Galway, Septr. 27th 1838

Dear Sir,

Ever since I wrote last I have been travelling through the parishes of Annaghdown, Lackagh and Kilmoylan. I am now heartily tired of walking and must sit down to put my notes in some form. This county is a province in itself.


Situation. This parish is bounded on the west by Lough Oirb, on the N.W. by the parish of Kill Cuana; on the north by the parishes of Killower and Cummer, on the East by Kilmoylan and on the south by the parishes of Lackagh and Clare Galway,

Name: This parish is at present corruptly called Eanach Cuan by the peasantry when they speak Irish {which is the only language they wish to speak} but when they mention it


in the English way they call it any down. In the ancient Irish annals and ecclesiastical documents, however, it is called Eanach Dúin, wch. signifies the Annagh or bog of the Doon or fort. This is an instance of a name being corrupted in Irish, while it is preserved pure enough in the anglicised form.

O'Flaherty states in his Statistical account of Iar-Connaught that Annaghdown (Ennaghdown) was the Cathedral church of that principality of his ancestors. His words are as follows:

The territory of West Connaught, the ancient seigniory of the O'Flaherties was extended of old beyond Loch Orbsen, and the River and town of Galway to (i.e. into) the Baronies of Kilmain, Clare, and Dunkellan. Its cathedral {as every Irish Seignory had its own, whose diocese runned (i.e. ran) with the Seignory's bounds} was Ennagh-dun dedicated to St. Brendan (St. Brendan's Well corruptly called by the peasantry Tobar Breanáil is near the old Castle of Annadown, J.O'D.) the 16th May Anno Xpti 577 then deceased, in the barony of Clare on the banks of Lough Orbsen, which


besides the cathedral had an abb[e}y of Chanon regulars and a nunnery

But since the year of Christ 1238, wherein the baronies of Clare, Kilmain and Kera were planted with castles (i.e. castellated, J.O'D) by the English, the same {West Connaught} is confined to the limits of Moycullen and Ballynahinchy baronies, and the half Baronies of Ross and Arran; and, in the time of Malachie Mac Aodha of West Connaught extraction, archbishop of Tuam, after a long debate for many years before, and in his time the Cathedral of Ennagh Dun was Anno Dom 1321, united to the See of Tuam by the final decision of Pope John 22nd.

The (ecclesiastical) ruins to be seen at Annadown at present are 1. An extensive abbey but not in good preservation. 2. An abbey church immediately adjoining the abbey to the north. All this church is modern, being in the Gothic style, with the exception of two windows in an apartment


at its east extremity, which are in the round Saxon style and very well built. 3. North of this abbey church stands another church in the Gothic style and evidently of no great antiquity 4. Ruins of a modern protestant church.

We learn from the Four Masters compilation at the year 1238 that a Cloigtheach was erected at Eanach duin in that year. Now cloigtheach is the name for almost all the Round towers, from which, one would be inclined to infer that a round tower was erected here so late as 1238; but this conclusion cannot be logically drawn until we ascertain whether or not the Irish called those square Belfrys similar to the one on Devinish island by the name Cloictheach. Until then, and even then, it must remain doubtful whether the cloictheach erected at Annadown in 1238 was a round tower separate from the abbey or church, or a square one attached to it.


Has Mr. Petrie ever met a square tower referred to in the annals as a Cloigtheach? I think he has.

No trace of a round or square tower can now be found at Annadown, and were I allowed to venture upon a conjecture I would incline to be timidly of opinion that the Cloigtheach erected at Annaghdown in the year 1238 was a square tower attached to the abbey. Conjecture however is of no use, and we must leave this point in dubio until some genuine historical document, will, if ever, turn up to make this tower square or round. It gives however, the present citizens of any down little trouble whether this tower was square, round or Octangular, but there will be al-


ways people found to busy themselves (not only) about all the towers on this earth, but also about the mountains in the moon.

On looking over the Extracts from the annals I find I have no reference to the Castle of Eanach duin, though, if I remember rightly, it is called a very strong castle. Is there any reference in the same annals to Cluain dubhain.

The castle of Eanach duin ([In pencil:] Annaghdown) which stands on the margin of Loch Oirb is not large being only forty feet long and about thirty six broad, but it is very well built of lime stone, the walls being eight feet thick.

Besides this Castle in the townland of Annadown there are four others throughout the parish, which are said to have been built by the Burkes of Clanrickard. Of these one is situated in the townland of Cloonboo (some say that the Skerretts erected some of these castles. Is there any written record of them?), which seems to have been originally extensive, but is now almost totally destroyed, a second in castle Creevy (a square tower) in tolerably good preservation; a third in Corbally and the fourth is Mr. Blake's house of


Cregg, which is said to be an old Irish castle built originally by the Kirwans, and remodelled into its present form in the 17th century.

Besides the churches in the townland of Annadown already mentioned, there are three others in the parish, viz one in Kilcahill, which I have described (in) a former letter; one in Grange, said to be very ancient but so ruined that one could form no idea of its age or style, and the third in the townland of Cregg not far from Mr. Blake's house or Castle.


This plain or level territory extending from Knock Meadha Siuil westwards to Lough Oirb {corruptly Corrib} and from the south boundary of Dunmore barony to the River of Clare Galway, was in O'Flaherty's Country


until the English drove him into the mountains in the year 1238. That this plain was called Magh Seola is beyond dispute from the fact that (the) church of Donaghpatrick was in it (a plain so called), and that it was governed by a branch of the O'Flahertys, we learn from the Irish Annals at the years 959 and 1034.

The Abbé Mageoghegan in his map of the Dynasties of Connaught makes the small territory of Clann Fearghail coextensive with the Barony of Clare, but in this he is decidedly wrong, for O'Flaherty the only authority on the subject, describes Clann fearghail as "a small part of the County consisting of 24 Ballys (Pagos) in which now are situated Galway, Clare, and Roscam {in Oranmore (Parish)) now in the Diocese of Tuam". And in another place,

Fergal was the great great grandson of Aongus (Aengus), the son of Brian after


whom Clann Fearghaile is called, a district comprehending 24 Ballys on the east side of the River of Galway in the west of Connaught by which River the celebrated town is washed. The O'Hallorans, the descendants of this Fergal held this tract anciently under my family.

Ogygia Part III, c. 79

From this description it is evident that O'Flaherty looked upon Clann Fearghail as east of the river only, and not east of the lake, whereas the Barony of Clare wch. Mageoghegan ignorantly makes coextensive and identical with Clann Fearghail, is east of the lake, and no part of it east of the river. If Mageoghegan makes Clann Feragail coextensive with the Barony of Clare, where will he place the Country of Hy-Briuin Seóla? He does not place it any where!!


A.D. 811, Suibhne, the son of Cuanach, abbot of Clonmacnoise, died. He was of the family of Hy-Briuin Seóla.

Quat: Mag.

There is a holy well in the parish of Lackagh {in the townland of Grange East} called Tobar Suibne, and Tobar Naoimh Suibhne, the well of St. Suibhne, which was probably blessed by this Abbot. Was Suibhne of Clonmacnoise enrolled among the Saints? Lackagh is certainly in the Country of the Hy- Briuin Seola, and it is probable that Suibhne of Clonmacnoise was born near this well; or he might have lived there as an ecclesiastic before he was elevated to the abbacy of St. Kieran. He seems to be the Suibhne whose tomb-stone is at Clonmacnoise.

Was there any other St. Suibhne but the abbot of Clonmacnoise who died in 811? If so where do our Ecclesiastical authorities locate him.

A.D. 959 Donchadh, the son of Aurchuadh, lord of Hy-Briuin Seola, died.

4 Mast.

Is this Donnchadh mentioned in the pedigree of the O'Flahertys?

A.D. 1034, Muireadhach O'Flaherty, lord of the


Hy-Briuin Seola, died.

Were the O'Flahertys a branch of the Hy-Briuin Seola? Let me have the pedigree of the Hy-Briuin Seola and Hy-Briuin Ratha. Where did O'Flaherty find that the territory of the Hy-Briuin Ratha consisted of 14 ballys?

I have not the pedigree of O'Flaherty, I suppose it is included in the Mayo extracts which I returned. I am most anxious to define the territories in this County, as it will complete Connaught.

Let me have all Mac Firbis's references to Meadha Siuil, Ui Briúin nEóla and Magh Siuil, p. 199, 201, &c.


Besides the old church of Kill Fhursa near Headford, there are two other places in that neighbourhood called after the celebrated Saint, viz Caradh Fhursa, (Caradh Fursa) on the River of Ross in the townland of Ower about a mile west of the abbey of Ross Oirbhealaigh. Mr. Burke destroyed this Caradh (dam) of St. Fursa with all the vandalism of a Goth, as an old School-master, who often saw it, informed me at Laughtgeorge. The other is Crois Fursa, which has given name to a town-


land in the parish of Kilkilvery. The people are now beginning to call this townland Christ's church in that English speaking little town of Headford, but this is a vile corruption, for it received the name from a Cross which was raised there in the primitive ages of the Irish church by St. Fursa.

Of the island of Inisquin in Lough Corrib, and of this St. Fursa, the learned O'Flaherty writes as follows in his Statistical account of West Connaught.

Lough Orbsen is said to have as many islands as there are days in the year, all of them belonging to the west as far as where a boat can pass between them and the East side. Of these Inisquin and Inismictrir contain a quarter of land each; some ½ quarter, some a cartron, some an acre, and most of them but few acres.

On that island of Inisquin St. Brendan built a chapple {ejus Vit: 16 May Cap 59} and worked divers miracles. In the same island St. Meldan whose festival day is on the 7th of February, was abbot of a famous abbey about the year 580. He was spiritual father (anamchara) to the great St. Fursey of Peronne in France


who carried the reliques of that Saint along with him and enshrined them at Peronne.

O'Flaherty speaks of Inis Creamha as near Cargin in the Barony of Clare, but it has not been set down in the name book of that parish. Is this an omission, or has it been surveyed with some other parish? O'Flaherty's words are:

Inis Creawa, or wild garlic isle, is near Cargin in the barony of Clare, a small island where the walls and high ditch of a well fortified place are still extant and encompass almost the whole island. Of this island Macamh Insi Creawa, a memorable ancient magician, as they say, had his denomination.

A.D. 1225 The Lord Justice of Ireland coming to the port (Caladh) of Inis Creawa caused Odo O'Flaherty, Lord of West Connaught to deliver that island, Kirkisland and all the boats (arthraighe) of Lough Orbsen, into the hands of Odo (Aedh) O'Conor King of Connaught {Cathal Redfist's (Croibhdhearg) son} for assurance of his fidelity


The officer who surveyed the parish of Cargin should have inserted the name of this island (Inish Creawa or Wild Garlic) into the name book of that parish. I trust that the name of an island so celebrated in history will not be omitted.


No Irish historical document has yet turned up from which we can learn who the Mogha was, from whom the territory of Corca Mogha in this County of Galway has been named. I have conjectured that he was the same Mogh from whom the Inse Mogha or Mow islands in the Bay of Westport was called, but nothing has been discovered to prove this conjecture. O'Flaherty speaking of the (Country of) Feara Moighe feine, or (now) Roche's Country in the County of Cork conjectures that their ancestor Mogh Rotha (rotae) was not the same as the ancestor of the tribe of Corca ({Corc .i. Clann]) Mogha in the County of Galway. His words translated



I am inclined to believe that there was another Mogh-ruth {different from this Mogruth} from whom Corco Mogha in the County of Galway is called. &c &c

We learn from Shane O'Dugan that McScahill was the ancient chief of this territory, but I find nothing to shew whether McScahill descended from Mogh or not. Does Mac Firbis give a genealogical line of Mac Sgaithghil the white flower of Corco Mogha?

Mac Sgaithghil (white flower) sgiamhach a sguirMac Scahill, beautiful his tents
Ar Chorca Mogha an MhuirirO'er Corca Moe of the tribe (heavy family)
An scoth fa aoibh ,anosa.The flower (scoth), who now enjoys happiness.

The Scahills are still numerous about Dunmore and I would not venture to call their chief

An scoth fa aoibh ,anosa. 

The Four Masters have collected three historical references to this territory under the years 950, 1003, and 1382, at which latter year O'Concannon seems to have been the chief.


Corcomoe is still the name of a well known district in the County of Galway comprizing the parish of Kilkerrin ( [Inserted in pencil:] Killererin, JOD) in the Barony of Tiaquin and that part of the parish of Cloonberrin which lies in the same barony The townlands of Ballyedmond and Cloonberrin in the parish of Cloonberrin are in it. It is bounded on the north (East) by Newforest, on the north by Park and extends southwards as far as Moate and Trasternagh, both wch. it includes. Fort Brown and Mahaanagh are outside the limits of this territory, but all East of them as far as the west boundary of the territory called Clann-Connoo is included in it.

Does Mac Firbis give any pedigrees of Corco-Mogha or show into what families they branched in ancient or modern times. The Mogh from whom the Insulae Mogha were called was a Danonian or one of the Tuatha de Danann.

Your obedient Servant,
John O'Donovan.