MUSKERRY NOWNAN From ancient times until mid 17th-century, land under and around Gardenfield in Dromcolliher Parish, Co Limerick was known as Muskreenonaine, Muscraí or Muskery Nownan, anglicized from Muscraighe Ui Nunain, ‘(Place of ) descendents of Carbri Musc, grandsons of Noonan’. Muskery Nownan (a.k.a. Gardenfield West Castle) was confiscated and granted to Robert Stroud after Donough Nunan was slain in the Desmond rebellion and his lands and castle seized. Stroud’s successor, Sir Henry Oughtred, ran afoul of the law in 1593, because he let the lands out in tenancy to “mere Irish” (O’Begley, McDermody, O’Brien, O’Conyll, O’Connell and others) instead of English planters, as was legal. By 1840, Muskerry Nownan castle had been leveled and a barn built on its site.
The O Nunans, hereditary coarbs (land stewards) of the monastery of Tullylease…held lands in Corcomohide, in a district called Múscraí Uí Núnáin…the name…still survives as the official Irish name of the townlands of Gardenfield East, South and West, near Dromcolliher.
CASTLE LISHEN Castlelishen/Castlelishon (i.e. Free, of the Fianna?)
[From Historical and Topographical Notes photocopy] In the Barony of Orrery and Kilmore. Parish of Kilbolane. The townland of Castle Lishen contains 284 acres.
Castle Lishen is the Irish for “Castle of the little fort” (O’Donovan).
Quoting Windele: The Irish name is “Caislean Lisheen,” i.e., Ossian’s Castle.
Windele further remarks: “Dr. O’Brien, at the end of his Dictionary, Note 4, p. 514, has the following: – The O’Nunans, an ancient stock, were hereditary Wardens or Protectors of St. Brendan’s Church in Tullaleis, in Co. cork, and proprietors of the lands of Tullaleis and Castle Lissen, under obligation of repairs and all other expenses attending the divine service of that church, to which these lands had originally been given as an allodial endowment by its founder.” (Windele’s MSS., 12, I. 10. R.I. A.).
The O’Leary family came here in 1790 after Mr. Charles Furlong had given up the place to the landlord. The landlord was Sir Gerald Dalton FitzGerald, Bart., when Mr. O’Leary purchased the place under the Ashbourne Act. -1885
DROMCOLLIHER (also Drumcollogher, from Dromm Collachair, possibly a corruption of Drom-col-Choille, or Hazelmount). Its lands are 75% pasture and meadow, and 25% very-good tillage, with the hills to the south that form the natural boundary between Limerick and Cork cultivated nearly to the summits, and no wastelands or bogs. The RC district includes the parishes of Killaliathan and Cloncrew and part of Nonegay. There is ruins of a small and very ancient parish church. Dromcolliher is part of the parish of Corcomohide with Killaliathan and Clonrew, in the Barony of Upper Connello East. St. Bartholomew’s is the Anglican village church, at Carhooard West, existing since 1410.
Memorials – to Bartholomew Noonan (1820) and to Cornelius Nownan of Castleishen (1780) – may be seen within the ruined church in the old graveyard of Dromcollogher.
TULLYLEASE Tulcha Leis, ‘hill of the huts/forts’, probably for the camps that accompanied the Fulacht Fiadha (cooking/camping places) abounding there. Also, Tulach-leis, Tollelyche, Tullales, Tulachles, Tolleleyleyse, Tullilease, Tullachleish. Pronounced ‘Tool-il-eaze’, ”. It was “a noted center of the stonecutter’s art”. Tullylease church was founded by the Saxon St. Berechert (a.k.a. St. Benjamin), who came to Ireland with St. Gerald of Mayo during the 7th century. It has been said that the area was the last pagan stronghold in Ireland.
It lies on the high meadows of northwest Co Cork, at the well-springs of the River Deel that runs north to Limerick, and above the headwaters of the Allow in Cork. Its northern edge forms the border with Limerick; the village of Broadford in Limerick lies about 3 miles northwest. Tullylease is 20 miles south of the River Shannon, and 15 miles north of the Blackwater. Tullylease was in the barony of Duhallow, Cork. In 1541 the ville of Tullylease contained 840 acres.
According to Ware, it became the site of an ancient priory founded by Matthew MacGriffin for Augustinian Canons’ Regular, afterward united with Kells in Ossary, with a stone effigy of St. Barnabus, the patron saint; the burial ground is still used.
Berechert’s House and Well are in Tullylease near the church, as well as a second holy well and a bullaun stone known as Cloch na hEilte (named after a doe that was milked there). Per Nora Nunan: “the Irish were starving, and the Blessed Virgin appeared, and told them she would provide them with milk, so long as they didn’t look. Of course they did, and saw her milking a doe at the bullaun stone, at which she and the doe disappeared, and they lost their heaven-sent succor”.
Tullylease has some very interesting grave slabs, including what is possibly the finest Early Christian decorated cross slab in the country.
TULLILEASE PARISH Anglican parish chiefly in Duhallow, Cork, but partly in Barony of Orrery and Kilmore, containing 2,155 inhabitants. On the river Allow, which flows into the Blackwater below Kanturk. 8,241 statute acres as applotted under the tithe act. Fairs March 1, April 29, June 29 and Oct 24.
St. Berechert’s Church. The priory church, now in ruins, is a national monument. An 8th-century early-Christian inscribed cross-slab with other patterns is fastened to the interior of the northeastern gable of Tullylease Church. This is St. Berechert’s stone. This early-Christian cross-slab at Tullylease is 2×3 feet, probably from the early 8th century, dedicated to Berechert, Saxon saint. “The inscribed cross resembles one of the Lindisfarne Gospels of that period.” It is one of the best-preserved cross-slabs known.
The inscription on Berechert’s stone reads ‘Quicumquae legerit hunc titulum orat pro berechtuire’ (Whoever reads this inscription, pray for Berechert). More cross slabs are incorporated into the wall. Cross-slabs served as grave markers, and about nine hundred are known but most are from the 10th and 11th centuries. Tullylease Church is one of very few churches with cross-slabs inside.
It is a nave and chancel church, with the nave dating from the 12th and 13th centuries and the chancel to the 15th, its oldest construction dating to Matthew, son of Griffin, as an Augustinian Priory, sometime before 1170. It became a cell of Kells after 1193. The south end of the east wall is probably the oldest part of the church; the window and door in the south wall date from the 13th-century and the chancel from the 15th-century.
The inscription on a stained-glass window in the new Tullylease church, depicting the shrine of St Patrick’s bell, commemorates that the shrine was made by O’Nuanain. Both the bell and the intricately crafted silverwork shrine are displayed in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin
There is a tomb in the middle of the choir erected to commemorate Philip O Numan who died on the 30th April, 1752, aged 90 years. He must have been born just after the assignment of the family patrimony to strangers. His sons’ names were Denis and David. A nearby headstone was erected by Edmond Nunan of Clounrus (Cloonroosk) in memory of his father, Francis Nunan (d. 1843) ‘of the Bolough (Ballagh) family the Rickards and Neds’.
ROWLS NOONAN is shown on the ordinance map 4 miles west-southwest of Tullylease, on steeper, hilly land.
NOONAN PARK is given as the name of the roads leading northeast out of the townland of Freemount at the southern tip of Tuath Noonan below Tullylease.
Noonan’s Cross Roads is 16 miles southeast of Tullylease, about a mile southeast of Doneraile (Dún ar Aill) in Cork.
Greenane Castle, 6 miles south-east of Limerick city and just southeast of Caherconlish, was held by Noonans until the Norman Shane Burke gained possession of it in 1540, six years after the rebellion led by Silken Thomas Fitzgerald, Lord of Offally, (executed 1537) during Henry VIII’s reign (the estate was bought by the Hollow Sword Blade Co. in early 18th century).
BROADFORD is the site of excellent limestone quarries. Nunan’s Garage there is run by Maurice, son of John and Nora.The road north out of town is called Curraghmore, the great chariot road.
GORTNATUBBRID CASTLE Gort-na-tiobraide, anglicized to Gurtnetubber. Gortnatubbrida, “of the spring well”, Gort na Tiobrad, the Field of Spring.
The battle of Gortnatubrid (late September 1579) was fought at Pairc na Staille (The Field of the Stallion), just outside the gates of Springfield Castle. 300 English were slain in the rout. Tradition relates that the English Jesuit Dr. Nicholas Sanders, the papal nuncio who had landed with James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald in 1579 and was at the Battle of Parc na Staille, died of dysentery as a fugitive in the wooded hills south of Broadford in 1581 and “was ‘borne by four Irish Knight to Gort na Tiobrad.”
‘Now in ruins near Springfield Castle. It was strongly fortified for James II (1690), and afterward dismantled.’
SPRINGFIELD CASTLE (also called Gortnatubrid, Gort na Tiobrad Castle) The castle of “The Field of Springs” is 2 miles WNW of Dromcolliher, 2 mile north of Broadford, and 4 miles north of Tullylease.
The Claonghlais Fitzgeralds were sponsored as Lords of Gort na Tiobrad Castle by the Black Knight, Sir John FitzJohn Fitzgerald (Seán Mór na Sursainge, married to a Collins) to replace the Collins’, Lords of Claonghlais from the late 12th until the late 13th century. ‘…the Gort na Tiobrad Fitzgeralds, Lords of Claonghlais.’ Springfield Castle, “with the surrounding manor, formerly belonged to the Fitzgeralds, Lords of Glenlis”. On its forfeiture in 1591 after the Desmond Rebellion, ‘it was granted to Sir William Courtenay (along with Glenquin Castle, Newcastle and Purtrinard) [lost to the Sugan Earl in 1598]. The Fitzgeralds of Claonghlais recovered possession of Springfield, and during the Jacobite war Springfield held out for James II. It became forfeit to the Crown, and the last Lord of Claonghlais, Sir John Fitzgerald, left to serve with the Irish Brigade in France. The 16th-century four-story-high tower house was later bought by the Fitzmaurice family.
Forti et Fideli Nihil Difficile (Nothing is Difficult to the Brave and the Faithful) is the motto chiseled into the mantel of the early-20th century Maoiri-style cut-stone gate at Springfield Castle. The coat of arms of the castle also includes the motto “Honour Et Virtue”. A plaque at the gate carved by Cork sculptor Seamus Murphy commemorates Daibhidh O’Bruadair (c.1625-1698) from Barrymore, Co. Cork, Ireland’s last classical poet; a statue of the poet stands in Broadford village. Sir John Fitzgerald of Claonghlais was his patron until William of Orange took Limerick, ending the Jacobite war, and Fitzgerald and 11,000 exiles left for the Irish Brigade in France in 1691. He was the last Fitzgerald lord of Claonghlais. Daibhi died a destitute field laborer there.
The gate leads to an avenue lined with lime trees leading to the manor. The Gothic manor and a 16th-century tower fortress form the façade of a bawn, anchored on the opposite corner by a later square tower. The spacious rectangular bawn or keep is walled by outbuildings and stables. During the 18th-century a mansion was built adjoining the older castle, and, in the following century, a new wing was added, in the then-prevailing Gothic style. In 1923, during the civil war, the 18th-century house was burned to prevent its use by British troops, but Robert Deane, the popular Lord Muskerry, converted and added to a 19th-century wing to rebuild the manor house. The same Gothic style was used in the renovations, and Springfield Castle is still owned by a Lord Muskerry. Portraits of the Lords and Ladies hang throughout the mansion, still furnished in the early 20th century fashions.
A carved Barbary Ape sits astride a column, beyond the 100’ deep (?) well at the center of the keep. It commemorates the saving in 1261 of the infant Desmond heir Thomas fitz Maurice Fitzgerald upon the death of his father and grandfather in battle. The household staff, fleeing in terror, were startled by the sight family’s pet Barbary ape perched atop the tower battlements, holding the baby aloft. They returned for the child and took him to safety, and the Barbary ape has been a Fitzgerald icon ever since.
Jonathan Sykes and Betty Deane Sykes manage the 240-acre estate of the present Lord Muskerry, her brother, heir through the marriage of Sir Robert Tilson Deane (1747- 1818), the sixth Baronet (descendent of Baronet Sir Matthew Deane (1626- 1710) and Mary Wallis of Somersetshire, his first wife) to Anne Fitzmaurice, sole heir to John Fitzmaurice of Springfield Castle (son of Thomas Fitzmaurice, the First Earl of Kerry), in 1775. He was elevated to the peerage as Baron Muskerry, and was created Lord Muskerry on January 5, 1781. Their son Matthew, the 3rd Baron, married Elizabeth Geraldine (co-heir to H.K.G. Morgan) in 1847. In 1855 he assumed the additional surname and arms of Morgan. Their son Hamilton M.T.F. Deane-Morgan was the 4th Baron.
Large herds of deer and elk roam the castle’s fenced park. The farm is shared by horses and pigs, and projects by the Cork University organic farming program in Dromcolliher.
Betty Sykes is researching the origins and history of the 16th-century tower, with its great vaulted-stone-ceiling hall, carved-stone Gothic window casements and cryptic symbols in the stone.
The address of the castle is Dromcollogher, County Limerick, Ireland, telephone (063) 83162 [011-353-63-83162]. It is 3 km from the village. The castle may be rented by parties of up to 12. The cost in 2001 ranged seasonally from $1,800 to $2,500 U.S. dollars per week, plus electric and heating oil usage.
Rathurde Ring Fort. Rath Ard, “the High Fort” An ancient ring-fort lying to the front of the Castle on the Springfield demesne. Rath ring forts were commonly constructed in Ireland between 500 and 1,000 AD. A ringfort was an “earthen rampart surrounding a chief’s residence”, and a defensive corral. Ring forts dot the landscape to the north, but virtually none exist to the south of Rath Ard (the opposite is true for Fulacht Fiadha, “cooking places” unfortified seasonal occupation sites that dot the Mullagareirk foothills and Duhallow).
In 1611, the Anketell family from Nottinghamshire held the castle and lands of Rathurde (the castle was 200 yards sw of the Springfield Castle gates).
DUHALLOW Barony is in the East Riding, the northwest extremity of County Cork; Tullylease forms its northwest corner. The great northern vale of Cork, it was known in older writings as Alla, or Dubh Alla. Duhallow was long regarded for the size and quality of its dairy cattle. Its chief, to a very late period, enjoyed almost regal authority, and was sometimes styled the Prince of Duhallow. The 325 English Baronies used in 19th-century land evaluations were based on Irish family territories. Duhallow barony was bordered by Glenquin in Limerick to its north, Upper Connello to its northeast, Orrery & Kilmore to the east; Fermoy (Roche’s) to the southeast, East and West Muskerry to the south, and Truchanacmy and MaGunihy in Kerry to the west.
MUSKERRY Muscraighe (Muscrai, Muskeraidhe, Muskerry) means ‘(place of the) descendents of Carbri Musc’. It included the baronies of East and West Muskerry, 20 miles south of Tullylease in central Cork below the River Blackwater, Upper and Lower Ormond (Muscraidhe Tire), and Clanwilliam in County Tipperary. The western portion between the rivers Lee and Blackwater retains the name.
Other areas of Munster include the prefix Muscraighe in their name; Muscraighe Luachra, including the Mullaghareirks, and Muscraighe ui Nuanain.
Carbri Musc was a son of the Connaught King and Ard Righ Conaire the Great, High King of Ireland A.D. 158-165. Conaire was the son of Mogh Lamha, the last Deagades King of Munster.
Carbri Musc became King of Muscraighe in Munster c200-280 AD. His brother Carbri Riada was progenitor of the Dal Riada, Gaelic settlers of SW Scotland, and his brother Carbri Baiscin’s great-great-grandson was Niall of the Nine Hostages, progenitor of the O’Donnells and the O’Neills.
“The Albanians of Riada from the promontory,
The Baiscnigh from Leim Chon g Culainn,
The Muscruidhe beyond, without reproach
Sprang from the fair Conaire.”
The brothers were allied with their maternal uncle Art the Lonely, Son of Conn of the Hundred Battles. Carbri Musc opposed Lugaid mac Con, as did his maternal uncle Art the Lonely, 113th Ard Rí, and Lugaid’s foster-father, Oilill Olumn, overking of Munster. In 186, Cairbre Musc wounded Lughaidh (Mac Con) in the thigh. Lughaid killed Art at the battle of Mag Mucrama and took the high kingship. Lughaid was finally deposed in favor of Cormac Mac Art.
Carbri Musc devastated Munster. Carbri Musc fathered twins Cormac and Corc by his sister Duibnin, inciting the chiefs of Munster. Dionach the Druid saved Corc, returning him to his grandmother Sarah. Carbri Musc’s son Duibhne was progenitor of the Corca-Duibhne, the race of Duibhne (Divny, O’Dugan; Corca Duibhne, Corkaguiny). Dugans were the southern neighbors of Muskerry Nownan.
GABRA battle of. Also see Ui Conaill Gabhra. Munster King Mogh Corb and the Munster-based Fian of Clan na Baoiscne under Fion mac Cumhail’s son Oisin attacked Ard Righ Cairbre (Carbri) Lifeachar and his Fian of Connaught Clan na Morna allies at Gabra in 281. Cairbre defeated Mogh Corb and the Munster Fian, killing Oisin’s son Oscar.
The site of Gabra is not known. Although it is surmised to be near Dublin, the fact that that Ui Conaill Gabhra lies just north of Muskerry, and after the battle Goll MacMorna and the Connaught Fian pursued Mogh Corb to Muskerry and crushed him there, offers some support for Ui Conaill Gabhra, perhaps ‘the field of blood’, as the site of the battle on the basis of its proximity to Muskerry.
O’DONOVAN O’Donovans were Ui Figeintee kings of Bruree and Ui Cairbre Aedhbha, overkings of Collins of Ui Conaill Gabra and Ui Cairbre and Corca Muicheat McEneury, displacing DálCais (descendents of Oiloll Ollum, descendents of Munster Fionn (7th-9th-century)) until displaced by Domnall Mor O’Brien in 1178 to O’Driscoll territory of Corca Loidge in the SW that they gave their clan name of Ui Cairbre.
COLLINS are of same stock as O’Donovans, Lords of Ui Conaill Gabhra (Hy Conal, O’Connell land later divided into the baronies of Upper and Lower Connello) until they were expelled in 1178, and settled in Claonghlais and West Cork.
The UíCoileáin…were a branch of the Uí Fidhgheinte, and became chiefs of Uí Conaill (or Uí Conaill Gabra), when Uí Fidhgheinte split into Uí Conaill (the western part) and Uí Cairbre (the eastern part) …Fitzgeralds… Gortnatubrid, in Claonghlais…Known as Tiarnaína Claonghlaise, the lords of Clonlish.
CORCOMOHIDE, from the race of Muichet, disciple of the druid Mogh Ruith. Now an Anglican church union of 3 parishes, Dromcolliher, Killaliathan and Clonrew, in the Barony of Upper Connello East.
HANNIGAN “John O’Sullivan, A History of the Church in Killagholehane and Broadford, 1988, p 24…states that the names Hannigan, or Hennigan, as found in this area, are anglicisations of ÓhIonmhaineáin…neither Woulfe or Mac Lysaght have anything to say about this. But perhaps local tradition should not be summarily dismissed.”
WOODLANDS: A map of Woodland Distribution about 1600, in The Desmond Wars in Munster, by Margaret McCurtain, shows a long, narrow strip of open land running N-N-E between the great forests of Clonlis and Kilmore-Aherlow.
From Bruree to Corcomohide, by Mainchin Seoighe Quoting from The Irish Woods since Tudor Times, Dr. Eileen Mc Cracken “In…Limerick, woods lay against the north-facing slopes of the Mullaghareirk mountains from Feenagh westwards to Broadford, and continued to Newcastle and through Ardagh to Shanagolden, and Loghill on the coast, where there were ironworks. The southern sections of these woods, known as Clonlish, was the gathering place of James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald when he rebelled in 1579…Woods stretched eastwards from Rathkeale to link up with the long tract of forest that lay between Charleville and Kilmallock…This forest occupied the valley of the river Maigue…”
But when we come to the Corcomohide of the 1650s, as described in the Civil Survey, practically all of what must have been its very extensive earlier woods seem to have vanished. It then had just under 100 acres of “scrubby wood”, and 6 acres what was described as “timber wood”…Perhaps many of them were felled to provide charcoal for the smelting of iron ore in the ironworks that been established at Glin and Loghill.
THE AREA The area formed by Tullylease (850’), Broadford (580’) and Dromcolliher (580’) straddles the high ground between the watersheds of the Shannon to the north (the River Deel), the Blackwater to the south (the River Allow), and the Feale to the west. The Limerick-Cork border bends at Tullylease and Broadford to separate the wellsprings of the Shannon and Blackwater. The River Feale at the base of the Mullaghareiks marks the Kerry border ten miles west; the area there where Cork, Kerry and Limerick meet is called Pobble O’Keefe, and was nearly uninhabited in 1800. It is also modernly known as Slieve Luachra.
The Mullaghareiks run west from Tullylease at 840’, Mullaghareik Mountain (Mullach an Radhaire; ‘hilltop of the lookout’) at 1300’ rises 650’ above Broadford. Part of the Slieve Luachra range, they formed “the fastness of the Fitzgeralds”, and turned St. Patrick back (near Ardagh) without his proselytizing south Munster. A broad expanse of rolling, open land extends eastward 10 miles to Rath Luirc, delimited by the Ballyhoura Mountains south of Rath Luirc. To the north the land drops to sea level at the westward-flowing Shannon, 20 miles away. The rolling hills of the vale of Duhallow in Cork drop gently to the Blackwater, 15 miles south. This fabled great vale of Cork and the rich lands dropping to the Shannon form one of the most fertile regions in all Ireland. Broadford and Tullylease lie where Duhallow barony in Cork met Glenquin and Upper Connello in Limerick. This part of the modern-day Cork-Limerick border is rooted in history and warfare.
Saint Patrick evangelized Ireland as far south as Ardagh, 12 miles northeast of Broadford/Dromcolliher, and there, deciding not to cross the Sliabh Luachra range, Patrick turned east, to Patrick’s Well.
Glenosheen (Gleann Oisin) just north of the Ballyhoura Hills below Knocklong, means Oisin’s Valley. Fionn’s Seat (Suidhe Finn) and the Seat of the Fianna (Suidheachán na Feínne) are on Cromhill/Cromwell’s Hill five miles north of Knocklong; a cave below is known as Dermot and Graínne’s bed. Fionn’s Fort (Lios an bhFian) is on Knockfierna Hill (donn Fírinne, the Hill of Truth of Donn, a fairy chief) in Ballingary, one of the most famous fairy hills in Munster, 10 miles north of Dromcolliher.
Cnoc Áine, Knockany, the hill of Áine, is at the center of Deise Beag (little south, either as miniature Munster or as little-south Uisnech), and the seignory of Any until 1690, near Lough Gur, the sacred lake. It was historically the site of a midsummer solstice torch (cliar) circumnavigation, and torch-blessing of the crops and cattle. It lies in a direct line with Emain Macha, the Ulster capital, bisected by Uisnech (Ireland’s navel), and is one of ancient Eriu’s five sacred provincial sites.
Bruree, Brugh Ríogh, House of Kings, birthplace of Mogh Nuadat (Maynooth) who forced Conn of the 100 Battles to split Ireland and of his son Olliol Ollum and may have been the ceremonial capital of the Munster Kings until the Anglo-Norman invasion. Domnall Mór O’Brien drove the Uí Fidgeinte out of the country in 1178, reclaiming the 7th-9th century Dalcassian seat seized by the Eoghanacht kings of the Uí Fidgeinte line in the 9th-cenury. Donnabhán, a Uí Fidgeinte king, murdered Mahon in 976. Anglo-Normans filled the vacuum. It remained the site of twice-yearly meeting of the Gaelic Bards until 1746 (O’Halloran). It is the birthplace of Eamon de Valera’s mother, Catherine Coll, and his childhood home.