscure place. Unlettered they no doubt were, unable to read or write perhaps, believing this flat and stable earth the centre about which the universe revolves...p. 246-249

    "The charm of Ireland" (1914)
    Burton E. Stevenson

    Source: Internet Archive


    For many ages before the territory of Thomond was formed into a county by the English, it was divided into distinct districts by the native inhabitants. These divisions were conterminous with the possessions of the several families, and they appear to have been most accurately defined, and for the most part to have remained unchanged for several hundred years before the division into baronies made in the time of Elizabeth. When at the Synod of Rathbreasail, it was resolved to partition Ireland into dioceses and parishes, the bishops and clergy adhered, as much as possible to the boundaries as already existing between the territories of the various septs.[1] Although in ancient times much larger, in the sixteenth century Thomond was only co-extensive with the present county of Clare, except that it had, in addition, the parishes of Iniscaltra and Clonrush, now joined to the county of Galway, and the parish of Castleconnell, now forming part of the county of Limerick. p.1.

    [1] A.D. 1120 Boundaries of diocese of Limerick situate in county of Thomond: from Cuinic to Cross (Glannagross) in Sliabhoighigh-an-righ and Dubh Abhain (the Blackwater). - Keating. History of Ireland, page-101. Dublin, 1723.

    "The history and topography of the county of Clare, from the earliest times to the beginning of the 18th century." (1893)
    James Frost

    Source: Internet Archive


    Barony of Tulla or Tullagh Lower. A barony in the south-east of the county of Clare, Munster. It is bounded, on the north-west, by the barony of Upper Tulla; on the north, by the barony of Upper Tulla and the bay of Scariff; on the east, by Lough Derg and the river Shannon, which separates it from the counties of Tipperary and Limerick; on the south, by the county of Limerick, and the barony of Lower Bunratty; on the south-west, by the barony of Lower Bunratty; and on the west, by the baronies of Lower Bunratty and Upper Bunratty. Its greatest length, south-south-westward, is 14112 miles; its greatest breadth, in the opposite direction, is 10112; and its area is 78,381 acres, 19 perches, of which 5,416 acres, 1 perch are water. A considerable portion of the surface, particularly in the middle part of the northern border and the middle part of the south-western district, is mountainous and moorish; but most of the remainder, particularly along the Shannon and in the southern district, is aggregately good land. A large proportion, especially on Scariff bay, along Lough Derg, around Killaloe, along the Shannon, and around Lough Doon, is highly picturesque. The principal mountain summits, together with their respective altitudes above sea-level, are Knocknalecka, on the northern boundary, 818 feet; another height on the northern boundary, 1113 mile east of Knocknalecka, 1,019 feet; Glennagalliagh, in the parish of Killaloe, 1,746 feet; Glennagalliagh, on the boundary between the parishes of Killokennedy and O'Brien's-Bridge, 1,458 feet; a height 2 miles west-north-west of the city of Killaloe, 1,353 feet; Cragnamurragh, on the mutual border of the parishes Killokennedy and O'Brien's-Bridge, 1,729 feet; a height 1112 mile south-west of Kilbane, 1,181 feet; Knockaphunta, in the parish of Kilseely, 843 feet; a height 1114 west by north of Knockaphunta, 1,018 feet; and a height on the mutual border of the parish of St. Munchin's and a detached district of O'Brien's-Bridge, 875 feet. Loughs Bridget, Derrynone, Kilglory, Cullaunyheeda, and Castle lie on the boundaries; and Loughs Doon, Aroher, Clonlea, and Cloonbrick lie in the interior. p. 407-8.

    "The Parliamentary gazetteer of Ireland: adapted to the new poor-law, franchise, municipal and ecclesiastical arrangements, and compiled with a special reference to the lines of railroad and canal communication, as existing in 1844-45; and presenting the results, in detail, of the census of 1841, compared with that of 1831." (1846)

    Source: Internet Archive