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

Part II. Letters and Extracts relative to Ancient Territories of Thomond, 1841

IV. & V. Corca Bhaiscin East and West

All the Irish genealogists and historians agree that the country of Corco-Bhaiscinn in the west of Thomond derived its appellation from the descendants of Cairbre Bascain, son of Conary the Great (the 122nd Monarch of Ireland) and brother of Cairbre Riada the ancestor of the Dal-Riada of Scotland, for Corc when thus prefixed to the name or cognomen of an ancestor always signifies progeny, race or offspring, and is nearly synonymous with Clann, Cinel or Sliocht. The descendants of this Carbry Bascain inhabited this district and were its Chiefs until the 11th Century, when the descendants of Mahon O’Brien conquered them.

Beauford, in his absurd and impertinent Tract on ancient Irish topography, asserts that Corca Bhaiscinn, which he makes signify the Morass of the Harbour or Bay, is the name of an ancient district round the Harbour of Cork and from whence the present City has taken its name.

Map of Corca Bhaiscin East
Map of Corca Bhaiscin East
Click on the map for larger version
But this assertion is so barefaced an imposition that it is not worth notice, but should be held up to eternal scorn, because Beauford could have obtained correct information on the subject in O’Flaherty’s Ogygia, in Harris’s Ware and in O’Brien’s Irish Dictionary, works published and in the hands of every Irish Scholar and antiquary in his time.

Every Irish authority - Beauford, if indeed, he deserve the name of authority - places Corco-Bhaiscinn in the west of Thomond, and its exact extent is given in a description of the County of Clare preserved in a MS. in Trin. Col. E.2.14, namely, from Inishmore in the mouth of the Fergus to Loophead, and from the Shannon to the boundary of Hy-Brickan.

The original chiefs of the territory of East Corco-Vaskin were the O’Donnells, but they sunk under the Mac Mahons, the descendants of Brian Boru, in the 11th Century. They have however, retained some property in the Territory to this day, and are far from being extinct. The following pedigree of O’Donnell of Corca-Vaskin as given (copied) by Duald Mac Firbis from ancient MSS. will show that his line has flourished in this territory from a very remote period.

Conor O’Donnell, the Bishop, son of
|
Mortogh, who was the son of
|
Niall
|
Fer-leighin
|
Niall
|
Conor
|
Mortogh
|
Rory
|
Melaghlin
|
Hugh
|
Donnell
|
Aengus
|
Dermot
|
Niall
|
Donogh
|
Teige
|
Hugh
|
Donnell
|
Hugh. His brother Aneslis was killed in 1094 by his cousin Aissidh.
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Donnell, a quo O’Donnell of Corco-Vaskin; he was killed in the Battle of Clontarf A.D. 1014.
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Dermot
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Flann. His son Morogh died in 918.
|
Flannabradh
|
Hugh
|
Donnell
|
Duv-Conda
|
Athail
|
Dallan
|
Noe
|
Iomchadh, in whom the East and West Corco-Vaskin meet. | Corb
|
Lughaidh
|
Oilioll Baschaoin, a quo of the Corca-Vaskin, son of
|
Conaire, King of Ireland. A.D. 165.

The Pedigree of O’Baskin, Chief of West Corco-Vaskin, is thus given by Mac Firbis:-

Catharnach
|
Mac-Raith
|
Baisgin
|
Brian
|
Morogh
|
Catharnach. His son Cermad was killed by the Danes in 862, and his son Lena died in 913.
|
Aodh Roin, died A.D. 807.
|
Rechtabradh
|
Aitheachta, slain in 717.
|
Talmach
|
Laidgin
|
Baodán
|

 
St. Senan
  Dondan  
 
|
  |  
 
Gerrginn
  Mongan  
 
|
  |  
 
Cobthach
  Corp  
 
|
  |  
 
Bole
Cet,
who was Baptized by Saint Patrick, together with his five
      |________brothers, on the south side of the Shannon.
|
   
Dece
|
Iomchadh
|
Corp
|
Lughaidh
|
Oilioll Baschaoin,
a quo Corco- Bhaiscinn.
 

Colgan describes the situation of Corco-Bhaiscinn as follows in a note on the Life of Saint Senan, Acta SS. p.539 (recte 535):-

Corca-Bhaschind. Est regio maritima Tumoniae seu Comitatus de Clare, illud nomen sortita a Carbreo Baschaoin, cujus posteri ad multo tempora rerum ibi potiebantur ut nostri passim tradunt antiquarii.

This Territory was divided into two parts at a very remote period, as appears from the pedigree of O’Donnell above given, in which it is stated that the family of Corca-Vaskin East branched off from the family of West Corca-Vaskin at Iomchadh, the third in descent from Oilioll Baschaoin, the progenitor of both but we have no Irish Authority to prove the boundary between both older than the reign of Queen Elizabeth. It is probable however, that the ancient boundary between them was then well known. According to this Authority the Territory of Corca-Vaskin West was co-extensive with the Barony of Moyarta(but which was more extensive then than it is now) and that of Corca-Vaskin East was co-extensive with the Barony of Clonderalaw.
Map of Corca Bhaiscin West
Map of Corca Bhaiscin West
Click on the map for larger version

The account of the County of Clare preserved in the College Library (E.2.14.) places the following Parishes and Castles in the Territory of Corca-Vaskin East:-

The Baronie of Cloynetherala conteyninge East Corkewasken, and is ploughlands after like rate XXV. Tege Mac Mahone, Chiefe in the same.

PARISHES.

Vicar of Kylearagh.
Vicar of Kylcoridan (Kilcredan)
Vicar of Killeymurry.

The list of Parishes is unquestionably defective. See list given in Book of Regal Visitation. - J.O’D.

Castles Gentlemen
Dangan-Myburke Teige Mac Mahon
Cloynetheralla Teige Mac Mahon
Cahirracon Teige Mac Mahon
Ballamacollman Teige Mac Mahon
Derecrossan Teige Mac Mahon
Coroberighane Tege Mac Conor O’Brien
Dunegrock Tege Mac Moriertagh Cam

“The Baronie of Moyartha which conteyneth West Corkewasken, and is ploughlands after like rate XXV. Tirlagh Mac Mahown Chiefe in the same.”

PARISHES.

Vicar of Moyartha.
Vicar of Iniskatty.
Vicar of Kilruish.
Vicar of Killairde. Certainly defective. - J.O’D.

Castles Gentlemen
Inishkathy Charles Cahane. This man by inheritance is called a Courboe (i.e., Coarba).
Ballykette James Cahane
Carrighowly (now Carrigaholt) Tirlagh Mac Mahown
Moyartha Tirlagh Mac Mahown
Dunlekill (now Dunlicky) Tirlagh Mac Mahown
Dunsumayne Tirlagh Mac Mahown
Dunmore Sir Donell O’Brien, Knight
Dunbeg Sir Donell O’Brien, Knight

From this list it is evident that Corca-Vaskin West was more extensive than the present Barony of Moyarta for it contained the Parish of Killard (in which the Castles of Dunbeg and Dunmore are situated) which is now considered to be (and is actually made to be) a part of the Barony of Ibrickan. We have as yet discovered no document to prove when this Parish was added to the Barony of Ibrickan.

It is necessary to remark that before the Mac Gormans settled in the Territory of Ibrickan that Territory was a part of Corca-Vaskin, for it appears from all the ancient Irish documents that the western part of the County of Clare, from Blackhead and Galway Bay to the Shannon, belonged to two great tribes, the Corcomroe and Corco-Vaskin, the former possessing, as I have already stated, the entire of the Diocese of Kilfenora, comprising the present Baronies of Burren and Corcomroe; and the latter, the present Baronies of Ibrickan, Moyarta and Clonderalaw. But when the Mac Gormans were settled by O’Brien in the Barony of Ibricken (which occurred in the 12th Century, as has been already shewn) the Territory of the Corca-Vaskin was limited to the Baronies of Clonderalaw and Moyarta and the Parish of Killard in the south of the Barony of Ibrickan. We have no document to prove how the Barony of Ibricken was divided between the East and West Corco-Vaskin but we may conjecture with considerable safety that it was divided equally, or nearly so, between them. The great St Senanus of Scattery Island was a native of this Territory and of the people of Corco-Bhaiscinn, being descended from Bolc, the son of Dece, who was Baptized by St. Patrick.

His life throws great light upon the original topography of Corco-Vaskin, but it contains one error which has caused great confusion and which neither Colgan, nor the more ingenious Lanigan was able to detect, namely, that the Island of Inis Cathaigh, now Scattery Island in the Shannon opposite the Town of Kilrush, belonged to Mac Tail, King of the Hy-Figinte. This is a glaring error for it appears from the Annals and Pedigrees of these tribes that this Mic Tail was King of the Corca-Vaskin, not of the Hy-Figinte, and consequently that this island was a part of the Territory of the Corca-Vaskin. This error led Colgan into another very great one, viz., that the Territory of the Hy-Figinte was situated in the present County of Kerry, and that it extended from the south side of the Shannon, opposite the Island of Inis-Cathy, to the summit of Slieve Luachra. This last inference, if admitted as truth, would confuse all the ancient topography of this part of Munster; but we are now able to detect the error at once from our acquaintance with the real situation of the Country of the Hy-Figeinte. Keating, who was far better acquainted with the ancient topography of Munster than Colgan, states that the Country of the Hy-Figeinte was the Plain of the County of Limerick and this is demonstrated to be the fact by the Topographical Poem of O’Heerin, which places all the families descended from Fiacha Figeinte, the Progenitor of the Hy-Figeinte, within the limits of the present County of Limerick. But this and a few other errors being corrected, the life of Saint Senan is a very important topographical document. It shews that the western point of the County of Clare extending from Traigh an Iarla (recte Traigh an Earlamha) a short distance to the west of Kilrush, to Loophead, was originally called Iorras Iarthair, i.e., the Western Erris. This is the district now called the West by the inhabitants of Clare and Limerick especially those bordering on the Shannon.

The following Annals of this Territory will shew when the O’Donnells ceased to have sway in it and when the Mac Mahons succeeded them. And here it may not be out of place to correct another error in the Irish Life of Saint Senan, which tends in no small degree to confuse the history of the ancient tribes of Thomond. I shall first translate the passage in which this error is expressed, and next go on to shew how it was originally committed or invented, and how it is to be corrected:-

When Saint Patrick was preaching to the Hy-Figeinte, and Baptizing them at Donaghmore, the Corca-Bhaiscinn with their King, Bolc Mac Dece, came to him in a fleet from the north across the Luimneach, and they entreated Patrick to preach to them on that day, and to Baptize. Patrick told them to wait till morning for that he was fatigued. The Corca-Bhaiscinn replied: ‘We cannot for our country is naked (desolate) after us without youths to defend it and our fleet is also without youths, and it is necessary for us to hasten (back) to our country.’ Patrick afterwards went into his chariot, so that all might see him and hear his voice, and preaching the word of God out of the chariot, they believed in God and in him (Patrick). Then Patrick Baptized in a neighbouring river all the hosts, who gave great presents to him. Patrick blessed them and said that Corca-Bhaiscinn would abound in wealth and riches for ever. After which the Corca-Bhaiscinn entreated of Saint Patrick to come with them to bless their country and to Baptize their wives, children and servants, whom they had left after them. Patrick replied: ‘I cannot go with you on this occasion for I have not the power to ferry my people across the river.’ The Corca-Bhaiscinn replied: ‘We have a large fleet with us in which we will ferry yourself and all your people across the river in safety and back again.’ Patrick refused again saying: ‘I cannot leave the country in which I am until it is all consecrated and blessed,’ and he pronounced a blessing on the Corca-Bhaiscinn, and left them the victory (gift) of fleets. And moreover, he said to the Corca-Bhaiscinn: ‘Is there near at hand a place from which I could obtain a view of your country, that I might view it and bless it from my seat in that place.’ ‘There is, indeed’ replied they: ‘Yonder hill’ (viz., Findine) and Patrick proceeded with them to the top of the hill called Findine, and said: ‘Is this your country to the north of Luimneach as far as the ocean to the west?’ ‘It is’ replied they: ‘Does it extend’ said Patrick, ‘to yonder mountain to the north?’ (that is, Sliabh Eilbhe in the Country of the Corcomroe-Innindois). ‘It does not’ said they. ‘It will before the end of time’ said Patrick. ‘Does your country extend as far as yonder mountain, to the east?’ (that is, Echtgi in the land of O’Neasa). ‘It does not’ said they. ‘It will after a lapse of time’ said Patrick.

In this life the writer transfers to the Corco-Bhaiscinn what the original lives of Saint Patrick say of the Dal-Cais, but this is a gross error, for the limits of the Country of the Corca-Bhaiscinn were never extended to the mountains of Sliabh Eilbhe and Sliabh Echtgi, nor beyond what they were in Saint Patrick’s time, but on the contrary they were circumscribed and encroached upon by the Dal-Cais. But this prophecy, which was evidently fabricated - as indeed all such post original prophecies were - after the events had occurred, may with great propriety be applied to the descendants of Carthenn Fionn, who was the head of the Dal-Cais in Saint Patrick’s time, for his descendants extended their territory not only to the Mountains of Elbhe and Echtge but after a lapse of time deprived the Corca-Bhascinn of their territory and established Chiefs of their own race over it. The writer of the Life of Saint Senan made this transfer in order to raise the fame of the Corca-Bhaiscinn, of whom his favourite Saint was one, but he was not sufficiently acquainted with the topography and history of Thomond to put this fabrication in such a form as to impose on posterity for ever.

This writer also errs egregiously in stating that the mountains of Elbhe and Echtgi could be seen by Saint Patrick from any hill near Donoghmore in the present County of Limerick. It is now generally believed that the hill from the summit of which Saint Patrick viewed and blessed Thomond is the hill of Cnoc Phadruig, situated about four miles to the west of the Town of Askeaton; but even from this lofty hill he could not obtain a view of the Mountains of Elbhe and Echtgi. It must be therefore acknowledged that this life of Saint Senan was not written by a native of Thomond or Hy-Figeinte for such blunders in topography could not have been committed by any native of these districts. The Irish Life of Saint Senan, which was translated and published by Colgan, was written by William O’Deoran, a Leinsterman.

CORCA-BAISCINN. - (Ann. 4 Mast.)

A.M. 3790. The Battle of Sliabh Cailge (now the high grounds of Moveen) against the Maritine in the Country of the Corca-Bhaiscinn.
A.D. 165. In this year was killed Conaire Mor, King of Ireland, from whose son, Cairbre Baschain, the Baisngigh in Corca-Bhaiscin are descended and named.
A.D. 717. A battle was fought this year between the Connacians and the Carca-Bhaiscinn in which was slain Mac Tolamnaigh.
A.D. 799. A great wind-storm, thunder and lightning occurred the day before the Festival of Saint Patrick in this year, so that one thousand and ten persons were killed in the Country of Corca-Baisginn; and so that the Island of Fitae was divided into three parts.
A.D. 807. Aodh Roin, Lord of Corca-Bhaiscinn, died.
A.D. 862. Cermad, son of Catharnach, Chief of Corca-Bhaiscinn, was killed by the Danes.
A.D. 913. Lena, the son of Catharnach, Lord of Corca-Bhaiscinn, died.
A.D. 918. Murchadh, the son of Flann, Lord of Corca-Bhaisginn, died.
A.D. 1013. Donnell, son of Diarmaid, Lord of Corca-Bhaiscinn, was slain in the Battle of Clontarf.
A.D. 1094. Ainaeslis (Stanislaus, now Standish) son of Donnell, was killed by Aissidh, son of Donnell, i.e., by the son of his own brother.
A.D. 1054. A predatory excursion by Hugh O’Conor, King of Connaught, into Corca-Bhaiscinn and Tradraighe (Pradree) on which he took great prey.
A.D. 1158. O’Donnell, Lord of Corca-Bhaiscinn, was slain by O’Conor of Corcomroe.
A.D. 1359. Morogh Oge Mac Mahon, heir apparent to the Lordship of Corcobaiscin, was slain by the O’Briens.
A.D. 1383. Donogh-an-Chuil Mac Mahon, Lord of Corcobaiscin, died.
A.D. 1399. Conor Mag Cormaic, Bishop of Raphoe, one of the O’Donnells of Corcobaiscinn, died.
A.D. 1426. Torlogh Mac Mahon Bodhar (the Deaf) Lord of Corca-Bhaiscinn, was killed at an advanced age, in a nocturnal attack, and burned by his own kinsmen.
A.D. 1432. Teig O’Mahony (recte Mac Mahon) heir apparent to the Lordship of Corca-Baiscinn, died.
A.D. 1460. Donnell the son of Dermott O’Mailly, William O’Mailly and John O’Mailly, went upon a naval expedition with the sons of O’Brien to Corca-Bhaiscinn against Mac Mahon, but all these were slain before they could reach their ships. Donnell O’Brien was taken prisoner, and Mahon O’Brien wounded as they were on their way to their vessel, and Mahon was drowned before he could arrive at his. A.D. 1483. Mahon O’Griobhtha (now O’Griffy and Griffin) Bishop of Killaloe, a fountain of hospitality and wisdom, died, and was honourably interred in the Monastery of the Canons (in Canon Island) in Corca-Baiscinn.
A.D. 1488. Donogh Mac Mahon, Lord of Corca-Baiscinn, died, and two Mac Mahons were established in his place, viz., Brian, his own son, and Teige Roe, the son of Torlagh Mac Mahon.
A.D. 1568. Mac Mahon, Lord of East Corca-Baiscinn, viz., Brian Oge, the son of Brian, who was son of Torlogh, who was son of Teig, died, and Teig, the son of Morogh, who was son of Teige Roe, who was son of Torlogh, who was son of Teig, assumed his place.
A.D. 1581. David Fitzgerald, being in rebellion, set out one day from the borders of Kenry (in the north of the County of Limerick) in a cot with sixteen men, and went to Scattery Island where they stopped that night. As soon as Torlogh, the son of Teig, who was son of Morogh, who was son of Teige Roe, who was son of Torlogh (viz., the son of Mac Mahon, from East Carca-Baiscinn) heard that David had passed by him, he launched a vessel upon the Shannon in the early part of the night and sailed with the numbers who were along with him to Scattery Island, on which he took David prisoner and conveyed him to Limerick where he was executed.
A.D. 1589. Teig an Duna, the son of Donogh, who was son of Mortogh, who was son of Donogh, who was son of Mortogh, who was son of (Brian?) Ballach, ancestor of the family Tuath na Fearna (i.e., of Corca-Baiscinn) and of Sliocht an Bhallaigh, died.
A.D. 1594. Mac Mahon (Teige, the son of Morogh, who was son of Teig Roe, who was son of Torlogh, who was son of Teige) Lord of East Corca Bhaiscinn, died, and his son Torlogh Roe assumed his place.
A.D. 1595. Torlogh, the son of Brian, who was son of Donogh, who was son of Donogh Bacach, Lord of West Corca Bhaiscinn, a man of great fame and character throughout Ireland, if we consider (the smallness of) his patrimony (for he had but one cantred) died, and his son Teige Caoch assumed his place.
A.D. 1599. Mortogh Cam, the son of Conor, who was son of Mahon, who was son of Thomas, from Cnoc an Lacha in the territory of East Corca Bhaiscinn, died in March.”
A.D. 1599. Teige Caoch Mac Mahon took an English ship which had been going astray for some time; she put in at a harbour in Western Corca Bhaiscinn near Carraig an Chobhlaigh (Carrigaholt).
A.D. 1600. O’Donnell, going to plunder Thomond, is encamped on the banks of the Fergus; he sends forth plundering parties who ravaged among others the district extending from Crag Ui Chiardhubhain, in the lower part of the frontiers of the Territory of the Islands, to Cathair Murchadha in West Corca Bhaiscinn, etc.
A.D. 1602. Teigh Caoch Mac Mahon having (was?) been slain by his own son at Beare by accident. This Teige has been Lord of West Corca Bhaiscinn, but was banished from his patrimony three years before by the Earl of Thomond.

The original extent of the Country of the Corca-Bhaiscinn is still preserved in the ecclesiastical division, which is the best guide to follow in ascertaining the original limits of the Country of this great tribe, which was circumscribed from time to time by the encroachment of the O’Briens and their corelatives. The Liber Regalis Visitationis places the following Parishes in the Deanery of Corca-Vaskin

Barony Parish
Islands 1. Clonedagad
Clonderalaw 2. Kilchrist
Clonderalaw 3. Disert-Murhuly (Kildysart)
Clonderalaw 4. Kilfeddan
Clonderalaw 5. Killafin (Killofin)
Clonderalaw 6. Kilmurry & Clonderelagh
Ibrickan 7. Killarda (Killard)
Clonderalaw 8. Killimure (Killimer)
Clonderalaw 9. Kilmichill
Moyarta 10. Kilmacduane
Moyarta 11. Kilrush
Moyarta 12. Kilferigh
Moyarta 13. Kilballihone
Ibrickan 14. Kilmurry
Ibrickan 15. Kilfarboy
Moyarta 16. Moifartah

There can be no doubt that the original Country of the Corca-Bhaiscin comprised these sixteen Parishes, and this fact being discovered the extent of the next Territory adjoining it to the east becomes as clear as daylight, though it has puzzled me these two years to such a degree as often to have made me give it up as impossible to be now determined. Quae nunc latent in lucem proferentur ulterioris aevi diligentia.


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