|Clare County Library
Ordnance Survey Letters by John O'Donovan and Eugene Curry, 1839
Parish of Feakle (b)
About two hundred yards to the west of this well there is a curious grave now called Altoir Olltach, i.e., the Ultonian Altar from the circumstance which took place during the time of the “Mountain Masses” in Ireland, that is during the reign of the Penal Code (Laws) when an Ultonian Priest of the Roman Church fled from the persecutions in his native Province and took refuge in the mountain of Echtghe, where he was accustomed to celebrate Mass at this Pagan grave, for the sacred remnants of the then nearly extinct Irish race. What the name of this monument was before it received its present appellation from the circumstance just referred to, is now totally forgotten, but it is my opinion that it had, like many others, lost its original name long before that period. This grave extends east and west and is fourteen feet six inches long, three feet four inches wide at the east end and about six feet six inches at the west end. Its covering flag or flags have disappeared but seven of its perpendicular side and end stones remain. The first stone at the north is four feet six inches long, three feet wide, and eighteen inches thick; the next to it is three feet eight inches high, four feet wide, and only eight inches thick; the next is one foot nine inches high, one foot five and a half inches wide and sixteen inches thick; the next is two feet two inches high, four feet three inches wide and sixteen inches thick. The first stone on the south side is only one foot six inches high, the same in width, and six inches thick; the next is two feet high, four feet wide and ten inches thick; the next is thrown out of its original position and measures six feet in length, four feet in width and eighteen inches in thickness. The stone at the west end of this grave is three feet six inches high, six feet six inches wide and twelve inches thick. The stone at the east end is not to be found. For a description of a perfect grave of this kind see Milltown in Tulla Parish.
There is nothing else of any interest to the antiquarian in this Parish but a small Church and graveyard in the Townland of Fahy north, but this I have not visited, having been informed that it is modern and in a rude pointed style.
The beautiful lake called Loch Gréine which is supposed by the Grianologists to mean the Lake of the Sun, is situated in the north of this Parish, not far from the boundary of the County of Galway. It is called Loch-Greine not from the Sun or Grynaeus Apollo but from a district called Grian-Echtghe which is mentioned in O’Doogan’s topographical poem and in other tracts as forming the extreme southern boundary of the Principality of Hy Many. There were many districts in Ireland called Grian with some addition, as Grian Airbh in the present County of Tipperary on the verge of Galway in Ossory, and when the word thus enters into the name of a district it does not mean Sun, but Land, and in this sense it is cognate with the English word ground, as Is friu Grian na Cille, i.e., Is leó Fearann na Cille (Book of Lecan). Loch Greine then means the Lake of Grian, i.e., the Lake of the district called Grian, though, if we believe the shade of an Irish bard who was resuscitated to tell the etymology of this name, it was named after Grian (the daughter of some great king) who was drowned in it and buried at Tuaim Greine! (see account of the twelve views in the Leabhar Buidhe Lecan and derivation of Loch Greine in the Book of Lismore). But whether this sunbright beauty, the daughter of the king, ever lived to be drowned is to me a matter of doubt, while I have not the slightest shadow of a shade of a doubt that Grian was the name of a district in Sliabh Echtghe forming the southern boundary of that part of ancient Hy-Many called Moinmoy.