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

Parish of Gleninagh (a)

This Parish forms the north western extremity of the Barony of Burren. It is bounded on the west and north by the mouth of the Bay of Galway; on the east by the Parish of Drumcreehy, and on the south by the Parishes of Rath-Bóirne and Killonahan.

The Name of this Parish is in the original language Gleann Eidhneach, which we have good authority for translating the Ivyed Valley, as the old writer of the Life of St. Fintan translates Cluain Eidhneach, latibulum haederosum. See my letter on the Church of Clonenagh in the Queen’s Co., written last winter at Mountrath.

The old Church of Gleninagh stands in a townland from which it has received its name. It is thirty eight feet in length, and thirteen feet four inches in breadth. The south wall contains a pointed doorway of cut stone five feet four inches in height to the vertex of the arch, and three feet one inch in breadth. The same wall contains two windows, one quadrangular and the other round-topped, but too modern to merit minute description.

The east gable contains a window measuring on the inside about eight feet in height and three feet eight inches in breadth. Its height on the outside could not be easily ascertained, it is so mantled with ivy. Its breadth on the outside is five and a half inches. The thickness of the walls is two feet six inches and height about eight feet.

About three hundred yards to the north of this Church there is a Holy Well dedicated to the Holy Cross, and called from it Tobar na Croiche Naoimh, i.e., Fons crucis sanctae, at which Stations were performed in honour of the Holy Cross. This Well has over it a little turry on the summit of which is the symbol of the Redemption of Man. Over it grows a very old elder tree which exhibits a good crop of votive rags, left on it principally by people who performed Stations there for the good of the eyes.

Near this Well is the Castle of Gleninagh, which is mentioned in the College List already often referred to as one of O’Loughlin Burren’s Castles. It is a square tower, thirty one feet ten inches by twenty seven feet seven feet six inches, now in good repair and thatched with straw which gives it a rather homely appearance. Its doorway is pointed.

In the Townland of Gleninagh north, there is a well called Tobar Chornain, which seems to have been originally a Holy Well.

I find no other antiquities in this Parish but two:-

  1. Dobhach Bhrainín, a large round heap of stones on the top of a mountain in the Townland of Aghyglinna. The true name seems to be Dumhach Bhrainin, i.e., the Heap of Little Bran, (nom. viri).
  2. A remarkable ruin of a fort in the Townland of Murroogh, called Cathair Duin-Fhearghusa, i.e., the Caher of the Doon of Fergus, which contains caves believed by the peasantry to be enchanted by Fergus Mac Roigh and many of his descendants, the O’Loughlins of Burren and O’Connors of Corcomroe.

The well known Ceann Boirne (Ken-Boarnia) or Black Head belongs to this Parish. I remember its treacherous squalls well since the evening I was returning from the Aran.

                                                                                  Your obedient etc. servant,
                                                                                              John O’Donovan.
29th October 1839.

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                                                                                                         27th October 1839.

Dear Sir,
We arrived in Kilkee this evening at 4 o’clock. We have received no communication from you since we left Inistymon and fear that there has been some mistake in the post. If any letters or parcels have been directed to Inistymon for us since Thursday last, or on Friday or Saturday to Milltown, please to order the post-masters to re-direct them to Kilkee, where we intend to remain for six days. After this we move to Kilrush.

I wrote a few days since stating that we wanted square paper; if it has been sent, it has not reached us.

I sent a letter to Mr. Hardiman requesting that he will send me a copy of a poem about the Shannon, of which I spoke in a letter from Galway. Please to have it forwarded to him.

I sent you all the Kilkenny Books, but I have received no account of whether they arrived safe or not. Are all the Kilkenny Books now at the Ordnance Survey Office?

                                                                                  Your obedient etc. servant,
                                                                                              John O’Donovan.

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                                                                                                                   Kilkee,                                                                                                                        October 28th 1839.

Dear Sir,
I shall make every exertion to finish the writing of the Barony of Burren this day and tomorrow and move to Kilrush on the 1st of November. The weather is now dry and favourable to our labours.