Galway October 3rd 1838.

Dear Sir,

I have received Dutton's Statistical Survey of the County of Galway and looked over it, but find it will be of no use to me as he gives no authorities. He is a regular helter skelter Irish writer, who has not the organ of order very prominent in his pericranium. He knows nothing about Irish history or antiquities and has made no research whatever in that way, in this County. I shall send it back again as it is not worth carrying. Beaufort's map will be very useful to me.

We want square paper, sealing wax and pencils as soon as possible.


[In LH margin: Capt S] This parish lying between those of Annadown, and Abbey Knockmoy, is called by the Irish when speaking their own language Cill Mhaolain, which they understand to mean the church of St. Moelan. Is there a saint of this name mentioned in any of the Irish Calendars? Perhaps he was St.


Mellan, the anmchara of the celebrated St. Fursey. There is however no well or other monument in the parish to which the name of this saint is attached.

The old church of Cill Mhaolain, ecclesia St. Moelani, lies within the demesne of Mr. Bodkin but is certainly not a building of the primitive ages of Christianity in Ireland, it being in the rude Gothic style. This church was probably erected by the Burkes in the 14th or 15 centuries on the site of a primitive Irish one which had been erected by or dedicated to St. Meldan of Loch Oirb. It is about 66 feet in length and 25 in breadth. The greater part of the north side wall is down. The two gables are standing and well braced with ivy. The east gable contains a rude Gothic window of no interest to the antiquarian. The south side wall contains a Gothic door, which is rather well built considering the rudeness of the rest of the building.

I could find no other antiquities in this parish but two little Castles said to have been


erected by the Clanrickard Burkes, one in the townland of Tawnaghmore, and the other in Aubally.


This parish lying in the south-eastern extremity of the barony of Clare and between Clare Galway and Moneyvea, is called by the native Irish Leacach, which signifies flaggy, and the townland was certainly so called from remarkable flagstones appearing in the channel of a mountain stream {now dried up} which passes through the townland in which the old church is situated.

The old church called Lackagh is not of the primitive ages, being in the pointed or Gothic (style), and built, according to tradition, by the Burkes of Clanrickard. The east gable is level with the ground but all the rest is in good preservation. The south side wall contains {as usual in churches of this age} a pointed doorway very well built. Tradition says that it is dedicated to St. Columbkille, from which it may be


with some safety, inferred that it occupies the site of a more original church.

This parish, according to tradition, originally consisted of six (five) distinct parishes or livings, the original little churches of which are still to be seen in ruins. These are 1. Lackagh, 2. Kiltroge, dedicated to a saint Tróg. 3. Grange, dedicated to St. Suibhne whose holy well is still to be seen near it. 4. Kilsgiach, at which tradition says there was a market held, the cross of which still remains. 5. Derrymaclaughtny.

There were also five castles in this parish said to have been built by the Clanrickard Burkes, 1. Lackagh, a square castle in tolerable preservation, said to have been built 4 or 5 hundred years since by Richard & Ulick Burke, who afterwards quarrelled & "went to law" about it. It stands opposite the old church of Lackagh. 2. Kiltroge, 3. Grange, 4. Derrymaclaughtny. 5. Carrownoneen a small castle nearly destroyed. 6. Liscananaun


at which a Seneschals court, belonging to the manor of Clanrickard, is held even to this day.


This parish lying south of Oranmore is called in Irish Sráid-bhailé, which means Street town from a poor village of this name in which the old church is situated. Stradbally cannot be an old name for this parish, and it is more than probable that the old church of Kilcornan near Mr. Redington's house was the original parish church before it was removed to Stradbally. Is there a Saint Cornan mentioned in any of the Irish lists of Saints located in Aidhne.

Kilcornan and the adjoining neighbouring townland of Moyveela in this parish are mentioned by O'Flaherty in his Ogygia in treating of the battle of Moy Mucruimhe near Athenry.

Looee Mac-Con of the line of Ith, having been vanquished in the battle of Kenfebrat after having spent some time in exile, put


into Galway with a great number of foreign auxiliaries; and seven days after his arrival on a Thursday {as Tigernach has accurately remarked} he obtained a signal victory over King Art at Moy Mucroimhe near Athenry eight miles from Galway. Forga, king of Connaught among others fell on the side of Art; also on the same side seven nephews of King Art. Looee Lawe, the brother of Oilill, but related to Looee Mac Con by his mother, and Ligum of Fothart {whom Art had banished} Looee's companion in his exile pursuing Art after the battle stood at a brook in Aidhnia (Einia) and attacking him there laid him prostrate on the earth, and as he lay almost breathless, cut off his head and brought it to the conqueror. The brook has got the name of Turlach Airt in commemoration of this action which it retains to this day, and is situate between Moy Vaela and Kilcornan.


This is quoted by Dutton in his Statistical Survey of the County of Galway, but he has not thought proper to tell us whence he quoted it, or where the places mentioned are situated. He knows more about potatoes than antiquities, which leaves him a rich man.

Kilcornan is the name of a townland containing an old church (and Mr. Redington's seat) in the parish of Stradbally and Kilvaela (Kilmhaela) in Irish Cill mhaela is the name of another townland in the extreme north point of the parish. The Turlough and little stream called after the monarch Art can be very easily identified and should be shewn on the Ordnance Map.

In this parish is situated Ath cliath Meadhraighe now Droichead a' Chláirin or Clarin Bridge, which formed the western extremity of the line of hills called Eiscir Riada which divided Ireland into two equal parts. ("Eugenius Mogh Nuad overran all the southern parts of Ireland from where the Riaedeen Hills or Eiscir-Riada by the high quarters of Dublin in a direct line to the Peninsula Medrigia near Galway." - Ogygia part III, chapter 60.) The general opinion is that the Escir extended from Dublin to the town of Galway, but it will be found on examination of the ground and examination (comparison) of the documents that the Esker terminates at Clarin Bridge opposite the district now called Meádhraighe {Mááréé} and not at Galway. Hugh Mac Curtin, who seems to have been well


acquainted with the localities of this neighbourhood {being a County Clare man} says in his history of Ireland that Ath cliath Meadhraighe was called Clarin's Bridge in his own time, and he is borne out by the situation of the Esker and of Meádhraighe although the name Ath Cliath is no longer remembered; for it lost (it) many years since, and the place was called Ath an Chláirin, the ford of the little plank or board from a "bridge" of that kind which was substituted for the cliath or hurdle.

The following derivation of this name is given in the Dinnseanchus, which is worth translating.

Ath Cliath at (oc) Mááree whence named!

Answer. When the men of the Province of Olnegmacht {the Nagnatae} (and the seven Hy-Manys with their chiefs) carried off the Tain bo Dartry, the cattle spoil of Dartry the daughter of Regumna, from Munster, Eochy Beg the son of Carbré, King of Cliach in Munster with the Fenian heroes of Munster, (followed in) pursuit (of) the spoil and the Hy-Manians made a bridge (fal, wall) of hurdles of shields and draigin until in the ford until


they should receive assistance from Oilill and Meave from Cruachain, and the other people of the province. Unde Ath cliath dicitur.

ut poeta dixit

I know the (robsam eol) cause from which this ford was named
From my acquaintance with the ancient books,
The monuments of past events - as well
As if I had been present at the fight
Which raged once here around the hurdle ford (ath cliath)
A wall (adbha) of shields, knives, hurdles and of swords
Was formed here. Heroes poured the stream of life
Through deep wounds caused (cut) by dreadful spears & swords
The Dagaean clans, for furious courage famed,
Gave bloody battle (deabhaidh derg) at this well known ford
Unto the seven Manians and o'er threw them
With their three thousand bands of (brave and) hardy kerns.
Of small avail was all their fiery force
{And dreadful were their efforts and their blows}
In carry(ing) off the Táin bó Darty, for
Their mighty men were slaughtered at this ford.
The little Eochy, son of Carbry fair,
The king of Cliach, the prosperous and the rich
From Cullinn reached this ford of battle-arms (do ruacht áth na n-arm treasa).


Thro' fear of him the chieftains placed a wall
Of Dreen and red shields in the bloody ford
But the Hy-Manian King soon met his fate
Disputing this great pass with Eochy's troops.
'Twas from these hurdles placed upon the stream
The ford was called Ath cliath, a name well known
Throughout the land of Elga ever-fair
As I have read in ous most ancient books.
I know the cause &c

I find no other place of historical or antiquarian interest in this parish but the castle of Cladagh situated in the townland of Stradbally north.

Have we any English Irish document which points out the boundaries and extent of Clanrickard? O'Brien says in his Dictionary that the ancient name of Clanrickard was Moinmoy, but I have many reasons to doubt the correctness of his assertion. I have reason to believe that Clanrickard included all Moinmoy, but I am certain it included more. I hope that every search will be made for documents shewing the exact extent of Clanrickard.


Let me have all the historical references to Ui Fiachrach Aidhne and Cinel Aodha na h-Echtghe. Let me have the pedigree of O'Heidhin and all the references to his tribes and territory which can be collected. Can any document be found to shew where the territories of O'Shaughnessy and O'Heyne met?

igr Let me also have all the historical references to Ard rathain, the books of which I (also) want immediately


This parish which is a peninsula running into the bay of Galway about 5 miles in a direct line south of the town of Galway, is called in Irish Baile na Cúirte, the town of the court or manor-house. It is also well known by the name of Meádhraighe, which is latinized Medrigia by O'Flaherty, and now always (properly) pronounced Mááree.

O'Flaherty speaking of Mogh Rotha of Fermoy remarks:

I am inclined to believe that there was


another Mogruth different from this Mogh ruth whose sons were 1. Buan after whom Corco Mogha in the County of Galway is called; 2. Aret from whom Carn Aret in Medrigia (Meádhraighe) [is] denominated, 3. Muach from whom are descended the people of Moy-Ith in Ulster. MEDR1GIA, a peninsula to the south of Galway is denominated, as we are told, from Medara, their mother.

Ogygia, Part III. Chap. 69.

All the places set down in the ancient Irish MSS. as named after the Firvolgs (in this neighbourhood) retain their names uncorrupted (to this day), as Rinn Tamhuin in Meadhraighe, now the townland of Tamhuin (Rinn Tamhuin is now generally known as Tawin point) which is the extreme point (Rinn) of Maaree stretching far into the bay of Galway. Rinn Mhil in the parish of Oranmore, where there is an old castle in good preservation. This was named after Mil a chief of the Huamorian family of the Bolgae who flourished here in the reign of Oilill and Meave about the period


of the nativity of Christ. He had a residence also, if we believe the book of Lecan, at a place in one of the Arran isles called from his name Muirbheach Mhíl, i.e. the sea-plain of Mil. Rinn Bheara, now, {with a slight alteration} Ceann Bheara, a headland or point running into the Bay of Galway opposite Rintawin to the south. Kinvarra is now the name of a little seaport town (much improved of late) in the Barony of Kiltartan, near which is a fort for which I have been this long time on the look it [sic], nempé Dun Guaire.

The Dinnseanchus has the following account of Medrigia and the places in its vicinity, which I think worth translating.

Meadhraighe whence so named? Ninn. From Mááree, {the son of Torcar, son of Tromda, who was the son of Calatrum,} who came with Mac Con to Ireland from


a western island of Spain, and landed on this coast. Unde Meadraidhe dicitur. It is also said that Ath Cliath Meadhraidhe derived its name from Cliath, the son of Culend, who was the son of Dubhduin, one of the people of Mac Con, who was killed there.

Duibhri, the son of Dubhán, who was the son of Terc, also one of the people of Mac Con, gave name to Duibhri.

Neidhe nithgonach gave name to Uisce Neidhe, and Gaeth, the son of Neachtain, who was the son of Fermor, who was the son of Heremon, who was the son of Ros, who was the son of Invermoy was the son-in-law of Mááree.

Marcan, the son of Don, who was the son of Dathach (one) of the people of C:C: and Gailleamh, the daughter of Breasal who came to bathe in the


river, gave name to Gaillimh (Galway), and Laigin the son of Dairi, who was son of the king of Spain, gave name to Ath Laigin.

Failind, the son of Illand, the son of Ner, who came from Traig (Tracia?) near Greece to assist Mac Con gave name to Inis Failend.

Boirenn, the son of Bolcan, son of Bán, who was the son of Illand who came from Spain to Burren of Corcomroe gave name to Burren.

The same account is then given in metre.

The Four Masters have the following reference to Meadhraighe.

A.D. 1600 O'Donnell and his forces proceeded on their march through the narrow and difficult passes of the rocky white hills of Burren without receiving battle or skirmish without being pursued


or attacked until they arrived at the mansions of on the smooth plain of Meadhraighe (Mááree), and remained that night on the hill of Cnoc an ghearráin between Kilcolgan and Galway, where, on the following day, the spoils and booty were divided among them. &c.

I think we should call this parish Ballynacourty or Mááréé, in order to preserve the latter name so celebrated in Irish history.

The remains of three Firvolgian Cahers are still visible on this peninsula of Mááree, viz Cathair gheal in the townland of Ballynamannagh East and Cathair a droighin in Cregganamore, and Cathair a chuillinn in Creggannabeg.

The old church of Baile na Cuirte took its name from a large house said to have belonged to the Martins. The church is of comparatively modern date, and it is more than probable that the old church of Cill Chaimin in a townland of the same name at the north of the peninsula, is the original parish church. I visited this old church of Cill Cháimin expecting to find it one of our primitive little churches, but was much disappointed in finding it a small rude church


built of small stones, and evidently at no distant period. It is probable however that it occupies the site of a primitive Irish church. Is this St. Cáimin of Meadhraighe mentioned in any of the lists of Irish saints?

There is a castle in the townland of Creggana.


This parish lying between the parish of Kilcolgan and that of Mááréé or Baile na cuirte, is called by the aborigines Druim Mac Cú, but the signification of the name is not locally known, nor have I any historical authority to throw any light upon it. It is probable that Macoo, the latter part of the compound is the proper name of a man. "The patron saint of the parish however is not a (St) Macoo but (a female) Sórnach whose Bed (leabaidh), bush (sgeach) and well (tobar) are shewn in the townland of Drumacoo." Is this Saintess mentioned in any of the old Irish lists of saints?

The old church of Drumacoo, which is said to have been originally erected by Saint Sore-Knee (St. Sornia), is not one of the ancient churches of Ireland, but built long after the arrival of the Anglo-Normans into Connaught.


There was another little church in the townland of Cillin Arann, of which the site only is now traceable.


This parish lying between those of Killeenavarra and Killeely is called in Irish Cill Cholgáin, which is (exactly) the name by which it is called in the annals of the Four Masters at the years 1132, 1258, 1598, 1599 and 1600. It signifies the church of St. Colgan, of whose history I know nothing. (The O'Finns were Herenachs of Kilcolgan as appears from the annals of the Four Masters at the year 1132.)

The site of the old church of St. Colgan is now occupied by the protestant church. But in the townland of Kiltiernan in this parish about 2½ miles south of Clarin Bridge, there (is) a little church which presents all the features of one of the earliest ages of the Christian church in Ireland. It is perhaps the second oldest church in Ireland, Bishop Mel's at Ardagh being the (very) oldest. Kiltiernan however is in a far better state of preservation than Bishop Mel's, and demands particular attention from the investigator of ancient architecture. It is 45 feet in length and 13 in breadth. The east gable is level with the ground {lamentabile dictu} and


there is a considerable breach in the south side wall. The west gable is nearly perfect, and contains a perfect doorway in the primitive semi-Cyclopean style, which is well worthy [of] the attention of the historical architect. The stones are enormous and very well laid with a small quantity of lime and sand cement. The south side wall contains a window in the primitive semi-Cyclopean style, and should be taken as a model in ascertaining the ages of other (ancient) churches into the walls of which windows of Gothic form have been from time to time inserted. This window is in the pointed style, but not pointed like windows in the Gothic style, for the sides of the Gothic windows always form some kind of a curve [d] line before they meet at the vertex while the two inclining sides of this (window) form two straight lines before they meet. The same peculiarity is observable in many (of) the (windows of the) round towers. It is a great misfortune that the East window of this church is destroyed, for had it escaped the hand of envious time or savage mortals we would have in it a perfect specimen of the little


churches built by the early Irish saints from the middle of the 5th to the beginning of the 9th century. By comparing the doorway and window of this church with those in the churches of Clonmacnoise, Inis Cloithrinn, Raithin &c, one must come to the conclusion that this is several centuries older, and that the Irish made some change in their style of architecture towards the beginning of the ninth century. He will also probably come to the conclusion that this little church is older than many of the round towers.

I have measured all the stones forming this doorway being particularly struck with its primitive appearance and having never before seen any church near so ancient, with the single exception of Bishop Mel's church at Ardagh, and Kilroe near Killala.

N.B. The East window in the old church of Kilroe and the doorway and window of this church will give one a very correct idea of the form and style of a primitive Irish church.

The doorway of Kiltiernan is of this form.

Kiltiernan, Doorway in the west Gable
Kiltiernan, Doorway in the west Gable
  1. The lintel which traverses the doorway at the top, is 6ft. Oin. long, 1ft. 8in. high and extends the entire thickness of the wall, 3ft. 4in.
  2. 1ft. 2in. long 1ft. 4in. high, and extends the whole thickness of wall.
  3. 3ft. 0in. long 1ft. 10½in. high and extends ½ the thickness of wall.
  4. 1ft. 2in. long 3ft. 3in. high and extends the entire thickness
  5. 1ft. 8in. long 1ft. 4in. high and extends the entire thickness
  6. 3ft. 0in. long 1ft. 8in. high and extends within 6inches of the entire thickness
  7. 1ft. 4in. long 3ft. 6in. high and extends the entire thickness
  8. 5ft. 7in. long 1ft. 8in. high; thickness not known
  9. 4ft. 4in. long 2ft. 0in. high.

The window in the south side wall is of this form.

Window in South wall of Kiltiernan old church
Window in South wall of Kiltiernan old church

The old castle of Kilcolgan was taken down some years since by old (Mr.) St. George to build his present house. Not a vestige of it now remains. It is mentioned in an Inquisition as one of the castles belonging to the Earl of Clanrickard.

There was another old church called Moor in the townland of Maol roog, the grave-yard of which still remains. I could hear of nothing else of antiquarian, superstitious or fairy interest in this parish but a holy well situated in the townland of Cathair Peac called Tobar Seanain from the great patron of Scattery.

Your obedt. Servant, J. O'Donovan