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


Part I. Topography of Thomond Chapter 9. Ui Fearmaic; Gleann Omra; Ui Bracain; Ui Floinn; Ui Ronghaile

Ui Fearmaic

Rath Parish

Properly speaking the name of this parish is Rath Blathmaic, from its patron saint of that name, whose festival day was the 24th of July. [18] The existing church stands on the site of a much older building long since demolished, and is in good preservation. It consisted of a nave and chancel. At a little distance is the Rath of Blathmac constructed of earth. In the parish of Rath is situate the hill of Ceann Sleibhe, rising over the beautiful lake of Inchiquin and made the scene of one of the ancient romantic Fenian tales called Feis-tigh-chonain, that is the Feast of the House of Conàn. In the story of Finn-mac-Cumhaill and his faithful hound Bran are conspicuous figures. The ancient name of the hill was Ceann Nathrach, and it gave his name to Aengus Ceann Nathrach, the fifth son of Cas and ancestor of the family of O’Dea. [19] At the foot of Ceann Sleibhe the old causeway called Coraidh-mic-Owen crossed the Fergus just near the bridge at Clifden. Not far from the church of Rath, on the west side, stands the hill of Scabhal mentioned in the History of the Wars of Thomond. The following castles are enumerated as belonging to this parish, with their owners in 1580—Carrowduff, Mahone, son of Brian O’Brien; Tirmicbran (now Adelphi), the same owner; Cragcorcrain, Murtagh Garv O’Brien;[20] Rath, the same owner; Dromenglass (now Cregmoher), Teige MacMurrogh O’Brien. A curious legend is related of the lake of Rath, situated near the old parochial church. It is to the effect that an amphibious monster in the form of a badger suddenly appeared in the lake in the early part of the sixth century. The lake was thenceforward called Loch Broicsighe in consequence, and high up on the neighbouring hill was a cave named Poll-na-Brocuidh for the same reason. The badger issued from the lake and committed daily depredations upon the people and cattle of the surrounding country. Recourse was had to the clergy for their protection. Saints Blathmac, Maeldalna, and MacAiblen, who then happened to be on the spot promptly responded. A general meeting was held, and suddenly the monster appeared, driving droves of cattle before him towards the water. The people and clergy raised a great shout, rung their bells (Cluicé) and their Ceólána, made a great noise with their reliquaries and croziers, and in every way sought to frighten the wild beast. In vain; he only became more ferocious, and it was reserved for Saint MacCreiche of Ennistymon to conquer him. That holy man chained him in the bottom of the lake. The legend here sketched is traditionally well remembered in the locality, and the bells and Ceòlàna supposed to have belonged to St. Blathmac have passed into the collection of the Royal Irish Academy. [21]

 

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