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A History of the O'Mahony Septs of Kinelmeky and Ivagha


Journal of the Cork Archæological and Historical Society, various issues, 1906-10

Cork: Guy & Co., 1912


THOSE who are not familiar with the arguments by which the general credibility of the ancient Irish annals and other records has been established, will doubtless conclude that a tribal history, commencing with the ancestor placed at the head of the Genealogical Table on the opposite page, must have been composed of legendary materials in its earlier portion. A perusal of Dr. O'Donovan's Introduction to the Annals of the Four Masters, pp. xlvi.―liii., or of some recent and more accessible work summarizing the results of the researches of our antiquaries in the last century, will show that the use of letters was known in this country before the time of St. Patrick, that the practice of recording contemporary events in the form of annals is as old as the fifth century, and that the annalists have passed unscathed through the ordeal of having their entries about astronomical phenomena confronted with the results of scientific calculation, thus inspiring confidence in the accuracy of their records of other events. That the life and actions of public men who flourished after the year 400 A.D. may be considered to fall within the authentic portion of Irish history is not now disputed by any critic who has earned for himself a reputation as a specialist in the investigation of that early period.

        The Genealogical Registers were authenticated by peculiar circumstances not occurring in our time. Those registers, connecting chieftain and clansmen with a common ancestor in a remote past, originated from the exigencies of the Tribal System. The Tanist Law of succession to the chieftainship, and the Distribution of the Sept Land, presupposed the careful compilation and preservation of a tribal record. It was not as a similar record of a modern family would be, stowed away in the family archives; its contents were, so to speak, public property. An Englishman who visited Ireland in 1672 writes: "The people in general are great admirers of their pedigree, and have got their genealogy so exactly by heart that, though it be two hours' work for them to repeat the names only from whence they are descended lineally, yet will they not omit one word in half a dozen several repetitions.1


        In countries where the tribal stage had been long since passed through and forgotten, and where, moreover, Annals were not in use until some centuries after they were commenced in this country, Irish genealogies beginning with the third or second century were regarded with surprise and distrust. But it is very significant that no such distrust was entertained by Carew and Cox, who, especially the former, were in touch with the tribal system while still a living reality.

        When the dispossessed chieftains of South Munster and their relatives, in the seventeenth century, took refuge in France, Spain, and Austria, they were careful to take with them documentary proofs that they held the rank of nobles in their own land. They obtained in their adopted countries a recognition of their status, an indispensable requisite in that period of unjust monopolies, for promotion in the military and diplomatic services to which many of them successfully aspired. To comply with the condition required from Frenchmen by the Heralds of Louis XIV for enrolment among the noblesse, viz., that some one in a line of ancestors should have been designated by a name implying nobility, in a public record of a date preceding A.D. 1400, presented no difficulty to the exiled chiefs. But the Heralds of Louis cut off many centuries from their antiquity. They declined to follow the descendants of Corc, King of Munster, to a date that would precede that accepted for the house of Montmorency (1028), and even that of the house of Bourbon (776). They would not go back to the commanders who led their clans to Clontarf, but arbitrarily fixed on A.D. 1200 as the limit; and accepting the evidence of the Irish records for the next successor to a chieftaincy after that date, placed in the roll of the French nobility "McCarthy de Reagh, 1209," and "O'Mahoni de Carbrye, A.D. 1220."

        For the compilation of a tribal history the genealogical list is, of course, necessary material; indeed it must be the framework, the backbone of the history. But, as has been already stated, it was compiled for a practical and not for a historical purpose. From the point of view of the historian the Genealach labours under several defects. It gives no date; and the time when any person mentioned in it flourished can only be known from his place in the pedigree compared with some historical landmark, or must be ascertained from some other source. It does not give the names of females, and thus no account is kept of the intermarriages between families belonging to different tribes. It does not indicate the names of the chiefs (as such); anyone of them who left no son gets no place in the list. Only in those rare instances (as in the case of the Western O'Mahonys after A.D. 1513), when succession by Tanist law was set aside by an influential ruler of a sept, does the genealogical list become also a list of chieftains.

        The important information omitted by the Ollaves and Shanachies, who put together the pedigrees, is supplied by the Annals, by the biographies of the Saints in incidental references to their contemporaries, and by the Bards. Fortunately it was the custom, when a name of any important person was mentioned by Annalist, Hagiographer, or Bard, to define him by giving the names of his father and grandfather, and sometimes his great-grandfather. For more recent times State Papers, especially "Inquisitions," give useful information.

        Though for the purpose of this Record a very considerable stock of information is forthcoming from the above-mentioned sources, the present writer has to lament the loss of special authorities extant when Dr. Smith wrote his History of Cork. The principal of these was the "Saltair of Rosbrin," a genealogical poem on the O'Mahonys by a bard attached to Rosbrin Castle. As this was probably written in or soon after the time of Finin O'Mahon, chieftain of Rosbrin, A.D. 1496, described in the Annals of Loch Ce and of the Four Masters as one of the most learned men of his time, it would, doubtless, have given the substance of what his historical collection would have contained about the sept. This has been sought for in vain; and in all probability it was taken over to the Continent, as were many other historical documents, when the leading members of the ruined clans betook themselves to France and Spain after 1657. The other lost document, also sought for without success, is the "Book of Timoleague," which would have given the names of the chiefs of Kinelmeky who were buried in that abbey (Annals Four Masters, 1240). That it gave such obits is known from extracts contained in a document about the De Courceys, preserved in Ware's collection in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

        Of the accounts written in English on the present subject, either ex professo in special chapters or articles, or incidentally in treating of other tribes or of county topography, there is not one that is not disfigured by many erroneous statements. Cronnelly's special account, though creditable to one who has made the attempt under great difficulties, is meagre and inaccurate. O'Hart gives a translation of the pedigrees in the Royal Irish Academy MSS., but his accompanying observations are inaccurate and uncritical. The Lambeth pedigree of the Western chiefs (Sir George Carew's) is altogether incorrect for the period between Mahon (ob. 1038) and Dermod Mor (circa 1320). So is the pedigree of the Heralds' College, inserted by Dr. Copinger in the new edition of Smith's History of Cork, and the "notes" accompanying it (also by the Heralds' College). In Bennett's History of Bandon there is, as will be shown, what seems a deliberate invention intended to belittle the sept that preceded the new occupiers of Kinelmeky. And two articles that appeared in previous volumes of this Journal contain statements about the sept that will be shown to rest- on entirely insufficient grounds. Hence a narrative that might, under other circumstances, be continuous, must be frequently interrupted by refutation of errors that have been allowed to hold their ground long enough.



        O’Matgamhna, or as it was anglicised down to, and during, the Elizabethan period, O'Mahon, was derived from Mahon (Matgamhain, genitive case Matgamhna), the son of Cian and Sabia (----), daughter of Brian Boru. Cian and Brian's daughter were married in 979, the year after the battle fought at Bealac-leacta, near Macroom, in which Brian was victorious, and his opponent, Maolmuao, the father of Cian, was defeated and killed. Mahon was thus of Eoghanacht and DaIcassian origin; and the marriage of his parents was intended to promote and secure peace between the rival races, that Brian might be free to proceed with the ambitious design of obtaining the sovereignty of Ireland. The marriage is alluded to in Dr. O'Brien's Annals of Innisfallen (A.D. 1014), and by Giolla, a contemporary poet, in his description of Cian's residence, Rath-Raithleann, which shall be quoted later on. As Mahon's ancestors, Corc and Fedlimidh, were Kings of Munster, and as his grandfather is also placed in the list of Munster Kings in the Book of Leinster (written 1166) the sept which bore his name was described as of royal origin by the ancient genealogists. This was known to the Anglo-Irish writers Sir Richard Cox and Smith. The former, after saying that family or descendants of Mahon "are to be reckoned among the best families in Ireland," adds,2 "for Kean Mac Moylemore (recte Maolmuadh) married Sarah, daughter of Brian Boru, and his son, Mahon, was ancestor of all the Mahonys. It is from this Kean that Inniskean derives its name, and from the Mahonies Droghid-I-Mahoun, or Bandon Bridge." See also Smith's History of Cork, book i., ch. i., p. 13, new ed. A considerable period elapsed after the death of Mahon (1038, Annals Four Masters) before his name became the hereditary surname of his descendants.

        It ought not to be necessary at the present day to discuss the opinion which at one time prevailed owing to the authority of Keating3―that "it was in Brian's time and by virtue of an ordinance of his that surnames were assumed in Ireland. The author of a recent book on Irish Antiquities does not seem to be aware that Dr. O'Donovan refuted this opinion in a series of articles in the Dublin Penny Journal in 1841. Indeed, elaborate refutation might have been spared, for it is obvious that if Brian issued such an ordinance it would have been observed by himself, his sons, and those connected with him; and thus he would be called MacKennedy or O'Lorcan, and his sons by the same surname; or if he selected his own name to be permanent, his sons' would be Mac Brian, but by no means O'Brian; and Mahon would be Mac Kean or O'Maolmuadh; or if he imposed his own name or his sons', they and their descendants would be Mac Mahon. Ua, or 0, grandson, would not be applied to a son. The opinion of Keating was an erroneous inference from the fact that the great majority of Irish surnames are derived from chiefs who were contemporaries of Brian. Or, to speak more precisely, the surnames are derived from the genitive case of the names of those chiefs, i.e., not from Captac, but from Captaig, not from Matgamhain, but from Matgamhna. But we have no evidence that, in the generation immediately after Brian, the O and Mac prefixed to a name had the effect of a permanent surname.

        Mr. MacCarthy Glas’s assertion that "the son of Carthach in 1045 assumed the surname borne by his descendants" is an illogical inference from the solitary passage in the Annals―"Muiredach, son of Carthach, died 1092." What evidence, then, would shew that a certain surname had been adopted at a particular date? If an Annalist, accurately transcribing a record contemporary with a certain chief, described, for instance, the great-grandson of Mahon as O'Mahouna, or the grandson of Carthach as MacCarthaigh, in such cases only would O and Mac be shown to be employed in a new sense extended, beyond their ordinary meaning in a prose chronicle. If the entry in the Annals of lnnisfallen (Dublin copy) for the year 1135 be an exact copy of an original written in that year, we should say that Cian (the second), great-grandson of Mahon, was the first designated by the surname: "Cian, son of Donogh Donn, son of Brodchon, O'Mahony, was killed at the battle of Cloneinagh."4 But this question is not of much importance.

        From the O'Mahonys, descendants of Mahon, son of Cian and Sabia, daughter of Brian, are to be distinguished the O'Mahonys of Uladh, Ulidia (Co. Down), about whom there are several entries in the Annals in the twelfth century―the last in 1149―after which they disappear from history. They are supposed to have become Mac Mahons, Maughons, and Matthews,5 which names are still found in that locality. Some of them must have gone over to Scotland in the frequent migrations that took place to that country in ancient times; certainly Sir Walter Scott found the name in the Highlands, for a "Dugald Mahony" figures in his Waverley. The identity of many surnames in the North with those in the South of Ireland has often led to erroneous conclusions. The O'Neills of the South, in the Dalcassian territory, were a different race from the great clan of Tyrone; and the Northern Mac Mahons, O'Connors, O'Callaghans, O'Murchoes (Murphys), are from ancestors totally different from those of their Southern namesakes.

        But after the descendants of Mahon commenced to bear his name as a surname, the Tribe-name continued to be what it had been for six centuries. In the wide Sept-land, extending, as we shall show, from "Carn Ui Neid (the Mizen Head) to Cork," over which Mahon and his predecessors ruled, there were many thousand families connected with their head by the bond of a common descent from more or less remote ancestors. The descendants of these tribesmen would not be entitled to take, or perhaps desire to take, the name of the ruling family, implying as it did a descent from one who was not their ancestor. The distinction between the chief's surname and the Tribal Name is distinctly brought out in the entry in the Annals of Innisfallen under the year 1171: "Donogh O'Mahony over the Ui-Eacac." Slowly and gradually, in the course of some centuries, each individual member of his tribe began to describe himself by the surname at first confined to the chief's family. It would be unreasonable to suppose that the numerous families of the tribe, distinct from Mahon's, that lived in 1035, had no descendants living in the seventeenth century. And, accordingly, it would seem then that the hereditary surname does not imply that each one who bears it descends from the son of Cian, which can be established only by proving descent from a chief or chief's relatives at the time of the disruption of the sept. The same observation applies, of course, to other Irish septs, and to the bearers of the name of the Anglo-Irish families. The Norman nobles had thousands of Irish kern as their retainers; these gradually began to be called by the name of their feudal lord, and became the ancestors of numbers who now bear English names and think themselves of English descent.


        The Sept-name,6 which, as has been already said, preceded by nearly six centuries the assumption of the Surname, was


        This was derived from an ancestor, Eochy, who flourished about 475, a grandson of Corc, and a cousin-german of Aengus, King of Cashel. The posterity of Eochy detached themselves from the main body of the Eoganachta, or descendants of Eaghan Mor, and formed a separate clan. They acquired the name of Eoganacht Ui Eacac, the first of the many subdenominations of the generic name that were given to clans of the correlatives according as they acquired a separate existence. The clan's rapid advance to power and influence is evidenced by the fact that the grandson of Eochy, and son of Criomthan, Cairbre Cram,7 became King of Munster, and the fourth in descent, Fedlimidh, obtained the same coveted dignity. Evidence of the important position which the clan continued to maintain is afforded by a passage in the Wars of the Gael and the Goill, p. 19 (year 845): "The men of the South of Erinn (not 'South Munster') gave battle to the Danes under Doncha, prince of the Ui Eachach." The chieftainship was always held by one of the line of Mahon's ancestors. Dr. O'Donovan says: "Ui-Eachach, i.e., the descendants of Eochaid, son of Cas, son of Corc, King of Munster. The Ui-Mathghamhna, or O'Mahonys, were the chief family of this race. They were seated in the barony of Kinelmeky, in the county of Cork, but they afterwards encroached on the Corca-Laighe, and became masters of the district called Fann-Iartharach, i.e., western land.8 In process of time, the Tribe became divided into two branches―virtually distinct tribes―but for many centuries comprehended under the old sept-name, Ui Eacach or Clan Eachy. To Criompthan, son of Eochy, two sons were born, Aedh and Laegaire. Nurtured by the same foster-father, Lugaid, the youths grew up with such strangely different dispositions that by an expressive but mast unpleasant metaphor, it was said that "Lugaid reared Aedh an blood and Laegaire on milk." The metaphor passed, after a time, into mythology, an illustration of Max Muller's "Myths from disease of Language," and it was gravely recorded that Lugaid "the double-breasted" nursed one child with blood and the other with milk in the literal sense of the words. A genealogical fragment9 in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin―an excerpt in a miscellany of the Firbisses―recording the story by way of annotation on the Ui Eachach pedigree, concludes: "Each of the youths took after his nurture, and the Cinel Aedh were fierce in war and the Cinel Laegaire thrifty and careful." The Cinel Laegaire in after ages, when surnames were established, became known as O'Donoghue. From Aedh, who was in the line of Mahon's ancestors, and who from his overbearing character was called "Aedh Uargarbh," descended the elder branch, the


(whence Kinalea), or the race of Aedh, the first distinctive name of the sept long afterwards known as O'Mahony. This name was preserved in the language of genealogists when for public use it was superseded by the name derived from Mahon, son of Cian. A genealogical register10 of the family in the R. I. Academy, transcribed from a very ancient one―of which the archaic quatrain it embodies is evidence―commences with the heading―Cinet aoda ann ro rior, "here follows the race of Aedh," i.e., the O'Mahonys.

        That the Cinel Aedh was the elder branch is shown by the collocation of the names, Aedh first, then Laegaire

            (I) In the genealogical fragment just quoted;

            (2) In the Irish Life of St. Senanus, a very ancient biography published in Stokes' Anecdota Oxoniensia;

            (3) In the poem of St. ,Colman quoted in the foregoing "Life";11

            (4) In the line of Aedh continued the chieftainship and the title of Ri Rathleann. The son of Aedh bears that designation in the ancient Life of St. Finbar, of which more later on.

The head of the other branch was designated, down to the time when surnames were assumed, as "Chief, or Prince, of the Cinel Laegaire." The subsequent history of this warlike sept (O'Donoghue) by no means bears out the forecast formed from the disposition attributed to its ancestor.

        It is nothing short of marvellous that during the course of many centuries, when fierce contentions raged everywhere around them, the two branches of the Ui Eachach Mumhan should have preserved unbroken the unity of their tribe until the fatal day after the battle of Clontarf, when they "met in one camp" for the last time (Wars of the Gael and the Goill, Dr. Todd's edition, p. 215).



        The "Cradle of the Race" was Rath Rathleann, with its numerous surrounding raths, that constituted an ancient tribal town, situate in the present Barony of Kinelmeky, near its northern and eastern boundaries.

        This rath was the seat of Corc, who bestowed it, when he selected Cashel as the royal residence, on his second son, Cas, the father of the eponymous ancestor of the Ui Eachach, with the title of Ri Raithleann and perpetual exemption from tribute, as laid down in the Book of Rights:

"The Clan of Cas is not liable
To the tribute of Cashel of the companies:
It is not due from Glen Amhain,
Nor from red Raithleann. "

The extent of territory which was left with the Fort to Cas must have been considerable, as the designation of Ri, though rather prodigally bestowed in ancient Ireland, was never given to the chiefs of a small district. The original territory was increased by subsequent acquisitions until the Sept-land in 'the ninth century included the following:―

        Kinelea and Kinelmeky.―The Tribe name, Cinel Aodha (above explained) became a territorial name designating the entire of the district afterwards called by the names of Kinelea and Kinelmeky. The name Cinel-mBeice, "the race of Bece,"13 fourth in descent from Aedh, did not become a territorial one until a later period. When Kinelea Citra (the modern barony of Kinelea)) and Kinelea Ultra (identified with Kinelmeky) were appointed Deaneries of the Diocese of Cork, those very names presupposed Kinelea as the general name of the district thus divided for ecclesiastical purposes. The old Rolls of the diocese of Cork14 showed that "the Barony of Kinemeky was included in (recte was identical with) the Deanery of Kinelea Ultra." As the race of Aedh unquestionably lived in "Kinelea Ultra," it was the same race that gave its name to Kinelea Citra before those ecclesiastical appellations came into use. The place name, Kilmahonoge, Coill Matgamhna oig, "the wood of young Mahon," in the present Barony of Kinalea, is a survival from the eleventh century.15

        Carbery.―In his Regnum Corcagiense, Sir Richard Cox, who consulted and often refers to Irish antiquaries, writes: "This noble country formerly belonged to the O'Mahonys and the O'Driscolls. One branch was called O'Mahown Carbery, and his seat was Castle Mahon, which was then part of Carbery." This is not quite exact, as that castle was in Kinelmeky, which, as has been shown, was a more recent name of a division of Kinelea. The name Carbery, according to Irish usage, did not comprise Corca Laidhe, the patrimony of the O'Driscolls since the dawn of history, nor Ivagha, when that district was detached from Corca Laidhe. In the poem of Mac Brody on the Eoghanacht Clans, and in those of other bards, Carbery is expressly distinguished from the two other place-names. As to the origin of the name, all Irish antiquaries concurred in deriving it from Cairbre (Riada), a contemporary of' Olioll Olum, in the last quarter of the second century. In the nineteenth century the novel opinion was started, without any pretence of support from historical testimony, that the name was imported by the Hy Cairbre Aedha, or O'Donovans, when migrating from Hy Fidgiente, Co. Limerick, to their new tribeland in West Cork, after the English invasion. The editor of Annals of the Four Masters, lapsing in this instance from that habit of keen criticism which is so conspicuous in his works, gave some countenance to this new opinion, but with evident misgivings. "The extension of the name," he says (beyond the tribal territory) "looks strange enough, as it took place since the year 1200, and as the race that transferred it did not remain (recte never was) the dominant family in the district."16 It is not only improbable but impossible that any tribe occupying a small corner of a large territory could by habitually using a name of their choice get the name adopted in the larger territories of their long-established neighbours, and that they could succeed in doing so in about twenty years. For the name, Cairbreach, an adjective derived from Cairbre, was borne by O'Mahon in A.D. 1220, according to the historical proofs furnished to the French Heralds (see p. 184 ante), and as may be inferred from the entry in the Annals of the Four Masters, A.D. 1240, about the tomb of O'M. Cairbreach in Timoleague Abbey. And according to the Bodleian Annals of Innisfallen, Donal Got McCarthy, assumed that name in A.D. 1232. Though the place-name Carbery does not occur in the Annals before the above dates, the present writer has found it in the Rook of Leinster, in the portion which contains a copy of part of the War of the Gael and the Goill, chap xxviii.: "There came a great fleet of the foreigners with Ragnall and Ottir, the Earl . . . .and they divided and ravaged Carbery and Muskerry between them, and one-third of them went to Corcach (Cork)." The Book of Leinster was written about A.D. 1166, and this portion was, of course, transcribed from a more ancient copy of an original commonly held to have been written by a contemporary of Brian Boru. See Dr. Todd's Introduction to Wars of the Gael, page xii. The name Carbery may have originated from Cairbre (son of Creamthan), who was King of Munster, according to the Four Masters, in A.D. 571.

        Ivagha, or the Fonn lartharach, "Western Land."―"Long before the English Invasion," says Dr. O'Donovan, "the Ui Eachach Mumhan, or O'Mahonys, had from the Corca Laidhe that portion of their territory called Fonn lartharach, i.e., West Land, otherwise Ivagha, comprising the parishes of Kilmoe, Scoole, Kilcrohane, Durris, Kilmaconoge, and Caharagh." It would have been foreign to his subject to quote the authorities which justified that statement. The following passages, brought forward for the first time by the present writer, prove conclusively that Ivagha was in the possession of the sept of the Ui Eachach in the ninth century.

        (1) In a poem of Mac Liag, Brian Boru's bard, Cian is described as "Cian an Cairn," i.e., of Carn Ui Neid, the Mizen Head. Giolla Caomh, a bard of the eleventh century, who flourished about 1050, refers to Cian as the "chief king of the hosts of Carn Ui Neid."

        (2) In the "Saltair na Rann, "17 there is a poem on the Patron Saints of the different tribes, which may be found at the end of vol. ii. of Professor Kelly's edition of Cambrensis Eversus. In it we read: "The Ui Eachach, from Carn Ui Neid to Corc, are under the protection of Barra (St. Finbar)." On this passage Dr. O'Donovan supplied the following note: "Carn Ui Neid, the Mizzen Head."

        (3) In the Vision of Mac Conglinne the hero of that ancient tale is represented as going from Cork in quest of Cahal Mac Finguine, King of Munster, "to the West, to the residence of Pican, King of the Vi Eachach at Dun Coba,18 at the boundary between the Ui Eachach and the Corea Laidhe. He offered to cure the King of Munster of a malady from which he suffered, and the prince of the Ui Eachach promises him a reward of 'a sheep from every fold from Carn to Cork.'"

        Some observations must now be made on the age of the Vision of Mac Conglinne. The Annals of the Four Masters record the death of Cathal, son of Finguinne, King of Munster, in the year A.D. 737. "There is little doubt" (wrote the translator, Dr. O'Donovan), "from the obsolete language and style of this tract, the Vision of Mac Conglmne, that it was written in or shortly after Cathal's time. It contains some curious details of social habits and of historical and topographical facts, &c.

        According to this judgment on the antiquity of the "Vision" by one whose authority stands even higher on questions of language than on questions of historical criticism, it is clear that A.D. 800 would be too recent a date to assign for the seizure of the western territory by the clan of the Ui Eachach. Later criticism is far from invalidating O'Donovan’s decision. Professor Kuno Meyer, in his edition of 1892, discusses the question whether the language gives an indication of the date of this curious work. He answers: "In the absence of any published investigation on the characteristics of the Irish language at different periods, I cannot speak with certainty." But, nevertheless, following the traditions of German criticism, he tries to find an original and a superinduced part, and says: "In some form or other, the tale is proved to be older than the Leabhar Breac version of it," whose date he fixes "at the end of the twelfth century." There are, he thinks, "some forms in the language that belong to the twelfth century, "19 as if there were any ancient works whose grammatical forms transcribers did not modernize here and there. Not satisfied with this kind of argument, he proceeds to confirm it by an argument which is still weaker. The vagrant hero of the tale sarcastically offers the monks of Cork tithes on his bit of bread and bacon, and therefore "the work was written after 1152, when Cardinal Paparo, in the Synod of Kells, got the tithes enforced." But were not tithes in use in Ireland before? Yes, he admits, "they were mentioned earlier." This is understating the fact; tithes were not only mentioned but prescribed in the Brehon Law (see Brehon Laws, iii., 33, 39, 25), and we may presume that that regulation was not allowed to be forgotten. Gillebert, Bishop of Limerick, speaks of them as ordinarily paid in A.D. 1090. So the author of the tale could be perfectly familiar with the exaction of tithes long before the twelfth century, and whenever he lived, he must have believed that the Clan Eachy occupied their western land in the time of Cathal, A.D. 735.

        In full harmony with the above testimonies is the statement in the Wars of the Gael and the Goill, page 137 (Dr. Todd's edition) that "Brian sent forth a naval expedition upon the sea, namely, the Gaill of Ath Cliath and Port Lairge (Dublin and Waterford), and the Ui Eachach Mumhan, and of such men of Erin as were fit to go to sea." This plainly implies a large sea coast in their territory. How considerable their contingent was may be inferred from the following passage in the same page of the work quoted: "And Brian distributed the tribute according to rights. . . he gave a third of the tribute to the warriors of Leinster and of the Ui Eachach Mumhan." The fleet must have largely consisted of the forces which his son-in-law, Cian, sent from the region of "Carn Ui N eid. "

        With the conclusion arrived at as to the date of the occupation of Ivagha, from the historical testimonies above. quoted, the reader may now compare two conclusions that have been arrived at by two other writers, apparently by an easier process:

        (1) The author of the "Barony of Carbery," in a former number of the Cork Historical and Archaological Journal, vol. x., 1904 writes: "The O'Mahonys had begun to make conquests in the west before the English Invasion." And again: "The English drove the O'Mahonys to the west." The same writer's opinion about the origin of the name Carbery has been already refuted.

        (2) The author of the "Pedigree of the O'Mahonys," with notes appended, from the Heralds' College, published in the new edition of Smith's History of Cork, informs us that" Carew (i.e., the Marquis Carew) did make O'Mahon Lord of Ivagha." Dermod Mor, the O'Mahon referred to, was the ninth in descent from an ancestor who was called chief of that region long before the name of Carew appeared in any written document. There is no other authority than this writer for the assertion that "the O'Mahonys (and O'Driscolls) paid rent to the Norman invader," an assertion repeated in the "Notes on Carbery." The time at last came when they had to pay rent to the invaders, but it did not come for some centuries. It is not credible that the Englishman in Dublin, who in 1600 wrote this pedigree and notes, ever heard any "O'Mahons admit that they held their lands from Carew," or that he (the writer) ever was in communication with any member of the sept about their genealogy, otherwise he would not have represented them as descended from "Keynek of Kelether in Munster."

        The eastern boundary of the Sept Land.―This was Cork, as appears from some of the testimonies above given and from an ancient Litany20 containing an invocation of the saints of Lough lrke, "in finibus Muscagiae et nepotum Eochadii Cruadh," i.e., at the boundaries of the [?]uscraighe (tribes) and of the descendants of Eochy―the Ui Eachach this preserves an epithet of Eochy not given elsewhere, Cruadh, the ard, the severe. Lough Irke, or Ekce, meant21 the expansion of the Lee at Cork before the course of the river was confined within banks in after centuries. The eastern and western boundaries of the tribeland coincided with the eastern and western limits of the Diocese of Cork―"ab ipsa orcagia usque ad Carninedam"―as defined in the decrees of the Synod of Rathbreasail,22 A.D. 1110. In the ancient Life of St. Senanus Innisbarra is described as belonging to the "King of Raithleann," whose Muskerry possessions, afterwards divided among minor septs of the clan, may be seen in one of the maps of the Pacata Hibernia under the names "Ifflonlua (recte Ui Flonn Lua), Clan Conogher, and Clan Fynin" (Fineen), Smith takes Ui Flonn Lua in a wider meaning to include e parishes of Kilmurry, Moviddy, Canovee, and Aglish, and states that all these districts had been conquered at a remote day by Flan, an ancestor [predecessor] of Bece. The present writer has been unable to find any record of this Flann, except the lines quoted by Smith23 from the Irish MS., possibly the Psalter of Rossbrin, that genealogical poem that has been sought for in vain. The quaint old quatrain gives an account of the boundaries of the district which Flann acquired by conquest, and declares that "he paid no tribute but to the Church." One of the boundaries given in the verses was Glaisc Crithe, a stream not identified.

From the description of the Sept Land it will be seen that it was of great extent. Indeed it would appear that "Eoganacht Raithleann," or Eoghanacht Ui Eachach," as it was also called, exceeded in extent Eoganacht Cashelor any other Eoghanacht, i.e., tribeland of any clan descended from Eoghan Mor.


the "cradle of the race," was also the headquarters of the full-grown sept. The name is a genitive, from a nominative Raithliu, in old Irish; so Whitley Stokes acutely conjectured from analogy, and tradition has confirmed his opinion, as there is evidence that one aged "Shanachie," who died some thirty years ago, used the name Rathliu as a nominative. Nevertheless, there are some instances of the use of' Raithleann as a nominative; in the transitions, from one period of the language to another, genitives have occasionally started as nominatives―set up for themselves in fact―just as the Latin ablatives did when Latin was passing into Italian. A legendary account has been given of the application of the name to the fort. It was the name of King Corc's nurse, and, as he was leaving for Cashel, she requested, and her request was granted, that the Fort should bear her name. This reminds one of Virgil's "Aeneia nutrix," who gave her name to Caieta (Gaeta). This residence was associated in the verses of the bards with two names especially, the name of Corc, its traditional builder, and the name of his descendant, Cian.

"Rat Raitlean, Rat Cuirc ‘r Cém,’!"

a line of Giolla Caomh in the eleventh century is found as a quotation in subsequent bards, and in a poem by one of the last of the old tribal bards, Donal McCarthy (na thuile), in 1719. The Chief who resided in it, being head of the whole sept, always received the denomination of Ri Rathleann, "Rex Rathlendiae" and "Rathluyniae" in the Latin Lives of the ancient Irish Saints. He is several times referred to in the Book of Rights (Leabhar na g-ceart, edited by O'Donovan), in which are set forth the usages that regulated the relations of provincial kings towards the chiefs of their provinces down to the Norman period. One passage has already been quoted, page 189. In another he is called the King of "great Ui Eachach," and in the following passage his privilege of exemption from tribute is affirmed:

"There are three Kings of great Munster
Whose tribute to Cashel is not due―
The King of Gowran, whose hostages can't be seized,
The Kings of Raithlean and of Lough Lein."

         A few years ago it would have been impossible to give a historical description of this Rath and its surroundings. But in September, 1896, the Editor of the Gaelic Journal published from a MS. in the possession of Count Plunket (there is another in the R. 1. Academy) four poems of the eleventh century, in two of which a minute and detailed description is given of this residence of Cian. Mr. MacNeill, in the explanatory notes he subjoined to the text of the poems, says: "O'Donovan does not identify the site of Raithleann, but there are surely remains sufficient to indicate its place. It must have been once of great importance. In Giolla Caomh's poem are enumerated among its features―the Road of the Chariots on the north, the Fort of Sadhbh (Sabia, daughter of Brian) on the west, the Ford of Spoils on the east, the Road of the Mules "below." Mac Liag further mentions the "cashels of the raths," the Rath of the Poets, the Rath of the Women, Raith Chuain (i.e., of Cuan O'Lochain, the ollamh), Dun Draighnean (i.e., of Draighnean O seicinn, the trumpeter), Raith Chuilcinn (i.e., of Cuilceann, the harper), the Rath of the Doirseoir (janitor or gatekeeper, Dubhthach): in all seven forts, in addition to the fort of Raithleann itself, also called Raith Chuirc and Raith Chein."

         On reading the descriptive poem in the Gaelic journal, Canon Lyons, P.P., a distinguished Irish scholar, whose valuable contributions on the place-names of over forty parishes, and on Irish "Agnomina," are known to the readers of the Cork Historical and Archæological Journal, wrote for the next number of that journal an article on the subject, in which he says:

         "A long-standing problem of local history has been clearly solved. The description given of Raithleann, the seat of Cian, son of Maolmuadh, son-in-law of Brian Boru, in the September number of the Gaelic journal, has enabled me to identify it without the least doubt. The Rath exists, in a good state of preservation, with a double [triple] rampart, in the north-eastern point of the townland of Gurranes, in the parish of Temple­martin, and Barony of Kinelmeky, about six or seven miles north of Bandon, and three miles south-east of Crookstown station."

         Three years previously he had described the place without being able to identify it, in vol. ii., 1903, p. 146: "In the northern part of Templemartin may be seen the plan of an ancient tribal city. The chief's stronghold is in the centre, surrounded by a triple rampart. At present about a dozen raths lie about it, there were more formerly, but they have been levelled. I discovered an ogham-inscribed stone in one of the smallest of these lisses, with twenty-seven letters engraved on it. This Rath must have been the chief stronghold of the O'Mahony chiefs of Kinelmeky, before they removed to Bandon and built Castle Mahon. A large number of raths still remain at a little distance, to the south and east; these must have been the residences of the guards and military followers of the chief." The Rath stands on an eminence commanding a view of the valley of the Bride. As to its dimensions, a writer in Lewis's Topographical Dictionary describes it as "includlng three acres, and surrounded by a triple rampart";24. its area does not seem quite so large; its diameter is about two hundred and fifty feet. In the inner rampart some sepulchral mounds were opened, and found to contain cinerary urns―an evidence of its great antiquity. "We have records," says Canon Lyons in the article referred to, "carrying its history back to the dawn of Christianity, and it may have existed before."

(Reduced from the six inch Ordnance Map, No. 181.)

(1) Rath Raithlean, called Caherkean at time of Ordnance Survey. Lisnacaheragh put down by the Ordnance Survey through mistake. "Caherkean," site of smaller fort lower down.
(2) Dun Saidhbe or Rath Saidhbe in the old poems. Called "Lisnamanroe" (a corruption of Lisnabanree), in Ordnance Map.
(3) Rath of Culleen, the harper (destroyed). In townland of Rathculleen.
(4) Rath of Maolán. (Rathphelane, Rathvolane, in Parish Register) [destroyed].
(5), (6), (7), (8) Raths of "the Ollave," "the Poets,"" the Women," "the Doorkeeper" (these destroyed). Dun Draighneán, too distant to appear in this map.

        The process by which it was identified is most complete, and can be followed by anyone possessing a six-inch ordnance map of the locality. It consists in comparing the description above summarized from the ancient poems of the eleventh century with the place-names given in the ordnance map. The poems are given in the Appendix to this Part I.

        The Bard Mac Liag25 represents himself in one of his poems, as taking his stand above the principal fort, which he apostrophises as the Rath of Corc and Cian, and then, looking towards the north. Observes "Dundraighnean, this fort to the north" (Dundraigneáin an dún ro túard), and describes it as belonging to Cian's trumpeter. Now, on the north, or to be strictly accurate, north-west, is Castlemore, which stands on the site of a dun called Dundraighnean. The name was preservcd by Dundrinan Church, which was adjacent to the castle on the east. An account of it is given in Brady's Parochial Records. De Cogan's representative in the sixteenth century made over to the Earl of Desmond "Castlemore, otherwise Downdrinane." See Cox's Regnum Corcagiense.

         He next observes "the Rath of Culleen, the harper of the hill." On the map the next townland is marked Rathculleen.

         In the same stanza with Culleen is named Maolan, another of Cian's attendants. On the map the townland on the south-west bears the name of Rathphelane, so spelled, but pronounced by Irish speakers Rathvaylane (Rat Maolám).

         On the west the poet sees the "Dun of Sadbh (Sabia), the daughter is she of Brian." The map shows, about two hundred yards to the west, a fort (not long since destroyed) named "Lisnamanroe," a sufficiently obvious corruption of Lisbanree (queen's fort). A town land about five miles distant, also in Kinelmeky, bears the name Lisbanree.

         On the east he notices the Rath of Cuan, the ollamh, but that and two others, also on the east ("the Rath of the Poets, the Rath of the Women"), which once stood inside the grounds of Gurrane House, were levelled within living memory. At na g-creac, the "Ford of Spoils," must have been an expansion of the small stream at the foot of the hill, now flowing under the road.

         By the identification of Raithleann is determined the birthplace of St. Finbar. The ancient "Lives," both Irish and Latin, agree in stating that he was born when his father26 was "chief metal worker" or armourer to Tighernach (pron. Teernagh), prince of Raithleann (about A.D. 570). There is now no excuse for stating that he was born "near Bandon" at some imaginary fort on which Castlemahon was supposed to have been afterwards built, nor was there, forty years ago, any tradition to this effect, as has been sometimes asserted.



1. “A Tour in Ireland, 1672-4.”―Journal of the Cork Historical and Archæological Society, vol. X. p. 89.
2. See Cox's Regnum Corcagiense.
3. More accurate than Keating, but still partly mistaken, was the author of an old Irish MS. Life of Brian (a fragment T.C.D., H 2, 15): "It was in his time that surnames were given. [---Irish----]
4. Near Mountrath.
5. Cambriensis Eversus, vol. i. p. 247.
6. Mr. H. W. Gillman has called attention to the superior antiquity of the O'Mahonys as compared with the other Eoganacht clans descended from Corc.―Cork Arch. Journal, vol. iii., 2nd series, p. 207.
7. Cairbre, son of Criomphthan (otherwise spelled Creamthain). The above assertion is, of course, disputable, as there were many Criomphthans in those early centuries. But it will be shown later on, that chronological reasons require that Criomphthan, father of Cairbre, should be the son of Eachaid, son of Cas.
8. O'Donovan's Edition of the Book of Rights. See also his notes to poem from "Saltair na Rann," in Prof. Kelly's Cambriensis Eversus, vol. ii. p. 778.
9. [Fifty-one word passage in Irish] For this extract the writer is indebted to Mr. John MacNeill, B.A., the distinguished Irish scholar and historical critic.
10. MS. 23 G. 22 R.I.A.
11. In the ancient Latin Lives of St. Senanus, the order of the names is "Aidus and Leogarius."―See Colgan, Acta Sanctorum, March 8th. As St. Colman, son of Leinin, according to the Four Masters, died in A.D. 600, his testimony is that of a contemporary. Mr. O'Hart makes Laegaire the elder, but "more suo" quotes no authority.
12. Glen Amhain, when these lines were written, must have been in the possession of a clan of the race of Cas. It afterwards belonged to the O'Keeffes, and finally became Roche's country.
13. Smith's derivation of Kinelmeky (Ken, "a head," neal, "noble," and mecan, a "root," copied by Bennett (Hist. Bandon, is obviously an impossible one. Kinel, a race, followed by the name of an ancestor, forms many tribe names in every part of Ireland. He had evidently not seen the name written in Irish.
14. Bishop Lyon, who had access to the archives, in 1588 wrote on this subject―"My Rolls prove the Barony of Kinelmeky to be in the Deanery of Kinelea ultra.―Calendar of State Papers, A.D. 1588.
[Insert as per Errata below)]
Carbery must have been occupied by the tribe of the Ui-Eachach Mumhan before their occupation of Ivagha, which they could invade only through Carbery; this they would not venture to do, or be allowed to do, if the inhabitants of Carbery were not first subdued.]
15. Dr. O'Donovan, in his edition of O'Heerin, not knowing that Cinel Aodba was the tribe-name of the O'Mabonys, explained the place-name Kinelea as derived from Aedh Dubh, ancestor of the McCarthys, O'Sullivans, and O'Callaghans, and hence accepted the apparent meaning of O'Heerin's quatrain, that the latter sept was in Kinelea. But as Dr. O'Donovan declared the latter half of this quatrain―making the same sept live in Bearra―to be "a mistake," this self-contradictory passage of O'Heerin is no authority for any statement. Perhaps O'Heerin intended to speak of O'Sullivan "of the Cinel Aedb (Dubh)," who lived in Bearra, and that by a lapsus calami he substituted the name of the other tribe.
16. Appendix to last vol. of the Four Masters.
17. The poem from which the above is an extract is not found in the MS. of the Saltair na Rann which Stokes edited, but was in the copy used by Keating and Colgan. See the former on the reign of Aedh Mac Ainmire, and the latter, Acta Sanctorum, p. 646. They both expressly attribute this poem to Angus Céle Dé, who is known to have lived in the first half of the ninth century. There is intrinsic evidence that it dates from a time when the Eoganacht tribes (with the exception of the Ui Eachact) had not begun to occupy any part of the present Co. Cork The poem says, "The Munstermen of Eogban's race, to their borders, are under Ailbe's protection," i.e., in the territory comprised in the dioceses of Emly and Cashel, parts of Limerick and Tipperary.
18. Rath Raithlean was his principal residence, but every Ri was assumed by the Brehon law to have three Duns.―See Dr. Sullivan's Introduction to O'Curry's Manners and Customs of Ancient Irish.
19. The passage about the ''King of the Ui Eachach," will serve as a specimen of the obsolete form of the Irish language in which the book was written:―[passage in old Irish] "Now go at once to Cathal!" "'Where is Catha!?" asked Mac Conglinne. "Not hard to tell," answered Manchin. "In the house of Pichan, son of Mael Find, King of Ivagha at Dun Coba in the borders of Ivagha and Corcalee, and thou must journey thither tonight."
20. In tbe Acta Martyrum, Liturgica, etc., per H. Vardeum (Ward), Louvain, A.D. 1662, [??]04 Ward maintains that this Litania was of the 9th century, or at latest the 10th.
21. So Sir James Ware. Dr. Caulfield was mistaken in identifying it with the lake at Lugane Barra.
22. See Dr. Lynch's version of Keating's account of this Synod, Cambrensis Eversus, vol. [?], app.
23. The lines were in the Dán Díreach metre, but must have been incorrectly transcribed by Smith, as the first two do not rhyme, and there is some omission in the third:―

[verse in Irish]
These simple lines were translated by Smith with all the pomp of eighteenth century poetical diction:―

West from the stream of Gaisecrithe brook,
To Muskery's paps, where holy Patrick struck
His crozier; thence unto the southern main
The conquering Flan o'er all this tract did reign.
No rent, no tribute, for this land he paid,
But to the Church alone, his offering made.
The Four Masters, A.D. 747, have the entry: "Flann, son of Ceallach, lord of Muskerry." He must have been a grandson or great-grandson of the Flann who is the subject of the going verses.

24. Mr. Brash, who had visited the fort without identifying it, describes it, in his work on oghams, as "an immense rath with numerous subterranean passages."
25. These topographical poems have done for Raithleann. what the old MS. accounts. in the Book of Leinster, by Kenneth O'Hartigan in the tenth century, and Cuan O'Lochan in the eleventh, enabled O'Donovan and Petrie to do for the Raths of Tara.
26.  In the Irish Life referred to, Amergin, the father of Finbar is described as pribhgoba (not goba, smith), a distinction which disappears in the translation of the Latin Life, The pribhgoba, also called ollave goba, was a master craftsman, who designed and executed works of an ornamental kind such as are found in our museums. The Brehon Law assigned to this class of artificers as good a social position, in some respects, as belonged to the "aire desa," or lower class of nobles, and such is the status they hold in the ancient historical tales. Their names were preserved in the literature; though the military spirit predominated among in the ancient Irish, they are not liable to the reproach of Friedrich Rueckert that―
"In the troublous days of old,
The soldier alone won fame and gold―
The artist passed for a drone!"



Page 181, note 6, after "The antiquity of the O'Mahonys as compared to other Eoganacht clans," the words, "descended from Corc," were accidentally omitted.

In last No., page 190, note 14, "Bishop Lyon, in 1558, wrote on this subject," etc., read, in "in 1588."

Page 190. The following footnote was intended to be inserted:―"Carbery must have been occupied by the tribe of the Ui-Eachach Mumhan before their occupation of Ivagha, which they could invade only through Carbery; this they would not venture to do, or be allowed to do, if the inhabitants of Carbery were not first subdued."

Page 193. "The hero of the tale must have believed that the Clan Eochy occupied their western land in the time of Cathal." For "hero of the tale," read "author of the tale."