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Researches in the South of Ireland (Author: Thomas Crofton Croker)

section 13



    1. Suche temporal war and bate
      As nowe is made of late
      Against holy Church estate!
      • God of his miseracion
        Send better reformacion.

Cloyne is a small town situated about two miles from the eastern shore of Cork Harbour, and a Bishop's See of considerable antiquity, St. Colman having founded its cathedral in the sixth century. Close to the cathedral stands a round tower, the most remarkable feature of the place. The town is straggling and miserable, composed of mud cabins and an inferior description of houses. Its name is derived from Cluaine, which signifies in Irish a cave, the surrounding limestone rock abounding with caverns and subterranean passages; Cluain, however, according to Dr. Ledwich, was a general term for any Druidical retreat. As there is no other market town for the whole of the well peopled peninsula, from Ballycotton to Rostellan, the influx of persons on a fair or market-day is very considerable.


In 1800 Cloyne was calculated to contain 308 inhabited houses, and rather more than 1600 souls. In 1813, the number of inhabitants was stated to be above 2000.

A branch of the Fitzgerald family, distinguished by the title of Seneschals of Imokilly, had formerly two or three castles here, and were the chief proprietors of the adjacent district, from which their title was derived; one that was first bestowed in 1420 by James, Earl of Ormond, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, on Lord Desmond, after whose death it was assumed by the head of his descendants resident in the district.

Hooker gives us an account of a skirmish that took place near Cloyne, between the Seneschal of Imokilly and Sir Walter Raleigh, in which the intrepidity and skill of Raleigh were remarkable. Raleigh afterwards accused the Seneschal of cowardice on the occasion; and such were the manners of the times, that Lord Ormond and Sir Walter more than once publicly challenged Sir John of Desmond, and the Seneschal, both of whom were in open rebellion, to decide the matter by single combat.

We are informed by the writer of the Pacata Hibernia, that the Lord Deputy Mountjoy, on his return from the siege of Kinsale to Dublin by way of Waterford, came out of his road to pay a visit to Cloyne, where he slept on the 7th of March, 1601, and was received by Master John Fitz Edmonds,28 who held the town and manorhouse in fee-farm, and who ‘gave cheereful and plentiful entertaynment


to his lordship, and all such of the nobilitie, captaines, gentlemen and others as attended upon him;’ when the ‘the lord deputy, as well as to requite his perpetual loyaltie to the crown of England, as also to encourage others in the like, at his departure did honour him with the order of knighthood.’

The cathedral of Cloyne is a small, heavy building, without any pretension to ornament, and is supposed, by the late Bishop Bennett, to have been built between the middle and the close of the thirteenth century; ‘having,’ says the bishop, who was an eminent antiquary, ‘no mouldings of the zigzag, nail headed, or billeted kind, nor round arched windows, which distinguish what is called the Saxon, or rather Norman architecture, before the introduction of the Gothic in the time of Henry III., and which appear, for instance, in Cormac's chapel at Cashell. It is not evidently so early as that time, nor, on the other hand, has it the splendid arch or oak-leaved ornaments so common in the middle of Edward I.'s reign, therefore it is not so late as that period. I should be inclined to fix the era of its building to the latter years of the first of these princes, or the beginning of the reign of the last. The windows, though since altered, were evidently of that sort called lancet windows, which were so common in the time of Henry III.; see the great west window, and that of the south transept; the latter on the outside, an additional argument for the date I have chosen; as is also the circumstance that, about this time, three prelates out of four were Englishmen, in whose country monastic and cathedral architecture was in high estimation.’

Bishop Bennett's reason for attributing the erection of the cathedral of Cloyne to the thirteenth century is clear and certainly decisive, if we allow the detail of any piece of Irish architecture to determine the date of its foundation. But the conclusion of the English antiquary, who systematically assigns dates, will often prove erroneous


in Ireland, where the distinctions and peculiarities of the Saxon and Gothic styles were imperfectly understood, and the result was a confused and barbarous irregularity.

The Bishops Johnson and Woodward are buried in the cathedral. The latter died in 1794, and was distinguished by a controversy on White-Boyism, with the well known Father O'Leary. ‘May the Heavens be his bed!’ ejaculated the poor woman, who showed me the interior of the church, on pointing out Bishop Woodward's monument; ‘when he died the poor lost a good friend.’ A large and rather injured tomb of black marble near it, was pointed out as that of the Fitzgeralds, converted by the Earls of Thomond, since the decline of the Fitzgerald family, to their own use. The original epitaph in Latin may be found in Smith; it commemorates the hospitality, learning and valour of John, a Geraldine, who died in 1611, probably the same person as John Fitz Edmunds, knighted by Lord Mountjoy, and whose initials appear on an engraved stone in the wall of the bishop's palace.

Before erecting the present cross wall at the entrance of the choir, which was done by Bishop Agar in 1776, as the workmen dug deep in the nave to lay the foundation, they came on a row of graves rather singularly constructed, consisting of brick cells, exactly suited to the size and shape of the body contained in each, and what is rather curious one of them ended at the shoulders, nor were any of the bones of the skull to be found with the body. ‘It is therefore not improbable,’ adds Bishop Bennett, who has recorded this discovery, ‘that the head of the owner may have been fixed on Cork gates in the times of turbulence, as they appear in the print given us in the Pacata Hibernia to be full of such kind of trophies.’ I cannot leave the cathedral of Cloyne, without noticing the monument of Miss Adams, an accomplished and elegant young woman, whose premature death was peculiarly melancholy. In the circle of my earliest


friends, her numerous acquirements and faultless disposition were dwelt upon as a darling theme, and her monument was contemplated with feelings of almost painful interest. The Epitaph is from the pen of the well known Mrs. Piozzi:
    1. From this vault shall
      at the last day ascend
      the reanimated body of
      Susan Adams!
      More fair, more lovely, and more excellent
      (since with our God all things are possible)
      than when at 18 years of age
      she left a circle of admiring friends
      to seek the wreath bestowed
      on meekness, piety and virtue.
      whilst by setting up this sublunary token of remembrance
      a momentary consolation has been lent
      to her afflicted mother.
Hester Lynch Piozzi. June, 1804.

In the East part of the church yard, are the remains of a small stone edifice called St. Colman's Chapel. It stands East and West, its length is thirty feet, and its breadth nineteen.

A manuscript in the British Museum, which appears to have belonged to Sir James Ware, as I apprehend some notes upon it are in his writing, (No. LI of the Clarendon Collection 4796,) contains a very curious account of the ancient celebrity of Cloyne as a place of sepulchre, followed by a tedious enumeration of the lands given to the See, in purchase for places of interment: it commences thus —

‘In the life of Ryyan it is sett downe, that the best blouds of Ireland have choosen their bodyes to be buried in Cluaine, which choice, for that Ryyan had such power being a holy bishop through the will of God, that what soules harboured in the bodies buried under that dust may never be adjudged to damnation, wherefore those of the said bloud have divided the church yard amongst themselves by the consent of Ryyan and his holy clearks.’

A specimen of the other parts of this manuscript, may be acceptable, as I believe it has never before been noticed, I shall therefore give a short extract with the conclusion: ‘Thus hath Mac Carthy, first Great Finyn Mac Carthy pay'd for his sepulture there viz. for a proportion of nyne cells or chapels, that is to say 48 daies29 for every chapell, the chapels were these, Kill Kyran in Desmond, Kill Cluain, Kill Torssair and Killatbebhe, and the other five kills of cells cannot be reade.’ &c.

‘And it was the Bishop Muirchertagh O'Muridhe, that caused this to be written and drawen out of the auncient life of Ryyan in this easie language, fearing least it should be obscured or lost, together with what other things yt were bestowed upon Cluain during his life, when the year of ye Lord was 20, three hundred and a thousand years, uppon the stone of whose tomb was engraven in Irish, Muriertach O'Murrid Bishop of Clone, head of all * * (one word which cannot be deciphered) Shanan his foster brother erected this stone monument for him.’

‘The Friary of Kilconnell mentioned in this life,’ (says a note which I take to be by Sir James Ware,) ‘founded about the year 1400, sheweth there is a mistake in the yeare here set downe. Qy. if it should not be 1420?’

The round tower


is on the opposite side of the street from the church, situated, as these buildings almost invariably are, near the west door. Miss Nicholson's drawing will convey a better idea of this curious structure, than a description however minute could do. Whilst engaged in sketching the tower, Miss Nicholson was surrounded by more than a hundred of the inhabitants, who flocked to the spot with a curiosity so great as scarcely to be credited, and, to use her own words, ‘closed on me with such overwhelming pressure, that I could scarcely draw either that or my breath.’

This building received considerable damage from lightning: the following account of which is chiefly collected from Dr. Smith's County History. Bishop Berkeley also relates the circumstance in a letter dated the 2d February, 1749. A thunder storm with lightning passed through the county Cork, on the night of the 10th January, 1749, in a line from west to east, and after killing some cows in a field south of Cork, struck the round tower of Cloyne used as a belfry to its cathedral. The electric matter first rent the vaulted arch at the top, threw down the great bell presented by Dean Davies, together with the three lofts, and, descending perpendicularly


to the lowest floor, forced its way, with a violent explosion, through one side of the tower, and drove some of the stones, which were admirably well jointed and locked into each other, through the roof of a neighbouring stable. The door, though held by a strong iron lock, was thrown to a distance of sixty yards and shattered to pieces, and a few pigeons that used to roost in the top of the steeple were scorched to death, not a feather being left unsinged. The conical stone roof destroyed by this accident was never replaced, but the height of the tower was lowered more than six feet, and an embattlement substituted. The stones of which the tower is composed have been mostly brought from the sea shore, and were prepared with much care, though about half way up the building there is an evident difference in the stones themselves as well as in the mode of placing them. The steps to the door are modern, like the embattlement; for these towers, whatever may have been their use, were entered by means of a rope or ladder, the door being generally eight or nine feet from the ground. In this at Cloyne it is about thirteen, and at Kilmacduagh, in the county Galway, no less than twenty-four. The height of the Round Tower of Cloyne is stated to be ninety-two feet, and the thickness of the wall forty-three inches: the first story has projecting stones for the joists of a floor to rest upon.

The Bishop's Palace adjoins the town, and was rebuilt in the early part of the last century by Bishop Crowe, a descendant of the notorious Sir Sackville Crowe. It is an old fashioned and clumsy building, without any claims to architectural beauty; but, as the residence of the amiable Bishop Berkeley, possesses a superior attraction: the most profound metaphysician of his time, he was distinguished by the disinterestedness of his character and the purity of his mind, and truly merited the commendation of Pope, who ascribes To Berkeley every virtue under Heaven.’’

Alexander Pope

His Essay on the Virtues of Tar-water was perhaps his most popular


work. This discovery excited an extraordinary sensation in the medical world, and tar-water, for a considerable period, was administered as an infallible specific for almost every complaint. — But it may be considered impertinent to dwell on the life and writings of one so well known as Berkeley. — When appointed Bishop of Cloyne, in 1733, he gave up the distinguished circles of London in which he had moved, and became the constant resident of a remote and inconsiderable town in Ireland, where, with real patriotism, he expended within his diocese the income derived from it; and his exertions to improve the habits and condition of the people by whom he was surrounded render him as illustrious an example to Irishmen of rank and property, as do his studies and inquiring habits to those engaged in literary or scientific pursuits.30

The bishop's demesne is rather picturesque, and considered to be the most fertile land in the district. Some fine ash-trees that overhang a pretty dell afford the artist good studies of close scenery, improved by jutting masses of well-coloured rock. In the grounds, not far from the palace, are the entrances of two natural limestone caverns, into neither of which it was possible to advance far, both being choked up by weeds and filled with water. The ancient name of this spot was Monelusky, or the Field of Caverns; and the names of the adjacent grounds speak the savageness of the place in early times; Knocknamodree is the Hill of the Gray Dog or Wolf; Park na Drislig, the Field of Briers; Monecranisky, the Meadow of the Wild Boars. Of the hills surrounding the town, that on the north is called Bohermore, or the Great Highway, from a tradition that a road passed over it, from the sea on the south to the sea on the north of the kingdom.31 The hill on the north is Knocknamodree, or the


Hill of the Wolf, already mentioned; and to the north-east is Curloum, or the Hill with the naked Turn, which expresses its present appearance with much precision.

Cloyne is indebted to Bishop Crowe for its poor-school; the original foundation was endowed by that prelate for twelve boys. The present number of children exceeds seventy, boys and girls, and the system followed appears to be that recommended by the Society for Promoting National Education.

Bishop Crowe is stated to have expended a large sum of money on the improvement of Cloyne, and he recovered for the see the lands of Donoughmore, containing 8000 acres. The value of the bishoprick is now estimated at between six and seven thousand pounds per annum. Ecclesiastical property, however, has felt the fluctuation of the times. During the Reformation, the Church of England suffered severely in its temporal affairs, more than half the clerical property in the kingdom being vested in lay hands; but that of Ireland was in a manner annihilated. Bishopricks, colleges, glebes and tithes were divided without mercy amongst the great men of the time, or leased out on small rents for ever to the friends and


relations of the incumbents. Many Irish bishopricks never recovered this devastation, as Aghadoe, Kilfenora and others. The Bishoprick of Ferns was left not worth one shilling. Killala, the best in Ireland, was worth only 300l. per annum; Clonfert, 200l.; the Archbishoprick of Cashel, 100l.; Waterford, 100l.; Cork, only 70l.; Ardagh, 1l. 1s. 8d.; and the rest at even a lower rate. Cloyne, situated at a distance from the capital, an appendage to the neighbouring see of Cork, and without head or guardian, had very little chance of escaping in the general plunder; the out-lying estates of the see became immediately the prey of the nobility near them. The Earl of Cork seized the manor of Inchiquin; Lord Barrymore formed pretensions to Kilcolman: Lord Clancarty got possession of Donoughmore, and the family of the Fitzgeralds, who were extremely powerful, and had already obtained the manor and greater part of the burgery of Cloyne, cast their eyes on the remaining possessions of the see. As the plan was a bold one, it was necessary to proceed with caution. In order to make the leases of the bishop's lands valid in those days, it was proper to have them confirmed by the dean and chapter, the church having thus, as it were, two securities that estates should not be wantonly granted away.

To surmount this difficulty, Maurice Fitzgerald, though a layman, had himself appointed to the deanery of Cloyne, and filled the chapter with his dependents; lay prebends as well as deans being not uncommon in the time of Queen Elizabeth. He then applied to Roger Skiddy, Bishop-elect of Cork and Cloyne, to grant him the possessions of the latter in fee-farm, to which Skiddy is said to have consented in 1557; but there seems to have been some irregularity or obstacle to the quiet succession both of Skiddy, who is stated to have resigned in 1566, and Dixon, who was deprived in 1571; so that it was not until eighteen years after this that the business was perfected, when Mathew Shehan, who was then bishop, in consideration of 40l. (equal to 500l. at present), leased out, on the 14th July, 1575, at the annual rent of five marks, for ever, the whole demesne of


Cloyne (four plough lands), with six other plough lands, the extended value of which must be now nearly 5000l. per annum, and an inscribed stone in the wall of the palace, which is here copied, seems to have been set up immediately after the Fitzgeralds obtained possession, as an evidence of their right.

In order to give some colour to the transaction, it was performed in this manner: Bishop Shehan granted the fee-farm of all the temporalities of the see of Cloyne for ever to Richard Fitz Maurice and his heirs on the above conditions. The dean and chapter, under their common seal, confirmed the grant, and then Fitz Maurice, who seems to have been merely an agent, is stated to have sold his right and title to Master John Fitz Gerald of Cloyne.

Bishop Lyon, who succeeded Shehan in 1606, was the first Protestant bishop, and held the united sees of Cork, Cloyne and Ross; he is said to have been in the naval service, and having distinguished himself by his valour, was promised promotion to the first situation which should become vacant in the gift of the crown; this happening to be the bishoprick of Cork, he was appointed to it. As an ecclesiastic, he was more esteemed for his benevolence and charity than for eloquence or learning. Almost the only sermon Bishop Lyon was ever known to have delivered being a very laconic one on the death of Queen Elizabeth, the language of which would have better suited the quarter-deck than the pulpit of a cathedral. Lithgow, the Scotch pilgrim, who visited Ireland in 1619 seems to allude to the appointment of this ecclesiastic in his complaint against the corruption of the time. ‘Yea,’ exclaims he, ‘and rude-bred soldiers, whose education was at the musket-mouth, are become church-men!’’’

William Lithgow, Rare Adventures in Ireland in 1619..

Bishop Lyon, in 1618, petitioned council unsuccessfully for a


restoration of the see-lands of Cloyne; and the fee-farm rent being all the property he derived from the see, he was nicknamed ‘Episcopus quinque marcorum.’ In this hopeless situation, the interference of a higher power gave a favourable turn to the cause. The ravages of the Irish church, which had been carried on in the most open manner during the reigns of Henry VIII., Edward VI. and Elizabeth, and more covertly, though almost as effectually, in the time of James I. were stopped on the accession of Charles I.; and it is to the credit of this prince not only to have checked this disgraceful and ruinous practice, but, in many instances, to have forced the plunderers to make restitution. Lord Strafford, a minister of great virtues, as well as great faults, had the honour of saving the remains of the Irish church. He found it, on his arrival in 1631, in a state of ruin: many of the bishoprics, as Ferns, Lismore and Cloyne, entirely destroyed, and the revenues of the others reduced to a trifle; the churches pulled down, or in a state of desolation, and the glebes and tithes in the hands of laymen; so that one nobleman in the western part of the kingdom (the Earl of Clanricarde) had no less than 100 livings in his own possession; and the Earl of Cork, in the south, besides all the landed estates of Lismore and the College of Youghall, had impropriated all the livings belonging to both of them.

The lord deputy began first to recover the lands which had been usurped from the bishoprics, and the mode he seems to have adopted for this purpose was by no means destitute of equity. He threatened the possessors with inquiring strictly into their titles, and fining them severely for their injustice if any fraud should be discovered; but, to such as were willing to resign their fee-farms and consent to take a fresh lease from the see, at a higher and more equitable rent, though still very advantageous to the tenant, he promised to prevail on the bishops to grant such leases for the term of sixty years, thus, in fact, allowing the lessees a reasonable advantage


for any improvement they might have made on the lands, but reserving the lands themselves for the benefit of the church.

The title-deeds and other papers belonging to the see of Cloyne, being either lost or intentionally destroyed by the Fitzgeralds, while the see was in the possession of that family, there is no early record now in the registry except that called ‘Pipam Colmani,’ which is a list of the estates and manors belonging to the bishopric in 1364. It was composed by order of Bishop Swaffham, who was a Carmelite monk and a great opponent of Wickliffe, and who seems to have had some political importance in his day, being deputed by the parliament, in conjunction with the Bishop of Meath, the Prior of St. John's, and Sir R. Holwood, Baron of the Exchequer, to sail to England and lay the state of the kingdom before Richard II. This document was missing when Smith wrote his History of Cork, and is said to have been recovered by accident some years after. Sir James Ware expressly mentions that it was not to be found when he wrote. The earliest paper except this is a sort of voluntary deposition by James Fitz John Gerald of Ballyfin, dated 1635, purporting to give evidence of the ancient state of the town. The evidence goes to prove that Bishop Francis Daniel, about 1260, gave the burial-ground and passed the manor, with many immunities, to the citizens and burgesses of Cloyne, they paying certain sums agreed upon by Bishop David, his predecessor; that a charter was then solemnly given to the inhabitants; that the city was divided into English Town or Street, and Irish Town or Street; the manorhouse stood near the church, the bishops not having a foot of land reserved in the town; that the bishop's house was in Irish Street, but of late, in the last Sir John's time, they had got one in English Street, &c. The authority of this paper was considered by the late Bishop Bennett doubtful, because brought forward by one of the parties interested in usurping the property, and alluding to transactions stated to have occurred nearly 400 years before, unsupported


by any evidence but hearsay tradition deposed by one of the possessors of the ground, and the paper being produced or fabricated at the very time when Lord Strafford was beginning to question the Fitzgeralds' title to the estates of the see, and being the only record left in the registry. Bishop Bennett has collected many curious particulars respecting the history of the see of Cloyne, which he directed should be given, on his death, to the Registry, for the use of his successors, and of this manuscript, for the communication of which I am indebted to the Rev. Francis Kirchhoffer, I have freely availed myself in compiling the present paper.

Of the caves in the neighbourhood of Cloyne, I particularly visited that called Carrig a crump; the entrance is in a limestone quarry belonging to the Messrs. Fitzgerald, where the stone used in building the new quays and custom-house at Cork has been chiefly raised. One of the proprietors, with much kindness, furnished me with lights and a very original personage named Larry to serve as a guide.

The descent was difficult, through a narrow and steep crevice of the rock, and the footing extremely slippery. At the end of this passage was a perpendicular fall of about seven feet. My guide sprung nimbly down into the profundity of gloom that expanded before us, and I followed by throwing myself into his arms. Proceeding a short distance, the cave became higher and more extensive, and we advanced some way, stepping from one large mass of stone to another, the bases of which were completely concealed by deep water. As our lights were, in many places, but sufficient to make ‘darkness visible,’ Larry, when I moved before him, repeatedly begged ‘my honour not to be too bould.’ We soon found ourselves in a chamber of considerable size, the roof of which seemed supported by a ponderous stalactical pillar, on a base proportionably massive, ornamented with clustering knobs of small stalactites that hung over each other like hands with the fingers spread out. Above, appeared gloomy galleries with entrances resembling rich Gothic


archways, but we were without the means of ascent, and consequently unable to explore any of them. Whilst I was gazing upwards, my guide, with a true knowledge of effect, placed the lights on the opposite side of the central pillar to that on which I stood, leaving me in darkness, and illuminating half the chamber. Under this management, a projecting point of rock, without much effort of fancy, assumed the appearance of a colossal figure in repose, leaning on a club, that, to the vivid imagination, might seem the genius of the cave, slumbering in his favourite grotto of spar.

We turned away into another part of the cave, adorned with fewer stalactites and somewhat circular in shape; nearly in the centre, a single stalactical column rose with an air of elegant lightness out of water, the cool and sparkling appearance of which can be assimilated only to liquid crystal. Having succeeded in crossing it, we ascended a kind of terrace, so smooth and level as almost to appear artificial, where lay two circular masses of spar resembling fragments of an enormous broken column; from this terrace four or five passages struck off, but they were so full of deep water and so narrow that I did not venture down any of them. Larry, however, whilst I remained on the terrace, had penetrated some distance into the largest, and commenced whistling an old Irish ditty, the effect of which appeared to me where I stood, as if many flutes were playing in unison. My guide spoke of a passage into a large chamber which he called ‘the White Hall;’ but it was so narrow, low and muddy, he recommended my not exploring it. On my return I passed near the entrance by which the cave had been formerly visited. It was, I understood, of such dimensions that a man on horseback might ride in some distance; but the falling of a quantity of earth had closed up this mouth, and it was not without repeated efforts that we emerged from darkness into daylight. The cave of Carrig a crump is little known, even to those resident in its immediate vicinity; its extent is probably very great, yet few I believe have penetrated much


farther than I did. A story is related, but with slight claims to belief, of a trumpeter, belonging to a dragoon regiment quartered in Cloyne, being left behind by a party of his comrades, with whom he had entered one of the passages in the Bishop's Meadow, and the next morning surprizing the labourers in Carrig a crump quarry by the sound of his bugle issuing from the crevices of the rock, to which instrument he was indebted for his preservation, as they immediately extricated him, after having travelled in his subterranean journey about a mile in a direct line.

Throughout the whole of this district the limestone rock abounds with natural caverns, and, in 1805, a curious discovery was made not far from Castle Martyr by a quarry-man, in consequence of his crow-bar having accidentally fallen through a fissure of the rock; he widened the aperture and descended in search of the instrument into a cavern, where he was not a little surprized to behold a human skeleton, partly covered with exceedingly thin plates of stamped or embossed gold, connected by bits of wire; he also found several amber beads. The annexed sketch of one of these gold plates is the same size as the original, which is in the possession of Mr. Lecky of Cork, with the fragments of a bead. The remainder of the gold was sold and melted in Cork and Youghall, and a jeweller who purchased the greater part told me the quantity he had melted to use his own words was ‘rather more than the contents of half a coal-box.’

The bones of the skeleton were eagerly sought after by the superstitious peasantry, as those of St. Colman, and carried away for charms: there is a tradition in the country, of a battle having been fought near this spot in a very remote period, and of four kings having fallen in the conflict. It is, perhaps, worth remarking, that the first account


of this discovery appeared in the Moniteur of the 25th August, 1806, and was copied thence into the Irish provincial papers.

Not far distant from Cloyne is Castle Mary — a seat belonging to the Longfield family: it was formerly called Carrig Cotta, supposed to be a corruption of Carrig Croith, or the Rock of the Sun, from a cromlech or Druidical altar, that is still to be seen not far from the house. This remain of paganism consists of a rough and massive stone, twelve feet in length: one end elevated about six feet from the ground, by two smaller stones, from which its name of Cromlech, signifying a bending or inclined stone, is derived. Close by it is a smaller stone or altar, supported in a similar diagonal position by a single stone. There is a tradition that nothing will grow under either of these altars, an opinion that originates from the total absence of verdure, incident to a want of sufficient light and air. The top of the larger altar was richly covered with the plant familiarly called the Wood Geranium, (Geranium Robertianum, or Robert's Crane's Bill,) the light feathery leaves and delicate pink blossoms of which, formed a pleasing contrast to the solemnity and breadth of the altar.

The plantations of Castle Mary are venerable and extensive, arranged in the taste of the last century: few situations can be more imposing or romantic than that of the Druid's Altar, the descent to which is overshadowed by some luxuriant ash trees of singularly beautiful form and growth; the gigantic size attained by some, surprizes the English traveller, and their long graceful branches, reaching to the ground, produce an effect not unlike the famed banyan groves of the east. Whilst Miss Nicholson was sketching the altar, a figure emerged from this depth of foliage, in costume, which, had it been a tint whiter, might well have passed for that of a Hindoo — but the innocent deception was soon destroyed by the irresistible accent in which the following exclamation was uttered, after coolly surveying that lady's work and the subject of it.


‘Och! fait, and sure the darlint lady isn't putting down the ould stones — may be! and as like as themselves it is, long life to her! well to be sure, and a power of trouble to be taking — a wisha God help us!’

Rostellan, the other principal seat in the neighbourhood of Cloyne, is that of the Marquis of Thomond, and commands a noble view of Cork Harbour, of which it forms part of the eastern shore. The present house is built upon the site of a castle of the Fitzgeralds, and contains a small armoury. ‘The sword of the great Brian Boru, my lord's ancestor, King of all Munster, your honour, and his fowling-piece! are there to be seen,’ said one of the gate-keepers, who accompanied us through the grounds, and seemed anxious to display the wonders of the place to strangers.32 This anachronism of assigning to an old musket a period of four or five centuries before its probable construction, is amusing enough, were it not so very common in Ireland; for Fion Mac Cuil, (the Fingal of Ossian,) St. Patrick, and Brian Boru, are personages to whom anything ancient, wonderful or curious, is without hesitation referred. Queen Ann granted to one of the former Earls of Inchiquin, by letters-patent, dated 20th April, 1708, with many privileges, to the manor of Rostellan, a considerable portion of land adjoining, which his lordship had embanked from the tide.

On a terrace close to the water is a statue of Lord Hawke, chiefly remarkable from its position, the admiral's face being turned away from the element on which he had acquired his fame; Sir Richard Hoare, in his Irish Tour, relates the following anecdote as the cause:

‘Upon the defeat of the French fleet commanded by Conflans, in the year 17 59, the city of Cork ordered a statue to be cast of the English admiral Hawke; but on its completion, some objections were made by the citizens, upon which the noble Inchiquin said, 'that he would pay for it;' which he did, and, as a rebuke, placed the admiral's


figure on a pedestal with his back turned towards the ungrateful city. Mr. O'Brien,’ continues Sir Richard, ‘told me a curious circumstance relating to this same statue, and which, in a less enlightened age than the present, might have been considered as ominous; that the admiral's right arm which grasped a sword, fell off on the very day that the French landed on the coast of Ireland at Bantry Bay.’

The O'Briens are one of the few original Irish families, that a series of revolutions have not entirely deprived of possessions in their native country. Until the reign of Henry VIII., they were distinguished as kings of Thomond, when the hereditary heir to the title, being a child, was dispossessed by his uncle Murrough, according to an ancient and barbarous Irish custom named Tannistry, a species of popular election of leaders or chiefs, that gave the right of possession to the strongest; as a living poet has happily defined it:

    1. the simple plan,
      That they should take, who had the power,
      And they should keep who can
a custom finally abolished by James I., in 1605. From this event perhaps the present Irish motto of the O'Briens originates, literally in English, ‘The strong hand uppermost,’ which has been absurdly enough rendered ‘Vigueur du dessus.’

King Murrough, feeling the insecurity of the title he had usurped, when his nephew Donough arrived at years of maturity, determined on surrendering it to the King of England, and of securing a lesser dignity, in which he was encouraged by the English governor of Ireland, who was anxious to destroy the feeling of monarchical independence. Murrough accordingly sailed for England, where he arrived on the 3d June, 1543, and waited upon Henry VIII. at his palace at Greenwich, to whom he formally resigned his pretensions to royalty, and received in lieu the title of Earl of Thomond for his own life,


and Baron of Inchiquin for his descendants, by letters-patent dated the 1st July, following; at the same time covenanting to assimilate to English manners, to obey the English laws, and to cause his children to be instructed in the English language. Donough, the nephew of Murrough, was also created by Henry, to prevent any future disputes, Baron of Ibrackan for himself and male issue, and Earl of Thomond for life on the decease of his uncle. After some severe family feuds, which were suppressed by the interference of Lord Sussex, Donough, Baron of Ibrackan, succeeded his uncle as Earl of Thomond, and received a new patent of nobility from Edward VI., continuing the title of Thomond to his heirs, whilst that of Inchiquin remained to the descendants of his uncle. The illustrious actions and descent of the O'Briens have been a favourite theme with the bards of Ireland. At the commencement of the seventeenth century, most of the senachies in the kingdom were engaged in a poetical controversy respecting the claims to superiority between the great northern family of O'Neal and the great southern one of O'Brien, a subject on which several thousand verses were employed. These have been collected, and are termed by Irish scholars, ‘the Contention of the Bards;’ the contest arose out of a composition of Teige Mac Daire's, who was retained as poet by Donogh O'Brien, the fourth Earl of Thomond, and was answered by Louis O'Clery, poet to O'Neal. Rejoinder and reply almost innumerable ensued, and the majority of the bards of that period became involved in the dispute.

The most prominent member of the O'Brien family in Irish history since the conquest by England, was Murrough, the sixth baron of Inchiquin; but he appears to have been so ambitious, selfish, and time-serving a character, that it is impossible either to admire him, or become interested in his fortunes. Lord Inchiquin married a daughter of Sir William St. Leger, the President of Munster, whose attachment to the unfortunate Charles I., and stability of principle, is a noble contrast to the veering conduct of Lord Inchiquin. On the death of


his father-in-law, Lord Inchiquin, being disappointed in his expectations of succeeding to the presidency, declared for the parliamentary party, and accepted an important command under them, meanly endeavouring to conceal his mortification, and account for the change of his political creed, by a variety of insignificant excuses.

From what can be collected, Lord Inchiquin's career during the civil war was intemperate in the highest degree, ‘not sparing his own kindred,’ says Ludlow, ‘but if he found them faulty,’ (that is, in arms for the cause he had abandoned,) ‘hanging them up without distinction.’ His ‘memorable service’ at Cashel partakes of the same spirit, where, regarding neither sex nor age, three thousand were put to the sword by his orders; and the priests, literally torn from the altars of God, were butchered before them in the cathedral. Had Lord Inchiquin acted from the enthusiastic feeling of the times, his character would have retrieved itself on the page of history, for he was personally brave and frequently victorious; but he seems to have studiously corrupted the well-inclined, and endeavoured to elevate himself by undermining the nobleness of others.

The parliament of England, feeling that no dependence could be placed on such a man, voted him a traitor the 14th April, 1649: and Charles II., with a view of creating a revolution in his favour, immediately by letters from the Hague appointed him President of Munster; but the soldiers under his command, disgusted by the inconsistency of his conduct, revolted. Lord Inchiquin, for safety, fled to France, and was soon after raised by Charles to the dignity of an earl; on whose restoration, when the claims of unbroken allegiance were unrewarded, the sum of 8000l. was bestowed on Lord Inchiquin — ‘as a mark of his majesty's favourable and gracious consideration of his losses and sufferings.’