The Churches of County Clare
By T. J. Westropp, M.A.
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Clare County Library

Danish Wars

Early in the ninth century, we hear of a great slaughter of the “Gentiles,” by the men of Munster (813); and Corc, chief of Thomond at that time, is described by Brian [7] as “the man who first routed the foreigners in eight great battles.” In 834, the Danish fleet came up the Shannon, and ravaged Corcovaskin and Tradree. [8] Three years later, Iniscaltra was plundered, but the Dalcais [9] defeated the foe in a naval battle on Lough Derg. For a generation we have no further record of raids on Clare, and there was evidently a lull after the death of Turgeis (843); but in 866, Baraid and Amlaffson, with the Dublin fleet ravaged all Mumhan (perhaps Thomond), to Corcomroe and Loop Head, [10] and slew Cermad, chief of Corcovaskin. Twenty years later, Tomgraney was ravaged by the Danes. In 908, Tomrar MacElge, [11] the Danish King of Limerick, attacked Iniscaltra and Muckinish on a raid to Clonmacnoise. In 916, there was another great raid, but the men of Corcovaskin joined the men of Kerry, routed the foreigners, and slew “Rot, Pudarall, and Smuralt,” their leaders. Despite their severe defeat at Singland (close to their city of Limerick), by Callaghan, King of Cashel, the foreigners attacked Iniscaltra, in 922, and “drowned” its relics and shrines - let us hope these may some day be recovered from the safe keeping of Lough Derg - they also plundered the other churches on the lake; and in 969, Tomgraney was again destroyed. [12] In 964, the men of Thomond suffered defeat and great slaughter in a naval fight on the Shannon; though Brian ravaged the Danes from Lough Derg to the Fergus, and all Tradree. At last fortune turned in the year after the death of Cormac Ua Cuillen, the restorer of Tomgraney Abbey (964). Mahon, King of Thomond, and his brother Brian, gained the victory of Sulloghod, and took Limerick; and in 977, Brian reduced the Danish settlements along the Shannon in Tradree, Inismore, and Inisdadrum.

Cormac Ua Cuillen, the Abbot of Tomgraney (950-963), King Brian Boru (980-1014) and his descendants, Murchad (1080-1100), and Donald More O’Brien (1170-1194), all took a leading part in re-edifying and re-founding churches, schools, and monasteries and their work with the great outbreak of castle and church building in the fifteenth century has furnished most of the ancient church remains noticed in this Paper. [13]

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