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The History and Topography of the County of Clare by James Frost


Part II. History of Thomond
Chapter 12. History of Thomond before it was formed into an English county: From the earliest times, to the death of De Clare, and expulsion of the English in 1318.

Settlement of the Firbolgs in Burren and Corcomroe

The records of Thomond, preserved in the works of the annalists of Ireland are very scanty, so far as regards the early history of the district. There is an ancient poem, which appears to be a compilation from still earlier works, where it is stated that, after the overthrow of the Firbolgs by the Tuatha De Danaans, in the great battle fought at Moytura, near Cong, in the County of Galway, they fled from the country, part of them taking refuge in the Hebrides. Thence they were driven out by the Picts, and they again sought refuge in Ireland. They came in the reign of Cairbré Nia-fear, shortly before the date of the Christian era. At that epoch they were known as the sons of Umór, and were led by their native chief Aengus, the son of Umór. They besought king Cairbré to give them some land in Meath, and they professed their readiness to pay him a sufficient tribute for the accommodation they should receive. The king complied with their request, but required them to give sureties for their good conduct. They gave pledges accordingly in the persons of four of their principal men. Soon finding the burdens placed upon them by the avaricious monarch too heavy to be borne, they resolved to fly from his rule and take refuge in Connaught, where they hoped to conciliate the favour of Ailill and Medhbh (Maev), the king and queen of that province. They set out accordingly by night with all their property, crossed the Shannon in safety, and were allowed to settle in the southern parts of the province, more particularly in the present counties of Galway and Clare, the latter forming at that time part of Connaught. Aengus, their chief, established himself in the isles of Arran, and built the noble stone fortress that bears his name, and remains almost perfect to this day—Dún Aengus, in the great island. Cutra, another son of Umór, settled at Lough Cutra (Lough Cooter); Conall, a third son, at Aidhne in the same district; Adhar, a fourth son, at Magh Adhar, where in after times grew the oak tree under which the Dalcassian chieftains were inaugurated; Dael and Endach, the fifth and sixth sons, at Daelach, on the river Davil, on the coast of Burrin, and at Teach Endaich, at the north of Ennistymon, near Lisdoonvarna.[1] From the Life of St. Senán, and other sources, we learn that the part of the county now called Ibrickan, Moyarta, and Clonderalaw, was inhabited by a race called Ui Bascain, and that the barony of Lower Bunratty was the patrimony, in very early times, long before the Dalcais existed, of a sept called Ui Sedna. Of these people scarcely any mention is made in ancient history. In a previous part of this work, where a description of Mount Callan is given, an extract from the Annals of the Four Masters is produced, giving the very earliest name of any people inhabiting Thomond. These were called the Martini, but no further allusion to them is made by Irish writers.

 

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