[Hand of J. O'Donovan:]

October 25th/38.

Dear Sir,

I have received the (56th) sheet of Roscommon shewing the Esker (road) but I observe that it is (does) not trace it to the Suck, and that therefore it can be of no assistance to me. If it be ever shewn my letters will direct the Surveyors to look for it. I think the Esker running between Ballinasloe and Cloontooskert is the Esker Riada.


The parish of Fohanagh lying in the northern extremity of the barony of Kilconnell is called in Irish Fóthanach which is applied to a place abounding in thistles, from which it appears at once that the name is not of ecclesiastical origin. No patron saint


is ven held in veneration in the parish at present, and the old church is nearly destroyed. We have no ancient reference whatever to the history of this parish nor no traditional clue to it, but it is probable that this parish is of no antiquity.

In this parish is situated the townland of Ballynabanaba which contains an old castle said to have been built by one of the O'Mullallys or Lallys (a family of the Hy-Many) who were anciently located in the territory of Moinmoy near Loughrea, but afterwards removed to Tulnadal near Tuam. At a more ancient period however, the townland of Baili na banabai belonged to O'Longargan {now Londergan} by right of his profession of harper to O'Kelly as appears from a tract on Hy-Many preserved in the book of Lecan folio. 92.

A chruitireacht .i. huí Longargáin ó Bhaili na Banana.


In this parish is also situaled the old castle of Cluain Broc from which a branch of the family of Dillon take the title of Lord.

There was another castle in the townland of Doon {upper} but no part of the walls is now standing.


This parish which lies to the south of the parish of Kilclooney, is called in Irish Cluain Tuaiscirt, which means the northern cloon secussus, pratum or bog island, but I do not know (that there exists in the neighbourhood) any Cloondeskert, or southern Cloon from which it must have been anciently distinguished. See my letter on Cloontooskert near Lanesborough in the County of Roscommon, near which I have found a Cloondeaskert.


I have stated in (one of) my letters from the County of Roscommon that Cluaintuaiscirt na Sinda i.e. Cloontooskert of the Shannon is the Cloontooskert (lying) near Lanesborough within a short distance of the River Shannon in the County of Roscommon but I now see that that is an error for that Cloontooskert is in Kinel Dofa or O'Hanly's Country, which was never a part of Hy-Many. I also said in my letters from Roscommon that the Cill tulach mentioned in the tract on Hy-Many {preserved in the book of Lecan fol 92} is the present Kiltullagh near Castlereagh in the County of Roscommon, which is as silly an error as any ever committed by Archdall, for I should have known that that parish was outside the limits of Hy-Many and in the Country of the Siol Maoilruain or the O'Flynns. I also said with some positiveness that the Cill Mian of Hy-Many is the parish of Kilmean in (the east of) the County of Roscommon, but this is wrong and must be corrected.

An investigator of ancient topography cannot be always consistent because he must draw his infer-


ences according to his authorities, and, if his authorities be incorrect or scanty, he must often grovel in the dark and go astray.

The following are the Coarbships of Hy-Many identified with their present names:

Seacht prim Comarbada O'Maine .i. (1) Comarba Cluan (recte Cluana) Fearta, & (2) Comarba Cilli Mian & (3) Comarba Chilli Tulach, (4) Comarba Cilli Comadan, & (5) Comarba Camcha Bríghdi mar a mbaistear popal O'Maine & (6) Comarba Cluana Tuaiscirt na Sinda, dar ab dual righadh sil Ceallaigh, & (7) Comarba Cluana Caín Cairill

Lib: Lecan, fol. 92

(1) Cluain fearta, now Clonfert, formerly a Cathedral church within 5 miles of Banagher in the barony of Longford.

(2) Cill Mian, now Kilmeen, an old church on the frontiers of the baronies of Leitrim and Loughrea, about 3 miles to the east of the town of Loughrea.

(3) Cill tulach, now Kiltullagh, a parish lying about 6 miles to the north and by East of the town of Loughrea.

(4) Cill Comadan, now Kilcommadan, an old church in the parish of Aughrim, lying about 4 miles to the west of Ballinasloe. The French General St. Ruth was interred here in 1691.


(5) Camcha Bhrighde, now the parish of Camma in the (bar: of Athlone and) Co. of Roscommon, containing the village of Bride's well, which was dedicated to St. Brigit. I was right about this in my letters from Roscommon.

(6) Cluain tuaiscirt na Sinda, i.e. Cloontooskert of the Shannon. According to the passage quoted above from the book of Lecan the race of Kellach or the O'Kellys were inaugurated here, from which it appears at once that it could not be the Cloontooskert in O'Hanly's Country in the Tuathas. It is very puzzling, however, to account for the epithet na Sinda i.e. of the Shannon added to the name of this place for it is at least 5 miles from the Shannon! The other Cloontooskert in O'Hanly's Country could be called na Sinda with (much) more propriety, from which I inferred last year that it must be the one mentioned in the tract on Hy Many. It appears however from another passage in the same tract that this Cloontooskert lying


between Ballinasloe (Aughrim) and Shannon harbour and which ought with (more) propriety be called "of the Suck" is the one called of the Shannon throughout that tract. Thus it states that the territory of Callow {Caladh} extends from Moin Inráideach to Cluain tuaiscirt na Sinda. Now the territory of Callow is still known in the Country and the mansion seat of O'Kelly of Callow pointed out in the Barony of Kilconnell, and it must be inferred from it that the boundary here mentioned could not be the Cloontooskert near Lanesborough (which is in another region). The situation of the territory of Callow in Hy-Many is distinctly pointed out in the annals of the four Masters at the year 1601.

Redmond Burke on his way from Ulster crossed the Erne and passed along the borders of Breifny O'Rourke through the Counties of Sligo and Roscommon, and across the Suck into Clann Conmhaigh. He made a prisoner of the lord of that territory


viz Mac David {Fiach, the son of Hobert Boy, son of William son of Thomas} and afterwards proceeded to the tuath of Callow in the upper part of Hy-Many in the County of Galway.

1593. Teige, the son of William O'Kelly of Callow in Hy-Many, died and his death was a cause of great lamentation in Hy-Many.

This shews that the Cantred (tuath) of Callow was in the County of Galway west of the Suck and in the upper or Southern part of Hy-Many; the mansion seat of O'Kelly of Callow is still to be seen near Kilconnell which shews that that Cantred lay west of the Suck near Kilconnell. Now we learn from the book of Lecan fol. 92 that a place called Cluain tuaiscirt-na Sinda lay at one extremity of this cantred from which it appears at once that


it could not be the Cloontooskert at Lanesborough, for that could not be said to be in the upper part of Hy-Many, nor West of the Suck nor in the County of Galway; but the Cloontooskert near Ballinasloe is in the upper or southern part of Hy-Many and in the County of Galway and sufficiently near O'Kelly's house of Callow to be the ancient southern boundary of the cantred of Callow. Hence the conclusion is unavoidable, that the Cloontooskert near Ballinasloe is the Cloontooskert (Cluain tuaiscirt na Sinda) referred to as at the extremity of the tuath of Callow and the place at which the O'Kellys were inaugurated Kings of Hy-Many.

(7) Cluain cain Cairill now Cloonkeen-Kerrill a parish in the South east of the barony of Tiaquin near Moneyvea.


Duald Mac Firbis has the following reference to Cluain tuaiscirt and its patron Saint in his Genealogies of the Irish Saints, p. 747

Faichleach of Cluain tuaiscirt, the son of Fionnlogha. It was to this Faichleach that Fergus, the son of Raghalach made obeisance after St. Brendan; and it was to this Faichleach that St. Brendan left his manchaine, i.e. the race of Hugh the son of Eochy Tirmcharna, for it was the son of that Eochy that granted Annaghdown to him (i.e. Brendan) and to God. He himself made obeisance (sleachtar) to Brendan, and gave up his sons to him, viz Uada, the son and Curnán, the father of Maolruan, and this is what makes the race of Curnan belong to St. Brendan. Howbeit, Fergus, as we have said before made obeisance (kneeled) to Faich-


leach and his son Muireadhach Muilleathan followed his example, and the descendants of Muireadhach followed his example until the time of Muirgheas mór, the son of Tomaltach, when the Siol Iondrachtaigh turned over to St. Kieran and his Coarbs. But the descendants of Curnan, and the descendants of Conquovar, the son of Muireadhach returned to St. Brendan again as did also the race of Kellach, the son of Raghalach, the race of Curnan, the son of Aodh, and all the descendants of Eochy Tirmcharna, excepting only the Síol-Iondrachtaigh, and there are branches even of these, who do not belong to St. Kieran. The descendants of Teige and Murtuile have belonged to St. Brendan ever since the time of Tiopraide, the son of Teige, arch-King of all Connaught.


The descendants of Fothadh belong to Eps Sacellus and St. Patrick; and the descendants of Murchadh have belonged to St. Coman ever since the time of Finnachta, the son of Glethnechan. The Clan or race of Conway {i.e. the O'Finaghtys} belong to St. Patrick, and to whomsoever the descendants of Cosgrach and Murchadh {originally} belonged they now belong to St. Brendan and St. Faichleach.

This is a very curious passage to shew the origin and occasional alterations of the dioceses of Connaught, for it would appear from it that tribes were in the habit of deserting one patron Saint and turning over to another who was (believed to be) more miraculous for no other reason than (but) because his Coarbs were more successful in working miracles through his intercession. Great jealousies often arose between the Coarbs


of distinguished Saints concerning the right of having the descendants of certain chieftains enterred in their church yards. These disputes often led to the forgery of many miracles attributed to the respective patron Saints, each Coarb exaggerating the thaumaturgic virtues of his own patron in order to terrify a tribe that had forsook(aken) him or to induce another to remain under the termon (protection) of so heaven-injuring an Erlamh. Of this kind of work the Book of Fenagh affords many splendid instances, among which the most glorious is the one about Conall Gulban and St. Caillin. Conall, the ancestor of Donnell O'Donnell of Finros, was killed by the Masradians of Moy Sleacht and buried at Fenagh near Loch Saloch, where, after the custom of the Gentiles, they raised a monument over him. Being a pagan, and having fallen in a battle his soul went to hell, because he did not believe in the


son of the Virgin Mary, whose name had not reached him, and there it remained suffering the most excruciating tortures until the irritable and miraculous St. Caillin, the patron of the Conmaicne passing one day through Conmaicne Moy Rein observed the mound which the Masradians had raised over the body. Enquiring of the natives of the neighbourhood, who was it the monument was raised over, he was told that it was raised by the Atticotic race of the Masraidhe over the body of the noble Conall Gulban, the youngest son of King Niall, whom they pursued as he was carrying off a prey of horses from Tara, and killed here near the Dun of Báilé the son of Buan. Pity, said St. Caillin that the soul of so brave


a warrior should be in hell! and he knelt near the tomb, and (after having worried heaven with prayer) restored the hero to life. A conversation followed (ensued) between both, during which Conall relates to the saint how he was killed, and how his soul went to hell, because he never had the opportunity of hearing the word of God. Hereupon St. Caillin asked him, if he believed in the unity and infallibility of the church, in the tripartite division of the Godhead &c. Conall answered in the affirmative, and St. Caillin regenerated him in the laver of baptism, after which all the primeval taint, and also the other (blacker) stains which his soul had received from carrying off royal dames by abduction, by (from) stealing horses, and other acts necessary to support the dignity of a King's son, were removed, and Conall felt his soul


bright enough to wing its way to heaven. After this he gave St. Caillin liberty to collect (a) certain tax among his descendants in Tirconnell for ever, and immediately he ascended into heaven. After this story is told at full length, (the fabricator makes) the spirit of St. Caillin call upon the great Donnell O'Donnell, chief of Tir connell to pay him the dues which his ancestor Conall Gulban had confirmed to him for ransoming his soul out of hell.

This story is either true or false; if true, St. Caillin was a very holy man and had the power to prevail on God to change his laws after a wonderful manner for little or no reason; and, if false, the writer of the poems in the book of Fenagh was a great liar; but whether it is true or false, it was certainly believed five centuries ago, as firmly as (it is now believed) that Christ raised Lazarus to life, but it will never


be believed again by any man possessed of the kind of knowledge, which is current in this century; but its being believed or not believed by any man or number of men of any age, will not make it more or less true (or false) because there is no truth (really certain) in this world but mathematical axioms (and demonstrations), and the grand facts established (as fixed and constant) by natural philosophy. On this subject it is curious to observe that (it is a historical fact that it was believed that) the devil used to perform those operations, three centuries ago, whch. electricity is believed to effect now!

Why have (most) men believed in delusions for five thousand years? Why did not reason dawn upon them sooner? Was it necessary that they should remain so long ignorant of the real laws of nature? Why were the early monks such liars? Why did not man learn how to commit the truth to phonetic characters earlier? Why did not the Christian religion establish peace in



Why did the Christian writers tell more lies than (Plutarch) Livy, Herodotus and Tacitus?

And after all what is a lie? 'Tis but
The truth in masquerade; and I defy
Historians, heroes, lawyers, priests to put
A fact without some leaven (shadow) of a lie.
The very shadow of true truth would shut
up annals, revelations, poesy
And prophecy - except it should be dated
Some years before (after, JO'D) the incidents related.
[Byron, Don Juan]

True, because no memory is tenacious enough to retain all the details of any occurrence nor the human mind sufficiently clear to understand the motives of others in every instance.

A distinction however, should be made between a lie and a falsehood. A rogue tells a lie knowing it to be such, but a candid man may, from the want of true knowledge, commit to writing what was really false, but which (or what) he believed to be true. The early (Irish) monastic writers were of a mixed character, for they sometimes committed to writing floating traditional stories, which they believed to be true, but at other times, they fabricated prophecies some centuries after the incidents had occurred, and fathered them upon the primitive Saints of the Irish church who


never were able to look as far into futurity as the (professional) politicians and statesmen of the present day.

In forging these prophecies the ecclesiastics of the middle ages had always some point in view, and we of this century must set them down as knaves & liars, but not (so) much so as if they had lived at a later period, because in their time a pious fraud was allowable so as it tended to good of any kind especially to frighten ignorant people from wickedness, and to induce them to pay tythes or other dues to their pastors.

In this age we ({at least some of us}) love truth more (than the saints), but we do not believe half as much as the pious race who flourished here from the fifth to the seventeenth century.

The Faichleach mentioned above as the patron of Cluain tuaiscirt is still vividly remembered in the parish of Cloontooskert near Lanesborough in the County of Roscommon, where there is a holy well dedicated to him with his name inscribed upon a stone in the little wall which encloses it. This shews he is not the patron of the Cloontooskert now under consideration, the ancient (and even modern) history of


which is involved in (such) great obscurity, that I fear no antiquarian industry will ever clear it up.

Ware informs us that this Cloontooskert was founded by a Saint Baedan, but I find no other authority. The Four Masters have found that a Baetan of Cluain tuaiscirt died in the year 804, but we are not informed whether he was the successor of Faichleach at Cloontooskert near Slieve Baun, or the founder of the Cloontooskert in question, but it is highly probable that Ware is right though he has not considered it necessary to give us any historical authority older than himself.

I find nothing else recorded of this place until the year 1219 when our annals give us to understand that Melaghlin, the son of Conor of Moinmoy O'Conor had a house at it.

It then disappears from history or rather its history has disappeared (from us), either because the monastery was not in existence, or its history was not committed to writing or if so, the materials, whether of stone, brass, vellum or paper, have been destroyed or lie hidden from the eyes of antiquarians.


The probability, however, is that the monastery was in existence all along from the year 804 when its foundation was laid by Saint Baedan till the total suppression of monasteries, for it appears from annals translated by Dudley Firbisse for Sir James Ware, that Eogan O'Kelly was prior of Clonthuskert in the [year] 1444.

This is all we know of Cloontooskert until the 11th year of the reign of Elizabeth, when an Inquisition gives a list of the townlands belonging to the monastery, for which see Archdall's Monasticon, p. 282, and additional MS. notes in the author's own handwriting in the library of the Royal Irish Academy.

The following then is the summary of what we know of the ancient history of this monastery. It is the one called Cluain tuaiscirt na Sinda in the Irish Annals and in the tract on Hy-Many preserved in the book of Lecan folio 92. It was founded by Saint Baedan who died in the year 804. The O'Meehens became the Coarbs of St. Baedan, and were


a very distinguished ecclesiastical family in Hy-Many in as much as they had the privilege of inaugurating and (at the instance of the Hy-Many) of deposing the O'Kelly at Cloontooskert, provided always that the Clann-Dermott {i.e. the Mac Egans} & the Hy-Cormaic of Moinmoy ({ the O'Donoghoes}) were present to give their consent, and assist at the ceremony.

We are however, as yet completely in the dark about the period at which, or the person by whom the large Gothic Abbey of Cloontooskert was erected, for it is as certain as any other historical fact that the large abbey, of wch. a considerable portion of the ruins is yet in existence, was never built by St. Baedan who died in 804, for we have sufficient evidence to shew that the Gothic style was not introduced here so early, and that the abbeys erected in Ireland at that period consisted of a small church and some little wooden houses for the monks, and sometimes, when the establishment was rich, a round tower, Déartheach and several small churches all in lhe round, square, or rectilineally pointed


style. The present ruins at Cloontooskert are extensive and seem to be of the same age with those at Kilconnell, but I can find no record of the founder. There is however an inscription over the west doorway of the abbey, from which, in all probability this can be learned, but I could not read it without a ladder, and the day on which I visited the place, was so stormy and showery that I could not stand steadily to look at it. It is in large well cut Gothic letters. Has Mr. Petrie copied this, or seen the abbey of Cloontooskert O'Many? I hope he has.

The only curious inscription within the abbey of a local interest is the following:

THE 2.O OF MAY 1646.

The other remains in this parish are 1: a templeen in Templepark, 2, 3. old castle in the townlands of Ballagh and Lisheennora, 4 St. Augustine's well a short distance to the south east of the old


abbey. A "pattern" is annually held at this well on the 28th of August, from which it may be safely inferred that the modern abbey was dedicated lo St. Augustin, and belonged to monks of his order.


This parish lying to the south of Aughrim and west of Cloontooskert, is called by the aborigines in Irish Cill Allachtain, which they understand to mean the Church of St. Allachtan. This is probably the true meaning as there is a holy (well) lying within about one hundred yards of the old grave yard called Tobar Allachtain (Dha Lachtnain?) or St. Allachtan's well. I have however no historical reference to this saint or his church in Hy-Many. Is he mentioned in any of the lists of old Irish Saints?

The old church of Cill Allachtain is now level with the ground, so that the antiquarian has


no clue to its age.

In this parish is situated the old Castle of Ballydonnellan, which is now and has been according to tradition for more than 400 years the mansion seat of the O'Donnellan, head of the Clann-Breasail, a very respectable tribe of the Hy-Many; who have retained their respectabilty and a considerable part of their property through all the storms and rebellions which deprived the greater number of the Irish chiefs of their rank and property.

According to the tract on Hy-Many often referred to there were seven Flahs or chiefs in Hy-Many, who were all tributary to the O'Kelly, who was the arch-chief or King as he was called, viz. 1. Mac Egan, chief of the Clann-Dermott, 2. Mac Gillenan, chief of the Clann-Flahoola, 3. O'Donnellan, chief of the Clan-Brazil (Brasil), 4. O'Duibhginn (Duibhgind) {now Doogan} chief of the Clann-Duibhgind, 5. O'Gowran, chief of Dal Druihni, 6. O'Donoghoe, chief of the Hy-Cormac of Moinmoy, and O'Mul-


bride, chief of Bredach the noblest Tuath or cantred in Hy-Many.

In the olden times before the English injured the purity of the ancient Irish laws and customs O'Donnellan and his people had the keeping of the arms (weapons) and military dresses of Hy-Many, and it was their duty to respond to every general challenge of combat sent from extern territories to the men of Hy-Many

Na hairm & na héidigh ag clannaibh Bhreasail, & is leó comrag coitcheand do fhreagradh tar cheard O'Maine re cach coiccrích coimhighthig

Lib. Lec, fol. 92.

Arthur Donnellan Esq of Ballydonnellan is the present chief of this family.

Besides the Castle of Ballydonnellan, there were three others in this parish, viz one at Newcastle, a second at Park called Cloch na Pairce {Pratirupes} of which a wing yet remains and (a third) Lisnasheel of which the foundation only is traceable.



This small parish lying between those of Killaan and Killimor and to the north west of Kill-Allachtain is called in Irish Grainseach a name (which though) of frequent occurrence in Ireland does not seem to be of Irish origin, as it is not found to have been the name of any place in Ireland previously to the arrival of the Anglo Normans in the reign of Henry II. Some have supposed that Granges were Granaries or Storehouses to which the farmers brought their corn-tythes for the use of the clergy, while others have asserted that Grange was the name of the farmhouse and farm belonging to the large Monasteries, and that hence Granges were free from tythes and extra-parochial. On this subject, however, I have not as yet collected sufficient historical evidence from which to draw any positive conclusion, but I am of opinion that the


Irish had not the word until after the period of the arrival of the Anglo Normans, & that it was then applied first to the farmhouse and afterwards (extended) to the farm of the large monasteries (first) erected (in Ireland) by the Anglo-Normans, and afterwards by the Irish chiefs in imitation of them. The word could be easily formed from the Irish word Grainne, a grain, but as that word is common to the greater number of the dialects of what Pictet calls the Indo-European family, we should not be hasty in coming to the conclusion, that as the (ancient) Irish had the word Grainne {granum} they also had the derivative Grainseach until we shall be able to write the history and genealogy of the word from authentic written monuments.

It is very curious that the present oral tradition refers the (erection of the) churches, called Granges to the primitive age


of the Irish church. Thus the church of Grange in the parish of Killererin is said to be the third oldest, in Ireland, and even this (church of) Grange is referred (to a period) so far back as the fourth century, which is ridiculous. No part however of this church remains, so that the antiquarian can pronounce no opinion on the accuracy of the tradition from an existing monument, which is always the surest clue to the age and history of churches. A certain professor of anatomy and physiology in Dublin does not believe in ghosts because he cannot dissect them {let him try his knife at Oxygen gas or electricity} and I intend to follow his example as far as old churches are concerned, for I will not believe in their antiquity until I see their features.

Near the west boundary of this parish is situated the townland of Crossmacrin at a cross in (which a "pattern") was annually held some years


back on Garland Sunday. This is the place mentioned in the annals of the Four Masters at the year 1469 (1467) as the site of a dreadful battle between the two Mac Williams, in which Mac William Iochtair was defeated by Mac William of Clanrickard, who afterwards became Earl of Clanrickard. In these annals this place is called Cros Moighe Croin - a name, which seems to be of ecclesiastical origin, but I have no clue to its history, nor does tradition remember the name of the Saint in honor of whom the pattern was held there on Garland Sunday {Domhnach Cruinn Duibh}.

I want all the references to be found in the Acta SS, and in the other ancient Irish Ecclesiastical books to St. Dimma. Is his church mentioned as situated in the territory of Moinmoy? I want also


the passage in the Annals of the Four Masters which mentions the River called Abhainn dá Loilgheach near the boundary of Connaught and Thomond. Also all the passages in the annals relating to Port Omna. Is there any Inquisition detailing the property of O'Madden in Sil Anamchadha? Is the property of the O'Donnellans detailed in any of the Inquisitions? Are the O'Dalys mentioned in the Inquisitions for the County of Galway? or can any authority be found to prove when they first obtained possession of Dunsandle and Killimor?

Are the Mac Egans mentioned in the Inquisitions for the County of Galway, and, if so, does it appear where their property


lay in that County?

Is Moinmoy or Moenwee mentioned as a territory in any of the English Inquisitions? This territory is very often mentioned in Irish history, but it is strange that no mention is made of any church or place in it except Loughrea and Moyode. O'Flaherty {and after him O'Brien} makes it coextensive with Clanrickard, but there never was a greater error.

Your obedient Servant,
John O'Donovan

Oidche Shamhna, 1838,
A bhaile Locha Riach,
Ni Moenmaigh in
Uibh Mainí.