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

Parish of Oughtmama (a)

This Parish is bounded on the northwest and west by the Parish of Abbey Corcumroe; on the northeast by the County of Galway and on the southeast and south by the Parishes of Carran and Kilcoarney.

The name of this Parish is written Ocht Mama in two Irish Deeds published by Mr. Hardiman in the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, Vol. XV. It signifies the Breast of the Maum or elevated pass, a name truly descriptive of the locality so called at which the original Parish Church is situated. See my letters from Connamara on the meaning of the word Mám, which occurs so frequently in that mountainous district. It means an elevated pass.

The old Church of this Parish situated in the Valley of Oughtmama about one mile to the south of the Abbey of Corcomroe, is one of the most beautiful specimens of the primitive Irish Churches I have yet seen, though it is described in the Field Name Book of this Parish, p. 42 as in the Gothic style! It consists of nave and choir, like the generality of the old Irish Daimhliags. The nave measures on the inside or in the clear in the length, forty five feet and in breadth twenty one.

The west gable contains a beautiful doorway in the Semi-Cyclopean style, measuring in height six feet six inches, and in breadth two feet six inches at top and three feet at bottom; the thickness of the wall is two feet eleven. The lintel is six feet long, one foot two inches high and extends the entire thickness of the wall. The south wall of the nave contains two round-headed windows exactly like those in the Cathedral at Glendalough. The north wall is featureless and built of enormous stones not laid in regular horizontal courses.

The Choir arch is a beautiful semicircular one and measures ten feet in breadth and eight feet four inches from the present level of the floor to the head of the Capital or stone from which the arch springs.

The choir measures in length twenty one feet, which is equal to the breadth of the nave, and in breadth eighteen feet. The north wall of the choir is nearly perfect and featureless (i.e., contains neither door nor window nor orifice nor ornament of any kind) but the south wall and east gable are nearly destroyed. The side walls of this Church are about sixteen feet high.

Near the doorway in the west gable, in the southwest corner, there is a holy water font of great antiquity in which two strange figures of animals are sculptured.

Within a few paces to the W. of this doorway is a stone in which the top of an arch is formed. It is, in all probability, the top stone of the window which was in the E. gable now destroyed, though now considered a blessed stone and used for superstitious purposes.

 

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