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

Parish of Kiltinaanlea (a)

This Parish is bounded on the north by that of Killaloe; on the east and south by the River Shannon and on the west by the Parish of Kilquan. This Parish is called in the Irish Language Cill tSeanáin Léith, which is correctly understood by the natives to mean the Church of St. Senan the Hoary. He is a different person from Senan of Scattery Island, as may be easily inferred from the tradition in the country which makes him a brother of St. Mochuille. His festival is still kept in the Parish on the 8th of March, which is different from the festival day of St. Senan of Scattery Island.

The old Church of Kiltinaanlea is not one of the primitive Irish times but a re-erection of the 14th or 15th century. It is in good preservation and measures fifty eight feet ten inches in length and eighteen feet eight inches in breadth on the inside. The west gable contains a small window placed near the top which is so curtained with ivy that its dimensions or characteristics could not be ascertained without going to unnecessary trouble. At the distance of twenty seven feet from the west gable the south wall contains a pointed doorway constructed of cut lime stone but it is so broken that its dimensions could not be ascertained without going to more trouble than it is worth, it being a modern doorway like those of which we have hundreds of specimens in other parts of this and other countries. At the distance of three feet eight inches of the southeast corner there is a window but so filled and matted with strong ivy that its form could not be seen. The east gable contains a window which is narrow on the outside and wide on the inside. On the inside it measures seven feet in height and three feet in breadth and on the outside (where its lower part is five feet six inches from the ground) five feet three inches in height and six and a half inches wide. This window is rectangular on the inside being covered overhead with a lintel of limestone, and on the outside pointed. It is constructed of chiselled lime stones. The north wall is featureless. The side wall of this Church are about eleven feet in height, three feet six inches in thickness and well built of quarried lime stones of good size and hammered. The corner stones are chiselled.

There is a graveyard of considerable extent attached to this Church.

About two hundred yards to the north of this Church there is a holy well dedicated to St. Senan Liath which is arched overhead and surrounded with a row of different kinds of trees which are covered with votive rags of various ages, kinds and colours; and the roof of the little house or turry over the well is covered with offerings of broken plates and cups, tips of shoes, etc., etc.

A “Pattern” was annually held at this well on the 8th of March, but it was removed to the Village of Clonlara some years since.

In the Townland of Garraun in this Parish are the ruins of a Church dedicated to Saint Machuille or Mochuille, the brother of Saint Senan Liath. The gables of this Church are destroyed down to the foundation stones, but a fragment of the south wall twenty nine feet in length and ten feet in height remains, and about eighteen feet of the north wall. The south wall contains a window placed at the distance of four feet from the east end of the Church; it is rectangular at the top on the inside, being covered with a lintel and curvilineally pointed on the outside. It measures on the inside four feet six inches in height and two feet three inches in breadth (width) and on the outside three feet four inches in height and six feet six inches in width. It is five feet from the level of the ground on the outside and constructed of cut lime stone. The walls of this Church are built of field lime stones not laid in regular courses; they are two feet six inches in thickness, and ten feet in height. They exhibit a good deal of the impress of age, but they have not features enough to enable the antiquarian to pronounce with any certainty on their age.

In the Townland of Cappavilla there is a holy well dedicated to the Patron of this Church and called Tobar Mhachuille, but no day is kept in the Parish for the celebration of his festival, and his well is latterly losing its character for sanctity, it being eclipsed by the celebrity of St. Senan Liath’s more sacred fountain.

There are two Castles in this Parish; one in the south east of Rinroe Townland measuring about twenty feet square and fifty feet in height. It is now called John’s Castle, but it is the Castle of Dunasse mentioned in the College List as belonging to Shane Negeytlagh (Mac Namara) from whom it received its present name. The other in the Townland of Coollisteige, measuring twenty four feet square and fifty feet in height. It is set down in the College List as the Castle of Cullistecke, belonging to Donel Roe (Mac Namara, no doubt). Its ancient name of Cuil Lis-Taídhg, Angle of the Fort of Teige, is now barbarously corrupted to Cool-a-styke! I think the correct name which is set down in Hardiman’s Deeds should be given on the Ordnance, for what is Cool-a-Styke but an ignorant, plebeian corruption of Cool-lis-teige?

It has been a puzzle to me this long time whether the celebrated Cataract on the Shannon called Eas Danainne by the ancients be the one from which this Townland of Dunass (Fort of the Cataract) was named, or the one at Killaloe, but I now am positive that it is the one at Killaloe. This Cataract is mentioned in the Irish Triads as one of the three Great Cataracts of Ireland, and Teige O’Naghten in his notes upon these Triads (MS., Trin. Col.) states that Eas Danainne is on the Shannon near Limerick. The following passage in the Annals of the Four Masters will point out the situation of this Cataract with great certainty:-

A.D. 1124. Mór-Chobhlach la Toirdhealbach Ua Conchobhair for loc nDeirccdheírc agus a dtabhairt leis dar Eas Danainne co ro aircc Ui Conaill.

A.D. 1124. Torlogh O’Conor brought a large fleet on Lough Dergdherc and conveyed them over the cataract of Eas-Danainne, and plundered the Hy-Connell.

The fleet here mentioned was a collection of boats, which his army were able to carry by land to be launched on lakes for the purpose of plundering islands. The inhabitants of Inisgay off the coast of Erris still call the collection of boats belonging to the island the “Fleet (cobhlach) of the Island” and the gentlemen living on the margins of Lough Corrib in the Co. of Galway call their boats their fleet! The northern Hy-Niall frequently carried boats by land to plunder the rich islands of Lough Erne and other lakes, and it is evident that their boats must have been small curraghs or cots, perhaps both.