Taylor's Hill
July 21st 1839.

Dear Sir,

I cannot write about Aran until I get all the poems about the Clann of Huathmor, who settled in the western islands and along the western coasts of Conmaicne mara, Meadhraighe and Hy-Fiachrach Aidhne in the first Century. These poems were transcribed for me last season and will be found among the Galway extracts now at the Ordnance Survey Office. Please to send them to me as soon as convenient, as I have to turn my attention to them immediately. There is a magnificent Cyclopean Castle (much larger than Dun Aengus) on the Middle island of Aran called after Conchobhar, the son of Uathmor, and I am anxious to see if he is mentioned in any of the accounts of the Clann Huathmor, who settled on these islands in the first century under Oilioll and Meave King and queen of Connaught.


Mention is made in those accounts of places called Rinn Mhil and Muirbheach Mhil i.e. Mil's point and Mil's sea-plain, but it is as yet uncertain where they lie, though it is more than probable that the former is the present Rinvile point near Oranmore {not the Rinvile near the Killeries} and the latter Murbhach near Roscam to the east of Galway, where this Mil of the Huathmorian family was located.

There are monuments belonging to the same family of the Bolgae at Mááréé {Medrigia} a peninsula comprising the entire of the parish of Ballynacourty lying to the south of Galway, and among the rest the grave of a greyhound, which seems to me very curious, as proving that this people erected monuments over favourite dogs - a fact also proved by many passages in the book of Lismore.

I here enclose an extraordinary description of this grave written in (or shortly after) the year 1815 by John Kennedy and addressed to Patrick Lynch of Dublin, author of the life of St. Patrick and many other works. This account of the grave of the hound of Aedh Mac Garry of the Swords was sent by Denis O'Flynn of Cork to Mr. Hardiman as living in the neighbourhood of Maaree. I am anxious to know if it has been shewn on the plan of Ballynacourty parish near the sea shore. Is Legaun corkee set down in the name book? [Added in pencil in left-hand margin: No]


[Hand of John Kennedy:]

John Kennedy's sketch of greyhound at Maree, 1815.
John Kennedy's sketch of greyhound at Maree, 1815.

The above portrait (figure) I have draftd. of at the grave of this Extraordinary Greyhound at Liaghán Corcídh in maree (Maree) within 7 mile of Galway and 2½ of oran mor in the County of Galway near the seaside. The tide ebbs and flows up to the grave of this Greyhound. What renders it the more Curious and Extraordinary is that in spite of all the depredations Commit[t]ed by swine and treading of cows and Horses it renews its form as above


every succeeding summer, which I found to be manifest truth. The ground where this grave is is without any kind of fence by the road side adjoining the strand. On my coming to the place, which was the 25th of June 1815 seeing so many pigs rooting with a number of Cows mules asses and Horses I thought my journey hither wd. prove abortive, but I found to my intire satisfaction that I could trace perfectly the form of the grave, but it does not show only the form of the hind and fore leg only, and the grave is only a little elevated more than ([Hand of O'Donovan:] above) the surface of the ground about it, which renders it the more Curious and Extraordinary that the grass exhibits its perfect form. Mr. Lynch, this is certainly a Curious Circumstance and ([Hand of O'Donovan:] it is) worthy of the attention of the Curious traveller and the Philosophical Critick to investigate the Cause of what I have seen and I deemd. it only a fiction and quite increditable, which Causd. me to try if it was true or not the report I heard of this Dog which belongd. to Eadh Mc. Gairiod ([Hand of O'Donovan:] Aedh Mac Garraidh), You may Chance in your learnd. researches ([Hand of O'Donovan:] to) meet with some acct. of this man. The following are the dimentions of the Greyhound they are nearly as distinct as that if the animal was exposd. dead to view, as it is the grass on the surface of the ground that describes its form. From the neck to the tail 10 feet long the hind leg 3ft. 9in. the fore Do. 3ft. 3in.; the length of the tail 5ft. 3in.; breadth across the body 3ft. 6in.; Breadth across the rump 2 feet; from the breast or the fore leg to the flank 5ft. 5in.; from the flank upwards to the butt of the tail 1ft. 6in. from the foreleg upwards that is the shoulder Blade, 2 feet; length of the neck 2ft. 3in.; thickness of Do. 13 inches; length of the head 1ft. 4in. Mr. Lynch you will be good Enough to Excuse this rough and uncouth plan I have sent you, as I have no other assistance but my rule and pen. Depend on it that the figure represents the natural shape of the object I attemptd. to represent its form. and if you should deem proper to have it drawn in a more Compleat manner the above dimentions shall (be) a good guide to the performer. The representation in a dead attitude. Which the dead object represents to the view of the beholder uncommonly so, more so than if the Greyhound itself lay dead in my presence ([Hand of O'Donovan:] to my opinion) and had more effect on my feelings. the dimentions shews what a monstrous size the animal creation must be of at the time of this dog livd. in.

I am Sir,
Your most humble Servt.
John Kennedy
(Seadhan Mc. Cinnéide)

[Notes by John O'Donovan resumed:]

I am of opinion that there are forts on the islands of Aran much older than the period of Aengus Mac Uathmoir, and am therefore anxious to investigate the fragments of Irish history relating to the first Colony of the Firbolgs. Is it not stated that the remnants of the Tuatha de Dananns or Firbolgs were driven into the western islands seven or eight hundred years before the period of Aengus Mac Huathmoir? Be this as it may I am persuaded that the fort on Aran more called Dubh Chathair is near a thousand years older than either Dun Aenguis or Dun Chonchobhair.

Your obedient &c. Servant,
John O'Donovan.