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|Ordnance Survey Letters by John O'Donovan and Eugene Curry, 1839|
Parish of Drumcrehy (c)
In the north of this Parish, in a Townland to which it has given its name, is situated a lough called Lough Rasg, which is celebrated by Magrath in his Wars of Thomond. I shall here translate the passage in which this lough is mentioned as a specimen of the bombastic style of the Homer of Ireland.
“The heroes of broad swords advanced silently in close array and vast numbers until they reached the banks of Loch Rasga. All the hosts viewed the bright lake together, and lo! they beheld on its white margin a deformed sprite, which struck them with amazement. It was a hag with blue face, withered aspect, green teeth, rough hair, sharp bent nails. (He exhausts the Dictionary in bestowing epithets expressive of deformity and ugliness on this hag). Her hair was fretted, strong and filthy, and of a grey, reddish color; her forehead narrow, full of bumps, deeply furrowed with irregular ridges, every hair of her eyebrows, which were of a reddish grey color, was like unto a strong rough fishing hook; her eyes, like red berries with soft and scarlet margins, were sharp sighted though flaming with unearthly glare, and looking out between rough bristled eyelashes; her nose large, blue, green, soft, broad, with wide nostrils, from a copious stream flowed down her furrowed face; her mouth wide, prominent, of green mixed with pale color, and her upper lip with a beard and turned up towards her nose; she had two long slender and sharp and green-coloured teeth in her head, which were never cleansed since the day of her birth; her tongue sharp-pointed, rapid, bitter, etc., etc. She had a cairn of heads, a load of arms, i.e., weapons, and a bundle of skin, bones, all which she was washing in the lake, the waters of which were stained with blood and brains, and human hair appeared in great abundance floating on its surface. The hosts stopped short to view this sprite, and the king interrogated her fearlessly as follows:- ‘What name dost thou rejoice in? Of what tribe are thy friends? And of what people are those whose remains thou hast gotten here on the margin of the lake?’ She thus replied to the King:- ‘Bronach of Burren is my constant name. I am of the Tuatha De Danann people; yours are the heads which I have here in a litter, and thine own, O Fair King! in the very centre of them! For though thou carriest it, it is not thine own, and though proud your march to the field of contest, soon shall ye all perish with the exception of very few.’ The army were startled at the dire prediction of the horrid sprite, and they all cried out ‘let her be cast into the lake’ but she mounted on the wings of the wind over them, and spoke as follows fluttering over them:-
“Heed not the flowing prediction of the dire sprite” said Donogh to his brave hosts ”for she is only a friendly Bádabh to the lordly Clann of Torlogh, who is endeavouring to strike dismay into your minds by pretended predictions of your deaths. Wherefore my nobles, be not terrified, but proceed on your undertaken journey with firmness and valour to meet your enemies. By this wise and calm exhortation of their Chief, the generous Donogh, the minds of the nobles were animated, and proceeded on their march with firmness, impetuosity and high spirits.”
This was in 1317. Torlogh O’Brien and his forces were at this time encamped within the precincts of the Abbey of Corcumroe - A slios bláth-fhoirghneamh na snuadh Mhainisdreach. See Ordnance Survey Copy, page 445.
On this occasion a furious engagement took place between two parties
of the Dalcassians outside the Abbey of Corcomroe, the site of which
is still pointed
out. This hag is still well known in the country by the name of Caileach
Cinn Boirne, or the Hag of Blackhead.