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Ordnance Survey Letters by John O'Donovan and Eugene Curry, 1839

Parish of Abbey (a)

This Parish forms the most northern part of the Barony of Burren, and is bounded on the northwest, north and northeast by the Bay of Galway; on the east and southeast by the Parish of Oghtmama and on the west by the Parish of Drumcreehy.

The present and apparently ancient name of this Parish is Mainister Chorcum-ruadh i.e., the Abbey of Corcumroe, but I have never been able to ascertain why it received such an appellation as it is not situated in the Territory now called Corcumroe but in that of Burren. But perhaps Corcumroe was originally a generic name for a Territory comprising the present Baronies of Corcumroe and Burren?[1] If not it will be difficult to assign a reason for the addition of Corcumroe having been put to the name of this Abbey. On this subject I shall speak more fully when treating of the History of O’Loughlin and O’Conor of Corcumroe, who are not of the Dalcassian race, but of the race of Fergus Mac Roigh, King of Ulster.

In the Caithreim Thoirdhealbhaidh or Wars of Torlogh O’Brien, and the Annals of Inishfallen, it is called the Abbey of Burren as will presently appear. According to a list of Castles, Abbeys, etc. written by William O’Lionain, it would appear that the Abbey of Corcomroe was founded by Donogh, the son of Teige O’Brien, whose mother was the daughter of O’Day (O’Dea) but according to Ware this is uncertain. Archdall states that Corcumroe is the name of a small village in the Barony of Burren, which was plundered, according to the Annals of Munster, in the year 1088 by Roderic O’Conor and Dermot O’Brien, but I deny that Corcumroe was ever the name of a village, or that it is mentioned as such in any Irish Annals. I here insert all that Archdall has collected of the History of this Abbey.

Is not the meaning of the passage in the Annals of Munster that the Territory of Corcumroe was thrice plundered by Roderic O’Conor etc., in 1088? Let me have the passage in the Annals of Inishfallen under the year 1088 which mentions the plundering of Corcumroe, for I think that by the Annals of Munster Archdall meant the Annals of Inishfallen.

Archdall’s Monast. Hib. Vol. 1 page 44. (R.I.A.) - Co. of Clare.

CORCUMROE.[2] A small village in the Barony of Burren. It was thrice plundered by Rotheric O’Conor and Dermot O’Brien in the year 1088.[3]

A.D. 1194. Donald, King of Limerick, founded a sumptuous monastery here for Cistertian Monks and dedicated it to the Virgin Mary.[4] Others say that Donagh Carbrac, his son, was the founder in the year 1200. This Abbey was also called the Abbey of the Fruitful Rock, and was a daughter of that of Suir; it was afterwards made subject to the celebrated Abbey of Furnes in Lancashire; the Cell of Kilsonna alias Kilshanny was sometime after annexed to this house.[5] The founder died the same year.[6]

A.D. 1267. Donogh O’Brien, King of Thomond, was killed in the Battle that was fought at Siudaine.[7] He was solemnly interred in this Abbey, where a grand monument was erected to his memory, the remains of which are to be seen at this day.[8]

A.D. 1317. A dreadful battle was fought near this Town in which many of the principal of the O’Brien’s fell. Amongst the slain were Teige and Mortogh Garbh, sons of Brien Ruadh, King of Thomond.[9]

A.D. 1418. The Abbot, John, was made Bishop of Kilmacduagh.[10]

King Henry VIII 1 July, Anno 35, granted to Morogh, Earl of Thomond, this Abbey, containing fifteen quarters of land in this County and 16d. sterling annual rent in Gortnabanaby near Claris, and 13s. 4d. annual rent in Corcamro and Ballyherin, and two Messuages with two gardens in Killinboy said County. Chief Remem. This Abbey with eleven quarters of land in Corcumroe and Glaneinanagh was granted to Richard Harding.[11]

Inquisition 6th December XXV. Elizabeth, finds that Donogh Mc Murghe O’Brien of Dromolan in this County, died seized of this Abbey and all its possessions, annual value besides reprises on account of the depopulation of the Co. being only 40s. Irish money.[12]

Inquisition 4th June XXVI. same reign, finds that Morcho O’Brien Father of Dermot, Baron of Inchiquin being seized in fee of divers lands, Abbies etc., did grant to Donat alias Donogho O’Brien, his third son, the Abbey of Corcumroe with all its appurtenances, annual value besides reprises 30s. Chief Remem.

The present tradition in the Country is that the Abbey of Corcomroe was founded by the son of Conor na Siudaine O’Brien on the spot where his father was killed in battle by Guary O’Shaughnessy of Dun Guaire near Kinvarra. It is added that an effigy of Conor na Siudaine was placed on the very spot in the Abbey where he fell, but there is no truth in this tradition, for it appears from the Annals of Inishfallen as well as from the Wars of Torlogh that this Abbey was in existence long before the death of Conor na Siudaine, and that Conor na Siudaine was not killed by O’Shaughnessy. I shall here insert the account of the death of O’Conor, surnamed na Siudaine, as given in both these authorities.

A.D. 1267. An army was lead by Conor na Siudaine, the son of Donogh Cairbreach O’Brien, to Kinel-Fearmaic, where they were joined by O’Dea and O’Hehir at the head of their forces. They went to the upper Canthred to bring the inhabitants thereof to submission, and they burned the Country north of Duibh-Gleann, and proceeded northwards to Béal-Clogaidh, near the sea, where they were met by Conor Carrach O’Loughlin and his allies and a Battle ensued in which Conor na Siudaine O’Brien together with a great many of his people were slain by O’Loughlin and the race of Donnell Conachtach O’Brien, and he (Conor na Siudaine) was buried by the monks in the Abbey of Burren - Annals of Innishfallen.

The same fact is stated in the Caithreim Thoirdhealbhaigh at full length.
See page 13 of the Ordnance Survey copy.

When they passed by Béal an Cloghaidh westwards, and proceeded westwards along the sea at the north, O’Conor Carrach O’Loughlin with his allies and numerous forces came to oppose them, and a furious and merciless battle was fought between them, in which Conor (na Siudaine) and many of his people were slain - a catastrophe from which many evils and misfortunes resulted to the country, as will appear in the course of this narrative. This was in the year 1265, recté 67. Conor was buried in the Monastery of the east of Burren with honor and solemnity by the Monks who raised a monument over his grave.

The monument mentioned here is still in existence and in the Choir of the Abbey and called the Monument of Crohoor na Siudainé. It is very like the tomb of Cooey na nGall O’Kane in the church of Dungiven, but in far better preservation. Mr. Wakeman should make a careful drawing of this tomb and also of the whole of the Abbey which is very old and truly beautiful, but not extensive. Near this tomb of Crohoor na Siudainé is a large but rude and modern one inscribed in modern letters “the Burial Place of O’Loughlin, King of the Burren.”

In this Parish is situated the Townland of Ballyheaghan, Baile Ui h-Éacháin, in which was situated a Castle belonging to a branch of the O’Loughlins.