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Ordnance Survey Letters by John O'Donovan and Eugene Curry, 1839

Parish of Disert (f)

We have identified every locality mentioned in this account of the Battle of Disert, and the country people point out with great accuracy the ford of the conflict, but give the death of De Clare in a more circumstantial manner, thus:- It was Conor More O’Hiomhair (now Howard) that suggested the idea of laying the ambuscade to O’Dea, and offered to conduct it himself. This having been agreed upon, Howard repaired to the ford, threw a hurdle over two cross beams of timber on it, fastening it slightly by pegs to only one of the beams, and so placing the other beam that one man underneath it could shift it out of its position in an instant, leaving the hurdle at the same time in apparent security, from above. He then took his station under the hurdle in a recess cut into the bank for the occasion, and there waited until De Clare, as stated already, was crossing the hurdle, when suddenly, removing the beam from below, the hurdle gave way and De Clare with his horse and many of his followers fell into the stream, upon which, Howard (Ivor) in an instant chopped off his head with his battle axe.

I won’t take upon myself to reconcile this with the written account, but that Conor More Howard performed some remarkable exploit may be inferred from the local tradition which says that after the battle, some time, as one of O’Dea’s guests on a certain day was extolling the beauty and spaciousness of his (O’Dea’s) castle of Disert, wished him to have its full of gold, to which O’Dea instantly replied that he would prefer its full of Howards.

About a mile east of the Church of Disert they shew a deserted burying ground, near the Chapel, which they call Mainistir-na-Sratha-Duibhe, i.e., the Monastery of the Black Sward, and Cill Lionain or Fhionain. The first of these names does not appear in the Name Book.

There is a Holy Well near it called Tobar Oireachta at which Stations are still performed, and they shew a little elevated spot near it on the north called locally Cnocan-na-Croise, Height (Hill) of the Cross, in which formerly stood a Cross, part of the shaft of which remains yet standing about two feet in height, six inches wide and three thick. There is another Well a little to the east of this called Tobar an Iarainn, or the Well of the Iron, but why, they do not know. It is not a Holy Well.

The ruined Church of Ruadhan stands in the townland of the same name in this Parish, and measures fifty five feet four inches in length and nineteen feet six inches in breadth; walls to their original height excepting the west gable, the top of which is broken off. There is a pointed doorway in the south side near the west gable, and a square one in the same side near the east gable. There is a double pointed window in the east gable, but its mullion is gone. There is a portion of the north wall elevated six feet above the rest, as if for the purpose of a ball-alley. There is a little Chapel projecting to the south from the south west angle, nineteen feet six inches long and sixteen feet three inches broad having a pointed door in its east side and elevated tomb in its north end, with a monumental stone over it in the Church wall, exhibiting the following inscription:-

This Chapel and tomb were erected by Donogh O’Kerine, the son of Dermot O’Kerine of Owan, for him and his posterities’ use in the year of our Lord God, 1688.

En mores ante Fores Mundi si queris honores crimina deplores pro me te deprecor ores.

The O’Griobhthas of Cluain-na-gClochan have a monumental stone within the Church in the south side wall near the west gable.