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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 Bracain. Family of MacGorman; Inundation of the sea in the year 804, certain lands submerged; Curious Will

Ui Bracain was a part of the country of the Corcabaskin until the end of the twelfth century, when the Leinster family of MacGorman settled in it under the auspices of O’Brien. The MacGormans flourished for a long time in Leinster, under the tribe name of Ui Bairrché, being descendants of Daire Barrach, son of Cathaoir More, monarch of Ireland in the second century. Their country comprised the barony of Slieve Margy in the Queen’s County, and a part of the level plain around the town of Carlow. It is highly probable they were driven out by the Lord Walter de Riddlesford, who became master of Carlow about the time here mentioned. The first of the family who came to Munster was Murtagh, the son of Donogh MacGorman, whose descendants continued to bear the tribe name of Breacain. The MacBrodys were the Ollaves of the Ui Breacain and of the Ui Fearmaic families. In a curious poem of Maoelin Oge MacBrody, he says that after the expulsion of the MacGormans from their original possessions, a party of them proceeded to Ulster, and another migrated westwards with their cattle to Daire Seanleath in Uaithne Cliach [23] in Munster, where they greatly multiplied. Thence they removed to the country of the O’Briens and settled in the district of Ibrickan. There, according to MacBrody, they had been before his time for four hundred years, nourishing poets and feeding the poor. From various passages in the annalists it is evident they were what in Irish legal phrase was called Brugh Fir, that is to say men who, being possessed of certain Baile Biathaics, were obliged by their tenure to keep open houses of general hospitality for wayfarers. Several references to members of the family are made in the annals and records of the country. In 1413, Cu-abha MacGorman died. [24] In 1484, died Donald MacGorman of Ibrickan, one of O’Brien’s servants of trust, who kept a house of general hospitality, and was the richest man in Ireland in live stock. In 1580, Melaghlin MacGorman died, and his estates of Drumellihy and Cahermurogh (Cahermurphy, parish of Kilmihil) descended to his son and heir Dermot.[25] Mahone MacGorman, son of Dun, was the proprietor of Cahermurogh and other lands adjoining in 1594, as appears from the following document:— [26]

“Be it known to all who shall read these presents that I, Mahone, son of Dun MacGorman, of Caher Murogh, in the county of Clare, in consideration of the fulfilment of an award made between me and the Honorable Lord the Earl of Thomond, and for other lawful considerations, on surrendering my right and title to the one-third which belongs to me, in right of my wife Judith MacGorman, of the castle and lands of Dunmore, [27] and all other lands held by Donogh son of Dermot MacFermacaigh, belonging to said Judith in right of her husband from the aforesaid Earl, do hereby assign my right and title to said one-third of said Castle of Dunmore to the said Earl; and for warranting same to the said Earl against every other person, I, the aforesaid Mahone, do set my hand and seal unto these presents at Cuivrencolly, the 25th day of September, 1594.

The mark of Mahone MacGorman (L.S.)

Being present at the signing, sealing and delivering hereof—

“Teige MacBrody, Dermod MacBrody.”

In 1641, Daniel and Cahir MacGorman were proprietors of Drumellihy, while Cahermurphy belonged to Daniel MacGorman the elder, Daniel MacGorman the younger, Conor MacGorman, Thomas MacGorman, Teige MacGorman, Manchan MacGorman, and Scanlan MacGorman. [28]

Attached to the old church at Coad, near Corofin, is a little chapel in ruins, which seems from the following inscriptions to have been the burial place of the MacGormans in later times:—1. “Arms; crest, a hand holding a spear; motto, Primi et ultimi in bello. Thomas MacGorman de Cahermorichu, hanc cappellam sibi et suis posteris fieri fecit Anno Dni. 1735. 2. Primi et ultimi in bello. This chapel was built by Thomas MacGorman.” [29]

The late Chevalier O’Gorman was the first to lay aside the Mac and take the O instead. He was the compiler of several works relating to Genealogy and Irish history, on which subjects he left various manuscripts, now collected in the library of the Royal Irish Academy. He married the sister of the celebrated Chevalier d’Eon, who so long passed as a female, until his assumed sex was disproved after death. By this lady O’Gorman obtained a considerable property in Burgundy, and he was accustomed to make periodical visits to Ireland, with a view to a sale of the wine produced on his estate. He was a very fine looking Irishman, being six feet six inches in height. [30] He died in 1810 at Drumellihy, the ancient inheritance of his forefathers, but no longer their property.

We subjoin other references to the family of MacGorman of Ibrickan, taken from the Annals of the Four Masters.

“A.D. 1545. Teige, son of Thomas, son of Scanlan, son of Dermot MacGorman, was unbecomingly slain by the sons of Murtagh MacGorman.

A.D. 1571. Melaghlin, son of Thomas, son of Melaghlin Duv MacGorman, supporter of the indigent, and of a house of hospitality, died.

A.D. 1575. Donald, son of Dermot, son of Melaghlin MacGorman, died in the spring. He was a servant of trust, who of all his tribe, in his time, bore the best name and character for dexterity of hand and hospitality.

A.D. 1577. MacGorman of Ibrickan, i.e., Thomas Oge, the son of Thomas, son of Melaghlin Duv, died, and his kinsman, Seoinín, was installed in his place.

A.D. 1580. Donogh, son of Melaghlin, son of Melaghlin Duv Mac Gorman, died.”

A remarkable occurrence connected with Ibrickan is recorded by the annalists under the year A.D. 804. [31] They state that on the day before the festival of St. Patrick a great wind arose, accompanied by thunder and lightning. The sea swelled so high that it burst its boundaries, overflowing a large tract of country, and drowning over one thousand persons. The island of Fitha, now called Mutton Island, which had previously formed part of the mainland, was separated from it by the sea. Such is the accumulation of testimony bearing on this remarkable event that no doubt exists of its having happened just as described. From an inspection of the coast, it is plain that at some remote period, the sea has submerged several hundreds, or even thousands, of acres of the land. A constant tradition exists in the neighbourhood, that the sea has encroached upon land along the west coast of Thomond, and the people tell of a church of St. Stephen, the tower of which, at low water, on clear days, can be discerned beneath the waves. In the Down Survey Map of the county of Clare, [32] as well as in other ancient maps of the county, we observe three islands set down where only two exist at the present time namely Mutton Island, and another small island, or rather rock, lying at the south side of it.

The following curious document seems to refer to some lands in Ibrickan. It is taken from the collection of ancient Irish Deeds published by Mr. Hardiman in the fifteenth volume of the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy:

“Testamentum, A.D. 1603.—In Dei nomine, Amen. Ego Donaldus MacMurucha anTarymun, non coactus, non impulsus, sed merâ et propriâ ac legitimâ voluntate, ad hoc inductus, facio et condo meam ultimam voluntatem et testamentum, modo et formâ subsequenti. In primis, rellegio ac relinquo corpus meum sepeliendum in templo de Kilmory-Ibrican. Secundo, rellegio et relinquo Domino meo Comiti Donato O’Brien, fœudum meum, seu terram, scilicit semiquartam existentem in villâ de Cassleancalla et quacumque alia fœuda seu terras ubicumque sunt aut, fuerunt, eidem Domino meo Donato per praesentes relinquo. Tertio, rellegio et relinquo. Tertio, rellegio et relinquo Johanni O’Griffa gradarium meum cum ephippio suo, vice rerum omnium quo post-mortem meam consumpserit. Quarto rellegio et relinquo Domino Donato O’Brien alteram semiquartam vocatam Ballicassin. In cujus rei testimonium potestatem imponendi manum meam atque subscribendi Donato Griffeo per presentes concedo. Datum in Kilmory, secondo die mensis Maii, 1603.

“Donaldus MacMurcha en Tarymun.
“Donogh O’Gripha.
“Johannis O’Griffa, Testis.
“Thadeus Gulliel MacGillapatrick, Testis.”