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The History and Topography of the County of Clare by James Frost

Part I. Topography of Thomond Chapter 9. Ui Fearmaic; Gleann Omra; Ui Bracain; Ui Floinn; Ui Ronghaile

Ui Fearmaic

Inagh Parish; Ogham stone on Mount Callan

Inagh church, called in Irish Teampul-duv-na-h’Eidhnighe, appears to have had no particular patron saint. Only one castle, that of Bothneill, now very much dilapidated, and belonging in 1580 to Teige, son of Murrogh O’Brien, is found in the parish. Immediately near the castle of Bothneill is a stone called cloch-an-argaid, curiously carved with Ogham characters. Inagh was anciently called Breintir Fearmacach agus Cormacach, that is the fetid district of Cinel Fearmaic and Cormaic. It is now called Breintre, and consists of seven townlands lying north-east of Sliabh Callain (Mount Callan).

Mount Callan is situated in Inagh. An Ogham stone found there has been the subject of much discussion as to the true interpretation of an inscription which it bears. In 1785 Theophilus O’Flanagan read a paper, published in the first number relating to Antiquities of the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy on the subject of this inscription. He have an interpretation purporting to be a repetition of a fact founded upon some lines said to be part of an ancient Irish poem called Battle of Gabhra, and which in substance sets forth that Conàn, one of the Fenian heroes, had been slain there by the Fianna on the occasion of an assembly held for worship of the sun. O’Flanagan adds that Conàn’s name in Ogham characters was carved on his sepulchral stone. These statements were vehemently denied by O’Curry and by O’Donovan, who allege that no copy of the Battle of Gabhra made before 1780, contains any allusion to fire worship or Mount Callan in connection with Conàn; and that the subject of fire-worship, which it is not proved ever existed in Ireland at all, was introduced to please General Vallancey and other pseudo Irish antiquarians. With a view to settle the question, Sir Samuel Ferguson, the late President of the Royal Irish Academy, proceeded to make three personal inspections of the stone 1868—1872, but he was unable to satisfy himself as to the true reading of the inscription. In 1844 the place was visited by Professor O’Looney of the Catholic University, and again in 1859. His reading of the legend is a follows: “FAN LIA DO LICA CONAF (N) COLGAC COSOBADA ( C). Under this stone is laid Conaf (n) the fierce [and] turbulent.” The letter c is added from conjecture as to its former existence on a part of the stone now broken off. It will be seen that no allusion whatever is made to fire-worship in the version of Professor O’Looney—neither is the name identical. At a short distance from the stone stood the remains of a Cromlech called altoir-na-Greine (altar of the sun), which until a recent period was the scene of popular assemblies of the country people upon stated days in each year. It is not improbable that this name, taken in connection with that of Conàn, on the Ogham stone, suggested to O’Flanagan the possibility that sun-worship was practised at the place in former ages. [17]