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The ancient territory of Fermoy

Author: Unknown

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J.G. O'Keeffe

Electronic edition compiled by Emer Purcell

Funded by University College, Cork via the Writers of Ireland Project.

3. Third draft, with introduction.

Extent of text: 3780 words


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(2009) (2011) (2012)

Distributed by CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.
Text ID Number: T100063


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    Manuscript Sources
  1. Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, Book of Lismore, Fo. 140a, 2.
  2. London, British Library, Egerton 92, Fo. 13b.
  1. J.G. O'Keeffe (ed.), 'The ancient territory of Fermoy', Ériu 10 (1926–28) 170–89.
  2. P. Power (ed.), Crichad an Chaoilli being the Topography of Ancient Fermoy, (Dublin, 1932).
    Further reading
  1. Eithne Donnelly, 'The Roches, Lords of Fermoy: the history of a Norman-Irish family'. J Cork Hist & Arch Soc, 39 (1934), 38–40, 57–68; 40 (1935), 37–42, 63–73; 41 (1936), 20–28, 78–84; 42 (1937), 40–52.
  2. T.F. O'Rahilly, 'Some Fermoy placenames', Ériu, 12 (1938), 254–256.
  3. Liam Ó Buachalla, 'Placenames of north-east Cork', J Cork Hist Archaeol Soc 54 (1949) 31–34.
  4. Liam Ó Buachalla, 'Contributions towards the political history of Munster', J Cork Hist Archaeol Soc 56 (1951) 87–90, 57 (1952) 67–86, 59 (1954) 111–26, 61 (1956) 89–102.
  5. Liam Ó Buachalla, 'Townland development in the Fermoy area, 12th century–19th century', Dinnseanchas, 1 (1965), 87–92.
  6. Liam Ó Buachalla, 'An early fourteenth-century placenames list for Anglo-Norman Cork', Dinnseanchas 3/2 (1967) 39–50.
  7. F. X. Martin, 'The first Normans in Munster', J Cork Hist Archaeol Soc 76 (1971) 48–71.
  8. Niall Brunicardi, Fermoy to 1790: a local history (Fermoy: Eigse na Mainistreach, 1975).
  9. C.J.F. MacCarthy, 'Éigse Chaoille: an introduction to the literature of ancient Fermoy', Mallow Field Club Journal, 6 (1988), 134–155.
  10. Kenneth Nicholls, 'The development of Lordship in County Cork, 1300–1600', in P. O'Flanagan and C.G. Buttimer (eds), Cork History and Society. Interdisciplinary Essays on the history of an Irish County (Dublin, 1993) 157–211.
  11. Donnchadh Ó Corráin, 'Corcu Loígde: land and families', in O'Flanagan and Buttimer, Cork History and Society, 63–81.
  12. Paul MacCotter & K. W. Nicholls, The pipe roll of Cloyne (Rotulus pipae Clonensis) Midleton [Co Cork] 1996).
  13. Diarmuid Ó Murchadha, 'Cenn Ebrat, Sliab Caín, Belach Ebrat, Belach Legtha/Lechta', Éigse 29 (1996) 153–71.
  14. M. A. Monk & John Sheehan (ed), Early Munster: archaeology, history and society (Cork 1998) 59–64.
  15. Denise Power et al., Archaeological inventory of county Cork (4 vols, Dublin 1992–2000).
  16. J. O'Meara, 'Mallow-Fermoy-Mitchelstown'. Journal of the Irish Railway Record Society, 22 (2004), 17–33.
  17. Edel Bhreathnach, 'Críchad an Chaoilli: a medieval territory revealed', Journal of the Cork Historical & Archaeological Society, 110 (2005) 85–96.
  18. Paul MacCotter, Medieval Ireland: territorial, political and economic divisions (Dublin, 2008).
    The edition used in the digital edition
  1. J.G. O'Keeffe, The ancient territory of Fermoy in Ériu. Volume 10, Dublin, Royal Irish Academy (1926–28) page 170–189


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CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

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Text has been checked and proof-read twice.


The electronic text represents the edited text and covers the introduction. Editorial notes are tagged note type="auth" n="", or integrated into the markup.


There are no quotations.


When a hyphenated word (hard or soft) crosses a page-break, the page-break is marked after the completion of the hyphenated word (and punctuation).


div0=the survey; div1=the section. Page-breaks are marked pb n="".


Names are not tagged, nor are terms for cultural and social roles.

Profile Description

Created: Original by an unknown Irish monastic author; translation by J.G. O'Keeffe. Date range: 1100-1300.

Use of language

Language: [EN] Introduction and text are in English.
Language: [GA] Some words are in Irish.

Revision History

Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition: T100063

The ancient territory of Fermoy: Author: Unknown


The Ancient Territory of Fermoy

The Irish topographical document which follows is taken from two manuscripts:

  1. L. Book of Lismore, Fo. 140a, 2.
  2. E. Egerton 92, Fo. 13b.

In the case of L, I transcribed the text from the partial copy of the Book of Lismore in the Royal Irish Academy, and afterwards collated it with the original manuscript in Lismore Castle. The text here printed is, with one or two exceptions indicated in the footnotes, that of L. In the case of E, I have given only the more important variants. The text throughout in E is very difficult to decipher (it is quite illegible in parts) and I am therefore all the more indebted to Mr. Robin Flower for the careful collation which he has been kind enough to make for me.

Both MSS. date from the second half of the fifteenth century, but in my judgement are immediately independent of each other. The evidence afforded by the personal and place names indicates that the text could not have been written before the twelfth century. The surname (which began to appear in the ninth and was well established by the twelfth century) is found throughout. In connection with place names, I think it will be found on examination of early Irish documents that the word baile as the first element in place names does not occur with any frequency before the close of the twelfth century.1


Documents of this kind are not common in Irish. It is quite a matter-of-fact record, and, judged from the personal and place names that survive in the district to the present day, it must have been a fairly exact one. The occasion for the record may have been some fundamental change in the political organization of the district. (The character of the ‘survey’ does not point to change in the ecclesiastical organization, in as much church matters are only touched upon from the civil standpoint). There must have been some good reason for placing on record the hereditary owners and, with as much precision as possible, the limits of their several ownerships. Soon after the Anglo-Norman invasion the power of the native chieftains began to wane. The Fermoy territory came under the dominion of the Roches and Flemings in the thirteenth century. The Roches appear to have been firmly planted at Castletown Roche by the close of that century. It is possible that the ‘survey’ was put on record in consequence of the new overlordship.

From the foregoing indications I conclude that the family organization outlined in this document was in existence in the thirteenth century, if not earlier. It is possible indeed that it reflects pretty accurately the family organization of the particular district during the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

The territory described forms a rough parallelogram some 22 miles long (east and west) and 12 wide. Glanworth is near the centre, and Mallow, Doneraile, Mitchelstown and Clondulane are a little within the angles. It is hemmed in on the north by the Ballyhowra and Galtee mountains, and on the south by the Nagles mountains, extending eastward to Corrin. In the whole territory of some 260 square miles there are 163 places mentioned and 135 families. Of the 163 places some were probably full townlands, the others portions, of varying size, of townlands. More than half of both sets of names are found in three of the fourteen tuatha, Eoghanacht of Glennomain, Hí Chuáin and Magh Finne.

The dividing line between the two original cantreds was not quite the line which to-day separates the Barony of Condons and Clangibbon on the east from that of Fermoy on the west. The early boundary, following the indications in the document, ran due north from a point on the Blackwater a little to the west of Convamore to the vicinity of rockmills, that is, parallel to the Awbeg, and a little to the east of it; then either north along the Funshion


and Sheep rivers, or north-west along the Farahy river. (In view of the position of Ahacross, that is, in the first cantred, and therefore east of the dividing line, I incline to the latter). The present baronial boundary lies for the most part some miles to the east.


    1. The exact boundary of the Caoille,
      is there anyone of you who would describe it?
      It was given to the son of Sonasc
      for assisting at the Forbais. Et cetera.

¶2] That country consisted of two tricha (cantreds) before it was given to Mogh Ruith, and there were eigth tuatha in each triucha; and this is the boundary of the two triucha; even as flows the stream of Muilenn Mairteil in Sliabh Caín and Loch Luigni through An Machaire (the plain) and Glenn na nDíbergach (the glend of the reavers) through Móin Mór. On being given to Mogh Ruith they were made into one triucha, to lessen their rent-tribute


for Mogh Ruith's posterity. And the security for keeping it thus relieved was Mogh Corb, son of Cormac Cas, and his posterity. And it was then portioned out into ten tuatha, eight answering to (ordinary) land and two of border land.

¶3] The first tuath that is reckoned of these is Eoghanacht of Glennomain (Glanworth), for it is the noblest of them, being of the free-tuatha of Cashel, together with its fortuath; and Hí Ingair, which is called Magh Fece, is the noblest townland of this tuath; Glennamhu and Ceapach Ingine Fearchair opposite, and Glenn Cainntin: out of which are the Hí Fhinghuie; and Lis Leithísil and Doire Hí Thnúthghaile, out of which are the Hí Thnúthghaile; Cathair Droinne (Caherdrinny), out of which are the Hí Annratháin; Dún Maelclaigh, —i.e. Daingen Eóghanachta (Ballindangan?) — and Achadh Loiscthí, out of which are the Hí Lachtnain and Hí Dubhthaigh and the Hí Leannáin and Hí Draignéin; Seanchua — that is Cell Ghalláin (Kilgullane) and Móin Banba — out of which are the Hí Doronaigh; and Lis na Caille, out of which are the Hí Dhubhghaill and Hí Chléirigh; and Ráth Mór, out of which are the Hí Drornáin. Leathbhaile Hí Chonchubhair (the half townland of Ó Conchubair), for Ó Conchubhair was chieftain of Ingair, that is, of Magh Feigi; and these are its names: Dún Loibín — that is, Teach an Turtáin — Cluain Dalláin (Clondulane), Móin Luachra, Cell Garháin. And its boundary is as runs the road that leads from Airgetlainn (Araglin) to Cnocán Dúin Martan and through it down to the Abhann Mhór (Blackwater); and the dyke running westward from Gort an Grain to Gort Droma Airthri, and thence west to the Seiscnén where it enters the Blackwater; and the Hí Dhalláin are hereditary owners (?) of Cluain Dalláin (Clondulane), Móin Luachra and Gort an Grain. Cell Aenamhna is the church of the Eoghanacht of Glennomain. And a third of the lands of Brí Gobhann (Brigown) belongs to that tuath, viz., Carrac Cormaic and Cell Danan, Cúl Domnann, Cluain Locha, Cluain Lena, Cluain Cairbreach, Cell Bracáin, Corrlis dá Conall craescru, Tipra Grugáin, Tulach Aedha, Ard Catha, Caim inssi, Dún Droighnén to the east of Aithlis Cenn fhaeladh.

¶4] After one tuath was made of two tuatha of Hí Chuáin, viz., of Hí Máille Machaire and Hí Ingardail, the chief townland


of Hí Ingardail was Conbaidh (Convamore) — (so called) from Fionn's hounds which were drowned there — and out of that are the Hí Buadhaigh; An Mhartra, that is, áth Ubhla (Ballyhooly), out of which are the Hí Aichir; Cell Aichech (Killathy), out of which are the Hí Riagáin; Leitir (Letter), out of which are the Hí Corcráin; An Reclés, out of which are the Hí Mhaeil luaigh; Cell Conáin is the church of this tuath. Ó Conbaidhi is the chief over Hí Chuáin; and before one tuath was made of these Ó Riagáin was chief over Hí Ingardail.

¶5] Hí Máille Machaire, viz., Leac Glas (Licklash) and Cúl Baedáin, out of which are the Hí Thaimhdinigh and Hí Fhórgartaigh; Leathnocht in which are twelve2 faimilies, viz: Ó Conbaidhi from Cathair Mic Máille, Hi Gormacháin from Lis Donnchadha, Hí Uallacháin from Corr Hí Uallacháin; Hí Lachtnáin from Fidhrus; Mac Cuirc from Cell Féichín; Hí Cheithearnaigh from Cnocán Tulaird; Hí Chaelbeannaigh from Corr Hí Chaelbeannaigh; Hí Chúichneacháin from Greallach Hi Chúichneacháin; Cell Cromglaisi, out of which are the Hí Chuáin; Laiche Hi Fiaich, out of which are the Hí Finnachta; Ard Fleadha, out of which are the Hí Chinn fhaela; Manann out of which are the Hí Chianaigh. Cell Cruimthir (Kilcrumper) is the church of that tuath. And a third of the termon of Brí Gobhann (Brigown) belongs to Hí Chuáin, viz: the two Ceannecains and Cúl Lughdhach, Móin Muicrinni, Cell Droma, An Mairbthír, Na Lianáin, Cnocán Hí Chróingilla, Bealach na Ros.

¶6] Tuath Ó Cuscraidh; viz. Liathmhuine and Cúl na nAracul, out of which are the Hí Lighda; Cluain Mac Carthain, out of which are the Hí Artúir; Lis an Cnuic, out of which are the Hí Donnchadha; Cell Mochuille, out of which are the Hí Bechegáin and Hí Dhunadhuigh and Hí Riagáin; Daire Faibleinn, out of which are the Hí Adhnacháin; Loch Arda Ó Cillín, out of which are the Hí Chuind; the half-townland of Hí Fhinn, out of which are the Hí Fhinn; and its other half-townland—The Ards—is in the termon of the Brí Gobhann (Brigown); Liagán Lig Uanach, out of which are the Hí Ithfearnáin; Durmach, out of which are the Hí Dunadhuigh. And the church of this tuath is áth Cros Molaga


(Ahacros), out of which are the Hí Corcráin, Hí Ceannsáin, Hí Aenghusa, Hí Muircheartaigh, and Hí Duibhéidigh. And a third of the termon of Brí Gobhann itself and Cluain Aei, Carrac an Furnaidhi, Garrán Hí Adhnacháin, Baile Hí Mhaeil mórdha, Baile Hí Chuinn, Cnocán Muighi Ginne, Cluain Garbháin, Cúl Aithlis Cinn fhaeladh, Gort na Fuinnsinn, Cell Seanaigh (Kilshanny); and the surnames of this church are Ó Maeil mórdha its coarb and Ó Fhíngbín its doorkeeper, Ó Brain, Ó Dergáin, Ó Mulalaidh, Ó Flannagáin, and Meic an Bhreathnaigh; and the Hí Artúir are the chiefs of that tuath.

¶7] Tuath Ó Conail, that is, from Glenn Cubra to Lebglaise; and the Hí Dublaídh are the chiefs of this tuath; and Liatruim (Leitrim) from the Airgeadlainn (Araglin) eastward to Lebglaise—that is the hereditary land of Hí Dublaídh and Hí Aibiláin; Baile idir dá abhainn (Ballyderowen), that is, Ard Mac Coilbeard and Uamh Cróine, and from that eastward to Dún Ó nGennti is one townland; and out of that place are the Hí Aengusa; Magh Driséin half to the south of the river and half to the north; these are one townland, and out of it are the Hí Mhannóg; Feic Beg which is half a townland, and out of it are the Hí Riain and Hí Fhearghusa; its other half townland is Ráth Siadail and An Corrán, and out of it are the Hí Chuáin. Cell Uird (Kilworth) is the church of this tuath, and out of it are the Hí Mongáin, Hí Chuilinnáin and Hí Brocáin.

¶8] Hí Chuscraidh Sléibhe is the border land of the territory we have mentioned, viz., Cill Meithne (Kilbehenny), Gort Aicde, Maelrach, Lurga, Daire Léith, Ré mac Meadha, Glenn Domhain, Ceapach na Fian, Gort Ruadh, Ceapach Hí Mheadhra, Daire Leathan, Eidhnén Molaga, with its termon, is the church of this tuath; the coarb of this church is Mac Floinn, and the clerk of its crosier is Ó Coscráin.

¶9] The noblest tuath of the other half of that country is the tuath of Magh Finne, in which is Cathair Dubhagáin (Caherduggan) out of which are the Hí Dhubhagáin; and in breadth that tuath extends from Leth Reilgi na mBainleagh on the west to the river Carker on the east. Maistre Meic na Gamhnaighi, the Hí Dhaerghala are its hereditary owners; Daire Hí Dhiarmada, its hereditary owners are the Hí Dhiarmada and Hí Chochláin; Dún Tuilche, Cell


Cuirnáin, Croch, out of which are the Hí Dhathail of Croch; Ard gCeananuis and Dún ar Aill (Doneraile), these are one townland, and out of it are the Hí Fhaeláin and the Hí Uirisi. Cell Fhada (Killadda) is the burial ground of that tuath, and it was Mac Congarbh—that is, Mochaomhóc—who consecrated that church. The Hí Mhaelbili are its coarbs; Hí Amhradha and Hí Labhardha and Hí Eirc are its hereditary owners, and the Hí Dubhtrochmhaeil their chieftains.

¶10] Another third of Hí Chon gan gairm is Magh Ó Catháin, that is, Mis Signighi and Carrac Léime Laeghairi (Carrigleamleary), out of these are the Hí Domnaill Ceannmuighi (?); Cell Cuili out of which are the Hí Fergala; Baile Hí Fhiacháin out of which are the Hí Fiacháin; Cluain Caisil and Daire na Téidi, Ardbaili Hí Annadha, out of which are the Hí Annadha; Garrán Ó nGníma, out of which are the Hí Gníma; Cúl Baili Hí Finn, out of which are the Hí Finn. Claenúir (Clenur) is their burial ground, and to the Hí Annadha, out of which are the Hí Annadha belongs by right the coarbship of that church, and the Hí Ceannagáin are its clerks. The Hí Brain from Cleitig, and they are of the Rathan people. And the Hí Domnaill are hereditary chieftains of that third, and with it belongs by custom the other two-thirds, when it happens that they have not a cheiftain among themselves.

¶11] The third third of Hí Chon gan gairm, viz., Magh nAla (Mallow), together with its sub-divisions (?), out of which are the Hí Gormáin; An Brugh adn Flaithneim, out of which are the Hí Ardgala; Tulach Finnlethid, out of which are the Hí Chuiléin; Magh Lis an Ibair, out of which are the Hí Donnagáin; Baile Hí Mhaelghuala (Ballymagooly), out of which are the Hí Mhaelghuala; Cell Ó nGeibinnáin, out of which are the Hí Gheibennáin and Hí Chaílte. Claenúir (Clenur) is the burial ground of that pair and of Hí Gormáin; Rathan is the burial ground of the remainder of the third. And Meic Fináin are the coarbs of Rathan. Its remaining surnames are Hí Chrainche, Hí Chonaill, Hí Chonaic, Hí Brain, and Meic Coirtéin; and the hereditary chieftain of that third is Ó Ardghala.

¶12] Hí Béce Abha—that is Dún Cruadha—out of which are the Hí Laeghairi; Na Rinni (Renny) by the river (Blackwater); out of these are the Hí Chairbre and Hí Chathail; Cell Laisre on


both sides (of the river); out of it are the Hí Chléirigh; Móin Ainme (Monanimy) on both sides; out of it are the Hí Eóghuin; Ath na Crainn on both sides; out of it are the Hí Buachalla; Cell Chuáin (Kilquane) out of which are the Hí Fhiadhain—or I Iain—and the Hí Laegairi are its chieftains.

¶13] Hí Béice Uachtarach is the other half of that tuath, viz. Sonnach Gobann and Cluain Lochluinn about the Awbeg east and west, out of which are the Hí Ghobhann; Baili Hí Ghrigín; Glenn Tuircín east and west by the river; Daire Hí Chinnéidigh, out of which are the Hí Chinnéidigh; Cell Ossáin, Luimneach Beg to the west beyond Taedan, and from that eastward to Loch Luigni iwth its other surnames. Ó Gobhann is the hereditary chieftain of that half, and to him belonged by right the other half of Hí Béce whenever there was no suitable man of the Hí Laeghaire. Cell Commuir (Kilcummer) is the burial ground of the two divisions of the Hí Béce; and the Hí Chochláin its clerks.

¶14] Tuath Ó Fiannadhuigh extends from Baile Hí Ghormáin westward to the road in Druim Raite and to áth na Ceall and from the Blackwater to the territory of Magh Finne; Mac Fiannadhaigh is the chieftain of that tuath and its surnames are Hí Etromáin, Hí Annratháin and Hí Fir Eidhinn, Hí Brain Fhinn and Hí Dhubháin. Cill Cluaisi (Kilcoosha) is the burial ground of the that tuath.

¶15] Tuath Ó nDuinnín; in length it extends from the summit of Sliabh Caín to Echlasca Molaga, and in breadth it extends from the stream of Muilenn Marteil to Bearn Mic Imhair. Ó Lannáin is the chieftain of that tuath; Hi Chinaeda, Hí Seasnáin, Hí Dunghasa, and Hí Dungaili are its family-names.3 Cell Mainches is their burial ground.

¶16] The border land of this half is Rosach na Ríghraidi and Cathair Gobhann and Cluas Dubhoigi and an Charcuir (The Carker); adn the burial ground of that tuath is Cell Colmáin gerg (?), and the proper name is Hí Rosa; its length is from the top of Sliabh Caín to the Awbeg.