definitions • definitions archive 1
• definitions archive 2
• definitions archive 3
• definitions archive 4
• definitions archive 5
  • Kilchreest
    Photography © 2006
    Knockbeha Mountain
    Knockbeha Mountain

    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