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

Parish of Tomgraney (b)

A Monastery was founded here at an early period by St. Cronan, who was venerated there as the Patron and whose Coarbs the Abbots of Tuaim Greine were called; but no life of him has been published by Colgan nor discovered by the investigators of Irish Hagiology employed on the Ordnance Survey of Ireland. According to the Irish Calendar, collected from various sources by the Four Masters, his memory was celebrated on the 19th of October, under which his Life is certainly given in Colgan’s MSS., which were at Louvain about one hundred years ago. Till the Life of St. Cronan of Tuaim Gréine be discovered no chronological calculation can be made of the time at which an ecclesiastical establishment was first placed at Tuaim Gréine. For the Annals of Tuaim Gréiné see Archdall’s Monasticon, page 55, copy in Library of R.I.A., and Annals of the Four Masters at the years 735, 744, 747, 789, 1002, 1026, 1031, 1078, 1084, 1093, 1100, 1164, 1185, 1485.

Colgan has published a passage relating to this place in his Acta SS. (Under Cap. I of the appendix to the Life of St. Cormac, Bishop of Ath-Truim) which he gives as from the Annals of the Four Masters Ad. Ann. 964, but which is not to be found in the copy published by Dr. O’Conor, nor in any copy to which we have access in Dublin. This passage is of great value and cannot be a fabrication of Colgan, though it is probable that he has quoted the wrong Annals. It runs thus:-

A.D. 964. Cormac O’Killeen, Coarb of the Saints Kieran, Coeman and Cronan; Bishop, sage, a man of great age who erected the Church of Tuaim Greine, together with its tower, died.

It is to be lamented that we have not the original Irish of this passage, as it would shew that a Round Tower (Cloigtheach) was erected at Tuaim Greine in the third quarter of the tenth century. This passage must be looked for in the more original Annals.

It will further appear from a passage given by Keating in the reign of Brian Boroo that the Tower of Tuaim Greine was not built for the first time in the Abbacy of Cormac O’Killeen, but rebuilt or repaired, as can be inferred from the words employed:- Cloigtheach Tuama Gréine do Athnuadhadh le Brian, i.e., the Round Tower of Tuaim Greine was renewed by Brian. This passage can be easily reconciled with the one published by Colgan, for the fact was that St. Cronan’s little tower, which had been shattered by lightning at various periods and patched up as often, was no longer large or strong enough to answer the purposes of the Monastery which had in the course of three or four centuries sprung up at Tuaim Greine, and Brian thought proper to extend his patronage to the aged Abbot to have it rebuilt. The antiquary has to lament that even the site of this tower is not now known at Tuaim Greine. Pity that the antiquarian does not find a cross there inscribed with this inscription:-

Ór don Ri Brian Mac Cineide. Orr don Abbad Cormac Hua Cillene Comarba Chronain da ndernad ocus do goban Hu soercloichi las a ndernad ind Chrossa ocus in Cloicthech.

The present Church of Tuaim Greine is of no antiquity and there is nothing there by which the antiquarian can be interested but a rude castle which was built by the O’Grady’s, hereditary hEerenachs of Tuaim Greine, and Lords of the territory of Hy-Donghailé in which it is situated. This Castle is mentioned in the College List of the Castles of Thomond as belonging to Edmond O’Grady, who had another Castle at Moyno, and another at Scarriff.

The little town of Scarriff, which is shewn on the Down Survey as a village even then of some importance, belongs to this Parish. It is mentioned in the Annals of the Four Masters at the year 1598 as a Castle taken from the Attorney of the Bishop of Meath’s son (Brady) by Teige O’Brien. It is also mentioned in the same Annals at the year 1564.

The Holy Well of St. Cronan, the Patron of Tuaim Greine, is situated in the centre of the Townland of Currakyle.

How soon shall we have the skeleton Map of Clare?

                                                                                                 Your obedient servant,
                                                                                                              John O’Donovan.

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                                                                                                                      6th December 1839.

Dear Sir,
I think the best plan for me is to finish the writing of Clare as soon as possible and then begin the Carlow Books, which will not, I am sure, detain me long.