Clare County Library
Clare History
Home | Search Library Catalogue | Foto: Clare Photo Collection | Search this Website | Copyright Notice

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

Part I. Topography of Thomond Chapter 4. Ui Caisin

Magh Adhair the place of inauguration of the O’Briens as Kings of Thomond; Castles and possessions of the MacNamaras; They change the name of Ui Caisin into east and west Clanculein; Two principal families of their name, viz. Finn and Reagh; They absorb
into their territory nearly the whole eastern part of Thomond

Cas, the king of North Munster shortly before the time of St. Patrick, gave name to this district. It had previously borne the name of Magh Adhair, signifying the plain of Adhar, an appellation which it received from Adhar the Firbolg, who possessed it in the first century of the Christian era. He was the son of Umor, the brother of Aengus, who built the cyclopean fort of Dun Aengus in the great Island of Arran. Afterwards Magh Adhar became the patrimony of the O’Hehirs, but they in turn were driven westwards to the present barony of Islands by the N[M]acNamaras. Magh Adhar proper, now called Moyry Park, is situate in the townland of Toonagh, parish of Clooney. The tree stood there beneath which the O’Briens were inaugurated as kings of Thomond. The descendants of Cas comprised the O’Briens, MacNamaras, O’Deas, and various other families whose possessions constituted what are now designated the baronies of Upper and Lower Bunratty, Upper and Lower Tulla, and Inchiquin. To the MacNamaras the section of Thomond called Ui Caisin belonged, and their ownership extended from the beginning of the fifth to the beginning of the fourteenth century. About the year 1318, after the destruction of De Clare and the Ui Bloids his partizans, who sought to establish the English power in Thomond, the victorious MacNamaras drove out of the county all that remained of them, and took possession of their lands. Their own territory of Ui Caisin originally consisted of the following parishes:— Inchicronan, Kilraghtis, Templemaley, Doora, Clooney, Quin, Tulla, and Kilmurry-na-gaul; but after 1318 it included besides these the following parishes: Killaloe, Aglish, Killuran, Kilnoe, Killokennedy, Tulla, Moynoe, Kilseely, Feakle, Kilfinaghty, Iniscaltragh, Tomgraney, in short the whole of Upper and Lower Tulla. [1] To defend themselves against any attempts to recover their possessions by the former owners, the MacNamaras proceded to build castles for protection, and in 1580 no less than forty-two of these belonged to members of the family. As soon as they had acquired almost the entire eastern division of the county of Clare, as here described, they changed the names of the districts and called their territory east and west Clanculein, the first named being assigned to a chief called MacNamara Fionn, and the other to a kindred chief designated as MacNamara Reagh. The two districts here named absorbed the following denominations which had existed under their various tribe names from remote times till 1318: Tuaith Eachtao, Ui Dongailé, Ui Congailé, Ui Rongailé, Ui Bloid, Ui Floinn, Ui Cearnaigh, [2] Tradraighe, Gleann Omra, Ui Toirdhealbhaigh, and Ui Ainmire. Of each of these a more particular account will be found in this work. Shortly after the acquisition of the new territory, the chief of the MacNamaras proceeded to place a rent or tribute upon the several townlands of which it was composed, and the document in which he describes the tax has come down to us. Although it bears no date, yet it may be safely referred to the beginning of the fourteenth century. It is as follows, as translated from the Irish original by Mr. Hardiman the historian of Galway. [3]

“This is the aggregate of the lordship of MacNamara, that is of Maccon the son of Cumedha, the grandson of Con, the son of Loghlen, the son of Cumedha More, according to the testimony of the stewards of the Rodan family, and of the Marshal of the country, and to the will of their father and grandfather out of Tuathmore; and the said stewards are Philip O’Rodan and Conor O’Rodan, descendants of the red stewards: [4]

“This is the first part of the same, viz.: fourteen ounces to MacConmara and his servants in the Rath (?) exclusive of royalties. The lady (that is MacNamara’s consort) has an ounce of gold out of Cloonmony (in the parish of Inchicronan), exclusive of the lord’s rights; three ounces of ladies’ rent yearly in the quarter of Ballynakill (?), and Ballyokeileghter (?); thirteen ounces in the quarter of Drumdyelan (?); fourteen ounces in the quarter of Dura; fourteen ounces in the east half townland of Toonagh; exclusive of the lord’s rights; half a mark in Ballyvroghaun; fourteen ounces of the lord’s rent in Ballymacloon, exclusive as above; fourteen ounces yearly in the half townland of Ballyslattery (Newgrove); fou[r]teen ounces in the half townland of Ballymoylin (Milltown); fourteen ounces yearly of lord’s debts in the half townland of Rosscarthy (Rosslara); fourteen ounces in the quarter of Glandree; fourteen ounces of lord’s rent in Fourtanebeg; fourteen ounces in Lismehan (Maryfort), Garruragh, and Ballyubrane, exclusive as above; fourteen ounces in Ballykelly; fourteen ounces in Ballyoughtra; fourteen ounces in Liscullaun; fourteen ounces in the five half quarters of O’Bloid (Ballyblood); and fourteen ounces in Ballyrossroe (Rosroe). He has moreover, food in the free lands of that territory, and MacConmara has fourteen ounces in the quarter of Tannaghbeg.