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Notes on the Poets of Clare by Thomas F. O’Rahilly

Mícheál Coimín

The family of Micheál Coimín (Michael Comyn) were long settled in Clare, but they claimed to be descended from the Comyns who were Earls of Buchan in Scotland in the thirteenth century. Having lost his ancestral estate in Cromwellian confiscations, Patrick Comyn obtained in 1675 a farm of land from the Earl of Thomond at Kilcorcoran, in the parish of Kilfarboy (north of Miltown Malbay); and here his son, Michael was born. In 1702 the poet married Elizabeth Creagh, niece to Sir Micheál Creagh, a former Lord Mayor of Dublin. Micheál Coimin was a Protestant and so it is not surprising to find him living in more comfortable circumstances than the other poets of the time; but his sympathies were wholly with Ireland, and against her oppressor. He resided first at Kilcorcoran and afterwards in the neighbouring townland of Carrowkeel (an Ceathramha Chaol). He died in 1760, and was buried (like Aindrias MacCurtín) in Kilfarboy churchyard. He had two sons, Edward (Éamonn) who lived at home, and Micheál who became a doctor of physics in France. The former, on his father’s death, ashamed of being the son of a mere poet, burned all the Irish MSS. of his father’s that he could find in the house!

Only eight or nine of Micheál Coimín’s songs have come down to us.[9] He will best be remembered for his versification of the legend of Oisín in Tir na nÓg, and still more, perhaps, for his romance, Eachtra Thoroilbh Mhic Stairn, which is a remarkable achievement in Irish prose at a time when prose was little cultivated.


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