« ZurückWeiter »
At Doonáh, near Ballycroy, we hear of a fight in the courtyard, and how Grainne killed the MacMahons and kept the tower; others said she had built the castle.
O'Donovan 1 supposed her to be "the Lady of the Reeks," i.e. Munchin (who gave her name to the river between Bangor Erris and Dundonnell), the faithless wife of Domnall Duailbuidhe; but the latter is clearly Flidhais, co-heroine (with her cow) of the "Taín bo Flidhais "2 at the beginning of our era, and one of his far too frequent guesses in the hasty and (it must be remembered) unrevised Ordnance Survey "Letters."
Formerly the people of Burrishoole showed her burial place in their "abbey," and from the neighbourhood of Rockfleet Castle, her known residence, I incline to accept their assertion. They show the hole in Rockfleet Castle through which the cable of her favourite galley used to be drawn.
In Irish literature, Maxwell's novel, The Dark Lady of Doonah, has secured the claim of that tower to be her special home. The tall corner alone remains on the desolate creeks on Blacksod Bay, one of the few landmarks of the featureless roads from Mulranny to Bangor; most of the tower fell early in the last century by the accidental burning of a turf (peat) stack in its undervault. Rockfleet and Cliara and another reputed castle (certainly held by the Ui Mhaille and dating about 1470) on Achill Sound, keep her memory green as the terrible sea-quecn, the friend and rival of the royal "Red Hag" (Elizabeth)— "Terra marique potens."
Doubtful and Later Legends.
Unlike Counties Clare, Kerry and Antrim, the Armada legends (so far as I can learn) hardly exist along the Connacht shore.3 At most a feeble legend remains without details; about the layer of human bones under the sand and coarse vegetation on Sligo Bay, where, as history tells us, the most fearful destruction of the persecuted fleet took place. The shore was heaped with 1300 bodies, stripped by the excited natives and
Ord. Survey Letters, Co. Mayo, vol. i. 2 Supra, vol. xxvii. p. 101. 3 The Co. Clare legends are given supra, vol. xxiv. pp. 490-493.
fed on by the starving wolves in sight of the few survivors.1 One ship, the "Rata Coronada," was wrecked in Blacksod Bay, the crew was taken off. There, too, a feeble, few-word tradition lingered if not derived from some book; the same is true of Clare Island, where the very dryness of the tale favours the genuineness. Doonáh tradition mentions a ship which lay near the castle for some time. There is said to be a great hoard of Spanish gold on Davillaun-two weird little rocky islets at the mouth of Blacksod Bay. Some claim to know where it is hidden and say that big ships from Spain were wrecked there.
The visit of "Black Tom "-Thomas, Earl of Strafford, the hapless Lord Deputy, the exponent of "Thorough "—is faintly remembered at Bunowen Castle, which he visited in 1637. Local story says the owner, Morogh na Mart (O'Flaherty), was absent, attacking his enemies of Galway city, but his people took his place, and gave such warm, if rude, cheer and welcome that, when Morogh hurried back, the earl knighted him. Alas "favour is deceitful"; Black Tom had noted all his host's property and seized on the whole. The tomb of Sir Morogh O'Flaherty, in 1666, is shown in St. Enda's Church near Arkin in Aranmore.
Of Cromwell and his soldiers the usual chaos is " remembered." He (or his men) hunted, in the Mullet, a priest, surprised as he celebrated the Mass. The priest fled with the vestments, vessels and Host to the shore, whence there was no escape; the shouting soldiers, in full sight of their victim, saw the rock split and turn seaward, bending so as to shelter him from their musket shots till they went away and he was rescued by his flock. It is told of three places on the Mullet, at Doonadearg, at a rock near Dunnamo, and at Leimataggart (Priest's Leap), the northern, and, from its name, the most probable.
It is more than possible that some priest actually escaped by hiding in some cranny, or under some ledge, of the rock. Priest-taking records abound among the Cromwellian papers at Dublin, and colonies of the unfortunate men were kept under watch of the garrisons of Inishbofin and Aran on those islands. Soldiers were sent to pay surprise visits and destroy 1 See Capt. Cuellar's account.
boats along the coasts and may well have done as stated in the Mullet. The "high and bending heads" of the rocks at the three places added an embellishment to the tale, not unknown elsewhere, in Lives of the saints. The others were probably due to transference of the legend for story-loving sightseers, the north site being only accessible by a long drive and weary walk through marshes and over crags. Little was told at Cromwell's Barracks at Inishbofin, and that little confuses the Puritans with the tales of Bosco and Guarim. The new legend, started at the rebuilding of the church near the castle, was an old tale of Bosco, furbished up to excite popular interest in the work. Even the most redundant martyrologist of the time knows it not. In Aran, at "Cromwell's Barracks," Arkin, I only heard in 1878 that it was built from the material of the (five) destroyed "seven churches" and the Round Tower; the first most probable, the last false. Loch Curafin1 in Mayo owed its origin to a Cromwellian massacre of a priest and his congregation. The horrified earth sank and filled with dark red water, ever fretting "the lake water lapping in low sounds on the shore," on even the calmest day, and the fish never taking a fly.
I must again briefly transgress my original rule to recall some traditions of the expulsion of the religious bodies in Galway city. The Dominican nuns were aided by a merchant to escape to Spain. Two returned in more peacable times and were again expelled, but their ghosts joined the worshippers in their ruined church. One person showed a large chest where a nun was hidden for many days and only escaped in a fisherman's clothes. Another ghostly nun walks through the walled-up door of the Lady Chapel every Friday. She was murdered (by Cromwell's soldiers, some said) in the stone hall and was buried in the vaults below. The Puritans also drove the Franciscan nuns, at the point of the sword, to drown them in Loch Corrib, but the intended victims found they could walk on the water and so escaped to Nun's Island. Later on an English officer, who had been saved by the Irish and held the nunnery, let its old owners return and go through an underground passage to wor1 Proc. R.I. Acad. vol. iv. ser. iii. p. 106.
ship in the church. Their ghosts are sometimes seen walking along the river bank in the evening.
The "Red Pedlar's grave" near Knockatemple Church in Erris has (or had) a legend, told fully by W. Maxwell in Wild Sports of the West. I did not hear it locally nor is the supposed date of the events known. In the neighbouring mountains (I hear) a carn of "Fair David," a famous robber, is shown. He was hunted down and killed, about 200 years ago. His monument is called (phonetically) "Lacht Dahya bawn," on top of Corsleive Mountain. There are also legends of the migration of certain existing families from Tirconnell to Ballycroy. They came by sea to Fahy, near Doonáh Castle, and included MacSweenys, O'Clerys, O'Gallaghers, MacNamaras, Conways and O'Friols. This probably refers to the mid-seventeenth century, as does that of the O'Tooles from Wicklow to Inishturk.
Otway1 heard, near Killala, from old people about an "Abbot " in his vestments at Moyne "Abbey" (a beautiful Franciscan convent); "Abbey" and "Abbot," like "Doctor" and "Esquire," are terms used carelessly in Ireland. "Moyne Abbey was a grand place entirely-what must it have been. before Luther and Calvin or the curse of Cromwell fell on it?" "I could hear old ancient people say it would be worth twenty miles walking to hear Mass then in the Abbey with the grand Abbot in his vestments and all the friars." Old people often tell as their own memories of matters long before their fathers' recollections, as I once demonstrated by showing that an old man of vaunted memory was "personally recollecting" events nearly two centuries before the time of our meeting. "There was a great Abbot, one Lynch, or Laheen, from Galway, he was full of learning." He ruled over St. Dechin's Abbey at Kilroe and "used to walk there twice a week from Moyne by way of penance." The protestant bishop (of Killala) O'Toway asked him to come to his castle and refresh himself, but he said he had to return, I must be with my Maker e'er night." The bishop asked how he could be so certain, where he had no sign of sickness, but the Abbot went on, and his would-be host, a kind-hearted man, sent next day to enquire for him. The 1 Erris and Tyrawly, p. 192.
monks said that at the Abbot's request they had drawn him round the building as a penance and that he was now dead. There was in fact a pious Roman Catholic Bishop of Galway named John Lynch, author of Cambrensis Eversus, and a goodnatured protestant Bishop of Killala (Otway or Otoway) banished by Cromwell, and Bishop of Killala in 1670, who rebuilt the Cathedral and was loved by all classes. He was translated to Ossory in 1697; what other facts lie behind the legend are unknown to me. It was said at Killala that the protestant bishop left the place on account of a curse or prophecy of Abbot Lynch. In fact they long after resided there, notably the one who unwillingly entertained the French officers in 1798 and made them such mirth by saying grace.
This brings us to the 1798 landing of the French. The tales at Kilcummin are valueless, being made to supply the demand of uncritical enthusiasts on the centenary of the landing. One old man, produced to us that latter year, said he remembered them" landing "from three big steamers," probably some thirty years before he was born. Unfortunately, I could get no record of what was said before the place was “exploited” and spoiled for ever.
Far different was the tradition of the too-true event in 1798 at Downpatrick Head; it was well attested. Otway 1 heard it from contemporaries in 1838 and I heard it two generations later as he heard it. During a yeomanry raid, in 1798, the men of the district successfully concealed themselves in the tidal sea-gallery of the "Poulashantana." An old woman was to let down a ladder, through the great pit in its roof, when all was safe; but the yeomanry, suspicious at only finding old men, women, and boys about, lingered in the neighbourhood, and after nightfall it was too late: the tide was in, and all the young and mature men of the place floated in the dark tunnel drowned.
At Dunminulla fort, near Portacloy, a protestant, aided by a native foster-brother, took refuge on the lofty and hardly accessible platform of the great headland. He and his house
1 Erris and Tyrawly, pp. 216-218. See for full description of Downpatrick Head and its legends Roy. Soc. Antt. Ireland, vol. xliii. p. 101.