Wednesday, February 16, 2011



The Maguire of Fermanagh 'Guidhir o Fhearmanagh',
relates for us the occation of the Maguires acquiring the dynastic succession of Fermanach in 1200 AD when Cathal Croabdearg ruled Connacht, Donough Cair Breach was the OBRien in Thomond, and the O Donnells were rising to power in Duin n Gaill[Donegal].

The little kingdom of the was Erne ringed by mountains and in its center the sparkling water of Loch Erne with its 365 islands containing 7 tuaths with their chiefs and termon lands of the Church, held at that era by Manus Maguire who went every year from his tig [house] at Puirt Dobhrain on an island to collect his tributes.

He began at Beeleek, flagstone of the weopons, where he kept a permanent guest house.
There he resided for a month gathering his tributes and feasting the Chiefs and distributing bounties to the Church and the scholars and warriors.

From there he went on to Termon Mag Rath [Pettigo] for a night [Ocht] where he boarded his fleet to Galloon and another guest house for a second month.
This in the northern part of his kingdom now the county of Fermanagh.

This the provincial taoi did for 35 years ruling with peace [siochain ]and Equity.

At this juncture Manus became ill and could not go to collect his tribute and the Chiefs employed the Irish motto:

'what ever is long borrowed is usually regarded as ones own'

resolved to withhold the 3 years arrearages.

Manus was told of this refusal and having only 1 child he sent out stewards to take the tribute.

O Flanagan, tigerna of Tuath Ratha [Toora] refused to give these collectors the tribute saying he would only pay it to the Maguire himself. That these stewards would not store it for Maguire more faithfully than he Himself.
At this note the Stewards seized the tribute from the Toora herds.
But Flanagan pursued them with his followers and overtook the stewards at Clais an Chairn
A fight ensued and several on both sides were killed including O Flanagan Himself.

Angry at this, Maguire summoned his chief advisors, clergy, doctors of history and medicine for their counsel.
These advisers prefered to side with the living rebels rather than the old dying Lord and the brehon O Breslin deliverd the judgement that
'the matter should be allowed to rest'.
Maguire decreed this a perverse decision . Ordered them fed , entertained and dismissed.

He had contacted Giolla na Naomh o Luinin a faithful historian and his physicain O Cassidy.

He wrote his half brother Giolla Iosa[sacred] Maguire who was living at the OReilly house in Breffni.
OReilly was grandfather of Giolla Iosa Maguire.

Grandfather OReilly was highly indignant at the audacity of the rebelling Chiefs against their lawful lord.
Giolla Iosa with grandfather O Riellys beanacta [blessing] went forth to Puirt Dobharain [Dovren] to meet with the crippled Manus who was carried to the puirt by his warriors to meet him.

The two brothers took meat and drink and a chamber for sleep wherein they prepared a plan.

Manus sent Iosa to ODonnell, king of Tir Conail ,who was at Bally Shannon to engage his constables, O Gallagher, O Boyle and the 3 mac sweenys with warriors to be paid 1 full grown heifer for each man.
These to go forth to arrest the living chiefs in rebellious Fermanagh.

Giolla was welcomed by O Donnell and they talked of old times.
The 700 men were hosted and marched to Fermanagh.

The warriors pitched their tents and drank mead and ale at the top of Gleann Dorcha.
These big bodied, boisterous Gaels bivouaced fighing men on the Irish hills.
They proceeded to seize the 700 cattle due them and these they drove to Tir Conail,by 'lucht turasasdail', earners wages.

The rebellious chiefs they took prisoner to Puirt Dobharain along with the tribute they had withheld from the Maguire.

Flanagans people complaiend this was an illegal eiric honor price being demanded.
But Giolla Iosa told them straight out that if he had his way they would all be in prison at Cloch Uachatair.

Terms were at length reached and they all drank to the Chiefs.
Manus declared the Flanighan heir the O Flannagan on the spot.
Feis followed and toasts were made to the law, the laity, the clergy, the druids and the ollams and the men of Tir Conail rode home happily after 3 days and nights of music and festivity, poems, comic songs of the elders and Giolla Iosa said it was time to return to Breffne with promise to help Manus in every time of need.

However Manus Maguire had other plans and this to turn the kingdom of Fermanagh to Giolla Iosa and his heirs providing for himself and his decendants only a mensal land and a farm for produce.

Fearann Buird agus Fearann Barra.

'A county without a Chief is dead '

he quoted from a Gaelic proverb.

Although Giolla was reluctant to profit from his kisnmans ill health he consented and settlment was drawn up by O Breslin and O Cassidy in verse.

The 2 thus ruled jointly for 3 years bequething gold, silver, cattle wealth, for orphans and widows until Manus died and thus the story ends.

The tale is edited by Father Dineaen.

The story eludes to the policy of collections of taxes and fines in cattle not coin and the law of the Gael prevailed in each tuath and province.

Decendants of Gioll Iosa held the dynastic rule of Fernmanagh from the time in 1200 till the final fall of Gaelic law under Aed [Hugh] Maguire and Cuchonnacht who left with the Great ONeill in 1607 and died at Genoa Italy.

As Manus prepares Iosa to travel to oDonnell, he pauses in the nararative to tell the Dinnsheanchas of the place names.

The Ireland of titles, heroic kingdoms, tuath and the alignments of old reamined secure.

Judi Donnelly
Feb 15, 2011

Gaelic Literature Surveyed, Aod de Blacam, Barnes & Noble Books, NY NY 1929

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