Mary Francis Cusack.

A history of the city and county of Cork online

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Sliabh, and was interred in the earn of Sliabh Beatha, and
from him the mountain is named. Ceasair died at Cuil-
Ceasra, in Connaught, and was interred in Carn-Ceasra. From
Fintain is [named] Feart-Fintain, over Loch Deirgdheire.

" From the Deluge until Parthalon took possession of Ire-
land, 278 years ; and the age of the world when he arrived in
it, 2520.*'

The Book of Lecan," Keating, and Leabhar-Gabhala,^ say
that Ceasair and his party landed at Dun-na-mbarc in Corca

1. The Four Masters were friars of the order of St Francis of Assissi, who well kept up
the spirit of the old Irish bards and brehons, and of the learned monks and priests of the
day of Patrick and Columcille. Their great work would be a credit to any nationality.
Brother Michs^l O'Cleary was the nxaster spirit of the Masters. To his zeal and energy
we owe 'the collection of Rational records, which were then becoming more and more
SCMXC^ and a compilation which is a masterpiece of historical information. In the troubled
and disturbed st^e of Ireland he had some difficulty in finding a patron, but all things are
{Possible to unweaxying patience and undaunted energy. A noble northern prince came
foiwud and supplied the laxge'fimds which were necessary for this important undert^ing,
and the name of Fergus O'Gara will* be for ever associated in honour with the names of
the poor friars of St Frauds who wrote the Annals of their country.

2. The Book of Lecan, When Moore visited O'Curry, and found him surrounded with
ancient Celtic MSS., such as the above work, the Book of Ballymote, etc., etc., he turned
to Dr. Petrie, an'cl » ) aimed, **I never knew anything about these books before;'' and
added an emphatic v^^iinion that he had no right to compile a History of Ireland while
ignorant of their value and existence. The Book of Lecan is preserved in Trinity College,
Dublin. It was compiled in 141 6 by Giiia Isa mSr, a direct ancestor of Duald Mac Firbis.

3. 'Leabkar GabAala, This book is quoted by Mac Firbis, and was written by his grand-
father. It is the Book of the Invasion of Ireland.



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EARLY HISTORIC RECORDS. 3

Duibhne, now Corcaguiny, a barony in the west of Kerry ; but
we have the high authority of Dr. O'Donovan, the learned
translator and editor of the Four Masters, for placing this
landing at Dunamark, in the parish of Balcommoge, bart)ny
of Bantry, and county of Cork — ^thus giving to Cork the
honour of receiving the first inhabitants of Ireland. From
the far East they came, not without traditions of the land
which they had left — " the Morning Land," the cradle of the
race ; and without giving credit to the date of colonization,
we may not doubt that it was indeed at an early period of
the world's history. The first immigrants of Erin left their
archaic markings after them, and the ogham character may
well dispute antiquity with the runes of the Sqandinavian or
the cunieform inscriptions of the Assyrians. We m^y not
enter on the wide domain of anthropological science, but we
cannot pass on to facts of history without some passing glance
at its romarfce ; and yet do we not call it romance, because
distance has lent to tradition that peculiar mirage of enchant-
ment which compels our judgment to pass sentence on our
imagination, and to reject what pleases our fancy, sometimes,
it may be, without a due recognition of the fact that fancy or
fiction is also an element, and an important one, in our mental
constitution ?

Wave after wave of immigrants, all from the same far off
land, all boasting a common origin, and all unquestionably
speaking a common language, came, and saw, and conquered.
Partholan and his hosts landed on the coasts of Dublin, and
in the age of the world 2550 Partholan died on Sean-Mhagfu
Ealta-Edavr-, It is unquestionably a bold proceeding to give



2— a



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4 THE FIRBOLGS.

dates to such events, but there is one strong corroboration
of such annals, which, while it leaves dates to the con-
jectures of the learned, puts a plain fact before the simplest
mind. All over Ireland the long preserved names of cairn
and tumuli attest the truth of what would appear its wildest
legend. The plain of the flocks of Edar — SJutn-va-alta-edar —
which stretched along the coast by Dublin, from Tallaght to
Edar, long preserved its ancient name, and Tallaght is the
scarcely altered form of Taimhleacht-Muintire-Parthaloin —
the Tavlaght, or plague-grave of Partholan's people— for here,
in ages too far gone to count, an awful plague swept away this
colony by thousands/

The Formorians and the Nemedians followed. The Fonno-
rians were pirates, and, according to the Annals of Clonmac-
noise, were "very troublesome to the whole world." But,
possibly as some excuse for their conduct, they are sa^d to be
descended from Ham, the son of Noah.

The pastoral Firbolgs came next, also by way of Europe,
from the East. The Firbolg chiefe landed in different parts of
Ireland. Though they were tillers of the ground, they appear
to have had good ideas of government, for they had laws and
social institutions, and established a monarchy at Tara, which
became the early centre of civilization. They were surrounded
by the magical, wonderftd, warlike Tuatha-de-Dananns, who

4. " The word Taimhleacht— a plague monument, a place where people who died of an
epidemic were buried— is pretty common as a local appellative in various parts of Ireland
under different forms ; it is of pagan origin, and so far as I know is not applied to a
Christian cemetery, except by adoption, like other pagan terms. In the northern countries
it is generally made Tamlaght and Tamlat ; while in other places it takes the form of
Tawlaght, Towlaght, and Toulett." — Joyce's Nanus and Places, p. 135. Four Masters^
vol, I, A 3.



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THE TUATHA-DE-DANANNS. 5

ruled ancient Erin for a long period, driving the Firbolgs to
the coast and islands, and amalgamating with those who
continued to remain unmolested in the centre of the country.
The Milesians followed, coming still, like their predecessors,
from the " Rising Sun," and the united races formed what we
now call the Irish people, yet not without a dash of Danish
and Saxon blood.

Yet the races still show themselves by individual character-
istics. The Firbolgs were small, straight-haired, and swarthy
men — combative when roused, faithful to their chiefe, but, if
the truth must be told, indolent and quarrelsome.^ They are
specially characterised by the brown or grey eye with dark
lashes, which at once marks a well known Celtic type. They,
in their comparatively prosperous sway, were rath builders,
and buried their dead without cremation beneath cromleachs
or tumulii; and undoubtedly they left to their descendants
agricultural tastes, and that love of land, or territorial posses-
sions, which is so opposite to the mere "land hunger" of the
Anglo-Saxon : the one loves the soil from hereditary affection,

5. The characteristics of each race are thus given by Duald Mac Firbis, in his Bifok of
CenealogUs: — '* Here, too, is the distinction which the profound historians draw between
the three different races which are in Erinn — ^that is, between the descendants of the
Firbolgs, Fir Domhnanns and Gailiuns, and the Tuatha-de-Dananns and the Milesians : —

** Every one who is white [of skin], brown [of hair], bold, honourable, daring, pros-
perous, bountiful in the bestowal of property, wealth, and rings, and who is not afraid of
battle or combat — they are the descendants of the sons of Milesians in Erinn.

"Every one who is fair-haired, vengeful, large, and every plunderer, every musical
person, the professors of musical and entertaining performances, who are adepts in all
Dmidical and magical arts — they are the descendants of the Tuatha-de-Dananns in Erin.

'* Every one who is black-haired, who is a tattler, guileful, tale-telling, noisy, con-
temptible ; every wretched, mean, strolling, unsteady, hafsh, and inhospitable person ;
every slave, every mean thief, every churl, every one who loves not to listen to music and
entertainment, the disturbers of every council and every assembly, and the promoters of
discord among people — these are the descendants of the Firbolgs, of the Gailiuns, of
Liogaime, and of the Fir Domhnanns, in Erinn. But, however, the descendants of the
Firbolgs are the mq%\ numerous of all these."— C>*C//rryj MS. Materials oj Irish History^
pp. 223-4,



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6 ^ THE MUESIAKS.

the other holds it eagerly from love of possession, and some-
times from greed.

The Tuatha-de-Dananns were a noble race. Bold in battle
and skilful in art, they were men to conquer and to retain
their conquests. These people were builders and workers in
stone and metal, and from them we possess the largest native
collections of tools for the formation of metal weapons, tech-
nically known as celts, and nearly the largest national collec-
tion of swords and battle axes.

The Tuatha-de-Dananns were of large structure, but also fair
complexioned, with light or reddish hair. They left their
name and mark after them, and two remarkable mountains in
Kerry were called Da-chich Danainna — ^the two Paps of
Danann — ^from a royal lady of the race.*

The Milesians came next, and took a place of personal
supremacy, so that their chiefs, with "0" and "Mac," held rule
till English invasion deprived them of territorial possessions.

Such were the amalgamation of races which looked down
from the ancient fort of Shandon (Seandun) on the colony of
St. Finbar, and on the site of the now populous city of Cork,
where they united in keeping the high festival of Beltaine at
Clontinty — the Meadow of the Fires.'*

6. The Tuatha-de-Dananns are supposed to have wandered in North Europe before
invading Ireland. The reader is referred to our 2 Uustratid History of Ireland (new and
enlarged edition), page 62, for a description of their weapons, and an account of their
meeting with Firbolg chiefs, and the curious fact of their speaking a common language.

7. It need scarcely be observed that the Irish Celts were fire worshippers. Fires were
lit on great festivals, and especially on May-<lay eve. Many places still bear names com-
memorative of this— as Clontinty, near Glanworth, Cork. The whole subject of Celtic
root words is one of the deepest interest. Tcine is the usual word for fire, and Solas for
light. In ancient times a light was kept burning at many fords, which are still called
Ath .SjAm— the Ford of Light. Cork furnishes an example of this custom. A ford on
the river Auberg, near Kanturk, has given the name to the townland of Assolas. There
is a ford of the same name near Doneraile, on the Glenavair river, and the traveller to
Macroom passes over the bridge of AthsoUis, which crosses the river Brungea.



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IRELAND DIVIDED INTO PROVINCES. 7

It is generally supposed that Ireland was divided into five
provinces by Slane, or Slaigne, the first Firbolg king. The
division is thus described : —

" Slane, the eldest brother, had the province of Leynester'
for his part, which containeth from Tuver Colpe, that is to say,
where the river Boyne entereth into the sea, now called in
Irish Drogheda, to the meeting of the three waters by Water-
ford, where the three rivers, Suyre, Ffeor, and Barrow, do
meet and run together into the sea. Gann, the second brother's
part, was South Munster, which is a province extending fi:om
that place to Bealagh-Conglaissey. Seangann, the third
brother's part, was from Bealagh-Conglaissey to Bosseda-
haOeagh, now called Limbriche, which is in the province of
North Munster. Geanaun, the fourth brother, had the province
of Connacht, containing from Limerick to Easroe. Boyre, the
fifth brother and youngest, had from Easroe aforesaid to Tuver
Colpe, which is in the province of Ulster." •

During the early ages, and indeed until the foundation of
the city of Cork by St. Finbar, that part of Munster is seldom
mentioned specially. We find in the Four Masters, under the
age of the world 2859, Neimhidh died of a plague, together
with three thousand persons, in the island oi Ard-Neimhidh,
in Crech Leathain, in Munster. Ard-Neimhidh is now known'
as Barrymore island, or the Great Island, near Cork, and Crich
Leathain comprises a large district including Castlelyons.

In the age of the world 3579, Conmeal, son of Emer, who
had been thirty years in thg sovereignty of Ireland, fell in the
battle of Aenach-Macha, by Tigheammas. A list of his battles

8. The termination ster^ m Munster, Leinster, and Ulster, is the Scandinavian Stodr —
a plain — which has been afiixed to the Celtic name. Leinster is the place or province
oi Latghen The Irish name of Ulster is Uladh^ pronounced Ulla , Munster is from
AIumAak

9 Annals of Clonmacnoisc

1. Four Masters, vol. i, p 11 » y



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8 COEK THE SEAT OP MONARCHY. /, * \

are on record, and unquestionably he did his share of fighting
from one end of Ireland to the other. One of the sites
mentioned is Berra, probably Berehaven, Co. Cork. Olere
may be Cape Clear, but it has not been satisfactorily identified.
In 3656 Berre is again mentioned as the site of One of the
battles of Tigheammas.

Tigheammas was a notable monarch. He is said to have
been the first by whom gold was smelted in Ireland, and who
patronised the exquisite work which still remains as an
undeniable evidence of the artistic skill and the cultivated
taste of the ancient Celt. Three " black rivers" are said to
have burst forth in this reign, one of which, Forann, has not
been identified by Dr. O'Donovan, who suggests that it may
be the river Fonro, near Youghal.

In the age of the world 3668, Cork was honoured by
becoming the seat of monarchy. Sobhairce and Cearmna Finn,
the two sons of Ebric, son of Euschre, son of Ir, son of MUedh,
reigned over Ireland, and divided it between them into two
parts. Sobhairce established himself at Dun-Sobhairce.*
Cearmna settled himself at Dun-Cearmna,^ at least as far as
any Celtic prince of the period could be said to have settled.
Their united reign was a long one, lasting for thirty years.
Certainly the governments were sufficiently divided, and a
march from the Co. Cork to Antrim would in these days have
required a strong incentive.

AVe are not told how Cearmna governed his southern

2. Now Dunseverich, near the Giant's Causeway.

3. I. e., Cearmnas Dun, or fort. This fort was situated on the Old Head of Kinsale.
Keating says that it was called Dun-mhic-Padrig in his time. See under the head Kinsale
for further details.



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SECOND DIVISION OF IRELAND, 9

kingcTom, but these two princes were the first kings of Ireland
of the race of Ir.

Sobhairce was slain by Eochardh Meann, a Formorian, and
Ceamma by Eochardh Faebhar-Gblas, who succeeded to the
sovereignty of Ireland,

In the age of the world 4981 we find the death of Rudgh-
raighe. and in the list of his battles one is mentioned as
having taken place at Gleannamhnach* and another at Cuirce.^

The famous Conn of the Hundred Battles dates, according
to the Four Masters, from the agel* of Christ 1 23.

Ireland was once more divided into two parts by Conn and

Eoghan Mor. This is mentioned in the Annals of Tighemach.^

The Annals of Clonmacnoise (Mageoghan's translation) contains

the following mention of Conn and the Munster families : —

"Conn Kedcahagh having thus slain King Cahire, succeeded
himself, and was more famous than any of his ancestors for
his many victories and good government. He was called
Conn Kedcahagh of [z. e. from] a hundred battles given [t. e.
fought] by him in his time. He is the common ancestor, for
the most part of the North of Ireland, except the Clanna-
Rowries, and the Sept of Lothus, son of Ithus. He had three
godly sons — Conly, Criona, and Art Enear — and three daugh-
ters — ^Moyne [the mother of Fearghus Duibhdeadach, King of
Ulster and Monarch of Ireland], Sawe [Sadhbh or Sabbiner],
and Sarad [the Queen of Conaire II]. Sawe was married to
Maicneadh, for whom she had Lughaidh Maccon, Monarch of
Ireland, and after his death to Oilioll Olum [the King of
Munster], by whom she had many sons, as the ancestors of

4. Gleaxmamhxiach, now Glanwortli, in the barony of Fermoy, Co. Cork.

5. Cnirce, a place in the county of Ciaraighe-Chuirche, now the barony of Kerricurrihy,
Co- Cork.

6. Tighemach was of the Murray race of Connaught. He is styled successor of St.
Ciaran and St. Comans in the Chronicum Scotorum. He died A.D. 10S4. His annals
are very valuable, having been compiled from early sources.



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TO iENGHUS, KINO OF MUNSTEPw.

the Macaxties, O'Briens, O'Kervells, O'Mahonies, and divers
others of the west [south] part of Ireland, by which means
they have gotten themselves that selected and choice name,
much used by the Irish poets at the time of tbeir commenda-
tions and praises, called Sile Sawe, which is as much [in
English] as the Issue of Sawe/'

Conn was succeeded by Conaire II., the father of the
Carbery muses, the founders of many important Munster
families. There were six Muscraidhes.^ These names have
all become obsolete, except that of Muscraidhe OTlynn, which
now form the two baronies of Muskerry in Cork. Muscraidhe
Luachra was the ancient name of the district in which the
Abhainn Mhor (the Blackwater) has its source : it was ao
called from its contiguity to the mountains of Slieve Luachra
in Kerry.

There were troublesome times in Munster, a.d. 241, in tho
fifteenth year of King Cormac, and there is the record of
another battle at " Beire/' which has a good deal of notoriety
in this fashion.

The year 489 is notable for the death of -^nghus, son of

Nadfreach, King of Munster, the common ancestor of the

Mac Carthys, O'Keeflfes, O'Callaghans, and O'SuUivans. His

death is thus recorded : —

" Died, the branch, the spreading tree of Gold —
-^nghus the laudable, son of Nadfreach ;
His prosperity was cut off by lUann
In the battle of Cell-Osnadha the foul." ^

7. According to O'h-Midhrin's Topographical Poem there were six Muscraidhe, all
in Munster, namely- i. Muscraidhe Mitine, the country of O'Floinn ; 2. Muscraidhe
Luachra, the country of O'h-Aodha, along the Abhainn Mor (Blackwater) ; 3. Mua-
craidhe Tri Maighe, the country of O'Donnagain ; 4. Muscraidhe Treitheime, the country
of O'Cuirc ; 5. Muscraidhe Tarthair Fcimhin. the country of O'Carthaigh ; 6. Mus-
craidhe Thire, the country of O'Doughaile and O'Fmrg.—BooJk 0/ Rights^ p. 42!

8. Four Masters, vol. 1., p. 153.



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BATTLE AT CUILLE, 00. CORK. II

JSnghus was baptized by St. Patrick at Caahel, and it is said
that the saint pierced his foot unintentionally with his crozier.
A stream of blood poured forth, but the prince remained
unmoved, believing it to be a part of the ceremony. He
received a special blessing for himself and his oflfspring, who
have undoubtedly multiplied to all the ends of the earth.

The Four Masters and the earlier annalists are reticent on
southern affairs, in which they were naturally less interested ;
but Keating^ records a battle in the year 528 at Cuille,
in the county Cork, wherein an inmiense number perished.
He further adds that this disaster was the result of some insult
offered to a devout woman, Suidhe Midhe, who had been in
some way ill-treated by the people. This is the first, and,
we believe, the last instance in which any complaint has been
made, either in ancient or modem times, of the Cork people,
whose charity is too well known to need commendation.

In the year 543 " there was an extensively universal plague
throughout the world, which swept away the noblest third
part of the human race." It was known as the Blefed 01
Ctom ChonailL It was preceded by famine and followed
by leprosy, and its first victims were St. Berchan of Glas-
nevin, and St. Finnen of Clonard.

9. Kealing; 0' Conor's Translation, voL 2, p. 31.



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CHAPTER 11.

(

EARLY CHRISTIAN PERIOD.

The last feast at Tara— OUamh Fodhla, of " furious ^lour"~Names given to Tara—
The feast held every third year— The order preserved in the assembly -The position
occupied by the different Kings— The Xing of Munster's place— The Sunny House of the
women — Change made in the administration— The Irish language even then becoming;
obsolete — The nine persons who were entitled to make a law— Revision of the
Seanchus Mor by St. Patrick — Similitude between Hebrew and Celtic law— the law of
JSric — Fosterage — ^Joint occupancy of Land — The causes of feuds in ancient Erinn —
Result of Drainage and Cultivation — The number Nine — Great meeting of Munstcr
men to arrange Local Laws — They select the plain between Killamey and Mangerlon
— The Septs that came, and where they came from— The O'Briens, the Mac Namaras,
the Mac Mahons, Mac Donalds, O'Gradys, O'Kennedys, O'llcas, O'Keefes, 0\Maleys,
O'Mahonys, O'Learys, O'Caseys, and Sheehans — The Twomeys and Kennedys — The
Cork Princes, with the Mac Carthys of Desmond and the O'Sullivans of Bear— The
O'Dunbars, Moriartys, O'Callaghans, Kehoes, and Driscolls — The food used by the
Irish at this time— The Brown Bear, the Wild Deer (Fiad/t Ruadh)^ the Wild Goat,
the Wild Boar (Tore Fiadhan) — The quality and quantity of Food which was to be
given to the aged — The great care taken of them— The different kinds of Habitations-
Castles, duns, etc., etc. — St. Baoithin's poem, and how he learned perseverance from
seeing a house built of wattles— Cows the test of wealth and possession— The variou-
grades from Tenant to Landlord, and the number of cows required to qualify for each
position — The "Senior" of the Builders of Erinn — Dress— A Widow's Dress— Dress ul
Conor Mac Nessa's son.



^HE last feast at Tara was held a.d. 554, and as the echo
of the footfalls died away in its deserted halls, the romance
of early Iri^h History became a thing of the past. There is
ample historical evidence for all that is related of the desertion
of Tara, though there is some little uncertainty as to the
exact date/ The feast of Tara was instituted by Ollamh

I. Tighemach puts the ** cena posirenuC' of Tara A.D. 560 It is entered twice in the
Annals of Ukter, first under A.D. 567, and again under a.d. 569. The hill of Tara had
five names— the first was Drum Decsain, or the conspicuous hill ; the second iMUh
Druim, or Laith's hill, after a Firbolg Chief of that name, who was the first to clear it of
wood ; the third was Druim Cain^ or the beautiful hill ; the fourth was Catbair Crofinuy
from a Tuatha-de-Danann lady ; the fifth Teniair, from being the burial place of Tea, the
wife of Eremon, the son of Milesius. — <9'0/rr|''j Lectures^ vcL ii. pa^e 1S9,



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FEAST OF TAItA. 13

Fodhla, and is commemorated thus in a very anciVnt oiiatrian:

" Ollamh Fodhla, of furious valour,
Who founded the Court of Ollamh,
Was the first heroic king
That instituted the Feast of Teamair." •

There has been unfortunately a disposition, not only
amongst strangers but even amongst the more educated
classes in Ireland, to look on the history of its past, of pre-
Christian or of very early Christian times, as mere legend,
preserved by a superstitious people in the form of romantic
tales, but without one particle of foundation. Contempt is
perhaps one of the most effective weapons against truth.
However strongly we may be convinced of the rectitude of
our opinions, or whatever solid ground we may have had for
forming them, a little breath of contempt, if it does not throw
the fabric to the ground, will at least induce us to compromise
or to yield weakly.

The sneers of the ignorant ought not to affect the conclusions
of the learned ; but when the ignorant happen to be the itiany
and the powerful, there is always fear that numbers may
prevail over justice.

The feast of Tara was held every third year during the
month of March, and was in fact a convention or parHament,
at which the affairs of the nation were settled. A poem which
was written about the year locx) gives a good idea of the way
in which proceedings were carried out : —

2. The poem from which the above is taken was written by Ferceirtne, who was attached
lo the court of Connor Mac Ncssa, at Emania. Two copies of this most curious and
inci*"nt poem are still preser^'cd, one in Trinity College, Dublin, IT. 3, 18, and the other
ai ihe British Museum, Egerton 88. This poem dates from the time of the Incarnation.



Online LibraryMary Francis CusackA history of the city and county of Cork → online text (page 3 of 53)