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Curses on the McInerney family of Co Clare: A folktale from Sixmilebridge
by Luke McInerney


Manuscript G990 No 4 National Library of Ireland

From a Writing by Connor Ryan of Sixmilebridge
This copy handed over to me by Miss Wilson was in error as to its author being a mermaid and the composition much corrupted by unskilful transcribers in every age.

The real author was Catherine patroness of Kilfintinan, Templemartin, Templecatherine, Kilnasoola, Newmarket on Fergus which last place bears her name in the Irish language to this day Coiradh Chaitrin. This Catherine in her youth and old age dwelling in Ballysheen Church, then a Bishop’s See united with Killaloe in the 6th century at the instance of Colgan, Bishop of Ileity, an aged lady of great devotion, piety and sanctity.

Note Kilfintinan is a small church at the foot of Gallows Hill formerly a place of rest between Munster and Quin - Templemartin the ruins of a small church on the Limerick road near Sixmilebridge - Templecatherine in Sixmilebridge where now stands the Protestant Church and across from that to the new chapel on the green.

This Catherine was contemporary with Holy Cormac son of Cullinane archbishop of Cashel and King of Munster who was a prince, a prelate, a prophet, a priest and a poet. When the descendants of Olliol Olum were monarchs of Ireland and the dynasties or younger branches of that line filling and occupying the royal palaces of the north Munster consisting of Bunratty, Ennistymon, Killone, Carrick O Gwinnil [Carrickogunnell] etc, etc.

Saint Catherine being named in a dream to build a church and dedicate it to St Patrick, pitched on and thought to build it on the lands of Trinahow or Trian na hábhadh and the fat lands of Tarmuin Luimnach or the Liberty of Limerick go tir mac calláin to Tirmocallain, being then in the occupation of Thomas the Talian (of Clann Táil-vc) the ancestor of Mac an Oirchine or McInerheneys, Irish surnames not then invented, pitched on the place aforesaid and in the possession of Thomas aforesaid, she addressed Thomas praying for a mam [ie handful] of land, [which] she called it Mainéar Fáin to build her chapel thereon. He bluntly refused her with harsh words dismissing her. She curtsied and said she would renew her petition to him for said grant in each of the two next Saturdays then following, protracting the time for the good of him (Thomas) alleging if he acquiesced within that period he should have her benediction and if he did not her malediction.

The time elapsed and the merits of the petition not granted, but strong in his defiance, her next application was to O’Brien of Cnoc na nGíománac (Knocknegemana a townland near Clare O.S note by 1841) ancestor to Lord Clare and to O’Brien of Ennistymon [and] ancestor to the house of Killeoin, and they both refused to grant, and one of them O’Brien of Ennistymon reviled her with the epithet caileach, and the two O’Briens partook of the interdiction and malediction.

Now the McInerheneys being before the said curse or malediction in possession of almost all the good ground between Limerick and Clare, alongside the Shannon.

Here follow[s] some of the words of the several curses beginning with O’Brien of Killeoin who called her cailleach.

Mar chasar an máighre air a muir;
iona chlaidhire gan fuil, gan feoil.
Gab mairsin dh’iméos síol mBriain,
iona ndéise fíadh as cileeóin.
As the salmon is transformed on the sea
[In]to a rogue without blood and without flesh
Thus [this is to] happen to the race of the O’Briens
Into wild weeds from Cill Eóin.
O’Brien of Knocknangeemanagh
Uíbh Bhriain cnuc na nGíomanách
Air a ttuladh aoibhin aig amarc uait,
Na raibh do dhiáluit ná do Ghiorrán
Air ffáil choidhche a ffearan Tuamhan.
The O’Briens of Cnuc na nGíomanách,
On their beautiful promontory, as you look out;
That they may not have saddles nor garrons [horses]
Ever available [to them] in the territory of Tuamhan.
McInerheney of Coonagh
Dala an chonaicc a measg na bó,
Gach naon chídhfios é a marbhugh leis
Gab marran, go mbiád deire léo
Cloine uí aonairchine as cunach.
As with a murrain among cattle;
Everyone who sees it will be killed by it.
Let a murrain take them, until there be an end to them;
The solitary McInerheney family of Cunach.
McInerheney of Middlethird Cratloe
Mac an Oirchine na Creatlighe meodhan
Nár sgarradh brón le muintir a thighe
Nár ráibh iona shealbh gardhaighe go deo
lae, ná bó, na cailín grín.
McInerheney of Creatlighe Meodhan
Let not sorrow leave the folk of his house;
May they never have possession of a garden
A calf nor a cow nor fun-loving girl.
McInerheney of Knockdurlus
Cloine uibh an oirchine chnoc durluis,
Gorta chuche mar bé is fearr léo dfáil,
Nár ab feictir choidhche aig aon d[on] tre[abh] san
Caogat staide dfeor an tur fáil.
The McInerheney family of Chnoc durluis;
Famine be with them, since it is what they deserve;
May there not be seen among any of that tribe
Fifty furlongs of the land of Ireland.
McInerheney of Smithstown
Cloine uíbh an Oirchine baile na nGaibhne
Gur srang a ccoim le ceal an bidh
anca bata do gach nduine bheir gréim doib
‘sgan íoc ma bith síor bhlaise na dígh.
The McInerheneys of Baile na nGaibhne.
Whose waists are emaciated from want of food;
A beating to everyone who gives them a bite [to eat]
And may they be forever without payment And without a tasting of drink.
McInerheney of Tiermaclan
Gidh geal an tionad tir mac caláin,
nar sgarradh támh leis, gon ffear deire,
Don aicme chuirfe chlaon nach fuláin,
is measa cáil dar thearamh ó bhile
Though Tir Mac Caláin is a fine place;
That idleness may not depart from it to the last man.
That band who would sow an unhealthy perversion
Descended from a tree of ill repute.[?]

The curse being fulminated by Saint Catherine and Thomas having repented had recourse to the abbey of Quin in the County of Clare, had access to the abbey of Quin and there petitioned for the prayer of 800 monks then inhabiting that abbey for their prayers to obtain his pardon and the blessing of God upon himself and his undertaking being then engaged in building a house at Cowlclohy between Newmarket on Fergus and Shepperton was answered by the prior that Catherine’s curse had ascended before Almighty God as soon as given and had been decided on, said if all the abbeys in the world, yea, all the angels and saints in Heaven and the Virgin Mary, had interceded for him on their knees till the Day of Judgment they would not be heard nor would he alter his judgment. Thomas in despair reviled St Catherine again and proclaimed a feast and invited the nobility of Thomond or North Munster to the entertainment. He had his long table laid out at the south end of the building and having seated his guests sitting down himself, the first bit[e] he took choked him and not a stone was since laid on the building. Its ruins are to be seen to this day between Newmarket on Fergus and Shepperton.

Thus ends the tale founded on truth and deduced from Irish History announcing the total extinction of McInerheney’s whole race from enjoying 50 acres of fee farm or estate on the lands of Ireland for ever, and the fate of Lord Clare from Knocknaggmanach and also O’Brien of Killeoin from that beautiful seat.

Mr MacMahon may plainly see from this how dangerous it was to meddle with the saints of old and likewise how Irish history is corrupted into fable by length of time. Witness St Catherine transformed into a mermaid recited and credited by some. I crave the gentle reader’s protection to this tale being in the 81st year of my age and want be correct or genuine.

Sixmilebridge           Signed: Connor Ryan
May 11th 1825.

Concluding Remarks