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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

Its ancient topography described by O’Donovan and O’Curry

Our description is mainly derived from the information collected by O’Donovan and O’Curry while they were employed under Petrie to visit every part of Ireland with a view to a topographical and historical account of each of the counties, which was to form an accompaniment of the Ordnance maps. In pursuance of their instructions to that effect, these distinguished Irish scholars visited Clare, and as they found it to contain remains of antiquity and objects of historical interest in greater number than any other of the counties they had visited, they devoted to their task more time and attention than was usual in other cases. Beside these considerations, they were influenced by others in making their inquiries into the historical and antiquarian memorials of Clare as complete as possible. One of them was a native of the county, and both had taken wives from amongst its daughters. In the autumn and winter of 1839 they pursued their investigations into the history of each of the parishes, visiting the several localities amid storms and rain, and subject to discomforts as to locomotion and lodgings, often amusingly described in their letters to Sir Thomas Larcom, the director of the Ordnance Survey. From these letters, as before stated, the description of the county is given in this work. The originals are preserved in the library of the Royal Irish Academy. Mr. O’Donovan, in the course of his study of the historical records relating to the affairs of ancient Thomond, was able to compile a map of the territorial divisions of the county of Clare as they existed in the year 1300. In the present work will be found that map, on a reduced scale, and with some slight modifications as to boundaries which escaped the attention of O’Donovan. As it was originally designed, the Ordnance Survey was to include a complete history of every part of Ireland; but after the publication of the portion relating to the city of Londonderry, the project was abandoned, as involving too great an expenditure of public money. Such unwise parsimony as this has probably deprived us of a more complete history and description than exists of any other country in Europe. Fortunately, however, the materials exist, and it is earnestly to be hoped that some future prime minister will have the good taste and love of historic truth to procure their publication at the expense of the nation. At no time in the history of Ireland were there ever men so thoroughly acquainted with its local features as Petrie, O’Donovan, and O’Curry, and to no part of the country did they devote more attention than to Clare. In addition to the information given in their letters the author of this work has supplied other particulars derived from printed works and from personal inquiries.