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

Part III. History of the County of Clare
Chapter 14. History of the County of Clare from 1580 to 1641

Raid made on Clare by Red Hugh O’Donnell in 1599; Another raid in 1600

Just at this time, the northern lords, O’Neill and O’Donnell, were engaged in a deadly struggle against the foreigners, but O’Brien, instead of giving his consent to repeated applications for aid from Tyrone and Tirconnell, accorded his full support to the English. [9] Such conduct excited the resentment of Red Hugh O’Donnell, and he determined to ravage the country of the Earl of Thomond, in revenge for that nobleman’s supineness in the national cause. Accordingly, at the dawn of day, on a particular morning, in the year 1599, his forces arrived at the eastern extremity of Coill-o-Flancadha. Here he divided them into marauding parties, sending one to Burren, under command of Teige O’Rourke and MacSweeney Banagh, another into Ballyogan (Baile-ui-ogan), and Coilmore, [10] to Tullyodea, and to the gate of Baile-ui-Griobhtha (Ballygriffy). Maguire he despatched, with a strong party to Inchiquin, and he himself, with the main body of his followers, marched through Rockforest and arrived at Killinaboy about mid-day. Those whom he had detached to the south, returned northwards, by Druim Finnglaise (Cregmoher), and Corofin, and joined him at Killinaboy. Thither the spoils of all Cineal Fearmaic, from Disert to Glancolumbkille, and to Tulach Chumain (Tullycommon), and from Cluain Sailchearnaigh (Cloonsilherny) to Leim-an-eich, were brought to him. O’Rourke and MacSweeny were not able to return to him that evening with the spoils of Burren, neither did Maguire come back, all having pitched their tents where the darkness overtook them. O’Donnell remained that night at Killinaboy, and next morning moved on to Kilfenora. Thence, he detached parties in all directions around, with orders to plunder the country. One of them having gone to Eidneach (Inagh), to Brentir of the Fearmacaigh, to Cormacaigh, to the gate of Inis Dimáin, (Diman’s holme, or island), to Cill-Easpug-Flannain (Kilaspuglonane), and to Baile Phaidin, (parish of Kilmacreehy), returned to him charged with spoil. He remained at Kilfenora till the following day, when O’Rourke and MacSweeny Banagh came back from Burrin, and Maguire returned from Inchiquin, all loaded with much booty. Seeing the hills around covered with the herds that had been brought in by his followers, he gave orders for a retreat homewards. Passing by Nua-congobhail, (Noughaval), Turloch-na-gcoilean, (Turlagh, near the old church of Termon Cronan), the monastery of Corcomroe, and Corcair na Cleireach, (the monk’s road), he arrived at Rubha (Curranroo), where he stayed for the night. On the morrow, he passed through the upper part of Clanrickard, by the gate of Athenry, and so to his northern home. In the process of stripping the country, the cattle of the learned historian and poet, Maoelín Oge MacBrody were carried off. He came to O’Donnell to ask them to be restored, and they were immediately given back to him. He then composed a stanza representing that it was in requital of the demolition of Grianan Aileach, [11] by Murtagh More, great grandson of Brian Boroimhe, in 1101, that God permitted the present devastation of Thomond in accordance with the curse of St. Columbkille, upon the O’Briens. [12]

Not content with the injury done to Thomond in 1599, as here described, O’Donnell determined again to visit the county and inflict further ruin upon it. The point selected this time for his incursion, was the north-east part of the county, and the date of his coming was the year 1600. At the dawn of the morning on a Sunday, he passed through Moynoe and Tomgraney, and marching onwards towards Ennis, he plundered that town, as well as the country by which he travelled. He lay at Ennis that night, and on the following morning, imitating his tactics of the previous year, he detached parties to ravage the country all round. It is needless to say that they faithfully executed the task imposed upon them. In the course of that day, they traversed, burned, and despoiled the district extending from Craig-ui-Chiardhuvain (Creggy-kerrivan) to Caher Murchadha (Cahermurphy), to Kilmurry Ibrickan, to Caherrush (Cathair Ruis), to Magh, (Moy near Lahinch), to Baile-Eoin-Gabhan (Smithstown), and to Both Neill. “Many a feast, fit for the lord of a territory, was enjoyed throughout Thomond, that night, by parties of four or five men, under shelter of a shrubbery or beside a bush.” On the following morning, O’Donnell set out for home, and reached Corcomroe Abbey that afternoon, with his spoils. That no time should be wasted, he employed the remainder of the evening, until night-fall, in stripping the country surrounding the monastery of its flocks and herds, and burning houses, “so that no habitation or mansion worthy of note was left which he did not burn and totally destroy. All the country behind and around them was enveloped in smoke, so that the vastness of the dark cloud of vapour was enough to set them astray in their course. On the following day, they pursued their way through Corcair, and halted at night at Clarinbridge. Here they divided the spoils of the Thomanians, and finally marched northwards through Connaught.” [13]