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

 

Concluding Remarks

The folktale recorded by Connor Ryan in 1825 is unique in several ways. It combines elements of Irish and English and appears to have been in local circulation, thus augmenting its authenticity. While it can be analysed for its pseudo-historical basis, this does not suggest that the tale about Caitlín wanting to found a church on McInerheney lands is factually accurate. Rather, the fact that implicit references link Caitlín to Killone convent probably places her as a member of the ruling O’Brien lineage, inferring some legitimate historical underpinning to the folktale.

Caitlín’s dispute perhaps relates to a land dispute between the McInerheney family of Kilnasoolagh parish and Killone convent. Killone convent had landed possessions throughout Tradraighe, including Ballysheen near Sixmilebridge. Reading between the lines we can deduce that the folktale links the landholding branch of the McInerheney sept to the ecclesiastical economy. This point squares with the historical record that the McInerheneys were associated with the vicarages of Kilnasoolagh and nearby Kilmaleery parishes since at least 1411, and possessed ecclesiastical lands at Kilnasoolagh down to the seventeenth century. While only circumstantial, such evidence confers credibility on the folktale and is of interest on account of the historical ecclesiastical links between the McInerheneys and Killone convent. It is also of interest to the general reader that there is a field in Ballysallagh West still known locally as ‘Cowlclogher’.

The folktale’s mix of topographical information (Shepperton House, Cowlclohy field, Treannahow, etc) and reference to Thomas McInerheney, Quin Friary and the ruins of Thomas’ house between Shepperton and Newmarket (Castlekeale?) provide a rich assortment of detail for the folklorist. It can operate as a guide to the salience of oral tradition and its continuity into the nineteenth century. Whatever the historical truth behind the folktale, it has value as a recording of the oral tradition in pre-famine Ireland. This paper has attempted to provide a general account of the folktale’s historical motifs and themes and a translation of Caitlín’s curses with minor editing.[92] However, further work is needed to locate the folktale in its contemporary context and to provide detailed textual commentary. Local historians and folklore enthusiasts are in debt to Connor Ryan’s foresight to commit this tale to writing and to heed his advice to protect the tale for posterity.

 

Folktales of Killone

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