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

    Sing to me the history of my country,
    It is sweet to my soul to hear it.

    - A Dalcassian's - i.e. one of Brian Boru's people from Clare - address to Mac Lonáin.

    Flann mac Lonáin ... was from the neighbourhood of Slieve Echtgé, or Aughty, in South Connacht. One of his poems records how Ilbrechtach the harper was travelling over these barren mountains along with the celebrated poet Mac Liag, and, as they paused to rest on Croghan Head, Mac Liag surveyed the prospect beneath him, and said, "Many a hill and lake and fastness is in this range; it were a great topographical knowledge to know them all." "If Mac Lonáin were here," said the harper, "he could name them all, and give the origin of their names as well." "Let this fellow be taken and hanged," said Mac Liag. The harper begged respite till next day, and in the meantime Mac Lonáin comes up and recites a poem of one hundred and thirty-two lines beginning - Aoibhinn aoibhinn Echtgé árd.

    "A literary history of Ireland from the earliest times to the present day" (1901)
    Douglas Hyde

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    Then I went to London to make my living, and though I spent a part of every year in Ireland and tried to keep the old life in my memory by reading every country tale I could find in books or old newspapers, I began to forget the true countenance of country life....Then you brought me with you to see your friends in the cottages, and to talk to old wise men on Slieve Echtge, and we gathered together, or you gathered for me, a great number of stories and traditional beliefs. You taught me to understand again, and much more perfectly than
    before, the true countenance of country life.

    "Where there is nothing" (1903)
    WB Yeats

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    In travelling from Gort to Loughrea, there are, here and there, symptoms of a better state of things, so far as farming is concerned, there is more and better cropping, and in places, a good deal of stock: it seems to be very thinly populated: there are not quite so many roofless gables by the roadside; but quite enough marks of eviction left, to shew that the spirit still exists. As you enter Loughrea, such has been the destruction of dwellings on both sides of the road, right into the town, that a regular siege could hardly have done more; some were evidently recent, as the children were yet busy in carrying off the roof sticks from the ruins. Many hundreds of people must have been here rendered houseless, and there stand the gables with their blackened chimney corners to tell the tale.

    "Gleanings in the West of Ireland" (1850)
    Hon. & Rev. S. Godolphin Osborne

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    LEITRIM, a parish, in the union of Loughrea, barony of Leitrim, county of GALWAY, and province of CONNAUGHT, 8 miles (W. N. W.) from Portumna, on the road to Loughrea; containing 1562 inhabitants. This parish, which is bounded by the Slievebaughta mountains, comprises 4098¾ statute acres; the land is in general in a profitable state of cultivation, and there is very little bog. Petrified cockle and muscle shells are found at Carrowkeel, which is about 18 miles distant from the sea.

    LOUGHREA, a market and post town, a parish, and the head of a union, in the barony of Loughrea, county of GALWAY, and province of CONNAUGHT, 18 miles (E. by S.) from Galway, and 86½ (W. by S.) from Dublin; containing 7152 inhabitants, of whom 5458 are in the town and suburbs. The lake, which is about one mile in diameter, has three small islands of picturesque appearance; its shores are enlivened by some pleasing cottages, and embellished on the south and east with hills of beautiful verdure.

    "Topographical Dictionary of Ireland" (1837)
    Samuel Lewis

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    Righ Condacht—cia nach cuala?
    ni bili cean bith buadha
    maitean Ceiteamon ceat m-bladh
    a Maen-magh, na righ Dar-badh

    The king of Connacht, who has not heard of him?
    He is not a hero without perpetual prerogatives.
    On May morning, of first flowers.
    To visit Maen-magh [1], but touch not Dar-mhagh [2].

    [1] Maen-magh, a celebrated plain in the present county of Galway, comprising the lake and town of Loughrea, the townlands of Mayode and Finnure, and all the champaign country around Loughrea. See Tribes and Customs of the Ui Maine, p. 70, note z , and p. 130.

    [2] Dar-mhagh This is probably the place sometimes called Darhybrian, in the mountain of Sliabh Echtghe, on the southern boundary of the plain of Maen-magh.

    "The Book of Rights" (1847)
    John O'Donovan

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    The Shannon Basin occupies the central part of the plain. The Shannon rises in the hills to the north, enters Lough Allen, and flows south through the long loughs of Ree and Derg, through an almost flat tract of country. It receives the Inny and the Brosna on the left bank and the Boyle and the Suck on the right, both draining many lakes. Round Lough Derg is a crescent of mountain masses, of which the Slieve Aughty and Silvermine Mountains are the most important. The Lower Shannon flows down a steep slope through the heart of these heights to its long estuary.

    "The Senior Geography" (1907)
    A. J. Herbertson

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    All the mountains of Sliebhbaughta that divides this county from Clare, beginning at Mountshannon, and running by Dalyston and Roxborough, and ending near Gort are, I believe, silex. A remarkable tongue of fine limestone runs boldly into the mountains at Ballynagrieve, the estate of Earl Clancarty, but no use is made of it by his tenants, as far as I was informed.

    A very fine vein of land begins at Gort, runs through Roxborough and Castleboy, spreading for some distance chiefly in a northern direction; from thence it proceeds towards Loughrea, and continues in a southern tract to Dalyston. pp 11, 12, 16.

    "A statistical and agricultural survey of the county of Galway: with observations on the means of improvement" (1824)
    Hely Dutton

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    The union of Scariff, which includes parts of the baronies of Upper and Lower Tulla in the county of Clare, and the barony of Leitrim in the county of Galway, was one of those that obtained an unenviable notoriety in the famine years. It ranked next to Skibbereen in the extent and intensity of the distress which then prevailed, and which reduced the entire population to pauperism; for at one time there were no fewer than 21,000 persons receiving outdoor relief, besides 4,000 who were inmates of the workhouse. The unparalleled nature of that calamity had the effect of diminishing the population by death and emigration, and, taking the whole of the union, it is not too much to say that the number of its inhabitants has decreased one-third since the year 1845. For instance, the parish of Iniscalthra, which is partly situated in both counties, contained in 1841, 449 families, numbering 2,198 persons; in 1845, the numbers were 460 families, and 2,546 persons; in 1851, 301 families, and 1,533 persons; in 1854, 234 families, and 1,264 persons; and in 1857, 226 families, numbering 1,181 individuals—thus showing a diminution in twelve years of 1,365 persons, arising chiefly from emigration; for I understand that in this district of the country there were no evictions. The last census shows a further decrease, but the results have not yet been made public.

    "The west of Ireland: its existing condition, and prospects" (1862)
    Henry Coulter

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    Is the district to which you have alluded opened by roads?
    —Latterly, it has been a good deal.

    How have those roads been made?
    — When I went to that country, there was but one road of any description, and there were no bridges to it; it went over every hill which could be selected, and it was utterly impassable for any wheeled carriage. I got surveys made, in consequence of a circular sent to the different proprietors; they all promised to assist me. I employed an eminent engineer, and got surveys made of the lines of road necessary to open it. I then came before the grand jury of Galway, and they very liberally did their part, although there was some opposition; and having so completed it, I handed it over to the Board of Works for execution; the government having agreed to advance half the money.

    Was the money advanced as a grant or a loan?
    —It was advanced as a grant in that instance.

    Has all the money advanced by the Board of Works for roads in that district been by way of grant?
    —No, not half of it. Some of the proprietors repaid me; indeed, I should say all of them,except the greatest, and he left me to pay my share and his own; I shall not name him.

    Is there still a want of roads in the neighbourhood?
    Very considerable. That was the main line from Portumna to Mountshannon.

    Is that the road you are alluding to?
    —Yes. I have opened short roads through my own estate, for some of which the county ofGalway gave me 2s. a perch. The rest of the expense I paid out of my own pocket. The county of Clare is extensively opened by roads, and they are now being communicated to the county of Galway, or a portion of it; but there were none of them passing within seven miles of the Shannon, except this one. They are all lateral roads; there is no cross road, so that the country is only partially opened, and does not communicate with the Shannon, except at the extreme ends of the lines of road.

    Do any of the new roads which have been opened in that district, communicate from the interior of the country to the Shannon?
    —No, very few, indeed. It should be opened by cross lines from the mountains to the Shannon; and I may say that these 200 square miles of country have no cross road whatever to get to the Shannon, and the people are obliged to go to either end of those roads to do so.

    Digest of evidence taken before Her Majesty's Commissioners of inquiry into the state of the law and practice in respect to the occupation of land in Ireland (1848)
    Philip Reade, Esq., Land Proprietor.
    From the 'Devon commission' Digest of evidence taken before Her Majesty's Commissioners of inquiry into the state of the law and practice in respect to the occupation of Land in Ireland.

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    Lough Derg or Dearg is the largest lake in the course of the Shannon, being 23 miles in length...There is certain soft beauty about Scariff Bay (pier). On its north side is Iniscaltra ("the island burying-ground"), or Holy Island on which are some ancient buildings of unusual interest.

    On the same side as Scariff Bay is Mountshannon...The Shannon steamers do not stop here but at Williamstown, a short distance above. The scenery around Mountshannon is pretty enough to satisfy those who have no taste for fishing. On the opposite side of the lough is Youghal Bay, across which we have a good view of the Devil's Bit Mountain...The pier in Dromineer Bay (Hotel), the next inlet on this east shore, serves the town of Nenagh, 6 miles inland, and faces the charming house called St. David's.

    Between this and Island More we get the best scenery on the loch, and obtain a good view of the well-defined and highest point in Silvermine Mountains to the south, beyond Nenagh. Away to the west, behind Williamstown, are the Scalp and other points of the Slieve Aughty group, dim and far.

    "Black's guide to Galway, Connemara, and the west of Ireland" (1912)
    Adam and Charles Black (Firm)

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    A comfortable and commodious steamer, in connection with the railway from Dublin to Galway, fitted up for passengers only, sails up and down the Shannon on alternate days from Athlone to Killaloe, calling at Portumna and the intermediate places.

    At Portumna the waters of the Shannon begin to lose the river character, and gradually to spread into Lough Derg. Along the shores of the eastern, or Tipperary side of that vast sheet of water—that is, from Belleisle to Killaloe—a distance of twenty-eight miles, we meet with the ruins of several churches and castellated structures, and a number of improved farm residences, which, with their accompanying plantations, add much to the appearance of the country. The occupants being generally styled “ gentlemen farmers,” these places are considered in this district as the seats of the resident gentry.

    Six miles from Portumna, on the road to Loughrea, is Heathlawn, Mr. Saunderson ; at eight miles the village of Killimor, near which is Hearne’s-brook, the beautiful seat of Mr. Kircaldy, and Rathmore, Mr. M‘Dermot.

    At seven miles, on the road leading to Loughrea by the village of Tynagh, is Pallas, the seat of Mr. Nugent; and at seven miles also, on the road leading to Gort, is the village of Abbey, close to which are the interesting ruins of the Franciscan friary, whence the village is named. At eleven miles, on the above road, is Marble Hill the fine seat of Sir Thomas Burke, Bart. This place is romantically situated in the centre of a fertile valley, which is nearly surrounded by a circular range of moorland hills, the latter blending with the Slieve Aughty mountains, which occupy a large portion of this upland district. The Scariff river, running through the village of Woodford, which is ten miles from Portumna, falls into Lough Derg about three miles below it.

    From Woodford to Mount Shannon the traveller keeps along the eastern base of the Slieve Aughty mountains, which at the Scalp, about four miles south from Woodford, attain to a height of 1,074 feet; and at four miles from Woodford he reaches the shores of Lough Derg, near which he continues to the village of Mount Shannon, situated on the shores of Lough Derg, and contains the parish church and chapel of Inishcaltra.

    From the village of Mount Shannon to the demesne of Portumna, the outlines of the lake are winding and singularly varied, presenting innumerable bays, creeks, &c. There are no continued roads along the margins of the lough, nor are the shores everywhere attractive. They are generally cultivated, and in some places rise in beautiful slopes to such an elevation as to command good views of the lake, and of the numerous small named islands which are uniformly scattered along the edge of its waters.

    This portion of Lough Derg, together with its adjacent shores, is seen to advantage from the high grounds to the north of Mount Shannon; and a knowledge of the topography of the surrounding country can be readily attained from the Scalp, whose summit, 1,074 feet in height, is three miles north from the village. Holy island, and the lower part of Lough Derg, are noticed.

    "A hand book for travellers in Ireland: Descriptive of Its Scenery, Towns, Seats, Antiquities" (1854)
    James Fraser

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    From Ben Hill, a few miles below Portumna, near Woodford, is a splendid view of Lough Derg and the surrounding country. The lake here stretches along between the Slieve Aughty Mountains on the Connaught side and the Arra Mountains on the Munster side, whose lofty summits tower up high into the clouds. The shores, sloping-gradually down to the water, are covered with luxurious foliage, through openings in which may be seen the ruins of many an ancient castle and once stately mansion.

    "Romantic Ireland" (1905)
    M. F. & B. McM. Mansfield

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    Tuath Echtghe. This district, comprising the greater part of the celebrated mountain of Sliabh Echtghe, from which it takes its name, is mentioned in MacNamara's Rent Roll as a distinct territory, but in no other authority is it referred to in that character. It comprised the whole of the large parish of Feakle. We do not find that it formed the estate of any particular sept at any period of our history. Before the year 1318, it was a part of the country of the Ui Bloid, and it is still placed in the Deanery of that name, or as it is Anglicised, O'Mullod. It is likely that it originally formed part of O'Shanahan's country.

    The lake of Lough Graney, so-called from a district designated Grian Echtghe, in the topographical poem of O'Doogan; and in other writings described as forming the extreme southern boundary of the principality of Hy Mania, means the lake of the district called
    "Grian", and it is situated in this parish. The word, as applied to this lake has no connection whatever with the sun. The lake is celebrated in the facetious poem called Cuirt a meodhan Oidhchce ("The Midnight Court”), the production of Bryan Merryman MacNamara, a native of the district.

    "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

     

    The River Grian, in the peaked mountains, i.e. the river which falls into Lough Graney, in the barony of Tullagh, and county of Clare. It rises in the mountainous district of Sliabh Echthe, and discharges itself into Lough Derg, near the little town of Scarriff. Bryan Merriman, an Irish poet who lived near this river, in the last century, describes the scenery of the district in the following lines:

    Do ghealadh mo chroidhe tra chíghinn Loch Gréine,
    An talamh ’s a tír a’s aoir na spéire;
    ba taithneamhach, aoibhinn suidhiughadh na sleibhtheadh,
    Ag bagairt a g-cinn tar dhruim a cheile.

    My heart was wont to brighten as I viewed Loch Greine,
    The land, the country, and the aspect of the sky;
    Pleasant and delightful the situation of the mountains,
    Threatening their heads over each other.

    (From the Midnight Court by Brian Merriman)

    From The Tribes and customs of Hy-Many with a translation and notes by John O'Donovan (1846)
    Source: Internet Archive

    My heart would leap at the lake's near blue,
    The horizon and the far-off view.
    The hills that rear their heads on high
    Over each other's backs to spy.

    From The Midnight Court and The Adventures of a Luckless Fellow translated by Percy Arland Ussher (1900)
    Source: Internet Archive

    My soul would light up when I saw Loch Greine
    Lie blue on the breast of the landscape green,
    The heaven's expanse o'er the ring of the mountains,
    Peak beckoning to peak o'er the ridges between.

    From The Poem-book of the Gael: Translations from Irish Gaelic Poetry into English Prose and Verse selected and edited by Eleanor Hull (1913)
    Source: Internet Archive

    The Midnight Court, of Brian Merriman, now published and translated in the Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie by L. C. Stern. The steady increase in the population had already begun to overflow in that stream of emigration to America and to the large towns in Ireland and Great Britain, which, with another cause mentioned in the poem, deprived the country of its best and most enterprising young men. What remedy for this evil ? is the question discussed by Merriman. The form is the mediæval Aisling, or vision. The poem opens with a fine description of daybreak on a summer morning in the county Clare.

    My heart rejoiced as I looked on Loch Greine,
    The fields, the soil, and the width of the skies,
    The mountains lying serene and lovely,
    One over the other uplifting their tops.

    "Bards and saints" (1906)
    John Eglinton

    Source: Internet Archive

    My heart would light up when I saw Loch Greine,
    The heaven's expanse o'er the country I loved ;
    Delightful and soft was the lie of the mountains
    Peak beckoning to peak o'er the ridges between.

    "A text book of Irish literature" (1906)
    Eleanor Hull

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    Do gluais Pátraic cona muinntir ocus táncatar rompa andes tré medhón Muman . ocus do Luimnech nuladh. ocus i [fio]dh na cuan re [a] nabar in chretalach. ocus i sliab oidid [ms. uighi] in ríg. ocus i sliab Echtge ingine Nuadhát [ms. nuadha] aircetláim. ocus do chuaille Chepáin i nEchtge airm a torchair Cepán mac Mórna. ocus do loch na bó girre risanabar loch Gréine ingine Finn, ocus i mbreicthir risanabar tír Máine isin tan so. ocus do loch linnghaeth re a nabar loch cróine. is ann sin ro búi Muiredach mór mac Fínachta rí Connacht ar cionn Pátraic. ocus ro srethad a phupall ós Pátraic cona chléirchib. ocus luidset maithe chúigid Chonnacht chuige ann sin. ocus sléchtait do Phátraic ocus tucsat a cinn ina ucht.

    Agallamh na Senórach in so. p,116
    Source: Internet Archive

    Patrick with his people set out, and away they came from the southward: through mid-Munster, past luimnech uladh, into fidh na gcuan which is called 'Cratlow'; into sliabh aidhid in rígh, into sliabh Echtge or 'the mountain of Echtge' daughter of Nuada Silver-arm; by cuaille Chepáin in Echtge: the place in which Cepan mac Morna fell; past loch na bó girre which is called loch Gréine or 'the loch of Grian' daughter of Finn; into the brecthír, which at this time is called tír Máine, i.e. 'the land of Hy-Many' or 'O'Kelly’s country'; past loch linnghaeth which is called loch cróine. There Muiredach More mac Finnachta king of Connacht was, expecting Patrick ; whose tent was now spread over himself with his clerics. The chiefs of Connacht's province came then, made obeisance to Patrick, and laid their heads in his bosom.

    "Silva gadelica (I-XXXI): a collection of tales in Irish with extracts illustrating persons and places" (1892)
    Edited and translated by Standish O'Grady
    Source: Internet Archive

     

    North of the village of Feakle, in the ancient district of Tuath Aughty, forming the southern region of the hilly district of Slieve Aughty, between the counties of Galway and Clare, lie three dolmens, the subject of this Paper.

    The parish of Feakle (Fechill, 1302) is not rich in antiquities, and probably the facts of its unusual size, and the absence of any ancient church in the beautiful and extensive valley south of lough Graney, implies its wild and scantily peopled condition in early Christian times. This evidently continued to later days as is shown by the unusual scarcity of the peel towers, so common in other districts, only one site remaining in the parish which is in extent about 8 miles square. The numerous names compounded of Derry and Durra, lying along the flanks of the hills, tell of numerous and probably nearly unbroken oak forests. Indeed, the district must have been thickly-wooded from the days when huge elks were engulphed in its bogs down to the last century.

    Our annalists state that the lake of Lough Graney burst out with numerous other lakes in other places, about 700 years before our era. In the historic period no events of much importance occurred in its borders, and in its few records its loneliness and wildness are usually mentioned in emphatic language.

    To Echtge's forests Prince Murchad O'Brien and his adherents carried the cattle spoil of the Normans, and from them they made their forced march a few days later in May, 1318, to complete the destruction of the army of Sir Richard De Clare, at Dysert O'Dea.

    The rental of the Macnamaras, about 1380, mentions only ten out of the ninety townlands of the parish, and even these lie chiefly round Feakle and Fahy, where traces of ancient occupation occur. Indeed, till the latter half of the last century, no English or Irish families of note seem to have fixed their residence in the lonely valleys; nevertheless, the dolmens and rock-markings of Dromandoora...the cists at Corracloon and the townland noted in this Paper, together with a few forts, show that, in very early days, a few adventurous mortals dwelt in the recesses of the forests.

    Driving up the pass we get a beautiful glimpse of the distant Lough Graney, the ancient Lough Bo Girre embosomed in the wooded hills of Caher, and note the blocks of the defaced dolmen of Corracloon rising above the thick furze bushes on the rounded hill to our right.

    We cross the little mountain stream and winding valley of Glenbonnive, and then ascend the fields to the summit of the ridge, finding a rude track used by turf-cutters which brings us to the boggy basin where these dolmens lie, in the townland of Ballycroum.

    "Dolmens at Ballycroum, Near Feakle, County Clare - Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy Third Series Vol 6" (1900)
    TJ Westropp

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    The rental of MacNamara in the country of the Eaotaoi (Tuath Eachtao) viz: fourteen ounces in Annagh; fourteen ounces in Bawn-a-cullane; fourteen ounces in Rathneeane(?); an ounce of gold of Lady's rent (Cios Baintiarnain) in Fiacal (Feakle); fourteen ounces in the three quarters Coologory; fourteen ounces in Cooracloon; fourteen ounces in Leaghort; fourteen ounces in Gurtadoon(?); fourteen ounces in Enagh(?); fourteen ounces in Knockbehy; fourteen ounces in the green of O'Halloran (A b'Fatha ui Allmhfaín); and the O'Rodan family are the stewards therein, and food between Shrovetide and Easter.

    A.D. 1578. Sheeda, son of Maccon, son of Sheeda, son of Maccon, Tanist of East Clan Culein, was slain on Slieve-Eachtao, while in pursuit of a party of the kernes of Clanrickard who were carrying off plunder.

    "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

     

    Around us are low, long-rolling hills, flecked with every color from orange to bluish black, closely spotted with gray heaps of stone and chequered with bare stone walls ; beyond rise higher hills, golden brown against a silvery sky ; and in the valley are long peat dikes and one tiny patch of emerald grass, with two cows and a few solitary sheep. Each successive amphitheatre of hills is more barren and more stony than the last. Stones lie on every side as thick as in an ancient graveyard or a glacier moraine, and where the stones are fewer there is bog. At last we swing suddenly to the left, and are in Bodyke, with its four two-storied, thatched spirit-groceries, and the white police barracks with its tiled roof.

    "In Castle and Cabin or Talks in Ireland in 1887" (1889)
    George Pellew

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    From Tulla to Scariff and Lough Derg, the land is of various quality. Behind Scariff it rises to a considerable elevation, innumerable little patches of cultivation stretching up the mountain side, and encouraging the growth of a population which nothing but potato culture could keep in existence from the produce of such a soil as that on which they were located. The consequence has been a mass of pauperism, now overspreading the better part of the surrounding country, and threatening eventually to absorb the entire produce of the land embraced in this union.

    "The Plantation Scheme, or, The West of Ireland as a field of Investment" (1850)
    Sir James Caird

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    With the Echtge Mountains as a background rising boldly in the immediate east, the scene is pleasing and picturesque. Those hills, at the base of which the Roxboro residence nestles, extend to the Shannon, and rise in the immediate neighbourhood to over 1000 feet. [1] Their principal rock formations are silex. [2] There are, however, various other interesting geological formations. On the Roxboro Mountain, coal, slate, and other indications of coal beds were found “ after small trial.” [3] Red heavy limestone, with fine clear pebbles, is very frequently seen. Along the summits there are deep boggy wastes, but along the slopes and valleys the land is capable of a high degree of cultivation. And along the Roxboro district those slopes show rich plantings of pine and birch, which almost recall their picturesque beauty when Mac Lonan sang their praises. But while copse and clumps and spreading woods make the hill slopes gay and pleasing, we look in vain for farmhouse or village there. Among the valleys within the folds of the mountains, and on the hillsides, there are lowly ruins which were once the homes of the industrious poor. They were, and they are not, for the exterminator was there.

    [1] Scalp ; Philip’s Atlas. [2] Dutton, Survey. [3] Ibid.

    "The history and antiquities of the diocese of Kilmacduagh" (1893)
    J. Fahey DD., VG

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    Ice from southern Connemara was able to flow eastward past Galway to Athenry and Ballinasloe, carrying with it the boulders of granite from Iar-Connaught, which afford clear evidence of this movement. Some of this ice probably crossed the divide between Galway Bay and the Shannon, and reached Lough Derg through the valley of the Kilcrow River. This ice lobe then formed the eskers of the Killimor district, and later during its retreat those of the Athenry district. Ice from the Curlew Mountains and other highlands of southern Sligo and Roscommon flowed south into the valleys of Suck and the Shannon, and reached the lowlands bounded to the south by Slieve Aughty, Slieve Kimalta and Slieve Bloom Mountains.

    "The Irish Eskers" (1920)
    JW Gregory

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    In all the mountains of this county fertile vales frequently occur, and those are the parts that are chiefly inhabited; but if a steady and liberal encouragement was given, and an honest observance of promises, many parts of those mountains, that at present return little or no rent, would be made as productive as land which seemingly has a better appearance. Lord Riverston, by pursuing a liberal and judicious plan of letting his lands, is rapidly reclaiming a large tract of the mountains of Slieuboghta.

    "A statistical and agricultural survey of the county of Galway: with observations on the means of improvement" (1824)
    Hely Dutton

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    In talking to the people I often heard the name of Biddy Early, and I began to gather many stories of her, some calling her a healer and some a witch. Some said she had died a long time ago, and some that she was still living. I was sure after a while that she was dead, but was told that her house was still standing, and was on the other side of Slieve Echtge, between Feakle and Tulla. So one day I set out and drove Shamrock, my pony, to a shooting lodge built by my grandfather in a fold of the mountains, and where I had sometimes, when a young girl, stayed with my brothers when they were shooting the wild deer that came and sheltered in the woods. It had like other places on our estate a border name brought over from Northumberland, but though we called it Chevy Chase the people spoke of its woods and outskirts as Daire-caol, the Narrow Oak Wood, and Daroda, the Two Roads, and Druim-da-Rod, their Ridge. I stayed the night in the low thatched house, setting out next day for Feakle " eight strong miles over the mountain." It was a wild road, and the pony had to splash his way through two unbridged rivers, swollen with the summer rains. The red mud of the road, the purple heather and foxglove, the brown bogs were a contrast to the grey rocks and walls of Burren and Aidhne, and there were many low hills, brown when near, misty blue in the distance; then the Golden Mountain, Slieve nan-Or, " where the last great battle will be fought before the end of the world." Then I was out of Connacht into Clare, the brown turning to green pasture as I drove by Raftery's Lough Greine.

    "Visions and beliefs in the west of Ireland" (1920)
    Lady Gregory

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    The Dinnsenchus gives a legend about the name of the river Owendalulagh, which rises on the slope of Slieve Aughty, and flows into Lough Cooter near Gort in Galway. This legend states, that when Echghe [Ektĕ] a Dedannan lady, married Fergus Lusca, cup-bearer to the king of Connaught, she brought with her two cows, remarkable for their milk-bearing fruitfulness, which were put to graze on the banks of this stream; and from this circumstance it was called Abhainn-da-loilgheach, the river of the two milch cows. According to the same authority, Slieve Aughty took its name from this lady — Sliabh-Echtghe, Echtghe's mountain.

    "The origin and history of Irish names of places" (1910)
    P. W. Joyce LL.D

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    This border of the lake is exceedingly beautiful. The ground ascends gradually from the water's edge, up Slieve Aughta, till it attains the height of more than one thousand feet, at the distance of three or four miles. The hills trend off westward, in rich, swelling slopes, and are covered with pasture-fields, and their bases dotted over with cottages, the size and character of which, from this distance, are not discernible, but appear remarkably pleasant, as if the abodes of plenty and contentment. I was just now giving vent to my admiration of this grand landscape, when the gentleman before alluded to cooled my enthusiasm, by informing me that there is scarcely a place in all Ireland where the people are so completely destitute and wretched.

    "Ireland, as I saw it : the character, condition, and prospects of the people" (1850)
    William Stevens Balch

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    By far the poorest and most desolate portion of this region is the mountain district in the direction of Woodford and Derrybrien. The latter place, about eighteen English miles south of Loughrea, is reached by a hilly road, passing for about twelve miles through upland moors, bogs, and long stretches of barren mountain, made all the more dismal, at the time of my journey, by lowering clouds and falling rain. Along this weary way patients must be brought, summer and winter, some from a distance of over twenty English miles to Loughrea ; and such a journey, even in a spring conveyance, must cause much suffering, especially to those who experience the aching pains of typhus. At Derrybrien the industry of the peasantry has partly clothed the mountain sides with crops. In this mountainous region a fever centre was formed, and the disease spread considerably and very fatally.

    The Irish Crisis of 1879-80: Proceedings of the Dublin Mansion House Relief Committee, 1880

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    The following day I went with Mrs. Joyce to Chevy Chase, lying on the western slope of the broad Old Red Sandstone ridge of Slieve Aughta. This place is famous as the only mainland Galway station of Euphorbia hiberna, discovered here by Mr. Hart in 1873. We found the plant at once, accompanied by Thalictrum collinum, and I traced it up the Owendalulleegh River for four or five miles, and downwards almost to Lough Cooter. Other similar streams descend these western slopes, which should be searched for it; but it is apparently not on the eastern slopes: at Dalystown for instance. The day's work added many calcifuge plants to the list for S.E. Galway. Next day I botanized round Lough Cooter, then north for seven or eight miles, and back into Gort. Lough Cooter was chiefly remarkable for the variety of its Orchid flora; I gathered thirteen species in half an hour: Habenaria conopsea, viridis, bifolia, chloroleuca; Orchis Morio, mascula, pyramidalis, maculata, incarnata; Ophrys apifera, muscifera; Listera ovata, Epipactis palustris.

    Botanical Fieldwork in 1900
    R Lloyd Praeger, B.E.

    Source: The Irish Naturalist (1901)

     

    Thursday, July 24th, 1690. We came to a small village called Tomgraney, which is five Connaught miles from Killaloe, and the miles here are of an excessive length. We halted a little farther at another village called Scarriff, neither of these places worth the naming but for some iron mills that were there before the war. Close by these two places is a large stone bridge which joins, or rather the river that runs under it parts, the counties of Clare and Galway, the same being also the bounds of the provinces of Munster and Connaught.

    At Scarriff begins one of the most desert wild barbarous mountains that ever I beheld and runs eight miles outright, there being nothing to be seen upon it but rocks and bogs, no corn, meadow, house or living creature, not so much as a bird. Nothing grows there but a wild sedge, fern, and heath. In wet winters this way is absolutely impassable, in dry summers it is a soft way, but at best in many places very boggy, so that at no time cannon or heavy carriages can pass that way.

    This day we marched about four miles of the mountain, a violent rain falling most part of the time, which made the way extreme toilsome afoot the long sedge twisting about the feet, and the bog sucking them up, as that which immediately draws in the water being naturally soft and yielding. For our comfort at night we had a bare bog to lie on without tents or huts or so much the shelter of a tree, hedge, or bank.

    Friday, July 25th, 1690. With the day began our march over the remaining part of this barbarous mountain, just at the end whereof is a wood very thick the trees coarse and misshapen and as the others affords no large timber. It was a great satisfaction to us from the tops of the mountains to discover at a distance ploughed land, pasture and some few scattered cottages. At length having passed what was left of the solitude we came to a small place the English call Woodford and the Irish Graig, where it being St James’s Day we halted and heard mass. . . .

    The journal of John Stevens, containing a brief account of the war in Ireland, 1689-1691
    (1912) - Edited by The Rev. Robert H. Murray. LITT. D

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    Early legend connects the name Aughty with "Echtge the awful", a lady of the Tuatha de Danann, daughter of Nuad Silver Hand, who was a lover of the cup bearer of Sengann and Gann, the tribal ancestors of the Siol Gangain - the Ganganoi of Ptolemy’s Atlas.

    The "Colloquy of the Ancients" tells of the severe winter when "the stag of frigid Echtge’s summit catches the chorus of the wolves." The "Wars of Turlough” again and again relate how the Macnamaras and O’Briens fled to the old woods, when the Clan of Brien Roe and its English allies, the De Clares of Bunratty, proved too strong for them. In 1277, the Macnamaras flee into "Echtge’s dense forest and leafy foliage” ; it afforded them safety in 1280, and again in the severe winter of 1315, "by Echtge’s shortest tracks, in the fast woods they made their close set camp; in this stress and jeopardy, they passed the cold-winded, dark-visaged winter." At last fortune changed, and their enemies in their turn sought the friendly shelter in their wild and harassed retreat under Brian Bawn from Burren to the fords of Killaloe in 1316, "until in Echtge’s blue ridges, wind-tormented, cold, and with buttressed sides they found a resting place."

    T. J. Westropp, M.A.
    Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 1900

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    Eaċtuiġe, or Sliabh Eaċtuiġe. This is the name of a celebrated mountainous district lying in the frontiers of the counties of Clare and Galway. It is now generally called Sliav Aughty, but corrupted to Slieve Baughta, by Beaufort on his Ecclesiastical Map of Ireland.

    John O’Donovan. The Poets and Poetry of Munster : A selection of Irish Songs (1860)

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    Scariff; straggling muddy avenues of wood begin to appear. Woman in workhouse yard, fever patient, we suppose; had come flat, seemingly without pillow, on the bottom of a stone-cart; was lying now under blue cloaks and tatters, her long black hair streaming out beyond her - motionless, outcast, till they found some place for her in this hospital... Our new car whisked us out of Scariff... Road hilly, but smooth; country bare, but not boggy; deepish narrow stream indenting meadows to our left just after starting - (mountain stream has made ruinous inundation since) - solitary cottages, in dry nooks of the hills: girl dripping at the door of one a potful of boiled reeking greens, has picked one out as we pass, and is zealously eating it; bad food, great appetite; extremity of hunger, likely, not unknown here! Brisk evening becomes cloudier; top of the country - wide waste of dim hill country, far and wide, to the left: "Mountains of Clare.” Bog round us now; pools and crags: Lord Gort’s Park wall, furze, pool, and peat-pot desolation just outside; strong contrast within.

    Thomas Carlyle. Reminiscences of my Irish journey in 1849

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    What Name would you give to the districts?
    The Sleive Boughta range of mountain.

    What are the particular reasons which prevent that land from being reclaimed?
    The want of spirit in the proprietors, nothing else.

    What is the population of that district of the Slieve Boughta Range?
    The population is very thin indeed, in the interior, as an instance of the incredible sufferings of the people for want of roads, I will state what happened this last summer. The inhabitants of a village called Derrygoolan, in the heart of the mountain, had been memorialing and applying to every person they though able to assist them, to get a road out of that village, these twenty years past. They had no means of getting their produce to market, or getting home after nightfall, or of getting manure into the village, and at length the people set to work themselves and commenced making a line of road by their own labour, through the midst of a great estate, and then some assistance was afforded to them, but to my knowledge, for twenty years, they had been in vein petitioning and memorialing every influential person without effect.

    Philip Reade, Esq., Land Proprietor.

    From the ‘Devon commission’ Digest of evidence taken before Her Majesty’s Commissioners of inquiry into the state of the law and practice in respect to the occupation of Land in Ireland. (1848)

    Source: Internet Archive

     

    Area 6 - Slieve Aughty Mountains

    The landscape is mountainous with areas of coniferous and deciduous woodland. The landscape is wild, natural and scenic. Long distance glimpse views are available through the trees towards the lower ground in the surrounding areas.

    Source: Landscape and Landscape Character Assessment for County Galway, County Development Plan 2009-2015 - Galway County Council

     

    Slieve Aughty Mountains SPA
    (Site Code 004168)

    The Slieve Aughty Mountains SPA is a very large site that extends southwards from just south of Lough Rea, County Galway to Scariff in County Clare. The peaks are not notably high or indeed pronounced; the site rises to a maximum of 378 m near Cappaghabaun Mountain. It site includes many small-and medium-sized lakes, notably Lough Graney and Lough Atorick; several important rivers rise in the site, including the Owendalulleegh and Graney. Lough Derg occurs immediately to the south-east. The Slieve Aughty hills are predominantly comprised of Old Red Sandstone, but outliers of Lower Palaeozoic rocks provide occasional outcrops capping the hills. The site is a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the E.U. Birds Directive, of special conservation interest for Hen Harrier and Merlin. The site also supports a breeding population of Merlin, a species that is also listed on Annex I of the E.U. Birds Directive. The population size is not well known but is likely to exceed five pairs. Red Grouse is found on many of the unplanted areas of bog and heath – this is a species that has declined in Ireland and is now Red-listed. Overall, the site provides excellent nesting and foraging habitat for breeding Hen Harrier and is one of the top two sites in the country for the species. 16.7.2007.

    Source: National Parks and Wildlife Service

    View full Site Synopsis

     

    from The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland (1846)
    Publisher: Dublin [etc.] A. Fullarton and co. Source: Internet Archive.

    SLIEVE AUGHTY. See SLIEVE BAUGHTA

    SLIEVE BAUGHTA, or SLIEVE AUGHTY, a broad, compact, and elongated congeries of mountains, on the mutual border of co. Galway, Connaught, and co. Clare, Munster. It extends 14 miles south-eastward, from a point 5 miles south-west of Loughrea, to the immediate vicinity of the bay of Scariff, and has a breadth of 5½ miles within co. Galway, and 3¼ within co. Clare. It occupies more or less of the parishes of Tynagh, Ballinakill, Clonrush, Kilteskill, and Inniscaltra, in the barony of Leitrim,—Killeenadeema, Killinan, Ardrahan, and Kilthomas, in the barony of Loughrea,—and Moynoe, Tomgraney, and Feacle, in the barony of Upper Tulla. The principal summits are four of respectively 602, 562, 508, and 692 feet of altitude within the barony of Leitrim ; the Scalp, 1,074 feet of altitude on the boundary between the baronies of Leitrim and Upper Tulla,—four of respectively 977, 1,207, 799, and 1,080 feet of altitude within the barony of Loughrea,—and seven of respectively 1,064, 1,312, 448, 589, 724, 944, and 765 feet of altitude within the barony of Upper Tulla. The mountains are, for the most part, of the old red sandstone formation ; and, though not strictly picturesque in themselves, or among their interior defiles, they contribute features of great interest and considerable power and beauty to the west side of Lough Derg, and to the great extent of flat country in the central districts of the eastern division of the county of Galway.

     

    from TW Freeman - Ireland: A General and Regional Geography
    London: Methuen & Co., 1950

    The Sliabh Aughty

    These uplands, which extend over some 250 square miles, are of Armorican structure and expose Old Red sandstones at the surface with occasional inliers of Silurian strata.They consist of long monotonous ridges rising to 1,000-1,200 feet, and are covered by bogs. The Sliabh Aughty are by-passed by almost all travellers and offer little scenic attraction; their isolation is accentuated by Lough Derg, a waterbarrier of considerable significance, on the east. Settlement is restricted to the valleys and some lower hillslopes: the farming lands are generally surrounded by rough pasture...

    A substantial past of this upland was congested in 1891 and in spite of heavy loss of population, part of it has hardly risen above the congested level since. The farms generally have about three acres of meadow and a share in the mountain grazing, which is either individually owned or grazed in common by two or more holders. Home-made butter, eggs, pigs, calves and sheep are the main sources of income, and as neither migratory labour nor local employment have ever been common in the district the emigration rate has been particularly heavy. The main problem of the farmer in such an area as this is access to markets: many farms are as much as fifteen miles distant from Loughrea or Gort and therefore depend on the intermittent fairs and on the inconsiderable facilities of Woodford, a village of 240 people.

     
     
    Note: Echtge is an old/medieval Irish version of the word Eachtaigh / Aughty
     
     

    from The Metrical Dindshenchas (Author: [unknown])

    Poem 56
    Sliab n-Echtga II

    Fair, fair is noble Echtge,
    the home of the grim-bladed warriors,
    the ground where the sons of Erc used to dwell,
    the place of Dublaithe near Dergderc:

    A notable place of Echtga, Oenach Find,
    if there were leisure I could tell of it:
    there never was before me, there shall not be after me,
    any man better versed in the account thereof.

    Famous were two women who desired it,
    who used to frequent the rugged mountain,
    Echtge daughter of strong Dedad,
    and Echtach daughter of Lodan.

    Though the smooth mountain be named
    from Echtge, daughter of Dedad,
    whatever title was called after her,
    the mountain's name is Sliab Echtaige.

    Barrier of the bloody battles,
    frontier of the hundred-slaying companies:
    a bold pack of hounds used to penetrate it
    with their rough-brown squadrons.

    The abode which was contested yonder
    by Clann Gairb of the Tuatha De Danann
    the strong place where settled Dolb Drennach,
    where the piper Crochan used to dwell.

    List of published texts at CELT (Corpus of Electronic Texts)

     
     

    from Folk - Lore: A Quarterly Review of Myth, Tradition, Institution, & Custom Vol. III. 1892 (Folklore Society, Great Britain)

    SLIAB NECHTGA. - [13a 2] Sliab nEchtga can[as] rohainm-niged ?

    Ni ansa .i. ECHTGA hUathach ingean Aurscathaigh [1] maic Tindi Truim do Tuathaib Dea Donand. Is ann ro alt, hi Cúil [2] Echtair hi toeb Nenta, la Moach Moelchenn. Roboi deogbaire Gaind & Sengaind oca cuingid .i. Fergus mac Ruide Lusca Beist. Is [3] arai asberti Lusca P[ei]st de fobith peist ro alt assa lusca .i. assa noedendacht, inna medhon.

    Rofáim ind ingin feiss dano leissium fodaig feraind cuchchaire & deoghbaire boi ina laim o ri n-Olneccmacht .1. o Moen co fairrgi insin. Ni boi dano innmais laiss & boi ferann. Boi, dano, innmais lasind ingin & ni boi ferann na horba, & issed connaitecht fair .I. fother fossad cona febaib. Roherbad di assliab ut .I. Echtga, & bertair di bai ann indorsa .I. bó anntuaith & bó annddess, & beridh in bó atuaith trian mblechta sech in mboin andess. Unde Sliab nEchta.
    Echtga Uathach os gach blaidh,
    ingen airdairc Urscathaig [4] ;
    si conaitecht sliab nach slait
    for Fergus ’na turfochraic.

    Echta the Awful, daughter of Aurscothach, son of Tinne Tromm of the Tuatha Dé Donann. She was reared at Cúil Echtair beside Nenta, by Moach Baldhead. The cupbearer of Gann and Sengann was wooing her, even Fergus son of Ruide, Lusca Béist. Why he was called “Lusca Béist” was because from his cradle (lusca), that is, from his infancy, he nourished a monster (béist) in his inside.

    Now the girl consented to marry him for sake of the cook-and-cupbearer’s land that he held from the King of Connaught. It extended from Moen to the sea. Fergus had no (movable) wealth, though he had land. The girl, however, had wealth, though she had neither land nor heritage. And this is what she demanded of him, even a firm fother (?) with its stock. Yon mountain, even Echtga, was entrusted to her, and two cows are now brought there, a cow from the north and a cow from the south. And the cow from the north yields a third more milk than the cow from the south. Hence “ Sliab Echtga”.

    Echta the Awful, above every fame.
    Conspicuous daughter of Aurscathach,
    She demanded a mountain, which she robbed not,
    From Fergus, as her bride-price.

    Also in LL. 167 a 43 ; BB. 38I b ; H. 40 a ; Lee. 480 b ; and R. 100 a I.

    Sliab nEchtga, anglicised Slieve Aughty, the name of a mountainous district on the confines of Galway and Clare. O’Don., Topogr. Poems, xliv ; Four Masters, A.D. 1598, p. 2054, note A. The story of the two milch cows accounts for the river name Abhaiim dá Loilgheach, which divides the fertile from the barren part of Slieve Aughty.

    [1] MS. Aurscathaidh. [2] MS. ciuil. [3] MS. beisti. [4] MS. Urscathaid

     
     

    The Withering of the Boughs
    WB Yeats

    I cried when the moon was murmuring to the birds:
    "Let peewit call and curlew cry where they will,
    I long for your merry and tender and pitiful words,
    For the roads are unending, and there is no place to my mind."
    The honey-pale moon lay low on the sleepy hill,
    And I fell asleep upon lonely Echtge of streams.
    No boughs have withered because of the wintry wind;
    The boughs have withered because I have told them my dreams.

    I know of the leafy paths that the witches take
    Who come with their crowns of pearl and their spindles of wool,
    And their secret smile, out of the depths of the lake;
    I know where a dim moon drifts, where the Danaan kind
    Wind and unwind their dances when the light grows cool
    On the island lawns, their feet where the pale foam gleams.
    No boughs have withered because of the wintry wind;
    The boughs have withered because I have told them my dreams.

    I know of the sleepy country, where swans fly round
    Coupled with golden chains, and sing as they fly.
    A king and a queen are wandering there, and the sound
    Has made them so happy and hopeless, so deaf and so blind
    With wisdom, they wander till all the years have gone by;
    I know, and the curlew and peewit on Echtge of streams.
    No boughs have withered because of the wintry wind;
    The boughs have withered because I have told them my dreams.