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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 16. Inquisitions relating to county of Clare—Reign of James I

Maccon MacNamara of Dangan; Inquiry at Tulla as to ownership of certain lands given by MacNamara to the church

Inquisition, taken at Ennis, on the 30th of April, 1611, before Nicholas Kenny, finds that Maccon MacNamara of Dangan-i-viggin, chief of his nation, being seized, in his lifetime, of the lands called the Callownaghs, afterwards Tarmon Tulla, consisting of the following denominations, viz., Tulla with its ruined fortress, Lissofin with its ruined castle, Clonteen, Dromlig, Moymore, Fomerla with its ruined castle, Kiltanon, Tyredagh alias Tiresheeda, Dromcaha, alias Kildonalballagh, Ballyore, Dromaghmartin, Creganeryen, Bunavory, Killeen, Furhee, Loughaun, Cutteen alias Cahercutteen, he, the said Maccon, did convey them, on the 11th of November, in the twentieth year of Richard II. (1397), to Donogh, son of Maccon, the Rector of the parish church of Tulla, to hold unto him and his successors; finds that this grant was made contrary to the Statutes of Mortmain and without having first obtained the king’s license authorizing the donation.

It appears that these lands did not long remain in possession of the Church, for they continued to be the patrimony, until the time of Cromwell, of a branch of the MacNamaras called Sliocht-an Bhallaigh, (the descendants of the freckled man), so called from Donald Ballach, the son of Mahone Dall, whose tomb is near the high altar of Quin Abbey. Their right, to some at least, of the lands, was disputed by the Earl of Thomond, and in the reign of James I. Alderman Nicholas Weston of Dublin, got a grant by patent, of Creganecreen and Cahercutteen, being three “Callounaghs” of said Tarmon lands. The patent, which bore date the 7th of January, in the 11th year of the king, set forth that they were the property of the Crown, having been forfeited under the Statute of Mortmain. By virtue of his grant, Weston proceeded to dispossess the MacNamaras. He subsequently conveyed the estate to Roland Delahoyde, afterwards Sir Roland Delahoyde, a gentleman from Leinster, who had come to settle in Clare, and who had married a daughter of Clancy of Inch, near Ennis. Delahoyde sought to retain the property by the help of the Earl of Thomond, with whom he was a great favourite, but a new claimant presented himself, in the person of William Hewitt, Vicar of Tulla, who alleged that he was entitled to it, under the grant to the church, made by MacNamara, in the reign of Richard II. He filed a bill in Chancery, in the fifth year of Charles I., against Sir Roland Delahoyde, Bryan Sweeney, and John O’Donoghue, gentlemen, setting forth that he had been turned out of possession by them. To this they replied by referring to the Statute of Mortmain, and to the right of the Crown to dispose of the property, to the prejudice both of the church, and of the Sliocht an Bhallaigh.

To inquire into the real right of ownership, a commission was issued, about the 20th of June, 1657, and it sate at Tulla. The commission consisted of four persons, two on behalf of Hewitt, namely, Winter Bridgeman, Esq., and Richard Walker, Clerk; and two on the side of Delahoyde, namely, Sir John MacNamara, Knt., and John MacNamara, Esq.:—Several witnesses were examined, amongst whom were Daniel MacNamara of Dangan-i-viggin, and Bœtius Clancy of Knockfinn, stated to be then aged 50 years or thereabouts. After several adjournments, and after hearing the testimony of many witnesses, judgment was finally given against Hewitt, on the 28th of June, in the fifth year of Charles I. It transpired during the inquiry, that Daniel, son of Cuvea MacNamara, was owner of one moiety of a quarter of the lands of Tyredagh, while Teige, son of Gilladuff, owned half a quarter of that townland, together with the middle room and one chamber of the castle, which apartments he had let to Sir Roland Delahoyde for rent. It is also mentioned, in the course of the pleadings, that an ancient record now lost, called the book of St. Mochuilla, the patron saint of Tulla, was frequently referred to. All this information is taken from a MS. book 24/D.10., in the library of the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, in the handwriting of the Chevalier O’Gorman. When he wrote, he states that only four of the descendants of Donald Ballach were known to exist. These were Captain Teige MacNamara of Rannagh, who in 1714, repaired his ancestor’s tomb at Quin, and his brother John, both of whom belonged to the elder branches of the old stock; and two other gentlemen whose names O’Gorman did not remember.