Loughrea October 23rd 1838.

Dear Sir,

The weather is now dreadful, and we can do nothing unless we go out in the middle of the rain into the middle of the bogs, which is impracticable.


This parish is bounded on the north and north east by St. Cuan's parish of Ath Eascrach, on the east by the river Suck and the County of Ros-common, on the south by the parish of Kilclooney and on the west by that of Kilconnell. It is called in Irish Cill Ghoirill, which is a modern corruption of Cilll Choirill, which means church of St. Coireall, who is set down in the tract on Hy-Many referred to in a former letter (as one of the three distinguished saints of Hy-Many). I visited the old church of St. Kerrill which is situated in a townland bearing its name, expecting (from its name) to find it one of the primitive


Irish churches, but was very much disappointed. It is at present in a very ruinous state, all its features being destroyed and the east gable and north side wall being level with the ground. It was about 36 feet in length and 17 in breadth. A part of the west gable and south side wall is standing, which, though featureless, are sufficient to shew that it is not one of the primitive churches, for if it were the door would be placed in the west gable; but there was never (however) a doorway in this gable but it will appear from a breach in the south side wall near the west gable that the doorway was there which at once identifies it with a church of the Gothic ages.

In the townland of Killure in this parish there is an old grave yard of the same name, and also an old castle (Castle Roger), of whose history nothing is known. There was also a castle in the townland of Cloonigny (Cluain Eignidhe) {now pronounced Clooneeny} of


(which) the foundations only are now to be seen. The name of this castle seems to indicate that it is situated in the territory of Rinn na heignide, which is mentioned in the tract on Hy-Many as the territory of O'Docomhlan.


This parish lying to the west of Kilclooney is called in the Irish language Each Druim which is translated Equi mons vel collis by Colgan, which would do very well if he had not used the word mons, for the word Druim is always applied to a low ridge and never to an eminence elevated into a mountain. Aughrim is exactly such a shortening of the original Irish Each-druim as Horsill would be of Horse-hill. See my letter on Aughrim in the County of Roscommon. This place was generally called Eachdhruim O'Many (as being situated in the territory of Hy-Many) to distinguish it from other Eachdruims or Horse-hills


in Connaught.

Aughrim was famous for battles long before the celebrated one fought there on the 12th July 1691 between the forces of James II, and William III. The battle of Aughrim was foretold by St. Callin of Fenagh as appears (from a copy of) the Book of that monastery which was transcribed by Maurice Mac Padden O'Mulconry in the year 1517; but most certainly this cannot (be) the famous battle in which the Irish under the conduct of the French general St. Ruth, were defeated with disgrace; but some more (petty and) feudal one which was fought between two chiefs, similar to the battle of Knockdoe. Of this battle however our annalists or historians have (handed) down no account to us, and we must perhaps for ever remain in ignorance of the circumstances connected with the battle fought at Aughrim-O'Many, with a foreknowledge of which it pleased God to inspire St. Caillin, patron of the Conmaicne in the 6th century; unless indeed we are


so credulous as to believe that he got such a peep into futurity as to get, at so early a period, a glimpse of the destinies of "Éire Árd, inis na naomh" in the reign of Dermot, the son of Fergus Kerveoil. That he did foresee the battle of Aughrim (about to be) fought between James and William at Aughrim, at this early period, is possible, because all things are possible with God, but the philosophers of the present day, who have investigated the nature of prophecies, will not believe it probable that God did give St. Caillin a view of this battle of Aughrim through the vista of futurity, so early as the reign of Dermot, the son of Fergus Kerveoil, but they will come to this conclusion that a very important battle was


fought at Aughrim in the 13th, 14th or 15th centuries, which was so celebrated all over Ireland that the monks of Fenagh (having) thought (that) it would add much to the miraculous character of their patron saint to have foreseen an event which brought about since changes in the condition of the inhabitants of Connaught, thought proper to forge a poem on such a prophecy.

Another battle was fought on the hill of Aughrim (in the year 1602), between O'Sullevan Beare and the Royalists when the former was (having been) driven from his castle of Dunboy, passed through Connaught on his way to O'Rourke's castle of Dromahaire. This account is so curious that I (am tempted to) insert it here at full length as translated from Philip O'Sullevan Bear's history of the Catholics published at Lisbon in 1621 -


[Hand probably of James Clarence Mangan:]


From Philip O'Sullivan's Hist. Cath. translated by J. O'Donovan.

O'Sullivan had not advanced for one moment from the other side of the river {Shannon} before he was attacked by enemies. O'Madden excited a crowd of his people and attacked him with missile weapons. O'Sullivan, being nothing dismayed by them, proceeded to the village of Machaire an Iarla (now Magheranearla, a townland in the Parish of Tyrenascragh in the Barony of Longford) where he arrived before noon, and divided his soldiers into two parties, who, though oppressed with hunger, alternately sustained the attacks of their enemies, and, entering the houses, they collected sacks of wheat, beans and barley, with the grains of which, as well as with beer or ale, they


refreshed themselves. This kind of meat and drink seemed ambrosia and nectar to their thirsting palates and hungry bellies. Whatever other kind of food was in the village, the inhabitants carried away, O'Sullivan, proceeding from hence, ordered 80 armed men to march first, next he ordered his baggage to follow, and lastly he himself, with twenty soldiers {for he had no more at that time} followed in the rear. Here, in consequence of the shots of the pursuers, he was compelled to leave behind some tired horses and to abandon some soldiers, who were either weary after their journey or affected with wounds.

When he came to a place called Aughrim, Henry Malby, an Englishman, Thomas Burke, brother of the Earl of Clanrickard, and Richard Burke came to oppose him with five companies


of infantry and two troops of cavalry; and a body of the natives. These, with the neighing of their horses, the dazzling of their glittering arms, the clangour of their trumpets, the music of their fifes and the sound of their martial drums, disturbed the minds of the few Catholics, and exulted with great joy. The Catholics were struck with great fear. The eighty soldiers who marched in the van, at the first sight of the enemy took to flight, leaving the baggage without protection. O'Sullivan addressed the rest in the following words: "As frowning Fate and our most unhappy lot would have it that we have this day to contend with the enemy, not for our possessions, for our country, our children or our wives, but that we must take up arms at this moment in defence of our own life, which is the only thing that now remains for us, who


among you {I ask in the name of the eternal God} would not choose rather to fall fighting gloriously in the battle and vindicating his blood, than, like the brutes, which have no idea of glory, to fall basely and unrevenged in flight? Our ancestors, men renowned for magnanimity, always avoided the disgrace of flight by an honorable death, even when they had an opportunity of flight. It is becoming in us to follow their example now, most especially when flight can by no means ensure our safety. Behold, the plain lies far and wide before us, without any opposing bogs, thick woods, or any other places of retreat, in which, should we fly, we could hide ourselves. The neighbouring people are not safe {?} to us. No one will come to ous assistance. The enemy block


up the roads and passes of the country. We are also unable to run, being fatigued after our journey. What protection, therefore, remains to us? That lies wholly in the vigour of our minds and strength of our arms. Proceed, therefore, and oppose those men, to whom you are superior for your courage, strength and exploits, and your holy religion. Let us record that our enemies were routed during those days by a certain divine aid. Let us believe that the victory was given us by God from on high. Let us consider that Christ our Lord is present with his own people in their extremities, and that we fight with heretics and their favourers for his name and for his holy religion, not fearing the frivolous number of our enemies, who will not come


to the engagement as many in number as we are, much less as brave. I trust that I will see them turn their backs, when they perceive us resisting with adverse fronts, as I hope that you will fight faithfully and bravely".

O'Sullivan had scarcely ended these words, when the royal cavalry made an onslaught upon him with loose reins, endeavouring to pierce his infantry with spears and to trample them under the feet of the horses and to break their ranks. To avoid the onset of the enemy's cavalry O'Sullevan led his army through a place not far distant, which was moist and moory, towards a thin and low shrubbery. The royal cavalry dismounted, and, joining their


lancers, both ran over this moory place and hastened to outstrip O'Sullivan and occupy the shrubbery before him, their army not being in a sufficiently close array and their ranks scattered. But the royal musqueteers pressed fiercely on O'Sullevan's rear. O'Sullevan sent William Burke, with forty musqueteers, to oppose them, but he was driven back to O'Sullevan, on account of the superior number of the enemy, after having losua fourteen musqueteers.

At the same moment O'Sullevan, followed by the noble and magnanimous, but deserted by the dastardly and the timid, suddenly wheeled round upon the lines of the enemy, who were within shot of him, by which sudden and unexpected


onslaught, great panic arose among the royalists, who, when ordered to fall into lines, moved, some to the rear, while others, following in a whirling motion, confused one another, and others betook themselves to flight. But the more noble and those who were endowed with bravery of mind, remained firm in their place to await O'Sullevan. A short time before they came to the point of the lance, the twenty musqueteers whom O'Sullevan had in the van prostrated eleven of the royalists with balls. Immediately the chiefs of both armies rushed together with drawn swords and brandished spears. First of all Maurice O'Sullivan, leader of a cohort, engaged with Richard Burke, but before


he had firmed his step he was struck in the breast with a spear and laid prostrate, but not wounded, as he was protected by a breast plate. Richard made a second thrust with his spear but Dionysius O'Hinguerdel cut off his right hand with a blow of his sword, and Maurice also, quickly rising up, pierced him with his spear; and Hugh O'Flinn put an end to him with his sword, as he was lying half-living. Dermot O'Huallachan and Cornelius O'Murchin slew Malby. Then a confused fight ensued, as chance brought the one in contact with the other.

The battle turning against the royalists, Thomas Burke, who was clad in heavy armour, and who had been placed on horseback by the assistance of his attendants was thrown off. The rest, after a great slaughter of bodies and arms, sought shelter in


the neighbouring Castle of Aughrim, not by degrees, but in confused flight. O'Conor claimed the victory, as being equal to the bravest man in the fight. The victors closely pursued the runaways; and those who had not courage to attack the enemy with O'Sullivan, now followed them, flying with great speed, arrogating to themselves with great clamour the victory gained by others, desiring to wipe off the disgrace of their unreasonable fear by a too late and false shew of magnanimity. They, however, did not long follow the routed enemy a long distance, because O'Sullivan ordered a retreat to be sounded, having espied John Bustock coming up with some cohorts to aid the flying army, who betook himself to the castle along with them. Whilst these things were going


on Malby's musqueteers and the tumult of those who, following the army of the Catholics, harassed them all day with darts, were occupied in plundering O'Sullivan's baggage; but when they saw the army of the royalists routed they sought refuge in flight. In the battle fell about one hundred (of the) royalists, the flower of their forces, Malby, their leader, Richard Burke, three standard bearers, as many sentinels of cohorts, and more of the leaders of manipuli; the rest were almost all Irish, Anglo-lrish and English horsemen. On the side of the victors fell the fourteen whom I have mentioned. O'Sullivan, having collected the arms and standards of the enemy, fled from the surrounding multitude of his enemies with such rapidity through O'Kelly's territory, that he left behind several of his soldiers who were fatigued after their journey and oppressed with sleep.


On the following morning about the break of day O'Sullevan passed Slieve Muire (now Slieve Murry lying immediately to the west of Castlekelly. It is sometimes called Mount Mary) and as he approached nearer to the villages he sounded the English drums and displayed the standards which he had taken from the enemy at Aughrim, in order that the inhabitants taking them for the royal soldiers, might not hide their provisions. This stratagem was, however, of no avail to them, for Mac David (Mac David, a branch of the Burkes, lived at Glinsk near Dunamon and was Lord of the Territory of Clanconnoo, which was coextensive with the present Barony of Ballymoe in the east of the County of Galway; the head of this family now calls himself Burke, not Mac David) the lord of those villages, removed his flocks and herds, concealed his provisions and drink or removed them into the (his) castle ({Glinsk}) and, having collected a large body of men who were for the greater part unarmed, continued to follow


him all day with missile weapons to prevent weapons him from obtaining provisions. By evening twilight O'Sullivan betook himself to Slieve O'Flinn (so called at this day; see my letter from Castlereagh defining the extent of this mountain. J.O'D.) and there concealed himself in the thick woods. Here they lighted fires, but the soldiers, who were wearied from their watchings during the preceding nights, and by the great labours they had gone through, had scarcely consigned their wearied bodies to quiet repose, when a certain person came up to them, stating that it was the fixed determination of the inhabitants to surround them early in the morning and to exterminate them. Wherefore, leaving all the fires lighted, as if all were present they departed suddenly, suffering great hardships from the inconvenience of their journey and (from) the weather. They were so drenched


with the rain that they were scarcely able to sustain the burden of their wet clothes; they sank in the deep snow as if they fell into pits, and, while they assisted one another, those who were in the rear were dragged along rather than walked. Nor did the darkness create less difficulty for them, for if any stars shone, the branches of trees, interwoven with each other, formed an uninterrupted screen and hid the light from them. They therefore wandered like blind men, the one following the well-known voice of the other. Moreover the wind, by (as it) agitated the branches, seemed louder than it really was, and rendered it difficult for them to hear one another. However, by the knowledge of their guides they passed through the wood, after having travelled


four miles.

At the break of day, when the inhabitants under the command of Mac David, came to the place where O'Sullevan had been encamped, and found nothing about but the fires, they followed the tracks of the fugitives, and, coming up with them about the ninth hour {3 o'clock P.M.} pressed upon them with javelins until they arrived at the summit of a lofty hill. Here some of O'Sullevan's soldiers, whose strength had failed them from fatigue and hunger, swore that they would rather try the last fortune of war with the enemy than abandon (quit, leave) that place before they should take nourishment and sleep, and roused the rest to come to the same determination. O'Sullevan


was not wanting in his duty; he exhorted them to place all hope in their bravery. Nor was desire for battle or valour wanting in his soldiers, altho' they were few in number {not now more than sixty men able to fight} and worn down with toil. They quickly armed themselves and prepared for fight. The enemy thinking that those who had acquired strength from their confidence in being able to fight well, or who, tired of a weary life, looked for an honosable death, would not die unrevenged, thought it better to return home in safety to their families than to place their safety in danger by a contest with men driven to such desperation. O'Sullevan's soldiers killed two of their horses, and after all had satisfied their hunger, except the three who had refused


on the former occasion to eat of horse-flesh, took towards night about six hours sleep, which to them was long and most agreeable. They then made gambados of the horse-hides {for all their shoes had been worn} and directed their course to a wood called Diamhrach, or the Solitary; and, having entered this, and being again oppressed with sleep, they threw their bodies about, wherever chance cast each of them, in scattered disorder, being unmindful of danger, and slept until morning. As soon as O'Sullevan observed this, he ordered his twelve companions to kindle a fire, thinking, which actually was the case, that those who were scattered would all, upon awaking, flock towards the flame.



When the day brightened, the inhabitants, struck with the singular sight of fire in so great a wilderness, came to see it, and spent much of the day in conversing with O'Sullevan, brought him food gratis, and told Oliver Lambert, the Governor of Connaught, that the fire had been lighted by herdsmen. Here some of the Catholics were laid up with sore feet, in consequence of the length of the way they had traveled, and the severity of the season. O'Conor laboured much under this inconvenience. For this reason O'Sullevan remained also the following day until night in that wood. A nocturnal journey was


necessary for all, but to O'Conor it was the more disagreeable because he was not able to sit on horseback, the high roads and all the ways passable by horses being everywhere blocked up by the enemy; they were therefore obliged to proceed through narrow passes and valleys so difficult that they often could not pass through them without each other's help. O'Conor, therefore, who lay prostrate on the ground thus addressed his feet: "Have you not sustained most difficult labours during thirteen nights? Why do you now abhor the labour of one enterprise? 0, my very tender feet! is not my head dearer and the safety of all my body of more concern to me than to you? What avails it to have escaped thus


far, if now, through your inertness, we fall into the hands of the enemy?"

With this he rose, with the greatest possible effort of nerve, pressing his feet against the ground from the weight of his arms, and pressing out gore and blood, and began to travel with the rest. A guide, however, was now required, and God soon provided one. For a man, dressed in a linen garment, with bare feet, with temples covered with a white vitta, bearing in his hand a long pole with an iron point and of a shape calculated to excite terror, met them and saluted O'Sullevan and the rest, and when they had returned his salutation he thus began: "I know that you are Catholics


depressed with various sketches calamities, - that you are flying from the tyranny of the heretics, - that you routed the royalists at the hill of Aughrim, and that you are proceeding to O'Rourke, who is fifteen miles distant from hence, but that you stand in need of a guide; Wherefore, I am desirous of offering you my services in guiding you thither".

O'Sullevan weighed the matter a long time in his mind, and at length placed his trust in him, and ordered two hundred pieces of gold to be counted out to him. He, receiving this gift, said: "I accept iua, not as a reward, but as a token of your gratitude to me, who had resolved to confer this favour upon you".


They passed along, but the darkness of the night, an unknown region and a suspected guide multiplied their fears. The slippery stones, betraying their steps, the snow, drifted by the wind, fatigue, their swollen feet, afflicted them with various miseries. But O'Conor suffered more anguish than all, the causes of his pain encreasing. Inflammation seized the greater part of his feet and legs; the inflammation was succeeded by a livid colour, and this by pustules, the place of which soon became occupied by ulcers. His tortures were excruciating, and to be borne with only on this account, that he suffered them for Jesus Christ's sake. In the stillness of the night they reached a small village called "The Hill of the Vicar" {Knockvicar} where they refreshed


themselves with fire and venison, and (but) when they were about to depart, O'Conor, over whose ulcers the fire had formed scabs, was not able to stand, much less to walk. Four of his fellow soldiers bore him on their shoulders until they met a cast old horse, which was decrepid with age, lean, and blind of both eyes, on the back of which they placed him without saddle, bridle or horse- trappings, the sharp vertebra of his bony back annoying the rider; some led this blind horse, others goaded him on. After they had passed the Curlieus they were on level ground, and O'Conor began to move on his feet. After day had risen, the guide shewed them O'Rourke's castle at some distance, and then bade them farewell, assuring them that all danger was now averted. About the hour of eleven that day they reached the Castle of Leitrim, being reduced in number to


thirty five, of whom eighteen were armed, sixteen were caloues and one was a woman; all the rest, who had been more than a thousand in number on their setting out from Beare, having either perished, or forsaken their general, or been detained on the way by fatigue or wounds. The survivors followed by twos & threes. One thing surprises me, - that Dermot O'Sullevan, my father, an old man, nearly seventy, and the woman, of frail sex, had so stoutly endured those toils which youths of flourishing age and strongest nerves were unable to sustain.

O'Rourke received O'Sullevan with most honorable hospitality, ordered remedies to be administered to the sick and the proper necessaries to all. He sheltered in a similar manner Maguire and Mac William, who had been driven to seek protection from him; and if O'Sullevan had delayed longer he would have set out to relieve him.


[Hand of J. O'Donovan resumed:]

Usher calls this Philip O'Sullevan Beare the greatest liar in Europe; but as both were prejudiced the philosopher must not believe either Usher or O'Sullevan, but judge from collateral evidences. One fact however proves Usher's weakness: O'Sullevan Beare had made many attacks upon Usher in his life of St. Patrick; Usher's copy of this book is now in the library of Trinity College, but to Usher's great discredit, every passage relating to himself (Usher), is found completely cut out of this copy! Oh! moral courage!

All Usher's descendants became Roman Catholics, from the conviction (as Mark Usher frequently asserted) that his writings are all sophistry, and perversion of historical monuments - a fact deplored by all the heroes of


protestantism in Ireland. I am prejudiced to the highest degree against both, and I trust no one will think my inferences correct without examining the premises from which I draw them. Both were wrong and the truth lies between them, but this will be believed according to the feelings and prejudices of each investigator, till truth, if ever, will descend upon the earth; and that it will some time or other is possible, and expected by many very good persons, but to me it appears very improbable it is so long a time without making its appearance!

The Four Masters have collected the following notices of Aughrim among which will be found some abbreviated


account of O'Sullevan's battle with the Royalists, which does not go to prove Philip O'Sullevan Beare such a liar as Usher would fain make us believe he was.

A.D. 736. Flann Aigle, Bishop of Aughrím (Echdhruim), died.

A.D. 746. Maolimarchair, Bishop of Aughrim, died.

Archdall makes this Maolimarchair, bishop of Ecdruim, which he takes for granted to be the same as Antrim in Ulster! But as Archdall was too great a fool to be ever received as an authority we must be less severe on him than on Usher who was really a clever man, but a biased politician, and an unpardonable sophist; but it was a grand thing to have the glebe lands and tythes of Armagh.

782. Reachtabhra (Raftery), the son of Dubhchommar, abbot of Aughrim, died.

809. Maolduin, bishop and Erenach of Aughrim, died.


1602. O'Sullevan having crossed the Shannon at Ath-Coille-ruaidhe into Siol-Anmchadha passed on (with his people) from thence, and on the eleventh night {after his departure from Beare} arrived at AughrimO'Many. Upon their arrival there, the tribes & inhabitants of the neighbouring lands flocked after and before them, and shouted out in every direction around them. Among the nobles who came up with them on this occasion were, the son of the Earl of Clanrickard, Mac Coghlan, O'Madden, and his son Anmchadh ({now Ambrose}), some dexterous men of the O'Kellys and many others not enumerated, with their forces.

O'Sullevan, O'Conor-Kerry and William Burke {the son of John na Seamar} and their few forces, the entire not amounting to three hundred in number, were obliged to halt at Aughrim-O'Many to fight


and prove their valor in battle with the many hundreds who were oppressing and pursuing them. O'Sullevan with rage, fury, bravery and manliness faced the place where he saw the English {because it was for them in particular he cherished animosity and hatred} and he delayed not until he came to the spot where he saw their chief, and him a noble Englishman, the son of Captain Malby he quickly slew and dexterously beheaded, after which he routed the numerous forces of the enemy with innumerable losses.

There are at present no antiquarian remains at Aughrim except a very small fragment of the castle lying near the village to the right of the road as one goes from Ballinasloe to it. The site of the abbey of Aughrim, which Colgan supposes to have been built by St. Conall is to be seen immediately to the north east of the church, but no part of the walls remains. {See Kilconnell parish}

The situation of St. Ruth's Bush, flag &c. are accurately pointed out in the field name


books. The Irish were encamped on the hill of Aughrim, and the English on the hill of Urraghry, about one mile asunder; and the battle was fought in the bog between (them) where many skeletons and balls have been found.

Tá leasúghadh ag O'Ceallaigh 'sni gaimimh é na fuidhleach
Acht saighdiúiridhe dearta nídhedh
exercise díreach

In this parish (in a townland to which it gives name) is situated the old church of Kilcommadan, which is set down in the tract on Hy-Many as one of the seven chief Coarbships of that territory. St. Ruth is said to have been buried in the grave yard attached to this church, where his "flag" is yet shewn, but it is said that his body was afterwards removed from it; I have no written account of the battle of Aughrim nor of the death or burial of St. Ruth, and believe that but little is known about it.

Luttrell's (Pass), which is not set down in the name-books lies near the old Castle of Aughrim.

St. Commadan's well, at which stations are performed on Sundays, lies in the townland of Doocreggaun. Is this Saint set down in any of the old Books of Ireland?

Your obt. Servant,
John O'Donovan