Clare County Library
Clare History
Home | Search Library Catalogue | Foto: Clare Photo Collection | Search this Website | Copyright Notice

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

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

I. Corcomroe East, or Burren

The name and extent of this Territory are preserved in those of the modern Barony. Beauford, in his wild conjectures on the significations of the names of Irish Territories published in the 11th number of Vallancey’s Collectanea, asserts that the name of this Territory signifies “the Distant or External country and that it was also denominated Hy-Lochlean, or the District on the Waters of the Sea.” But these assertions, which are but the wild speculations of one who had no acquaintance with the ancient or modern language of Ireland, are erroneous in every point of view, for we have the authority of the ancient Irish Glossaries for proving that Boireann signifies a Rocky District, being compounded of Bórr, great, and Onn, a stone or rock, a meaning which is borne out by all the places bearing the name in Ireland.

Map of Burren and Corcomroe
Map of Burren and Corcomroe
Click on the map for larger version
Again, the Territory of Burren was never called Hy-Lochlean, but the Chiefs were called O’Loughlins, after the establishment of surnames, from Lochluinn, the Chief of the Territory in the reign of Callaghan Cashel, not from their Territory, as Beauford would have us believe.

The name Lochluinn does not appear in Irish History till the 9th Century, and there is every appearance of probability that the Irish borrowed it, as well as Manus, Randal, Amlaff, and many other names, from the Danes and other Scandinavian rovers who had obtained Territories in Ireland, and formed intermarriages with many Irish families.

The natural name, or name derived from the natural features of this Territory, is Boireann, but it had another name from the tribe who inhabited it, namely Corcomroe East. (Not Hy-Lochlean as Beauford says).

Previously to the tenth Century that tract of Country included in the Diocese of Kilfenora was called Corcomroe Ninuis from the race of Modruadh Ninuis located in it, but after the establishment of family names the principal family of this people split into two factions, and divided the Territory into two nearly equal parts, which they styled East and West Corcomroe, the former being ruled by O’Conor, and the latter by his rival and relative O’Loughlin. There are however, instances of O’Conor having become Chief of the two divisions long after the formation of them, and after the establishment of surnames, and vice versa of O’Loughlin having extended his sway over O’Conor and the West Corcomroe, but in the 14th Century they became two Chiefs, independent of each other, and of separate interests.
The facts above stated are proved by a passage in Magrath’s Wars of Thomond at the year 1311, where the Castle of Criothmhaill, now Crughwill in the south east of Burren, is placed in the Territory of Corcomroe East, and from the fact that the Monastery of Burren is in ancient documents and by the natives to this day called the Monastery of Corcomroe.

The relationship of the families of O’Conor and O’Loughlin, the two most powerful of the Corcomroe, and their descent from Meadhruadh will appear from the following genealogical table:-


The following historical notices of this people and Territory occur in the Annals of the Four Masters:-

A.D. 703. The Battle of Corcomroe (Corc Mo Dhruadh) was fought this year, in which Ceiliochair the son of Coman, was killed.
A.D. 737. Flann Feorna, Lord of Corca Mo Dhruadh, died.
A.D. 871. Flaithbheartach, the son of Dubhroip, Lord of Corca-Mo-Dhruadh Ninais, died. (See Pedigree).
A.D. 899. Bruaiteadh, the son of Flaithbheartach, Lord Corcom Druadh, died. (See Pedigree).
A.D. 902. Flann, the son of Flaithbheartach, Lord of Corc Mo Dhruadh, died. (See pedigree).
A.D. 916. Ceat, the son of Flaithbheartach, Lord of Corca Mo Dhruadh, died.
A.D. 925. Anrothan, the son of Maelgorm assumed the Lordship of Corc Mo Dhruadh.
A.D. 934. Anrudhan, son of Maelgorm, Lord of Corco Mo Dhruadh, died.
A.D. 983. Lochlaint, Lord of Corcomroe, and Maoilseachlainn, the son of Coscrach, died.
A.D. 987. Congal, son of Anrudhan, Lord of Corcomroe, died.
A.D. 1002. Conchobhar, son of Maoileachlainn, Lord of Corcomroe, and Aicher of the foot soldiers, with many others were killed by the men of Umallia.
A.D. 1027. Donogh, the son of Brian (Boru) marched with an army into Ossory, where his people were defeated and the following persons were killed, viz., Gadhra, son of Dunadhach, Lord of Siol-Anmchadha, Donnell, son of Senchan, son of Flaithbheartach (heir apparent to the throne of Munster) Maoilseachlainn, son of O’Conor, Lord of Corca Mo Dhruadh and the two sons of Cuilen, the son of Conor (hic) Lord and (ille) tanist of Hy-Connillo; the two sons of Eigeartach, Lord and tanist of Eoganact, Eogan O’Cuirc (the son of Anluan, son of Kennedy) and many others not enumerated.
A.D. 1045. Conghalach O’Loughlin, Lord of Corcomroe, died.

The relationship of the families of O’Conor and O’Loughlin, the two most powerful of the Corcomroe, and their descent from Meadhruadh
Click on the map for larger version

A.D. 1055. The Dal-Cais, under the conduct of Morrogh O’Brien, overran Corcomroe to plunder it, and they seized upon a great booty, but they were pursued, the prey taken from them and many of them were killed.
A.D. 1060. Ondadh O’Loughlin, Lord of Corcomroe, died.
A.D. 1088. Corcomroe was thrice plundered this year by Roderic (O’Conor) who scarcely left any cattle or people without carrying off or killing on that occasion; three of the Chiefs of Connaught however fell by circumvention, viz., Gilla Coirpthe, son of Cathal O’Mughroin, Chief of the Clann-Cathail, Cu-Sinna, the son of Morogh Odar, Chief of the Clann Tomaltaigh, and the grandson of Gilla Christ Mac Echtighern, Chief of Corca Achlann.
A.D. 1104. O’Conor Corcomroe (Conor, the son of Maoileachlainn) died.
A.D. 1113. Maoilseachlainn O’Conor, Lord of Corcomroe, died.
A.D. 1128. Fingairt, Confessor (Anmchara) of Corcomroe, died.

The Country of the Corcomroe comprises the entire of the Diocese of Kilfenora, and this Anmchara or Synhedrus lived in the ecclesiastical City of Kilfenora.

A.D. 1132. The son of Amlave (or Amlaff) O’Loughlin, Lord of Corcomroe, was killed.
A.D. 1135. Hugh O’Conor, Lord of Corcomroe, and Cumara Mac Conmara Mac Domhnaill, Lord of Hy-Caisin, were killed in the heat of a battle by (others of) the men of Thomond.
A.D. 1149. Torlogh O’Brien marched into Connaught until they reached the Plain of the Hy-Briuin (Barony of Clare, Co. Galway); they took a great prey of kine, and destroyed the walls of the Dun of Galway; on this occasion O’Loughlin, Lord of Corcomroe, was drowned in the River Galvy (River of Galway).

Some say that this O’Loughlin, whose name was Maoileachlainn, was killed at Annaghdown on the margin of Lough Corrib, and others that he was drowned in the River Galway while the troops were demolishing the walls of the Dun or Fort of Galway. See Pedigree of O’Loughlin as given in the Book of Lecan, fol.130 p.b.

A.D. 1158. O’Donnell, Lord of Corco-Vaskin, was killed by O’Conor Corcomroe.
A.D. 1168. Conor Lethderg, the son of Maoilseachlainn O’Conor, Lord of Corcomroe, was killed by his brother’s son.
A.D. 1171. The men of Iar-Connaught, and a party of the Shilmurry (the O’Conor’s and their correlatives) set out on a predatory excursion, plundered the west of Corcomroe, and carried off a countless number of kine.
A.D. 1175. The son of (Conor) Lethderg O’Conor Corcomroe was slain by Donnell O’Brien.
A.D. 1300. Conghalach O’Loughlin, Bishop of Corcomroe (Kilfenora) a man of erudition and hospitality, died.
A.D. 1361. Donogh O’Loughlin, Lord of Corcomroe, died.
A.D. 1364. Gilla na Naomh O’Davoran, Chief Brehon of Corcomroe, died.
A.D. 1365. Felim, the Hospitable, the son of Donnell O’Conor, Lord of Corcomroe, illustrious for hospitality and activity in military exercises, died.
A.D. 1389. Melaghlin Cam O’Loughlin, Lord of Corcomroe, was treacherously slain by his own brother.
A.D. 1396. Irial O’Loughlin, Lord of Corcomroe, was killed.
A.D. 1422. Rory, the son of Conor O’Conor, Lord of Corcomroe, was slain in his own Town of Caislen na Dumhcha (Doagh Castle) by his own kinsmen, the sons of Felim O’Conor.
A.D. 1431. O’Conor of Corcomroe (Mortogh) was slain by the sons of his own brother.
A.D. 1471. O’Conor of Corcomroe (Conor, the son of Brian Oge) was slain at Lehinch by the sons of Donogh O’Conor, his own fraternal nephews.
A.D. 1482. Donnell, the son of Rory O’Conor, Lord of Corcomroe, died, and his brother Dermot assumed his place.
A.D. 1490. Con, the son of Donnell O’Conor of Corcomroe, was slain by Cathal, the son of Conor O’Conor.
A.D. 1564. The Territory of Corcomroe (i.e., West Corcomroe, not including Burren or East Corcomroe) was granted to Donnell O’Brien.
A.D. 1585. The revenues and mansion of West Corcomroe were granted to Torlogh, the son of Donnell, who was son of Conor O’Brien. After this period the O’Conors Corcomroe are no longer mentioned as Chieftains, and seem to have entirely sunk under the O’Briens.

The following notice of Corcomroe given in the Caithreim Thoirdhealbhaigh and in the Annals of Inishfallen under the year 1311, will shew that the present Barony of Burren was then called East Corcomroe:-

A.D. 1311. A great hosting by Sir Richard De Clare. He marched into East Corcomroe, accompanied by Dermot, son of Donogh, who was the son of Brian Roe O’Brien, who encamped with his Irish forces at Criothmaill (now Crughwell, in the Parish of Carron in the East of the Barony of Burren) while De Clare with his English forces encamped at Cnoc a Daingin (now Dangan Hill in the Parish of Drumcreehy, in the Barony of Burren).

Part II


Chapter 2