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  • Kilchreest
    Photography © 2006
    Knockbeha Mountain
    Knockbeha Mountain

    Thus, under existing conditions the Newport and Annagh Rivers form a system with a pronounced valley, independently of the Shannon, instead of being directly tributary. They turn sharply southward a few miles to the east of the main stream, and are tributary only after joining the Mulkear, which empties into the Shannon somewhat against its current. Again, the latest glaciation was effected by an ice-sheet which moved over the Cratloe hills, probably from the high grounds in west Clare, and fanned out eastward at Castleconnell to south-eastward at Limerick without being in the least affected in direction by the Shannon valley. In consideration of these unwonted circumstances, and having discovered what seems to me a reasonable means of accounting for an intermission of the Shannon erosion in this locality, I cannot hesitate to see in the new appearance of its course a strong suggestion of the river not having occupied it for a time at least; that, in fact, the river is, in a sense, a recent visitant there—a monarch returned, after a long absence, to a part of his dominions which by force of circumstances he had abandoned. p. 88

    "The Shannon: its Course and Geological History" (Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 1907)
    J. R. Kilroe, H. M. Geological Survey

    Source: Internet Archive


    The group the north-east constitutes the southern extremity of that extensive chain which, commencing at Keeper mountain and its subordinate range in Tipperary and Limerick, runs northward to the King's County, where it terminates in the range of Slieve Bloom. The names of the Slieve Phelim and Bilboa mountains are applied to those subordinate portions of the Keeper group which spread southwards into the counties of Limerick and Tipperary.

    About midway between the embouchure of the Mulkern and O'Brien's Bridge, at the extremity of the county, is Castle Connell, a well built small town, surrounded by delightful scenery. It is built on the eastern side of the Shannon, which, flowing between well-timbered banks chiefly occupied by demesnes and pleasure grounds, forms a series of precipitous rapids of uncommon grandeur, the principal of which is known as the Leap of Doonass. The valley of the Shannon is here contracted by the Slieve Baughta mountains on the one side, and the range of Keeper on the other, and presents features of a highly grand and striking character throughout a distance of several miles. p. 489

    "The Penny Cyclopaedia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge" (Volume 13, 1839)

    Source: Internet Archive


    Along the lower part of the Shannon, in the counties of Galway, Tipperary and Limerick, there was an ancient population known as Fir Iboth, or by the adjectival name Ibdaig. p.74.

    Solinus says the inhabitants in his time grew no crops and live on fish and milk. It is possible that an ancient branch of this population preserved their identity by forming, so to speak, a fisherman caste on the banks of the Shannon. p.75.

    "Pre-Celtic Inhabitants of Ireland. Phases of Irish History." (1920)
    Eoin MacNeill, Professor of Ancient Irish History in the National University of Ireland.

    Source: Internet Archive


    The chase was arranged and spread by them throughout the woods and wildernesses and sloping glens of the lands nearest to them, and throughout smooth, delightful plains and close-sheltering woods and broad-bushed, vast, oak forests. And each man of the fiana of Ireland went separately to his mound of chase and his site of throwing and his gap of danger, as [1] they were wont to arrange every victorious chase before that. But on that day it was not the same for them as on every other day, for the chase failed them, so that they found neither wild swine nor hare nor wolf [2] nor badger nor deer nor hind nor roe nor fawn on which any one of them might redden his hand that day. And that night they spent in sorrow and disgrace; and on the morrow they rose in the early bright morning; and the chase was extended by them along the Shannon of green currents and throughout lofty, cold Slieve Aughty and throughout the ancient Plain, of Adhar son of Timor; but that day also the luck of the chase failed them as it had done on the first day. p. 53

    [1] The MS. has 'where'.
    [2] The Ms. has bree 'trout'.

    "The Chase of Sid na mBan Finn and the Death of Finn." From Egerton 1782, fo. 20b. 1.
    "Fianaigecht: being a collection of hitherto inedited Irish poems and tales relating to Finn and his Fiana." Royal Irish Academy. Todd Lecture Series. Volume XVI. (1910)
    Kuno Meyer, Ph.D.

    Source: Internet Archive


    Eoghan enquired: "and what night may this be?"
    "Samhain-eve," replied Patrick...

    Caeilte said then: "a fitting time it is now for wild stags and for does to seek the topmost points of hills and rocks; a timely season for salmons to betake them into cavities of the banks." And he uttered a lay:—

    "Cold the winter is, the wind is risen, the high-couraged unquelled stag is on foot: bitter cold to-night the whole mountain is, yet for all that the ungovernable stag is belling. The deer of Slievecarn of the gatherings commits not his side to the ground; no less than he the stag of frigid Echtge's summit catches the chorus of the wolves. I, Caeilte, with brown Dermot and with keen light-footed Oscar: we too in the nipping night's waning end would listen to the music of the pack. But well the red deer sleeps that with his hide to the bulging rock lies stretched — hidden as though beneath the country's surface — all in the latter end of chilly night. pp. 191-192.

    "Agallamh na Senórach 'The Colloquy of the Ancients'. Silva gadelica (I-XXXI): a collection of tales in Irish with extracts illustrating persons and places." (1892)
    Standish Hayes O'Grady, ed. and tr.

    Source: Internet Archive


    Cormac Cas [1] took to wife the daughter of the great poet, Oisin or Ossian, who was son of the celebrated warrior Finn MacCumhaill, and had by her a son, Mogh Corb, whose great-grandson, Luighaidh Meann, wrested from the Firbolgs the county of Clare, in which they had hitherto succeeded in holding sway. From him this territory thus added to his patrimony received the name of Tuadh Mhumhain, or North Munster, which, in modern times, is Anglicised into Thomond. p. 14

    [1] O'Curry's, 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


    The territory which forms the present county of Clare, as stated in Charles O'Conor's Dissertations on the History of Ireland (p. 289), was taken from Connaught in the latter end of the third century by Cormac Cas, son of Oilioll Olum, king of Munster, or by Lughaigh Mean, king of Munster, in the third century, another descendant of Oilioll Olom, and added to part of Limerick under the name of Tuadh-Mumham, or North Munster, a word anglicised to Thomond (see O'Brien's Dictionary at the word Tuadh). The O'Briens of the Dalcassian race became kings of Thomond. Conacht, according to Keating, O'Flaherty, and others, derived its name either from Con, one of the chief druids of the Tuath de Danans, or from Conn-Cead-Cathach, that is Con of the hundred battles, monarch of Ireland in the second century, whose posterity possessed the country; the word iacht, or iocht, signifying children or a posterity, and hence Coniocht means the territory possessed by the posterity of Con. The more ancient name of Connaught, according to O'Flaherty and Charles O'Connor, was Olnegmacht, and was so called from Olnegmacht, an ancient queen of the Firbolgs; and hence the inhabitants were called Fir Olnegmacht. p. 97

    "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


    Dr. O'Brien (Vall. Collect. p. 384), says that "all the tribes descended from Oilioll Olum by his three sons, Eoghan Mor, Cormac Cas, and Cian, were considered as free states, exempted from the payment of annual tribute for the support of the king's household."

    Ní dligh du chlannaibh Cais
    cís Caisil na (g)-cuan

    The clann of Cas are not liable
    To the tribute of Caiseal of the companies. pp. 66, 67.

    "Leabhar na gCeart - The Book of Rights" (Edited and Translated by John O'Donovan, 1847)

    Source: Internet Archive


    Erin was filled with the fleets of the foreigners,
    viz. the fleet of Birn, the fleet of Odunn,
    the fleet of Grisin, the fleet of Suatgair,
    the fleet of Lagmann, the fleet of Erbalbh,
    the fleet of Sitric, the fleet of Buidne,
    the fleet of Bernin, the fleet of the Crioslachs,
    the fleet of Toirberd the red,
    the fleet of Snimin, the fleet of Suainin,
    the fleet of Barun, the fleet of Miledh Bua,
    the fleet of the Red Maiden,
    and all the evils that Erin had suffered until then
    were as nothing (in comparison);
    for they spread over Erin,
    and they built cities and fortresses,
    and they did not give respect to anybody,
    and they killed its kings,
    and they used to keep its queens
    and its noble ladies in bondage beyond the sea. p. 9

    "On the Fomorians and the Norsemen" (The original Irish Text, Edited, with Translation and Notes by Alexander Bugge, 1905)
    Duald Mac Firbis

    Source: Internet Archive


    "Has the eye been torn out of my head, giolla?" said the king. [Eochaidh]
    "Woe is me!" said the servant, "Red is the lough with thy blood."
    "Therefore the name shall triumph," said he, "namely, Dergderc = Redlough." p.47

    It is an interesting fact that between Tulla and Lough Derg in East Clare a well at Fortanne is credited with healing blindness. The moss of the well is used to wash the eyes. (Journal R.S.A.I., XLI, pp. 7, 19). Healing-wells are common all over Ireland, but in this particular case there is probably some recollection of Eochu's story behind the belief about this well situated in the very heart of "Coiced Echach mac Luchta." p.52

    "Side-lights on the Táin age and other studies" (1917)
    Margaret E. Dobbs

    Source: Internet Archive


    Kinkora (Mac-Liag)

    I am Mac Liag, and my home is on the Lake;
    Thither often, to that palace whose beauty is fled,
    Came Brian to ask me, and I went for his sake.
    Oh, my grief! that I should live, and Brian be dead!
    Dead, O Kincora!

    This poem is ascribed to Mac-Liag, the secretary of Brian Boruimha, who fell at the battle of Clontarf, in 1014; and the subject of it is a lamentation for the fallen condition of Kinkora, the palace of that monarch, consequent on his death. The decease of Mac-Liag is recorded in the "Annals of the Four Masters," as having taken place in 1015. The palace of Kinkora, which was situated on the banks of the Shannon, near Killaloe, is now a heap of ruins. pp. 121-123.

    "James Clarence Mangan: His Selected Poems, with a study by the editor" (1897)
    ed. Louise Imogen Guiney

    Source: Internet Archive


    Fair nymph of Shannon! The vile worms that mope
    In thraldom's dirt thou spurnedst. - The dust
    Of hearts that swell with glory's thrill and ope
    In patriotic pulse, thy pride. - Ah! e'en now crushed
    In valour's file, the brave mixed with thy clay are hushed. p. 12

    "The Last Bard of Limerick (An original and national poem in Spenserian stanza)" (1865)
    Rev. James O'Leary

    Source: Internet Archive


    Brian, however, after that, and with him the young champions of the Dal Cais, went back again into the forests and woods and deserts of north Mumhain.

    Moreover they, with him, used to set up rude huts instead of encampments, in the woods and solitudes and deserts and caves of Ui Blait [1]. The country was wasted by him from Derc [2] to the Forgus, and from Echti [3] to Tratraighe. pp 60-61

    I banished - this is no falsehood -
    The foreigners from Deirg-Derc to the Forgus;
    We drove the other party
    From Echtge to Tradraighe. p. 65

    [1] Ui Blait. O mBloid.
    [2] From Derc. O Deirg Derc, [i.e., from Loch Derg].
    [3] Echti. Echtge; now Sliabh Echtghe, or Baughty, a mountainous district on the borders of the counties of Galway and Clare.

    "Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh = The war of the Gaedhil with the Gaill, or, The invasions of Ireland by the Danes and other Norsemen." (The original Irish Text, Edited, with Translation and Introduction by James Henthorn Todd. D.D., M.R.I.A., F.S.A., 1867)

    Source: Internet Archive


    Loingeas mór na mna ruaidhe
    ba measa ná gach cuaine
    duairc an phrímhghin tar muir malc
    d'ingheanaibh míne macdacht

    Do chuaidh Brian a h-Eachtga áin
    cheithre catha 'na chómhdháil
    bail a mbiodh longphort na mna.
    tangadar na taisgealta.

    A great invasion of the red woman,
    Who was worse than any host,
    The first-born who came over the mighty sea.
    To gentle young maidens,

    Brian went from noble Eachtga,
    With four battallions in his company,
    To the place, where the camp of the woman was.
    The portents came.

    An inghen ruadh, the Red Maiden, is also mentioned in War of the Gaedhil, ch. XXXVI and CXVII. Professor Steenstrup has written about her ('Normannerne', I, pp. 19-22) and suggested that she is identical with the heroine Rusila, Rusla, who is mentioned by the Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus.

    This poem makes the Red Woman (or Girl) a contemporary of king Brian Borumha, and lets his son Murchadh kill her in Sliabh Eachtga (now Slieve Aughty, in Galway), and on the same time it transforms her into a supernatural being. Her residence is called a fairy mansion (sidh) and it is said that the portents (taisgealta) came to help her. There can, however, be no doubt that bean ruadh is identical with inghen ruadh. pp. 21-24.

    "On the Fomorians and the Norsemen" (The original Irish Text, Edited, with Translation and Notes by Alexander Bugge, 1905)
    Duald Mac Firbis

    Source: Internet Archive