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

Parish of Doora (b)

In the Townland of Nouchongvaul (Noughaval) in this Parish are the ruins of a little Church, and attached to it a burial place for children. I find that Nuachongbhail is never applied to any building but a Church, but of what its meaning is, I am not prepared to give even an opinion. Colgan translates it Nova Habitatio, but he is scarcely right. See my letter on Navan in Meath.

In the Townland of Castletown in this Parish, are the ruins of a Castle which is mentioned in the list of the Castles of Thomond as belonging to Brene O’Brien.

There is nothing else of antiquarian interest in this Parish but some Holy Wells dedicated to great Saints as:- (1) St. Michael’s Well in the Townland of Kilbreckan, in which there seems to have been a little Church named after St. Brecan, (2) Tober-nahinneenaboy in Castletown and (3) Tober-Sennaun in the Townland of Drim.

I hope tomorrow will be fine for our journey to Tulla.

                                                                                                 Your obedient servant,
                                                                                                              John O’Donovan

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                                                                                                 Tulla,
                                                                                                 21st November 1839.

Dear Sir,
Mr. Wakeman came here yesterday after having sketched the Churches on Scattery Island and other ancient Churches in the vicinity of Kilrush. I gave him a list of the ancient Churches, Round Towers, etc., in the part of the County which we have examined, and some letters of introduction to gentlemen who will take good care of him. He is a clever, energetic boy, and looks very well now considering what he has latterly suffered.

We have at length identified Magh Adhair where the Chieftains of Thomond were inaugurated down to the period of the creation of the Earldom of Thomond, when the “O’Brien ceased to be made”! I have been on the look out for this these ten years in vain! Please to let me have what Beauford says of it in the 11th number of Vallancey’s Collectanea and also the Dinnseanchus account of it, which I hope to find interesting. I think it a pity to say a word about it until such evidence is collected as will prove the identity of the place and shew the absurdity of the notion of Dr. O’Brien and others who have asserted that Magh Adhairs are numerous in Ireland and that the name means “Field of Adoration.”

These gentlemen have endeavoured to raise an airy fabric of history on the more airy basics of etymological theories, thinking that posterity would take their dicta for truth itself, but I shall bring all my guns to bear upon their airy castles and evaporate them into thinner air, as they are not material enough to tumble to the earth. They had some wild etymological skill, but had little or no acquaintance with the written or field monuments of the history of Ireland.

Magh Adhair retains its name without the slightest corruption to the present day, and like Taillteann, continued to be a place of ‘Iraghts’ till a few years ago. The identification of this place has made ample amends to me for all the hardships I have suffered in this County. All the places of note now to be identified are Grianan Lachtna, Craig Leith and Kincora, and the site of the last is, I believe, pretty well ascertained already.

We shall move to Scarriff on Saturday morning, where you will find us for some days. The sooner I get the skeleton for the ancient Map now the better, as the principal ancient places are identified.

                                                                                                 Your obedient servant,
                                                                                                              John O’Donovan


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                                                                                                 Tulla,
                                                                                                 22nd November 1839.

Dear Sir,
I have received the letters redirected from Kildysart and also the Life of St. Senan from the Book of Lismore. I now send the Name Books of the Barony of Islands.

 

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