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

Parish of Rath (e)

The site and a portion of the ruins of a castle remain in the Townland of Cahercurcaun very near the Church and Castle of Rath. This Castle is mentioned in the paper or list preserved in the Manuscripts above referred to in Trinity College Dublin and said to have belonged to Muiriertagh Garagh (O’Brien) as well as the Castle of Rath.

The following notices of this castle are from the Annals of the Four Masters:-

A.D. 1584. Mortogh Garbh, the son of Brian, who was son of Teige O’Brien, died at Craig-Corcrain in the first month of Autumn. He was a sensible sedate youth who had never received reproach or blame, disrespect or insult, from his birth to his death. He was interred in the Monastery of Ennis.

A.D. 1601. Conor, the son of Mortogh Garve, who was son of Brian, who was son of Teige O’Brien, died about the first of May at Craig-Corcrain, and was interred in the Monastery of Ennis.

These extracts from the Annals settle with satisfaction two points; first, that the document in the College Manuscript already referred to must have been made out about the middle of Queen Elizabeth’s reign; and secondly, that the true name of the locality of this Castle was Craig not Caher-Corcrain. The place itself bears out the correctness of the name as given in the Annals, it being a pointed elevated crag or rather rock, with scarcely room for the site of a castle, and certainly not for a caher such as may be seen anywhere in the surrounding district.

The south end, and about half the side walls of a castle remain to about the height of fifty feet in the Townland of Fir Mac-Brain, and called after the Townland name. This must have been a fine building, as may be judged from the character of the pointed doorway in the east side and the few commodious windows that remain. This Castle is also mentioned in the document in the College Manuscript referred to already, where it is stated to have belonged to Mahown Mc Brene O’Brien, and written thus Tirmc Brayne (Castle). This Castle stands at the east side at the foot of a remarkable (conspicuous) mountain called Ceann-Sleibhe, i.e., the Head of the Mountain, and they have a tradition here that this Head of the Mountain was the scene of a romantic Finian tale called Feis-Tighe-Chonain-Chinn tSleibhe, i.e., the Feast of the House of Conan of the Head of the Mountain, in which Finn Mac Cool and his faithful hound Bran make a conspicuous figure, and it is believed that the local name of Tir-Mac-Brain is derived from some great actions performed on that occasion by the hound Bran. This Head of the Mountain contains some natural caves, and overhangs the Lake of Inchiquin immediately on the south. The causeway called Croaidh-Mhic-Owen is very near the old Castle of Tir-Mac-Brain, a little below the bridge on the Fergus, near the old mill. The place (town) called Corofin now stands on the Kilnaboy side of the River Fergus and borrows its name for the causeway which anciently occupied the site of the present bridge across the Fergus at this place, which causeway was always considered, as it still is, part of the Townland of Bally-Kin-Curra in the point of Rath. The name of Corofin is not set down on Petty’s Map, nor does any person here know the origin of the name, though they pretend to derive it from the Finian heroes, but this all is Finian fiction.