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Dooras and Kinvarra – 1905

THE IRISH TIMES Friday, January 20, 1905 p.3
Yesterday Estates Commissioners Wrench and Bailey sat at the offices of the Estates Commissioners, 26 Merrion Street, for the purpose of giving judgment in the cases of the sale of the two estates of the Scottish Union and National Insurance Company to the tenants in the County of Clare, at Dooras, and islands off the coast, and in the County of Galway, at Kinvarra. The property was formerly owned by Francis O’Donnellan Blake-Forster and Fanny and Henrietta Blake-Forster, and was taken from them by the Insurance Company who, as mortgagees, bought in the Landed Estates Court on the 30th July, 1902.
Mr. A. Samuels, K.C., appeared for the Insurance Company, the owners.
Mr. Valentine Kilbride, solicitor, represented the tenants both on the Clare and Galway properties.
The case arose on an application to the Estates Commissioners, to declare as an estate for the purposes of the Land Purchase Act, the lands in the County Galway, and in the County Clare, known in the Land Judge’s Court as the Blake-Forster estate, upon which there are a large number of tenants.
Mr. Samuels, K.C., said with regard to the Galway portion of the estate there were 78 holdings altogether, and of these there were only 15 on which agreements had been signed. All the others were held under judicial rents, that is to say, there were 63 judicial tenants on the estate. Suggestions had been thrown out that these were bogus agreements, and the matter had been made a political text by certain people. It was most unfortunate, he thought, that politicians should have interfered whilst the matter was pending.
Mr. Commissioner Bailey – We have nothing to do with that.
Mr. Samuels said that, as a matter of fact, the agreements had been fixed at a lower rate then even the corresponding judicial rents.

Mr. Wrench, in delivering his judgment, said:

Mr. Samuels has argued that where all the agreements come within the 1st section of the Act, as in this case, the Estates Commissioners have no discretion, but must declare the lands comprised in the application and estate for the purpose of the Act. This appears to me to be a purely legal question which should be determined by the judicial commissioner, and, if the parties so apply, it must be referred to him in accordance with Sub-section 1 of the 23rd section; and even if they do not so apply it should, in my opinion, be so referred to us. Pending the result of the judicial commissioner’s decision as to whether the Estate Commissioners have discretion in the matter or not it appears to me that it would be decidedly indiscreet of us to discuss beforehand the course we might properly adopt.
Mr. Commissioner Bailey, in delivering judgment for Commissioner Finucane and himself, said:

The vendor in this case lodged an originating application to have declared as a separate estate for the purpose of the Irish Land Act, 1903, certain lands which are set out in the first schedule to the application, and are situate in the Barony of Kiltartan, in County Galway, and in the Baronies of Burren and Corcomroe, in County Clare. The lands to which this application relate have not now come before the Land Commission for the first time. They formed Lots 2, 3 and 4 of a property which was for sale in the Land Judge’s Court in the matter of the estate of Francis O’Donnellan Blake-Forster, owner; Hester Blake-Forster and others, petitioners, and in respect of which the Land Judges issued a request under the 40th Section of the Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1896, on the 21st November, 1897. The Land Commission (Commissioners, Lynch and Wrench) made a report dated 30th June, 1899, respecting the Galway portion of the lands no for sale – known as the Kinvarra property – which was comprised in Lot 2 of the Land Judge’s rental, and the circumstances thereof, portion of which report is as follows: – “There are 77 holdings on this lot, and only six exceed £10 in rental value. They are, with a few exceptions, most inconveniently arranged, consisting of detached plots which, in some cases, are a mile or more distant from each other. Many of the holdings comprise from 20 to 30 different patches, and many of the parcels are held in common. The lands have been divided without any regard to their future profitable working, and any clearing or fencing done has added little to the letting value of the land.”
They particularly noticed one holding on the lands of Crosshooha, No. 12 to 13v on the map, occupied by Kate Moylan, in which there were 23 lots, besides undivided shares of the foreshore, and went on to say; –
“Having regard to the character of this estate, and the manner in which the holding have become sub-divided, and the undivided shares in which many of the plots are held, we are of opinion that, with the exception of four holding on the townland of Ballybranagan, none of the holdings on this lot could be sold to the occupying tenants under existing conditions, and that the case is one in which, as a condition precedent to sales under th 40th Section of the Purchase of Land Act, 1885, should be put in force with a view to the proper rearrangement of the holdings comprised in the lot. It further appears to us that advances under the Land Purchase Acts upon an estate so circumstanced would not be adequately secured, and that there would be no possibility of recovering instalment, or reselling holdings in the event of default.”

The Land Judge caused that report to be returned, stating that the Congested Districts Board had refused to buy the property, and requesting the Land Commission to estimate the prices at which the holdings could properly be sold on the occupying tenants. The Land Commission, in their further report, dated 5th November, 1900, stated with respect to this property that, with the exception of the townland of Ballybranagan, none of the holding should be sold to the occupying tenants, under existing conditions, that the holdings should be rearranged under the provisions of Section II of the Action of 1885, and that no advance could be made under the Land Purchase Acts on an estate so circumstances, and they said that as no rearrangement had been made, they assumed that the Land Judges contemplated offering the holdings to the respective occupiers without the suggested rearrangement upon the terms of cash payments. With a view, therefore, to assisting the Land Judge in forming an estimate of the selling value of the lot, they inserted in their original report, opposite each holding, the price at which, in their opinion, the holding might be sold for cash, but even a sale for cash they thought could not be made unless the question raised in their former report as to the rental and maps had been disposed of. The price of the holdings, if so sold for cash, in respect of which agreements for purchase have now been lodged under the Act of 1903, was then (in 1899) estimated by the Land Commission at £7,243, or 15.5 years’ purchase of the then existing rents. Subsequent to the date of the report the Scottish Union acquired the property which was conveyed to them by the Land Judge on the 30th July, 1902, and they now ask that it, together with certain other lands in County Clare, already referred to, be declared a separate estate for the purposes of the Act.

There appear to be now on the Kinvarra property 78 tenants, of whom 63 had judicial rents fixed by order of the Court form 1888 to 1898, and 15 by agreements and declarations to fix judicial rents lodged on 11th April, 1904, which were not filed till 11th July, 1904, so that it is questionable whether these tenancies, at the date of signing the purchase agreements i.e. 4th May, 1904 were holdings subject to judicial rents fixed or agreed to…

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Nation 12th March, 1859 p.13

We find the following under the year 1360, in the ‘Annals of the Four Masters’: Brien O’Brien of Thomond gave a very great overthrow to the English of Munster, and took Gerald, Earl of Desmond, and many of the English nobles, prisoners. This battle(?) was so decisive that the clans of Thomond burned Limerick, and Sioda Cam McNamara was appointed governor of it.

The voice of the war-trump rings loud on the gale,
The clansmen are rushing from mountain and glen,
And proud beats each heart, ‘neath its buckler and amil,
At the slogan that summons to conflict again.

From the sheelings of Thomond (1) the kern come fast,
From Cahir of banquets (2) – Kinvarra of storms,
They’re strong as the red-deer (3), more fleet than the blast,
Youth’s fire in their veins, and youth’s grace in their forms.

Beware, valiant Desmond! – Your Normans look pale,
Tho’ boasting their carriage, tho’ haughty their mein,
Like the light’nings red flash is the shock of the Gael,
Their axes are heavy – their sabres are keen.

They have met, they have fought – and yon red battle field
Tells the Norman invader was humbled that day,
‘Neath the spears of Dalcassia (4), the gauntlet, and shield
Of their country in many a foray and fray.

(1) Thomond, or North Munster, at one time included Clare, Limerick and Tipperary, but latterly it came to designate Clare, especially, in which sense it is used here.
(2) Cahir is a fine old ruin on the banks of the Shannon, near Killaloe. It belonged to the McNamaras – one of whose castles I have seen iin an old poem called ‘Of the Rich Banquets.’
(3) The Irish red deer, now extinct, were famous for their strength and fleetness.
(4) Dalcassia, now Clare, was also called Swordland, having been a border territory in Munster, and retained at the point of the sword from the Kings of Connaught.

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A trip through Clare – 1869

Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy (1836-1869), Vol. 10 (1866 – 1869), pp. 440-443
M. Brogan – 8th February, 1869 (abridged)

The Hills of Clare Photo: EO'D
The Hills of Clare
Photo: EO’D

When travelling through the country on official duty, I frequently meet with antiquarian remains, some of which may not have as yet been brought under the notice of the Academy. Being recently employed on inspection duty in the county of Clare, my attention was attracted by what I at first conceived to be immense cromleacs, or druidical alters; but which I concluded, on closer inspection, to be sepulchral monuments of some of those stalwart heroes of the olden times who had been “dead and turned to clay” long ere the Milesian adventurers left the sunny shores of Spain to seek and win new home in the green island of Innisfail.

The precise locality of these antiquarian remains is a little south of the public road leading from Gort to Feakle, and about midway between these two towns, in the townland of Druomandoora. The situation is very romantic, being on the northern declivity of the Clare hills, overlooking the deep valley which separates Clare from Galway and which embosoms two beautiful lakes – Lough Graney (Lake of the Sun), and Lough Cooter, with its wooded shores, and islets, and magnificent castle, whose lofty towers and battlements proudly rise over the stately woods by which they are surrounded, and fling their shadows o’er the pellucid lake, “whose tiny wavelets murmur at its base.”
They consist of two sepulchral monuments, distant about a furlong from each other, with two figures inscribed on the adjacent rocks, which in many places present tolerably smooth exposed surfaces. The monument at the greatest elevation on the slope of the hills, though not in the most perfect state of preservation, is the largest. It is called by the people of the locality “Leabadh Diarmaid” (Diarmud’s Bed), while the smaller and more perfect one is called “Leabadh Granu.” I may remark, en passant, that there is a very remarkable sepulchral monument at Coolmore, about three miles north of Ballyshannon, county of Donegal, to which local tradition has assigned the name of “Diarmud and Granu’s Bed.” The rock inscriptions are;

1st. An elaborately and artistically designed figure, somewhat resembling the caduceus of Mercury.
2nd. The impression or outline of the sole of a sandal. I suppose it to represent a sandal; as, if it were intended to represent the naked foot, there would certainly be some attempt, however, rude, to represent the formation of the toes. The foot must have been rather small, probably that of a youth or of a female, as the carving represented it as only ten inches in length, by four and a half inches at the widest part, and two and a half inches at the narrowest part..

My reasons for assuming that the two first mentioned remains are sepulchral, and not cromleacs erected for sacrificial purposes are;

1st. the name accorded to them by local tradition.
2nd. The covering slabs being placed almost horizontally, without the inclination of the covering slabs observable in structures intended for sacrificial purposes; and
3rd. The extreme roughness and irregularity of the upper surface of the covering slabs, formed of the coarse conglomerate rock of the locality. This is most observable in the smaller and more perfect monument, which is covered by a single slab, tolerably smooth on the inner side, but extremely uneven on the outer side, without the slightest mark to indicate that it was ever designed or used for any purpose but that of effectively securing the receptacle underneath. The larger one, of which I give a rude drawing, was covered by at least two large slabs, the end one of which still remains in its original position. The other has been broken into fragments, some of which have been removed; but one large one yet remains, leaning against and overtopping the supporting stones, several of which have also disappeared.

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The Boy Chieftain – 1884

Battle of Clontarf - 1826 Hugh Frazer - Issacs Art Center, Wikimedia Commons
Battle of Clontarf – 1826 Hugh Frazer – Issacs Art Center, Wikimedia Commons
South Australian Weekly Chronicle 15th November, 1884

(by E.S.Brooks in St Nicholas)
And with this defiance the boy chieftain and ‘the young champions of the tribe of Cas’ went into the woods and fastnesses of County Clare, and for months kept up a fierce guerilla warfare. The Danish tyrants knew neither peace nor rest from his swift and sudden attacks. Much booty of ‘satins and silken cloths, both scarlet and green, pleasing jewels and saddles beautiful and foreign’ did they lose to this active young chieftain, and much tribute of cows and hogs and other possessions did he force from them. So dauntless an outlaw did he become that his name struck terror from Galway Bay to the banks of the Shannon and Lough Derg to the Burren of Clare.

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Haunted – 1914


COMPILED BY St. John D. Seymour B.D & Harry L. Neligan D.I.R.I.C.  1914

Courtesy: Project Gutenberg


The Spirit of the Dead watches - 1892 Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York Wikimedia Commons
The Spirit of the Dead watches – 1892
Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York
Wikimedia Commons
A lady, who requests that her name be suppressed, relates a strange sight seen by her sister in Galway. The latter’s husband was stationed in that town about seventeen years ago. One afternoon he was out, and she was lying on a sofa in the drawing-room, when suddenly from behind a screen (where there was no door) came a little old woman, with a small shawl over her head and shoulders, such as the country women used to wear. She had a most diabolical expression on her face. She seized the lady by the hand, and said: “I will drag you down to Hell, where I am!” The lady sprang up in terror and shook her off, when the horrible creature again disappeared behind the screen. The house was an old one, and many stories were rife amongst the people about it, the one most to the point being that the apparition of an old woman, who was supposed to have poisoned someone, used to be seen therein. Needless to say, the lady in question never again sat by herself in the drawing-room.


Another house in Co. Clare, nearer the estuary of the Shannon, which was formerly the residence of the D—— family, but is now pulled down, had some extraordinary tales told about it in which facts (if we may use the word) were well supplemented by legend. To commence with the former. A lady writes: “My father and old Mr. D—— were first cousins. Richard D—— asked my father would he come and sit up with him one night, in order to see what might be seen. Both were particularly sober men. The annoyances in the house were becoming unbearable. Mrs. D——’s work-box used to be thrown down, the table-cloth would be whisked off the table, the fender and fireirons would be hurled about the room, and other similar things would happen. Mr. D—— and my father went up to one of the bedrooms, where a big fire was made up. They searched every part of the room carefully, but nothing uncanny was to be seen or found. They then placed two candles and a brace of pistols on a small table between them, and waited. Nothing happened for some time, till all of a sudden a large black dog walked out from under the bed. Both men fired, and the dog disappeared. That is all! The family had to leave the house.”

Now to the blending of fact with fiction, of which we have already spoken: the intelligent reader can decide in his own mind which is which. It was said that black magic had been practised in this house at one time, and that in consequence terrible and weird occurrences were quite the order of the day there. When being cooked, the hens used to scream and the mutton used to bleat in the pot. Black dogs were seen frequently. The beds used to be lifted up, and the occupants thereof used to be beaten black and blue, by invisible hands. One particularly ghoulish tale was told. It was said that a monk (!) was in love with one of the daughters of the house, who was an exceedingly fat girl. She died unmarried, and was buried in the family vault. Some time later the vault was again opened for an interment, and those who entered it found that Miss D——’s coffin had been disturbed, and the lid loosened. They then saw that all the fat around her heart had been scooped away.

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Máire Rua – Red Mary – 1927

Leamaneh Castle, Co. Clare - Home of Maire Rua Photo: Teo Romera Creative Commons
Leamaneh Castle, Co. Clare – Home of Maire Rua
Photo: Teo Romera
Creative Commons

Maev of Connacht is a name of light romance. For nigh a hundred years that strong untameable spiirit moulded and, perchance at times, marred the destiny of every notable life , that came under her influence.
To this day children are named Maev, gently nurtured children, to whose parents the Irish softness of the name appeals ; and the poetic remembrance the mists of ages have spread around the warrior Queen. Tradition tells us her hair was red — a flaming glory blent of copper and gold.
Of a much later date another red haired woman made of life a thrilling story, holding points of close resemblance to that of Maev. She lived in the earlier half of the ‘ Seventeenth ‘Century in that part of Clare where whole pages of Irish his tory are written in the stones. There are Cromlechs and forts scattered thickly around, telling of primitive strength and the human lust for supremacy. Cahercuttine (sic.) with walls of huge blocks of stone, 12 feet and more thick, and 10 feet high; another with part of it ‘veneered’ with- great slabs, and the great Doon, probably dating back to the days of the Firblogs, the Teach n’ennach, which was on a double sourced river, the Daelach, which rises thus in’ a hill north of the fort. To stand on it is to find poetry in the very names of the prominent places seen. Lisdoonvarna, Kilfenora, Liscannor Bay, where the At antic comes to be caressed by the shore of Ireland. -And across the limestone flats lies the ruined home of Maureen Rhua (Red Mary), the Castle of Lemaneagh or horseleap.
‘On lonely hills where the rabbits burrow,
Are forts of kings men name not now.’
On mountain tops I have tracked the furrow
And found in forests the buried plough.
For one man living the strong land then
Gave kindly food and raiment for ten.’
So do the lone hills of Ireland call wistfully to her children to arise and find again her sleeping resources; to make the places of burrowing rabbits yield food and raiment for men.
Lemaneagh, a ruined relic no doubt of the endless strife for the possession of Ireland, was a fine picturesque Tudor house, built on to a tall peel tower dating from 1480, the house a century later. Roofless, it showed triple pointed walls and very fine stone-mullioned windows, and the three stories and attics were still at the highest point lower than the ancient tower. A small courtyard in front was entered by a massive outer archway, bearihg two richly Carved coats of’ arms, the quarterings of Conor O’Brien- and of his son, Sir Donat O’Brien, 1690.
The worn letters below bore record that — ‘This was built in the year of our Lord 1643 by Conor O’Brien and by Mary ni Mahon, Nvife. of the said Conor.’ Gardens lay at either side, and a long fishpond fed by a little stream. The high surrounding walls had a turret at one angle and a house with niches beside the door. In this it was said Mary, wife of Conor, kept a ‘blind stallion,’ a horse of so fierce a temper that her grooms had to instantly hide in the niches when they opened the ,door to give the horse freedom. In the deerpark there is a fine cromlech, and the stone fort of Caherscrebeen lies close behind. The long avenue and still longer road named in several places ‘Sir Donat’s Road,’ tell mournfully of greatness not so long gone, greatness that had kinship with those who built the forts and raised the cromlechs, but for whom it was unwise to dwell in Tudor houses and defy the results of Tudor supremacy.
Mary was the daughter of Sir Turlough MacMahon, and she belonged to a time when English influence and Iris determination were constantly clashing.
Murrough, the first Earl of Thomond, gave Lemaneagh and Dromoland to his third son. That was in 1550; and thirty tNvo years later this son, Donough, was hanged in Limerick under martial law. It was one of the times when English supremacy over-reached itself. Donough’s little son could not be disinherited be cause his father died under a military sentence. When he died, however, in 1603, Lord Inchquin made a claim to the castle through some transaction made with Perrot several years previously. This claim, however, was not pressed for twenty years, and then un successfully.
Conor O’Brien had a strong hand to aid him in his wife Maureen Rhua. Many a strange tale has been told of her raids upon the English, and one Gregory Hickman made depositions in 1642 that: ‘Conor O’Brien, gentleman, in a most rebellious manner seized upon the deponent’s corn’; and, later, ‘Conor O’Brien, of Lemaneagh, accompanied by Mary Brien’ (and others) ‘with force of arms came to the deponent’s house and took away fourteen English swine and a parcel of household stuff; also 400. sheep.
Small wonder the Tudor house has been roofless and lone this many years. Yet, Red Mary was a dauntless soul,, not tender-hearted— but who now may say what hammer blows hardened her on the anvil of her time? Conor, mortally wounded in a fight with General Ludlow, was carried home. From a window Mary saw what she thought was a corpse, and cried out: ‘We need no dead men here,’ but, finding that life lingered in her husband she cared him tenderly enough till evening, when he died. The strait she was in spurred her courage. Donat, her son, at least was dear to her. Donning her bravery of ‘magnificent blue velvet and silver,’ she drove to Limerick and sought to make terms through surrender to Ireton. He doubted her truth, and did not believe Conor was dead. As proof she said: ‘I will marry any of your officers that asks me. ‘
Not without courage, a Cornet Cooper proposed, . and they were married the same day, and the castle and lands were saved for her son, Sir Donat O’Brien. Strength breeds stories, and many a wild tale is told of this ‘ masterful woman. ‘ The gentle benignity of her name found no counterpart in her char acter; it is said that she killed the fool hardy Cornet with a kick because he ventured to make some adverse remark about her late husband. Tradition gives her many husbands,’ and to few of them a natural death. She also sought to close a right-of-way for the people of Burren, but Terence O’Loughlin, of a neighboring castle, broke her gates and kept the way open; and she is said to have hanged all her men servants by their necks, and the women servants by their hair from the corbels of Lemaneagh, probably, if true, because they were not able to enforce her will.
It may not also be true, that she was finally enclosed in a hollow tree at Carnelly and left to starve. The tale of her. ghost along the tree-shaded ave nue Avas long believed. Her portrait shows a strong, plain, red-haired woman, with rather coarse features and a fierce mouth, wearing curious ornaments, one, a pendant, very like a. bit of carving at Clonfort, and a celebrated Italian jewel. The pendant was shaped like a mermaid.
Where, I wonder, is it now? Not so very long ago Maureen Rhua lived, and little is left of all she fiercely strove for. She is but a link in the great chain of history.— H.C.M., in ‘Irish Weekly.’