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

Part I. Topography of Thomond Chapter 6. West Corcabaskin

Account of Corcabaskin west; Its original inhabitants dispossessed by the MacMahons; Family of Cahane, or Keane; St. Sinan of Scattery Island; Extracts relating to west Corcabaskin taken from the Annals of the Four Masters

All Irish genealogists and historians agree that the country of Corcabaskin derived its appellation from the descendants of Cairbre Baiscain, son of Conaire the Great, the 122nd Monarch of Ireland, and brother of Cairbre Riada. For Corc, when thus prefixed to the name or cognomen of an ancestor always signifies progeny, race, or offspring, and is nearly syno[n]ymous with clann, cinel, or sliocht. The race of Carbre Bascain inhabited the district, and were its chiefs till the twelfth century, when the offspring of Mahone O’Brien (hence called MacMahon), conquered them. West Corcabaskin was nearly identical, as to its boundaries, with the present barony of Moyarta, the difference being that the parish of Killard belonged to it in ancient times. The original chiefs of the district had the name of O’Donnell, but they, as here stated, sunk under the MacMahons, the descendants of Brian Boroimhe. They have however, retained some property in the district to this day and are far from being extinct. In the account of the county of Clare made out for Sir John Perrott, it is stated that Turlough M‘Mahon was chief of the barony of Moyarta, and that he possessed four castles; while Sir Daniel O’Brien, of Dough, was owner of two, and the Cahanes [1] of two others in that district.

The great Saint Senanus of Scattery Island was a native of this country, being descended from Bolc, the son of Dace who was baptized by St. Patrick, and the life of the saint throws much light on the original topography of Corcabaskin. It shows that the western point of the county of Clare, extending from Traigh-an-Iarla (recté Traigh an Earlamha) which is situate a short distance on the west of Kilrush, to Loophead, was originally called Iorras Iarthair that is, the Western Erris. This is the district now called the west par excellence by the people living along the banks at the Clare side of the Shannon. When St. Patrick was preaching to the Ui Figeinte, and baptizing them at Cnoc Phaudrig near Shanagolden, at the Limerick side of the Shannon, the Corcabascin, with their king Bolc MacDecé, came to him in a fleet from the north across the Luimneach [2] and entreated him to preach and to baptize them on that day. The Saint requested them to wait till the next day, pleading fatigue as his excuse. Being still pressed by them, he ascended his chariot so that all might see him and hear his voice, and he preached to the multitude and baptized them in a neighbouring river. They further begged that the holy man should cross over into the territory to bless and baptize their wives and children, but he declined alleging sufficient reasons for his refusal. He, however, blessed the country, and left to Corcabascin the “gift of fleets.” [3]

The following extracts, relating to this district, taken from the Annals of the Four Masters, will show when the O’Donnells ceased to have sway in it, and when the MacMahons succeeded them:

A.M. 3790. The battle of Slieve Cailgé (now the high grounds of Moveen), against the Maratine in the country of the Corcabascin, gained by Aengus Olmuchaid, sovereign of Ireland.
A.D. 165. In this year was killed Conaire Mor, king of Ireland, from whose son Cairbre Baschain, the Baisgnigh in Corcabaskin are descended and named.
A.D. 717. A battle was fought between the Connaught men and the Corcabaskins, in which MacTolamnaigh was slain.
A.D. 807. Aodh Roin, Lord of Corcab[a]scin, died.
A.D. 862. Cermad son of Cathernac, chief of Corcabaskin, was killed by the Danes.
A.D. 913. Lena the son of Cathernac, Lord of Corcabascin, died.
A.D. 918. Murchad the son of Flann, Lord of Corcabaskin, died.
A.D. 992. Dunnadach, son of Diarmid, Lord of Corcabaskin, died.
A.D. 1013. Donnell, son of Diarmid, Lord of Corcabaskin, was slain in the battle of Clontarf. [4]
A.D. 1049. Ainaeslis, [5] son of Donnell, Lord of Corcabaskin, was killed by Assidh son of Donnell, i.e., by the son of his own brother.
A.D. 1054. A predatory excursion by Hugh O’Connor, king of Connaught, into Corcabaskin and Tradraighe, in which he took a great prey.
A.D. 1158. O’Donnell, Lord of Corcabaskin, was slain by O’Conor of Corcomroe.
A.D. 1359. Morogh Oge MacMahon, heir apparent to the lordship of Corcabaskin, was slain by the O’Briens.
A.D. 1383. Donogh-an-chuil (of the neck) MacMahon, Lord of Corcabaskin, died.
A.D. 1399. Conor MacCormaic, Bishop of Raphoe, one of the O’Donnells of Corcabaskin, died.
A.D. 1426. Turlogh MacMahon (Bodhar the deaf), Lord of Corcabaskin, was killed at an advanced age, in a nocturnal attack, and burned by his own kinsmen.
A.D. 1432. Teige MacMahon, heir apparent to the lordship of Corcabaskin, died.
A.D. 1460. Donnell the son of Dermot O’Mailly, William O’Mailly, and John O’Mailly went upon a naval expedition with the sons of O’Brien to Corcabaskin against MacMahon, but the O’Maillys were slain before they could reach their ships; Donald O’Brien was taken prisoner, and Mahone O’Brien drowned as they were on their way to their vessel.
A.D. 1488. Turlogh son of Teige MacMahon, a man full of grace and wisdom, died.
A.D. 1488. Donogh MacMahon, Lord of Corcabaskin died, and two MacMahons were established in his place, viz. Brian his own son, and Teige Roe the son of Turlogh MacMahon. (This appears to be the date of the division of Corcabaskin into two parts, viz. East and West.)
A.D. 1595. Turlogh son of Brian, son of Donogh, son of Donogh Baccach (the lame), Lord of West Corcabaskin, a man of great fame and character throughout Ireland, if we consider the smallness of his patrimony, for he had but one cantred (Triocha Céd) died, and his son Teige Caoch assumed his place.
A.D. 1598. Teige Caoch MacMahon took an English ship which had been going astray for some time. She put in at a harbour in Western Corcabaskin, near Carraig an Chobhlaigh (Carrigaholt).
A.D. 1600. O’Donnell of Ulster being on a plundering expedition in Thomond, encamped on the banks of the Fergus. Thence he expedites plundering parties who ravage the country extending from Craig-ui-Chiardhubhain (Craggykirrivan, near Clare Castle), in the lower part of the frontiers of the territory of the Islands to Cathair Murchadha (Cahermurphy) in West Corcabaskin.
A.D. 1602. Teige Caoch MacMahon was accidentally slain by his own son at Beare. [6] This Teige had been Lord of West Corcabaskin, but was banished from his patrimony three years before by the Earl of Thomond.