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

Part I. Topography of Thomond Chapter 3. Burren, or Corcomroe East

Abbey Parish; Abbey of Corcomroe; Family of O’Hynes; Road of Corcair-na-cleirach

This parish derives its name from the Abbey of Corcomroe, sometimes also called the Abbey of Burren, [11] founded for Cistercian monks in 1194 by Donald O’Brien, King of Thomond, or, as others say, by Donogh Cairbreac, his son, in 1200. It was called “the abbey of the fruitful rock,” and was a daughter of that of Suir. Later it was made subject to the Abbey of Furness, in Lancashire, and it had a cell at Kilshanny near Ennistymon, to which it sent monks as occasion demanded.

Corcomroe Abbey
Corcomroe Abbey

It was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. [12] In a battle fought in 1267 between Conor O’Brien and Conor Carrach O’Loghlen, at a place called Suidaine, O’Brien was slain and his body was laid in Corcomroe Abbey under a beautifully sculptured monument surmounted by his effigy, still in good preservation. A short time since, in making some repairs, an effigy of a mitred abbot was discovered. The abbey itself is well preserved. [13] It contains likewise a monument to the memory of Peter O’Loghlen, of Newtown, called “the last Prince of Burren.” Little is known of its history. One of its abbots named John was made Bishop of Kilmacduagh in 1418. After the dissolution of the monasteries, Corcomroe, and its eleven quarters of land, situate in the valley in which it stands, were granted to Richard Harding, of whom nothing further is known. By an Inquisition of the year 1582, it was found that Donogh MacMurrogh O’Brien of Dromoland died seized of this abbey, together with all its possessions annual value besides reprises, 40s. Irish money. [14]

In the townland of Ballyhehan, situate in this parish, stands a castle belonging formerly to one of the O’Loghlens. Corra-an-Rubha (Curranrue) also belongs to this parish, and in it a castle existed which was the residence of O’Heyne, chief of Ui Fiachrach Aidhne. That castle fell in the year 1755, at the very moment when the earthquake at Lisbon happened. The present representative of the branch of the O’Heynes, who lived in this castle and also in the castle of Ballybranaghan, at Kinvarra, is a descendant of John Hynes, son of James, son of John, who lived at Poulaniscé, son of Brian, son of Peter, the last who is said to have lived at Curranroe Castle. The senior branch of this once powerful family was represented in 1839 by Mr. Hynes, of Ardrahan, well known in the country as Heynes the process server. He was the senior lineal descendant of Guaire Aidhne, king of Connaught, so celebrated by the Irish bards for his hospitality. [15] The family of O’Heyne possessed the territory which now comprises the diocese of Kilmacduagh, and numerous references are made to them in the annals of the country. Their votive church is conspicuous among the group of ecclesiastical buildings at Kilmacduagh. On the verge of the parish of Abbey is the pass anciently known by the name of Corcair-na-cleirach (the cleric’s pass), now called Corcairhill. It was on the well-known road leading from Clare into Galway, which is still in use between the Castle of Leamanegh and Kinvarra by Castletown, Corcomroe Abbey (and Curranrue.)