Thos. A. Larcom Esq, Lt. R. Engrs.
Tuam, Septr. 4th 1838

Dear Sir,

I have traversed the Barony of Ballymoe but find very few curious remains in it. I am now about to enter upon the celebrated territory of west Hy-Many and shall want immediately a copy of the tract relating to that country preserved in the book of Lecan fol. 93, and all historical references from the Annals to the territories of Corca Mogha and Clann Chonmhaigh. These were sent me before when in the County of Roscommon, but I find that they principally belong to this County of Galway.

If you send us the books in time we shall be ready to move into the Queen's Co. on the first of October.



Only four townlands of this parish lie in this County on the west of the Suck. The remaining part is in the County of Roscommon and on the East of the same River. The site of the old church lies on a druim or hill on the County of Roscommon side, but no part of it remains. The name signifies Druim a' Teampuill, Dorsum templi, the hill of the church.


[In pencil in LH margin: Major Waters] This parish which is the most northern in the Barony of Ballymoe, is called in Irish Teampull a' Tóchair, the church of the causeway. The ruins of the old church are small and uninteresting though tradition ascribes the erection (of the church) to St. Patrick whose well is shewn near it.

There is another small fragment of a church in the townland of Kildaree which gave name to the land, and one would expect to find the ruins or site of a monastery in the townland of Monaster-Owen, the monastery of John


but there is no trace nor tradition of one. In the townland of Castle-Togher {i.e. Castle of the causeway} there was formerly a castle the site of which can still be pointed out by the old people.

In Clogh a subdivision of Kilbeg are the ruins of a Bawn.

There is nothing else in this parish to attract the notice of the antiquarian, historian or fairyologist, but an island on the east side of Corralough called Oileán Nuala na Meadóige, the island of Nuala of the Knife. She was a celebrated heroine who (according to tradition) lived in the Castles of Ballyglass and Glinsc, and was the mother of David Burke, the ancestor of the Mac Davids, lords of Clanconway after the O'Finnaghtys.


This parish lying close to Ballymoe is called In Irish CIll Chromain (a corruption of Cill Cruain. See 4 Masters 1530), which seems to signify the church of St. Croman. The old church is not one of any great antiquity. It is about 54 feet long and about 18 (20) feet broad. The west gable and a small part of the south side wall containing an ugly window of no


interest remain. There is no holy well, nor any tradition connected with St. Croman.

There is nothing else of any antiquarian interest in this small parish but the site of the Castle

of Ballyglass in which the celebrated Nuala na meadoige, the mother of David Burke is said to have resided. It stood near the near the road a short distance {1/8; mile} to the west of the old church of Kilcroman (i.e. crone).

There is a well in the Bog, near the site of this castle called Tobar-na-Slainte, fons salutis, but it is not said to have been blessed by any saint, though people frequent it for the cure of diseases.


This parish lying between Kilcroan and Kilbegnet is called in Irish Baile na Cille, the town of the church. The old church is in the Gothic style, and was probably erected by the Burkes; a more ancient one is said to have stood in a field a short distance to the N. or N.W. of the present one, but nothing more


than the foundations remain. It is still called Cill O'Mainné.

In a small chapel which seems to be a modern addition to this church there is a beautiful figure of a warrior clad in mail with a conical helmit and slender sword with this inscription under it:


Tradition says that this effigy was cut in France where William Burke was killed in battle by order of a French lady who fell in love with him, and that it remained for a long time in the possession of her family until it was sent over (to Glinsk) to this Harry Burke his lineal descendant who erected it in this chapel of Ballynakill. It is of lime stone, and believed to be a striking likeness of the warrior.

In the same little chapel is the following curious epitaph for (to) John Burke of Glinsk, the head of the Mac David branch of the Burkes:

Arms at head of epitaph for John Burke of Glinsk
Arms at head of epitaph for John Burke of Glinsk

In spem resurrectionis hic jacet Joannes De Burgo Baronettus; vir animo forti, sanguine illistriss; perantiquce et clarissimae familiae, primus qui dum viveret nobilissimus scutarius pro rege, pro patria, pro religione agonizavit salutis publicce ad se et suorum, amor et diliciae. Quid plura gum perdidimus Joannem. Heus satis dixi urgent lacrimae.

Vixit annos 63, sed parum vixit, obiit anno nostrae sal: 1721, 4 Kal: Julii.

Memoriae ejus aeternae posuit nobilissima et amantissima Conjux Joanna Dillon, grata memor; maerens et lugens. Cecidit Joannes. Heu, Heu!

Qualis luctus viator! noli parentari lacrimis sed precibus.


In this parish is situated the Castle and house of Glinsk well known to lawyers. It was the chief residence of Mac David Burke, lord of Clanconway after the expulsion of the O'Feenaghtys. The present Castle is exactly in the same style and evidently of the same age with Rory O'Donnell's Casltle at Donegal. It was a fine house containing (consisting of) 3 stories and a ground floor with fine square windows. It measures on the inside 63 feet in length, and 33 in breadth. It appears from the black colour of the walls on the inside to have been burnt.

Let me have the notices of Glinsce to be found in the Annals of the Four Masters and also O'Sullevan Beare's route through Galway, where mention is made of Sliabh Muire and Mac David's Country. This also was sent me to Roscommon, but I find that O'Sullevan's rout [e] was thro Mayo & Galway


In a field lying to the north of this castle is shewn a spot called Leacht Daithi (monumentum Davidi), where David Burke, the progenitor of the Mac Davids is said to have been killed by the O'Conors of Ballintober. The same story which is told at Kinturk about Graine na gCearbhach ni Mhaille & Tioboid na long, is here told about David Burke and his mother Nuala na meadoige (Miodóige). When Davy saw the strong forces of O'Conor of Ballintober (bearing upon him) he turned his back and took to flight, but his mother Nuala (who) was near at hand, observing that her son son was panic stricken at the sight of so formidable a number of transuckine enemies raised up her petticoats and said to her son Téidh suas a bhfolach uathfa 'san áit as a dtáinig tú! These words of his heroic and civilized mother made Davy sensible that he was guilty of a crime against true heroism, and facing the O'Conor's army alone he was soon killed, to the great consolation of his mother Nuala, who dreaded nothing so much as the slightest symptom of the dastard in any of her bastard children. (David was illegitimate; see Mac Firbis's Pedigree of Mac David Burke.)


With a spring
Upon the Moynee steel his breast he flung
As carelessly as hurls the fly her wing
Against the light wherein she dies.
And Nuala joyed to see her offspring fall!

Tradition does not remember the surname of Gran Nuala na meadoige, but it is probable that she was either Ny-Kelly or Ny-Conor, among which families the name Nuala was a common (proper) name of a woman.

There is nothing else of interest in this parish of Ballynakill but the site of a little church called Kilcolumb, which was probably a small chapel of ease dedicated to the great Thaumaturg St. Columbkille.

The territory of Clann Conmhuigh now pronounced as if written Clann Connúgha is still distinctly remembered in the country and said to be nearly coextensive with the Barony of Ballymoe. It was originally the territory of O'Feenaghty, the senior


of the Sil-Muireadhaigh or royal family of Connaught. He was (treacherously) driven out of his territory by Mac David Burke about the beginning of the fourteenth century, and scarce one of the name is now to be found in the territory of Clanconnoo. Tradition says that this territory consisted of 48 ballys or ancient Irish townlands, 24 lying on the west, and 24 on the east side of the Suck, but this is very much to be doubted for there is every appearance that the territory of Clanconnoo lay entirely on the west of the Suck. See my letter on this subject from the town of Roscommon. Is this territory mentioned in any of the English Inquisitions?

The territory of Corca Mogha according to tradition was coextensive with the parish of Kilkerrin, but it must have been originally, as I shall hereafter prove, an


original Irish triocha chéud. Is Corco-Mow mentioned in any of the English Inquisitions or other documents?


I have already treated of this parish (when) in the County of Roscommon. There is nothing of antiquarian interest in that part of it lying west of the Suck in the County of Galway. Tradition is positive in making Dunamon Castle, the chief residence of O'Feenaghty until he was driven thence by treachery by the Mac Davids Burke an illegitimate branch of the Burkes descended from the Red Earl.



This parish lying south of the parish of Ballynakill, is called by the native Irish Cill Beagnait, which signifies the church of St. Begnaid. Do any of our ecclesiastical documents mention her or her locality or (in) Clann Chonnmhaigh? The grave yard only now remains.

There is a townland situated in the southern extremity of this parish called Talamh na m-brathar, or the land of the friars, but I have (not) been able to ascertain what friars it belonged to. Tradition says that there was a convent on the townland itself but I can find no historical authority to bear it out.



This parish which is situated to the south of Templetogher, is called by the native Irish Buidhe Amhnach pronounced by some Bwee-ounagh {the ou like ou in ounce} by others Bwee-oonagh and by a third party Bwee-vannagh.

The old church and grave yard are situate on a conical little hill in a Cluain surrounded by a bog, from which I was first inclined to think that it might be compounded of buidhe yellow and eanach, a bog, {for eanach is always understood in this part of the country to signify a shaking red bog} but upon attending more closely to the (prevalent) pronunciation I have become confirmed in the opinion that it is compounded of buidhe, yellow, and amhnach a topographical word, the meaning of which is not yet established. It occurs in Gleann Eamhnach (or Amhnach), in Cork, Cluain Eamhna in Roscommon, and some other places which I have seen.

The old church of Bweeaunagh is all destroyed


with the exception of a small fragment of the north side wall. The building was 18 feet broad, but its length cannot be ascertained. There is a holy well near it called Tober Patrick, but this Patrick was not the great Thaumaturgus but an humble friar named Patrick Mannion, who lived near the church-yard about 40 years ago, and who blessed (blest) this well and called it after his own name. This well is also called the friar's well, which is the most appropriate name for it.

The natives assert that there was a monastery to the east of this old grave-yard of Bweeaunagh, but of a monastery of this name I have no record unless it be the Boyfinan, which Archdall places in the County of Mayo where we have not been able to find any place of that name. (traces of) The foundations of a small abbey called (an) Mhainistir are pointed out a short distance to the east of the old church.


About 1/8 of a mile to the south of the same old church (there) is a large ash tree with a carn of stones around its base. It is called Leacht Mhaire ni Thuathail, i.e. Mary-ny-Toole's monument, but of the woman for whom this tree was planted as a monument I could learn nothing satisfactory. Some say that she was but a very poor old woman, whose body when carried in the direction of the old church yard of Bweeounagh, fell off the shoulders of the men here, and that it is a custom in the Country to raise a pile of stones on every spot where a corpse was laid down, but most particularly where it fell off by accident (which is considered ominous). That a friend of hers afterwards planted


a small buingean (sapling, buinnean) of ash in the carn and that it grew up to be a stately tree.


There is a remarkable Sheeaun or fairy hill (immediately) opposite the Castle of Dunmore to the S.W. called Cnoc Mhanannáin which should be marked on the Map; and not far distant a fort called Rath Coll. [In left- margin: Capt S]

At the time that the castle of Dunmore was stormed on Mac Feorish by Col. G-? one of Cromwell's Officers, the ancestor of the present John Burke of Kilmaine was with his family within the castle. The castle was battered and its outer walls almost entirely destroyed before Mac Feorish and Burke surrendered. All their estates were confiscated and Burke's property containing


the townlands of Attyflynn and Flaskagh, given to a family of the name Purcell. In the year 1821 the Purcells became extinct, and the tenants on the lands aforesaid offered possession to the present John Burke of Kilmaine the lineal descendant of the Burke who forfeited them about the year 1650. John took the possession and maintained it till the year 1829 by Law and feudal force, but in that year he was defeated by a distant relation of the last of the Purcells aided by three attorneys of the Kellys. John Burke however has succeeded in obtaining possession of the townland


of Attyflynn by Law and feudal skill; the tenants, out of old respect for his family, having consented to give him possession of it!

All the old people here assert that Cormac O'Coman was the last Bard of Connaught, and that his likeness and poems have been published (by Walker in his Irish Bards). I never heard a word about him before. Has Mr. Petrie ever heard of his poems? Old Donnell Treacy, who lives at the Castle of Dunmore, says that he saw him about 50 years ago, and that he was then more than one hundred years old. He was a blind man gifted with an extensive and tenacious memory. His poems were published in some Connaught Magazine


about 40 or 50 years ago.

We are now actually idle for the want of name books. I think you had better send them whether the Inquisitions be compared or not, as the language is so well and so universally spoken here that there can be but little difficulty of ascertaining the correct orthography. The Inquisitions can be compared afterwards for a historical purpose.

The Books of the Queen's County or Wicklow (or both) {which comes first?} should be prepared at once, because we shall be ready to leave this County, if we do not go into Conmaicne mara, on the first


of October.

Has Mr. Petrie ascertained when the present doorway of the Cathedral of Tuam was erected? I had no idea that the ancient (Irish) had erected any thing so magnificent before their invasion. Tradition says it was erected by Roderic O'Conor but I think it is more likely that it was erected by his father Tordelvach or Turlagh. It was very wrong (petty) of Sir William Petty to have stated that the ancient Irish before their invasion had no knowledge of masonry ("they knowed not how to put one stone over another"). I wish the Gobban Saer was listening to him! I believe him right (however) in what he says of their "art military", but still I believe (that) Brian Boru and his sons knew how to kill men very well.

Your obedient Servant,
John O'Donovan.

Septr. 5th 1838