[Hand of T. O'Conor:] Oranmore Parish, described.

Galway, Wednesday, October 3d 1838


Oranmore, the name of a parish lying to the East of Galway, is written Úaran Mór Úaran Mór is the local pronunciation at present) by the Four Masters in the Annals, who record at the year A.D. 1507 (1597?) that -

O'Donnell {Hugh Roe}, the son of Hugh, who was son of Magnus, encamped in Breifny in Connaught to the East of Sliabh da én, after having plundered as we have already stated, the friends of O'Connor. Here he stopped until he should be joined by all his forces from every quarter direction. When all had assembled, which was in the end of the month of January, they marched into the territory of Hy-n-Oillealla {Tirerrill}; thence into Corran through Machaire Chonnacht into Clann-Conmhuighe, and Hy-Many. Having arrived at (come to) the very Centre of Hy-Many, O'Donnell sent forth several strong marauding parties to Tuath an Chalaidh, and the upper part of the territory, who brought many herds of Cattle and other spoils to him to Athenry. The warders of this town attempted to defend it, but their efforts were useless. O'Donnell's people applied fires and torches to the strong gates of the town and Carried with them large ladders by means of which they ascended to the parapets of the walls. From the tops of the


walls, some leaped into the streets of the town and opened the gates for those who were outside. They all then proceeded to demolish the store houses and the houses of defence, which they stripped of all their goods and valuables. They remained that night in the town. It would be difficult to enumerate on the next day the quantity of Copper, iron, cloths, and vesture, they Carried away from the town on the following day. From this town also O'Donnell sent forth marauding parties to plunder Clanrickard on both sides of the river. These pillaged and ravaged the entire tract of Country lying between Leathraith and Seanchomhladh. The remaining part of this army burned and ravaged the territory from Athenry to Rath Goirgin westwards to Rinnmil and Meadhruighe and to the very gates of Galway, and also burned Teach-Brighde at the gate Called Spairri. O'Donnell


pitched his Camp for that night between Uaranmor {Oranmore} and Galway precisely at Cloch an Lingsigh, and on the following morning went to the Monastery of Cnoc near the gate of Galway and trafficked with the inhabitants of the town, exchanging a portion of his spoil for some of their various wares and rich apparel. He then resolved upon returning back, though had he not been impeded by the heavy burthen and great incumbrance of his many spoils, he would have advanced forwards directly to Gort-insi Guaire in Kenel Aodha na h-Echte. He marched back the same road with his forces and spoils through the very middle of Connaught and made no delay until he had pitched his Camp in Calry to the East of Sligo, after which he changed (sent) his Gillanraidh [Calones, that is the attendants of the army, or soldiers' boys}, and the unarmed part of his army with the escort of a portion of the spoils northwards across the River Samhaoir {Erne}.

[Written landscape in right-hand margin:] And at the year A.D. 1599, these same writers state that

In the month of December, O'Donnell set out to establish peace between the Mac Williams, viz. between Mac William, Theobald, the son of Walter Kittagh, and Theobald na long, the son of Richard an Iarainn. After having reconciled them, he set out to go into Clanrickard, but advanced no farther than Uaran mór on that occasion.

He remained three nights encamped at Machaire Riabhach, near the town of Galway, and spoils were brought him from Spairre an Bhaile Mhoir, and although a dread of him was spread from thence to Leimchonchuloinn {Loophead} he returned into Ulster, without achieving any thing worthy of note.


Uaranmor signifies the great spring. It is stated in the Tripartite Life of Saint Patrick par: ? page ? c. ? that, when he was traversing Connaught, he came to a certain place where he caused a fountain of water to spring from the earth, from which the place was afterwards denominated - Úaran, which, as is just remarked, signifies in Irish, a spring. I made every endeavour to obtain some local information respecting the name of Oranmore, and found no traditional account of its origin, in existence. There is no traditional recollection that S. Patrick was ever at this locality; nor is there any memorial at present known, which, by having his name annexed to it, would testify to his having been here. I have got all the springs about Oranmore village enumerated for me, but none of them bears his name. There is a spring well called Tobar Cailligh Bheartha (Tobernacally bearha), well of the Cailleach Bheartha, to the left as one is going (you) to cross the bridge.*


connecting Oranmore village with the roads; leading, the one to Galway and the other to Clare-Galway; and very near Oranmore mill which stands at this bridge.

Within half a mile of Oran mill to N.E. is a spring, called Uisce Teith (Iskateh) i.e. hot water. And in Frenchfort townland (which T.L. was anciently called Cathair Ui Bhoidheain} is Lochan Mhuilinn (Loughaunawillin) [spring), the lochan, or little pond of the mill; within two hundred yards of which, lies in the same townland Fish-pond {spring}. To the South of Oranbeg townland, and between two hills, is a spring, called Beúl an Anma (Bellananima), the mouth of the soul; and near it is another, called Tobar Dhonchadha Bháin (Toberdonaghbaun), the well of Dennis bane {the white, or fairhaired}.

Between Oranmore and Rinnville, there is a spring called Tobar na n-Árm (Tobernanarm), the well of the arms (or weapons). And


in Parkroe townland, is a spring which goes by the name of Tobar Sruithlinn (Tobersruhlin), locally explained as signifying the well of the little stream. This is not a perpetual spring; for it becomes sometimes dried up.

In one (end) of Glanturk {Gleann Tuirc} or in Glanasgaul townland in the neighbourhood of Oranmore Village, there is a spring called Tobar na m-Bos Dubh (Tobernamasduff), by some persons, Tobar na Murtabha, by others; and also by some few Tobar na mBostabhann {na m-bastún?}, pronounced - 1 Tobernmos-doo, 2 Tobernamurtoo, 3. Tobernamostoun.

This well, according to the local traditional account of the name, was designated na m-bosdubh, which from this orthography would mean 'of the black palms of the hands', but which is locally explained as signifying 'of the palms of the hands', from an occurrence that runs in narration as here expressed -


There was formerly in Gleanntuirc {Glanturk above mentioned} a wild boar, which threatened all the neighbouring people with destruction. This animal ferociously attacked every other one that came in his way, and by tearing up the earth, excavated the valley, or rather hollow, called from him, Gleann Tuirc, 'the hollow of the wild boar'.

He was encountered by one of the giants, who flourished formerly in Ireland; and in the heat of the conflict, darting his tusk through the finger of his antagonist's hand wounded him severely; in consequence of which, the giant desisted from the Combat, and being in great agony, sought (to procure, as) a remedy for the wound, some water from the well, the name of which (or whose name), we have just mentioned. Some persons, who were about the place, where he lay under his sufferings, went to this well, and having no kind of vessel, in which, they could convey (fetch) the water, they Continued to carry a little of it, in the palms of their hands; from which circumstance, the well received the name as just now laid down.


It appears from the various pronunciations of the name of this well as above given, that there is no fixed sound of it among the people, which might decide the meaning; nor is it of such importance as to deserve to be noticed for any other purpose than merely to have (remark) it on the list enumerating the springs at and near Oranmore, in order to afford every fair means of deciding, from which, if from any, of them, the name has been (originally) derived. The number laid down here, I got from a few of the inhabitants of the vicinity of Oranmore village, who described their situations, according to their own views of distance &c. I saw, myself, the spring at Oran mill.

But what spring, can we say, gave name to Oran? Colgan was not Certain whether it was at Oran in Galway, or at Oran ui chlabaigh in Roscommon, the fountain was called forth from the earth, by Saint Patrick, which gave name to the place.


He inclines, however, to think it was at Oran in Roscommon, which, as far as we see, nothing disproves to be the fact. For there is not the least foundation for the supposition, but far less any indication, that the Saint worked such a miracle at the locality called Oranmore in Galway, which, if he had done, could not possibly, if it be granted to calculate comparatively according to the amount of traditional recollections of his visits to other places in Ireland, become altogether forgotten on the spot that had been the scene of so wonderful a deed.

All we can boast of now, after having made these observations, is that we know the meaning of the name, which has been already given. We cannot, however, say with certainty, where lies the object, from which the appellation was originally taken; some document removing all doubt as to this, will probably hereafter occur.


The spot from which Lord Oranmore, it is said took his title, is shown, lying immediately to the right, at the bridge as one leaves Oranmore, on the direction to Galway, or Clare-Galway. It is surrounded with water, (and with) a hedge, at one end of which is a Cabin having a stone ditch running from it to the road; and with the wall of the bridge. It contains, as accurately as an observer can calculate, about three half roods. This was, the people think, the original feature bearing the name of Oranmore, as it was the sole property here of the above mentioned Lord when he obtained his title. This is a complete get up of the people, who are never at a short for such useless stories.



The ruins of this Church lie in an old Church yard just close by the Parish Church at Oranmore village. Both gables were pulled down to a level with the ground; two side walls remain. On South one near East gable, is a small (pointed) doorway, 5 feet high and 2½ feet broad, which is constructed of mason work consisting of small stones and cement.

It doesn't appear so plainly, nor with such definite outlines.

Doorway in South wall of Oranmore old church
Doorway in South wall of Oranmore old church

Fig. 12


There was also a lancet window on this wall between the door and the west gable. The wall was destroyed so much that this window is now opened at top. On North side wall near West gable, there was a doorway which became a breach by reason of the wall being battered on all parts at (about) it. And there was a small lancet window near East gable.

The ruins of a church, near which, is a remnant of a round tower, are seen in the townland of Rosscom in this parish, situated on a rising ground close to the inlet of Galway bay, at the end of which, stands the village of Oranmore. The locality of these ruins, is about 2½ miles from Galway, a short distance to the right of the road leading from this town to Oranmore, of which village there is a full view from the old church.

This is the tower, which Dutton in his Statistical Survey of the County of Galway, says, he discovered at Murrough. These are his words under the heading 'Round Towers', p. 46.

Those round towers, which have so much puzzled antiquarians, are to he found in the following places: -


Ballygaddy, Kilbannon, Kilmacduagh, Meelick, Murrough, and Ardrahan.

Having made some remarks about Kilbannon and Kilmacduagh towers, he says -

I discovered one at Murrough, about two miles to the southward of Galway, on the sea Coast; I believe it escaped the research of Dr. Ledwich and Dr. Beaufort.

After noticing 'a very small one' near the church of Ardrahan, he states that -

About forty feet of that at Murrough remains; it is only about ten feet in diameter in the clear; the walls four feet thick; the door about 6 feet from the ground; there are courses of stone to rest the timbers of the floor on.

It is strange that Dutton has placed this tower at Murrough, and (not) in Rosscom, in which townland, it stands according to every obtainable local information. There is a townland called in Irish Muirbheach, properly Anglicised Murvagh, which is written in the Name book, under the different forms, of Murroogh, Murragh, Murrough & Murrogh; and described as bounded on the N. and W. by the Parish of St. Nicholas, on the E. by Doohiska, and Rosscom Tds. and on the S. by Galway bay


Now it is evident that, though these two places, as we see by the description of the townlands just adduced, are Conterminous, yet Dutton could have given a more accurate knowledge of the situation of this tower, had he said that he discovered one in or at Rosscom, and not at Murrough, in as much as it stands within the limits bearing the former designation, and not within those bearing the latter one. But he has placed a tower at Ballygaddy where there is none. Kilbannon one is near this place. Does he intend to have one made two? He is in error here also.

At the height of five feet from the ground, there is on Rosscom round tower, which is in Irish, called Clogár, a door way of a quadrangular form, 4 feet 10 inches high, 2 feet broad, and looking to South by East. The wall is 4 feet thick, and the diameter inside the tower is 7 feet, which make 11 feet in the clear. [On an unnumbered sheet: = 15ft clear] It is built with hammered stones, cemented with lime and sand mortar,

A heap of stones broken in small size, fills the foot (lower part) of the tower on the inside to an equal height with the doorway, that is, a height of five feet. The courses of stone to rest 'the timbers of the floor on', mentioned


by Dutton, remain as yet near the top of the tower in its present state.

There was a quadrangular opening, at the height of nine or ten feet over the doorway, not looking exactly in the same direction with it, but placed a little farther towards the North, which is now closed with stones and mortar, built in the external part of it; the internal part is vacant from any such materials, and shows that the opening was about 3 feet high, and 1½ foot broad, as far as an observer standing inside the tower, can Calculate the extent.

There is a breach of small extent in S. by West side of the tower, and at the height of three feet from the ground.

As to the present height of this tower, I cannot be very certain; I think, however, it does not, apparently, exceed 30 feet.

Outside form of the doorway on the Clogár
Outside form of the doorway on the Clogár
(T. O'Conor)

The ruins of the Church (of Rosscom) consist of an extensive portion of the South sidewall; of nearly the whole of the North one, and of the East gable. The west gable, and a great portion of the South sidewall, say 12 yds. in length, were pulled down. The original length (of the church) may be calculated to have been 28 yds., and the breadth between 21 and 22 feet. There was a window on East gable, which became a breach. The gable itself is reduced to nearly the height of the side walls. A window, which appears to have been of the lancet style, is to be seen on South side wall near East gable, constructed with small stones cemented with lime and sand mortar. At the top inside, it can be observed, there was an inclination to an arched form. On the same wall, there was another lancet window, (having) now become a breach, towards West gable.


There was an entrance on North side wall, which was inclining to an arched form, and is now closed up. On this wall near East gable, is a breach where an entrance is had into the Church.

Between this church and the inlet of Galway bay above mentioned, are two stone flags, the one sunk in the ground to a level with its surface, in which there is a Cavity of circular form, 16 inches in diameter, and 10 inches deep, narrowing towards the bottom. Beside this in the same stone, there is a small Cavity, which is not deep, and in the waters Contained in which, when Saint Patrick was here, he is said to have washed his hands twice. The other stone is placed so as to present three Cavities in the one side of it, which are said to be the impressions of Saint Patrick's knees and head; the one which is said to be the impression of his head, not being perfectly circular, is


16 inches in one direction; 18 inches in another, and 10 inches deep; the one said to be the impression of his left knee, is 16 inches one way, and 1 foot in another, and 8 inches deep. The impression of the right knee is so low on the stone as to be to a great extent Covered (concealed) with (the) earth, which swells up along (against) it. There are some bushes at this stone. And stations are performed here occasionally, where (particularly) persons afflicted with head-aches resort to for relief.

Toberandony Tobar an Domhnaigh (Tobar Righ an Domhnaigh? (Toberreendoney - J.O'D.) {local}, a holy well, lies E. of the Ph. and Cloonacauneen townland.

That Rosscom lay (was situated) in the ancient territory of Clanfergail, we learn in a marginal remark in Ogygia, Vol: 1. p. 45, Part 3, the words of which are -

Clanfergail, a small part of the County, consisting of 24 villages, in which now are situated Galway, Clare, and Roscam, now in the Diocese of Tuam.

In a MS. Trinity College H. 2. 17. page 188 which treats of O'Flaherty's Country, it is stated that O'Halloran was the chief of Clanfergail consisting of 24 ballys, and that O'Fergus of Roscam was of the same tribe.


A flag stone, 7 feet high, 22 inches broad, and 4 inches thick on an average, which is in Irish Called Cloch a Liagáin, the Liagaun stone, is to be seen at the distance of a ¼ of a mile to N.E. of the tower of Rosscom, placed within a heap of small stones, in a position inclining to N.E.

A holy well Called Tobar Mac Duach, Tobermacdoo-agh, lies in a bog N. of Pollkeen {Poll Caoin} townland. And in Killeen {Cillín} townland, there is a burying place now Called Lisín, Lisheen.

{From an Inquis, taken at Galway 20th March 1608,
before Geoffrey Osbaldstone Esq., and others.)

It was found by an Inquisition taken before John Crofton Esqre. at Athenry 1st October 1584 that said Rickard late Earl {Rickard Earl of Clanrickard, son of Ulick first Earl of Clanrickard} died 24th July 1582 seized in fee and fee-taile of the several lands following viz -

After an enumeration of several lands and Castles, the Inquisition goes on, mentioning '2 qrs. in Quinelloghny Dokuske, (a) the Castle of Moneduffe and 1 qr.' ***


*** 'the Castle of Oranmore(b) and 4 q.'

And afterwards it is stated in this inquisition that ' - Earl Ulick {Ulick Bourke father of the now Earl = that is of Rickard who was Earl of Clanrickard at the time of the taking of the inquisition (at Galway 1608)} was likewise seized in fee and fee tayle, of the lands hereafter, viz. - '

When several lands and Castles are set down by their several names, we find noticed 'Carrowmointer 'e Dowly(c) {1 q.}' *** 'the Castle of Oranmore(b) {& 4 q.} Monymore(d) {2 q.} the Castle of Monyduff(a) {& 3 Carr}'.



(a) [Referred to on MS pp. 326 and 327] Dokuske is now pronounced in Irish Doch Choisce, which would be Anglicised Dughisca, which is written Doohiska {authority - Sketch map} in the Name book of Oranmore Ph., where it is given with various orthog: by various other authorities. The townland bearing this name is bounded on the N & E by the Parish of Oranmore in the County; on the South by Curragrean {Curra' Ghrian} Rosscom {Ros Cam} and Merlin Park, and on the West by Merlin Park and Knockweeldrish {Cnoc Mhaoil Dris} townlands.

The site of the Castle of Moneduffe is to be seen S. of 'Munnadhuv' townland. The name Caislean muine dubh is still retained. The townland name Muine Dubh should be Anglicised Moneyduff.


(b) [Referred to on MS p. 327] The old Castle of Oranmore is now the residence of Mr. Blake, and stands near the village, and in Oran more townland.

(c) [Referred to on MS p. 327] Carrowmointer e Dowly, probably now Ballindooly {Baile an Dúbhlaigh} townland in this Parish. ? There is an old castle in Ballindooly, which will be hereafter described.

(d) [Referred to on MS p. 327] Moneymore in Irish Muine mór should be Anglicised Moneymore. Moneymore East and Moneymore West townlands lie in this Parish.



Merlin old Castle is west of townland {i.e. Merlin Park}; the walls are still standing, thickness about 5 feet. It appears to have been a place of great strength.

It is remarked in the Name book that Merlin Park was formerly in Doohiska [rectè Dughisca} townland, but it is now a townland.

I saw this Castle, as I was going to Oranmore, from the road leading from Galway to that village. It stands at some distance to the left of the road, appears clad in ivy, and has a modern slated roof on it.

South of Carrowbrowne townland {Ceathramhadh Bhrúna}, is an old Castle in ruins. The walls are still standing, thickness 4 feet, height 54 feet, breadth within walls 26 feet.

Tradition says this Castle was erected by one of the family, from whom Lord Oranmore descends; and that the extensive ruins of other edifices attached to it, are the remains of buildings got up after the erection of the Castle, by the family of the Blakes.


Ballindooly (old) Castle stands in Ballindooly townland, close to a lough bearing the same name with the T.L.

The walls of this Castle, are still in good preservation, height about 60 feet; breadth within walls 38 feet, thickness of walls 6 feet 8 Inches.

Killeen (old) Castle, Caislean a Cillín, stands in Killeen townland.

The walls of this Castle are also in very good preservation, height 45 feet, thickness of walls 4 feet 8 Inches.

In Cloonacauneen townland Clúna Cáinín, there is an old Castle, the walls of which, it appears, are entire. I only saw it from Carrowbrowne, which is a considerable distance from it.


There is a square enclosure surrounded by a deep ditch in Gurraun North townland (Gurrán Spriogadain}, and at it an arched gateway, of which, there is an impressive sketch annexed to the Descriptive Remarks in the Name-book. The name for it is in the Irish, Cloch Áill

Áill is locally explained as signifying turned, or arched, and is said to be the word commonly used to express the idea of such a form.

In Kiltullagh (Cill Tullach) townland, stands Kiltullagh old Castle, which

is 54 feet high, built of cut stone, contains a ground floor, and two upper stories; the ascent was by winding stairs of Cut stone, now partly down; the roof is off, and the walls Cracked. It is built of lime stone. The Blake family are said to have lived in this Castle 300 years. The grand-father of the present heir, was its last occupier.

Over a recess in the wall in the uppermost story, there is


a stone with the letters and figures -

Inscribed stone, Kiltullagh old castle
Inscribed stone, Kiltullagh old castle

There is a very impressive representation of the whole, affixed to the Descriptive remarks in the Name-book.

Rinnville {Rinn Mhíl} old Castle, stands in Rinnville W. townland. It is described as being

in very good preservation; the walls are 4 feet 10 Inches thick; height 62 feet. It is said to have been the residence of the ancestors of Mr. Athy, who is the present proprietor of the townland just mentioned.


Tradition says that the Castle was built by one of the family of the Lynches; that the ancestor of Mr. Athy obtained it and its appurtenances, as a dowry with his wife who was of the Lynch family.

For what is said respecting Rinnmil {now Rinnville} in the Annals of the Four Masters, see A.D. 1507 (1597?), referred to in the beginning of this letter, and A.D. 1598.

Rinn Míl signifies the promontory of Mil {pronounced Meel} who was one of the Clan Huamor, according to Mac Firbis, in his account of the Firbolgs; preserved in the Book of Lecan.

Menlo Castle in Menlo townland {Mionnloch} is the residence of Sir V. Blake Bart. The name of the townland should be Anglicised Minlough.

Your obedient
T. O'Conor

T. A. Larcom Esqr. &c. &c.

*Observe: The well is to one's left when he is turning from the Galway road to enter Oranmore by crossing the bridge. It is exactly to the left when he comes the Clare Galway road to Oranmore. But when a person is in the act of crossing the Bridge, the well is not directly to his left, it is rather behind him.

It appears from a tract in the Book of Lismore, Fol: 208. a. b., that Úaran nGaradh, which is the one mentioned in the Tripartite Life, is in the Co. Roscommon, as the places set down in connection with it in the tract, are found to be in the same County. From which circumstance it is certain that this úaran of the Tripartite is Úaran Ui Chlábaigh, (a name) now (retained in) Oran Parish wherein there remains as yet the a round tower and church in ruins. The name (Úaran Ui Chlábaigh) is retained in full, without rejecting the terminational part, among the Irish speaking people who live in the parish and its neighbourhood. The importance of the name of the hereditary herenaghs of the place, who were of the Ua Clábaigh family, blotted out the postfix nGáradh, for which the family name was substituted.