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

Parish of Rathborney (a)

This Parish is bounded on the north and northeast by the Parishes of Gleninagh and Drumcreehy; on the east by the Parish of Kilcoarney; on the south by the Parishes of Noughaval and Killeany and on the west by the Parish of Kilmoon.

This Parish is called in the original language Rath-Boirné, i.e., the Fort of Burren. The Church was built within the ring of an earthen fort or rath, parts of which are still traceable.

The old Church of Rath Bóirné is not many centuries old. It is fifty six feet six inches long and twenty one feet broad. The west contains no feature but a small belfry at the top. The south wall contains a pointed doorway placed at the distance of twelve feet six inches from the west gable and measuring on the inside eight feet in height and five feet in breadth, and on the outside seven feet one inch from the present level of the ground to the vertex of the arch, and in breadth where the arch springs three feet eight inches. At the distance of five feet three inches from the east gable there is on this wall a pointed window at the height of four feet two inches from the present level of the ground and measuring on the inside six feet eight inches in height and four feet five inches in breadth, and on the outside four feet seven inches in height and seven and a half inches in breadth, which does not vary.

The east gable contains a Gothic window placed at the height of six feet from the present level of the ground on the outside and measuring on the inside eight feet in height and four feet in width, and on the outside seven feet in height and two feet six inches in width. It is divided into four equal divisions by stone mullions. The north wall is featureless. The walls of this Church are three feet ten inches in thickness and the side walls are about twelve feet high. This Church was used at a comparatively recent period. It has a large burial place attached to it.

It would appear from a Holy Well situated in the Townland of Poulnagapple, near a mile to the northwest of this Church, that it was dedicated to St. John. No ancient Irish Milesian Saint is remembered in connection with it or with any locality in the Parish.

There are two castles in this Parish which are mentioned in the College list (already often referred to) as belonging to O’Loughlin Burren, one in the Townland of Graggan west and the other in the Townland of Lissylisheen. The Castle of Gragan is situated in a remarkable valley and to the west of the road as you go from Ballyvaughan to Kilfenora. This was the chief residence of O’Loughlin, Chief of Burren, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and from it the Territory of Burren was called the Barony of Gragans, as appears from the College list of castles. The Castle of Lissylisheen, which is situated in the middle of a Townland of the same name, is called in the College list Lysiglysin which is evidently an anglicising of Lios Uí Glisín, i.e., the Fort of O’Glisheen.

In this Parish the Boundary Surveyor places the Townland of Cahermacnaghten, which is set down in the above list as the name of one of Loughlin Burren’s Castle, but according to the Down Survey and an Irish Covenant made in 1675 between Hugh and Cosnave O’Davoran, it belongs to the Parish of Noughaval, as I have already stated in my letter on that Parish. The site of O’Loughlin’s Castle in this Townland of Cahermacnaghten should be shewn on the Ordnance Map, as well as that of the Caher. See my letter on the Parish of Noughaval in which I give a translation of the Covenant made between the O’Davorans in 1675, in which various localities in this Townland are mentioned.

In this Parish the Boundary Surveyor places the Townland of Faunaroosk, in which there is a round Castle not mentioned in the College list of O’Loughlin’s Castle. It was probably erected since that list was written.