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  • Kilchreest
    Kilchreest
    Photography © aughty.org 2006
    Knockbeha Mountain
    Knockbeha Mountain
     

    ...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]
    Cailté:

    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