[Hand of J. O'Donovan:]

Tuam Septr. 13th 1838.

Dear Sir,

We are put to great inconvenience for not having the name books in time. When O'Conor went to Ahascragh he could have done the parishes of Fohanagh in the Barony of Kilconnell, Killasolan in the Barony of Tiaquin and Kilkerrill in the barony of Clonmacnon. Now he must go back perhaps twice to the same place. We should have all the books of those baronies together, otherwise time must be wasted, and expences otherwise unnecessary incurred.


A part of this parish is insulated in the Barony of Dunmore. The principal part of it however is in the barony of Clare, and is bounded on the north by the parish of Kilbannan; on the east by the parish of Tuam;


on the south by the parish of Cummer; and on the west by the parishes of Annaghdown and Killower.

Name. It is called in Irish Beal Chláir, i.e. the mouth or fordmouth of the plain, flat, or level, and Tuam is often added to distinguish it from Clare-Galway and Clare Morris. Reference is often made to these three places in the annals of the Four Masters but I have not been yet able to distinguish the passages which relate to one from those which relate to the others. This Clare near Tuam is always called Béal an Chláir or Béól an Chláir but I have no reference to it among the Galway extracts; the other places are called Baile an Chláir, of which there is one in the Co. of Roscommon, one in the Barony of Gallan in the County of Mayo, and it is more than probable that Clare Morris and


Clare Galway will be found to be one of the Ballyclares of the Annals.

Let me have all the passages in the annals of the Four Masters relating to Beol (bel) an chláir.

Beol an chlair was a castle belonging to the Burkes which defended a ford on the pass to Tuam. A small fragment of this castle is still pointed out within a small garden at the S.W. side of the Bridge of Belclare or as it is generally called in the Country, Clare Tuam.

The old church of Belclare was erected by the Anglo Normans, and dedicated to St. Michael, the archangel. It is in a very ruinous state, the two gables and north side wall being level with the ground with the exception of a very small part of


the N.W. corner. A considerable part of the South side wall is standing from which though it contains no architectural feature such as door or window, one can easily infer that it is a building of comparatively modern times. It was 18 feet in breadth, but its exact length cannot be easily ascertained.

A well dedicated to Saint Michael the arch angel, is to be seen not far from this church; it originally lay closer to it, but on being insulted by a protestant, it indignantly migrated from its original locality.

The name Carrowntemple suggests that there was an old church in the townland in this parish which bears it. It probably occupied the spot on which the present R.C. chapel stands. It was called Teampull na mbrathar, the church of the friars.


In this parish is situated the celebrated hill of Cnoc Meádha Siuil, the principal residence of the fairies of this part of Connaught, and of Finnbheara, their chief. There are three Carns at present on this hill, two of which are said to have been erected by one Mac Hugh, who was servant to old John Kirwan of Castle-Hackett. The other is an antediluvian one, and said to have been raised by her attendant women over the body of Ceasair, the grand-daughter of Noah, who led a band of antediluvians into Ireland. The Carn of her husband Bioth also exists on Slieve Beatha on the Borders of the counties of Fermanagh and Monaghan. It is wonderful that the deluge did not wash away the stones of this Carn from the summit of Knock Maa? It let it stand and saved the Cairneach (Carn-maker) Hugh Flanigan much trouble in the 19th century!


See Ogygia part III, Chap 1, where it is said that

Knockmeá a hill in the barony of Clare is thought to be this Carn Ceasrach, and near it Cuil Ceasrach.

I have not as yet discovered any place near Knock Máá called Cuil Ceasrach nor do I believe that the name now exists, but I shall be anxiously on the look out for it.

If the Carn on this hill be really the Carn Ceasrach of antiquity, it is curious that Finnbheara not Ceasair should be the head of the fairies of the hill! The same historical anomaly presents itself at Carn mor on Sliabh Beatha where Dalach mor, not Bioth, is the commander in chief of the fairies. Distinguished modern chiefs often extinguish the fame and names of their


predecessors - thus the name of O'Connell will eclipse that of Saint Patrick and Dean Swift in a few centuries.

I find nothing else of historical celebrity in this parish. The old forts are all enumerated in the name book.


This parish lying to the south of the parish of Belclare or Clare Tuam and between it and Kilmoylan, is called by the Irish Paráiste an Chomain, the parish of the Comar (Confluentiae), so called from the townland of Comar in which the old church is situated, and the townland is so called from its situation on Lough Rusheens {see Plan}.

The old church of Cummer (there is a well near this church called Corr, but it is not deemed holy) is in the Gothic style and was probably built by the Burkes. It measures on the inside 20 feet in breadth and 60 feet in length. It is in good preservation and was rather a neat


building in its time. There is a lancet window in its east gable and a round one (semicircularly rounded at top) in its western gable. The south side wall contains the door which is about 6 feet high and in the Gothic style, and three small windows. The north side wall which is partly destroyed contains no window, door or other aperture.

The following inscription is to be seen in a vault in the church yard:

OBIIT JUNII 18, 1730, AETATIS SUAE 1730 (73)

He is remembered by tradition as a man of great medical skill and universal benevolence.


In this townland of Cummer is also situated a castle which belonged to a branch of the Burkes. It consisted of a square tower now much injured, and a bawn of very irregular form. It is said to have been destroyed by a Captain (Elleen), who brought cannon to it from Galway and fired on it from a battery which he raised for the purpose on the opposite side of an arm of Lough Rusheens. This battery or fort is nearly in the form of a diamond and is called by the peasantry Dun Elleen. Is there any mention of this castle or this Capt. Elleen in any of the records of the Rebellion of 1641?

Besides this Castle of Cummer there are also in this parish, the Castle of Ballinderry,


the Castle of Corrafin, the Castle of Ballybanagber, and the Castle of Tawnagh.


This parish lying southwards of the parish of Tuam is called in Irish Cill at, lairinn, but the meaning is not locally understood. A part of the old church so called still exists near the Roman Catholic chapel, but there is no holy well nor other object near it from which the name of the patron saint could be inferred. There are besides this two other churches in the parish, the one called Grainseach or Grange and the other, said to have been a monastic one, Creevaghbane(aun). The church of Grainseach is said to be the original or mother church of the parish, and the one said to be set down in the Pope's Book. Creevaghbaun is thus mentioned by Archdall.


Here was a friary of Carmelites, which, if we mistake not, owes its erection to an Earl of


Clanrickard in the 14th century.

This Monastery with a quarter of land sixteen acres of arable and twelve of pasture in the town and lands of Crevaghbane together with the abbey of Mayo, was granted to the Burgesses and Commonalty of the town of Athenry.

The church of Creevaghbaun is a very small and modern one containing no feature of interest to the architectural antiquary. There is a very celebrated holy well near it in enclosed with a wall, a stone in which exhibits the following inscription.

{a nude(!) angel here}

This well is much frequented by pilgrims.


There is a Castle at Bearna dhearg near the house of John Comman. I find nothing else in this parish of historical or antiquarian interest, but some forts.


This parish [is] situated in the western extremity of the Barony of Tiaquin, and is bounded on the West by the parishes of Killererin and Kilmoylan; on the south east by the parish of Moneyvea, and on the N: East by the parish of Moylough.

Name. It takes its name from a conspicuous hill situated about ½ mile to the south of the Abbey, and which is called Cnoc Muaidh by the Irish Annalists. This name is explained hill of victory by Archdall but this most certainly is not the meaning. Is it noticed in the Dinnseanchus?


The abbey of Knockmoy is in the same style and evidently of the same age with that of Ballintober, and tradition and history refer the erection of both to Charles the Redhanded or Cathal Croibhdhearg O'Conor.

I made every search for inscriptions in this abbey, but found only four, two painted in friesco on the wall, and two inscribed on stones. On a stone inserted in the wall at the right hand side of (a tomb which looks like) a small place for an altar in the Sanctum Sanctorum (choir of the abbey) is the following inscription:

Tombstone with black-letter inscription at abbey of Knockmoy
Tombstone with black-letter inscription at abbey of Knockmoy

For Muleachlaind O'Keallaid, for the king of Hy-Mani, and for Finola, the daughter of O'Conchuir, Mathew O'Cogu made this bed.


According to the Irish annals this Melaghlin or Malachy O'Kelly died in 1224.

Another stone nearly in the form of a Coffin lying on the ground in the same roofed apartment exhibits this inscription in exceedingly difficult Gothic characters. It would take me a day to fac simile it, and I have therefore not attempted to imitate the letters.

Tombstone with black-letter inscription at abbey of Knockmoy
Tombstone with black-letter inscription at abbey of Knockmoy
Here lies Mauricius, the son of Incaim (i.e., mac an chaim (Curvi)) O'Concannon, with his wife.
Charles the Redhanded O'Conor the founder of this abbey, was fostered by O'Concannon, chief of Hy-Diarmada.

The Concannons are very numerous in this town of Tuam and its vicinity but (with the exception of one) they are all dwindled into shopkeepers, farmers and peasants. (Henry O'Concannon Esq., of Waterloo near Glentaun in the Parish of Killascobe, in the Barony of Tiaquin, enjoys hereditary property, and is the reputed head of this once respectable family.)

The two inscriptions in friesco on the wall are so obliterated that I could not make sense of them. The wall is damp & very much stained, and there is a black scum raised on it by the dropping (down) of the rain. Mr. Petrie has copied the figures on this wall; perhaps he has also attempted to decypher the inscriptions at their feet. If the wall were carefully washed on a summer's day and then permitted to dry, a person skilled in inscriptions of the age (to which these belong) could certainly read a great part of these inscriptions, but without washing the wall it would be impossible to make any sense of them,


I cleaned a part of the wall and decyphered a part of the inscription under the hostage pierced with arrows.

Black-letter inscription on the wall of abbey of Knockmoy
Black-letter inscription on the wall of abbey of Knockmoy

I think it refers to Mael Malachy O'Kelly to (for) whom the other monument was inscribed. Has Mr. Petrie decyphered this inscription.

I cannot forget O'Brien's notice of the figures on this wall. He makes it the building a ruin of a pagan temple repaired into a monastery in the 12th century by Charles the Redhanded, King of Connaught, and the archers represent the longé jaculans Apollo!

There is a third inscription on this wall in Irish letters, in which I could recognise Ri Éren.


There is a holy well on the hill of Knockroe in this parish, called according to some Toberpatrick but according to others St. Bernard's Well, while a third party assert that there is a Toberpatrick and a Tober Bernard here. How will this be settled?

For the history of this abbey see Archdall's Monasticon, and Annals of the Four Masters at the years 1218, 1224, 1266, 1267, 1295. Archdall places the Abbey of Knockmoy in O'Kelly's Country of Hy-Many, and it will appear from Shane O'Dugan's topographical poem, and from the Book of Hy-Many that that territory extended so far to the west as to comprize all the Barony of Tiaquin. O'Dugan, who was Bard of this territory


describes it as (the large third of Connaught) extending from the Shannon to Knock Máá

Ó Sionainn sreabha sídhe.
Go meádha, ni mínríghe.

The boundaries of Hy-Many are thus pointed out in a MS: in Trinity College Dublin, H. 3, 18, p. 455.


It contains seven Triochas, seven Tuathas, seven Ballys and seven half Ballys and (the boundary) extends from Cluain Tuaiscirt of the Shannon to Airenna, thence to Randown (Rinn Dúin) thence to Rinn Cleathchair, thence to Athlone, thence to Snamh da ean {on the Shannon opposite Cloonburren} thence to Ath-Crocha (on the Shannon near Banagher), thence to Lusmagh, thence to Lough Dergart, thence to Grian, thence ({northwards}) to Suidhe Finn {Seefin} thence to Athenry thence to Umnach (Uman hodie), thence to Ath-an-tsallainn, thence to Tir-Mac Trena thence to Eiscir Alainn thence to Ath-


Mogha {now Ballymoe on the Suck} thence to Sidh Neannta {in the County of Roscommon} and thence to the Shannon again.

From this description we can define the extent of Hy-Many with great satisfaction. It extended to the west as far as (Athenry and the hill of) Knock Máá which lies 5¼ miles to the south west of Tuam; to the north as far as Athmoe now Ballymoe on the Suck; to the east as far as Cloontooskert at the Shannon, which was its north eastern limit. The Shannon then formed the boundary from thence to Lough Dergart at Portumna. Hy-Many then comprized the Baronies of Moycarnan and Athlone in the County of Roscommon, and the Baronies of Killian, Tiaquin, Kilconnell, Clonmacnow and Longford in the County of Galway.


I shall hereafter attempt to divide Hy-Many into the seven cantreds or Flathricks of which it originally consisted. At present I have not a sufficiently (minute) acquaintance with the country to do so.

Your obedient Servant,
John O'Donovan.