Monday, February 14, 2011



In 1204 AD Donough Cair Breach O Briain [Brien] of the Thomond Clann Ui Briuin was inagurated territorial tigerna ,often styled a provincial king.

At this point in time, Ireland was in control of the Norman invaders and the land between Fergus and Limerick [Luimneach] had been granted by Edward I, son of John, to Thomas de Clare to give the English a foothold in unconquered Clare, Na Clar Thuathamumhan.

In 1275 AD Brian Rua, great grandson of Donough Cairbreach O Brien ,old patron of the Bards, was then provincial king of Thomond.
But this right was challenged by Turlough son of Brians older brother.

This nefew provoked Brian O Brien to seek outside assistance in holding his position against Turlough and his Irish allys the septs of macNa Mara, OConor of Corcomroe, O Dea and O Kelly.

His support came from Brians alliance with Thomas de Clare who to encastleate himself, had built Bunratty Castle on the Raod to Ennis.
The castle walls were 7 feet thick and the castle still stands intact and has become a tourist attraction in the 20th century.

Turlough however, with his 4 loyal Irish septs marched against the Norman forces and defeated them and his Uncle Brian.

Bunratty then became the Anglo/Norman refuge and in vengange for their loss they seized Brian who had inlisted their help while he was having dinner, bound him to 2 battle horses and Brian, unhappy prince, was like Setna [Sechna] some 200 years before him, was likewise torn apart by Bres in resolution of a family 'blood fued'.

Brians son Donough O Brien however stayed in alliance with the de Clare foriegn forces and thus the conflict for power between himself and his first cousin Turlough continued.

A second battle was fought between the Turlough clanns and the Clann Brian in a large wood in Clare.
Again Turlough and his loyal septs defeated the Donaugh/Clare alliance and a peace followed.

Five years later the 2 cousins met on the river bank in 1284.
A dispute arose between them in which Donough M Brian O Brien was killed.

In 1287, 3 years later, a third battle between waring o Brien Clans ensued and Thomas de Clare was killed by Turlough forces.
Turlough thus marched with his forces under a leopard banner and carrying gold shields through great Thomond of old Cashel.
A triumphal parade.

As he returned westward on Loch Dearg which springs up in the Shannon waters as they flow south to Limerck and the sea,he met a faery woman who challenged him for not taking the lordship of all Ireland.
But Turlough went home and ruled Thomond well and honestly for 20 years.
He was written of by Sean macCreath in Early Modern Irish in a work caled 'The WARs of Turlough' along with his OBrien ancestry.

In 1306 Turlough died and his son Donough m Turlough Meic Donough Ciarbreach O Briain became tigerna of Thomond.

This Donough however was trecherously killed with a strike of a battle axe by a clann Brian helper and his cousin Dermot m Donough m BrianRue OBrien, who had first made alliance with the Norman de Clare was inagurated prince of Thomond with the military assistance of a second De Clare.

This killing and userpation of Turloughs right to rule required renewal of the 'blood fued' which was taken up by Donough m Turlough O Briens brother Murtough OBrien.

This internicine stuggle went on between the compeating clanns for years with highly skilled arms and stratagists and vocabulary of war.

Lances and banners abounding in pmop, and show; storming of Norman castles until in 1317 the Battle of the Abby of Corcomroe finally resolved the 10 year internicine war of vengance between Clann Turlough and his native Irish forces and Clann Brian and his allied Norman forces.

The Abbey had been founded by Donough Cairbreach O Brien in early 1200, 100 years before the combatants gathered there for the final battle.

The OBrian Clann then headed by another Donough with his Noramn allies marched agaisnt Clann Turlough who occupied the Abbey.

As the Brian forces marched north to the Cocomroe hill they came upon and old hag by the loch beneith the hill washing a cairn of heads, limbs and weopons.
The Irish Washerwoman was the omen of defeat and death to Cuchulain in 1 BC some 1100 years before the 1317 AD battle.
She chanted a Dirge against Clann Brian which his forces mocked and went on to their doom.
On the ridge beside the Abbey the 2 forces met.
Mac na Mara in the lead ,armed in mail, marshal of Clan Turlough.

The meeing was proceeded by volleys of arrow bombardments of each other and when the two hosts met, the blue [signifing steel] Danish blades of Mac na Mara slashed down Clan Brian as they stood.
Loyal Felim O Conor of Corcomroe fought with Clann Turlough and it was he who struck down king Donough m Brian OBrien of Clann Brian.

As Donough saw his battalions being cut to pieces, the king struck his attach to the midst of the battle where he met Felim OConnor, the fair haired prince.
Donough stuck OConers long fingered hand with his sword pointed spear,
whereupon Felim lifted his blue edges iron axe striking Donough m Brian in the breastplate laying bare Donough side.
As Donough felt his life force waxing and his strength leaving him he rushed forward against Dermots slaughtering batallions.
This a son of Turlough.

These men he struck fiercly, mutilating the Turlough champions and his noble kin,till at last, they wounded him with their blue spears and mangled him with their swords till at last Donough m Brian fell by the weight of weopons and the forces of Dermot of Clann Turlough.
Clann Brian was distroyed save one.

The dead were laid in the Abbey santuary by the Cistercians of Corcomore.
Victorious Clan Turlough, Murtough O Brien threw down de Clare and ruled Thomond for 26 yeas till his death in 1343.

Thus ended a 32 year contest between the decendants of Donough Cair Breach Ua Briain o Ui Briuin m Muigmedoin, high king of Ireland in 300 AD

The Ui Briuin were the children of Mongfind, the wife of Muigmedoin also father of Niall Noigiallach by a different mother.

And so a pictue of the Burren is painted with its

'hilly grey expanses of jagged points and slippery steep wind tormented cold on Echtge's blue ridges'.

Judi Donnelly
11 Feb 2011

sourse: Gaelic Literature Surveyed, Aod de Blacam, Barnes Noble Books NY NY, 1929, reprint 1974

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