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

Part I. Topography of Thomond Chapter 1. General Division

Division of Thomond before the English settlement of the County

For many ages before the territory of Thomond was formed into a county by the English, it was divided into distinct districts by the native inhabitants. These divisions were conterminous with the possessions of the several families, and they appear to have been most accurately defined, and for the most part to have remained unchanged for several hundred years before the division into baronies made in the time of Elizabeth. When at the Synod of Rathbreasail it was resolved to partition Ireland into dioceses and parishes, the bishops and clergy adhered, as much as possible to the boundaries as already existing between the territories of the various septs.[1] Although in ancient times much larger, in the sixteenth century Thomond was only co-extensive with the present county of Clare, except that it had, in addition, the parishes of Iniscaltra and Clonrush, now joined to the county of Galway, and the parish of Castleconnell, now forming part of the county of Limerick. In an account of the sub-divisions of the county of Clare written about the year 1580 and preserved in the MS. library of Trinity College, the following passage occurs:—“The county of Clare contayneth the whole of Thomond, being in length from Loophead to Killaloe forty-five miles, and in breadth from Limerick to Ballyline twenty-five miles, which of ancient time was divided into nine Triochaceds or Hundreds, and is now appointed to be contayned in eight baronies to be named as followeth, etc.” During the reign of Elizabeth it formed part of the province of Connaught, but it was again, at the request of the Earl of Thomond, added to Munster in the reign of James the First. We propose in the first part of this work to give the topography of Thomond according to the sub-divisions made by the ancient inhabitants, taking it alphabetically according to the names of the districts, and parish by parish. In our description it will be seen that Burren and Corcomroe were inhabited by a distinct tribe, consisting of the families of O’Loghlen and O’Connor, called the Rudrician, while the rest of the county was the inheritance of those numerous families deriving their descent from Cormac Cas, and thence called Dalcais or the brood of Cas. Long before the settlement of these tribes in Thomond, however, other races existed, but the history of these is involved in so much obscurity that we must content ourselves with simply referring to them in the general account of the county.