The Rock of the Candle
A few miles west of Limerick stands the once formidable castle of Carrig o Gunnel.
Its riven tower and broken archways reamin in mornful evidence of the seiges sustained by that city.
Time, however, the great soother of all things, has distroyed the painful effect which the view of recent violence produces on the mind.
The ivy creeps around the riven tower, concealing its injuries and upholding it by a tough swathing of stalks.
The archway is again united by the long armed brair which grows across the rent, and the shattered butresses are decorated with wild flowers, which gaily spring from their crevices and broken places.
Boldly situated on the rock, the ruined walls of Carrigogunnell now form only a romantic feature in the peaceful landscape.
Beneith them, on one side, lies the flat marshy ground called Corcas land which borders the noble River Shannon; on the other side is seen the neat parish church of Kilkeedy, with its glebehouse and surroundign improvments; and at a short distance appear the irregular mud cabins of the little village of Ballybrown, with the venerable trees of Tervoo.
On the rock of Carrig o gunnel, before the castle was built, or Brien Boru born to build it, dwelt a hag named Grana, who made desolate the surrounding country.
She was gigantic in size and frightful in appearance.
Her eyebrows grew into each other with a grim curve and beneith their matterd bristles, deep sunk in her head, two small grey eyes darted forth baneful looks of evil.
From her deeply wrinkled forhead issued forth a hooked beak, dividing two shrivelled cheeks.
Her skinny lips curled with a cruel and malignant expression, and her prominent chin was studded with bunches of grisly hair.
Death was her sport.
Like the angler with his rod, the hag Grana would toil and watch nor think it labour, so that the death of a victim required her vigils.
Every evening did she light an enchanted candle upon the rock, and whomever looked upon it died before the next mornings sun arose.
Numberless were the victims over whom Grana rejoiced; one after the other had seen the light and their death was the consequence.
Hence came the county round to be desolate, and Carrigogunnel, the Rock of the Candle by its dredful name.
These were fearful times to live in. But the Finnii of Erinn were the avengers of the oppressed.
Their fame had gone forth to distant shores, and their deeds were sung by a hundred bards.
To them the name of danger was as an invitation to a rich banquet.
The web of enchantment stopped their course as little as the swords of an enemy.
Many a mother of a son, many a wife of a husband, many a sister of a brother had the valour of the Finnian heros bereft.
Dismembered limbs quivered,and heads bounded on the ground before their progress in battle.
They rushed forward with the strength of the furios wind, tearing up the trees of the forest by their roots.
Loud was their war cry as the thunder, raging was their impetuositiy above that of common men and fierce was their anger as they storm waves of the Ocean!
It was the might Finn Himself who lifted up his voice,and commanded the fatal candle of the hag Grana to be extinguised.
'Thine. Regan be the task', he said and to him he gave a cap thrice charmed by the magicain Kono of Lochlainn.
With the stars of the same evening the candle of death burned on the rock, and Regan stood beneith it.
Had he beheld the slightest gimmer of its blaze, he to would have perished, and the hag Grana, with the mornings dawn rejoice over his corpse.
When Regan looked towards the light, the charmed cap fell over his eyes and prevented his seeing.
The rock was steep, but he climbed up its craggy side with such caution and dexterity, that before the hag was aware, the warrior with averted head, had seized the candle, and flung it with prodigious force into river Shannon, the hissing waters of which quenched its light for ever!
Than flew the charmed cap from the eyesmof Regan,and he beheld the enraged hag, with outstreched arms, prepared to seize and whirl him after her candle.
Regan instantly bounded westward from the rock just two miles, with a wild and wondererous spring.
Grana looked for a moment at the leap,and than tearing up a hugh fragment of the rock, flung it after Reagan with such tremendous force, that her crooked hands trembled and her broad chest heaved with heavy puffs, like a smiths laboring bellows from the exertion.
The ponderus stone fell harmless to the ground, for the leap of Regan far exceeded the strength of the furious hag.
In triumph he returned to Finn;
the Hero valiant, renenowed and learned;
white tooth'd, graceful, magnanimous and active.
The hag Grana was never heard of more; but the stone reamins, and deeply imprinted in it , is still to be seen the mark of the hags fingers.
That stone is far taller than the tallest man,and the power of forty men would fail to move it from the spot where it fell.
The grass may wither around it, the spade and plough distroy dull heaps of earth,the walls of castles fall and perish, but the fame the Finnii of Erin endures with the rocks themselves.
And Clough a Regaun is the monument fitting to preserve the memory of the deed!
from Thomas Crofton Crokers Fairy Legends of the South of Ireland.
The legend depicts the great forces of nature in the old hag Grana such as are exibited in a volcano which springs forth from an ancient mountain.
The value of its story is that man apparently was there before the volcanic era.
The natives of many lands beside Ireland claiming that they have always been there and are decendants of the gods.
These folk tales were preserved orally in song and in poetic vecse and handed down century by century from time immemorial.
They are thus stories of the fairys and stories of creation and stories of the ability of particular men, the Fian, to cope with these natural forces and occations by not only feats of herosim, but feats of magic and thus the gunnnel [coinneal in the irish] preserved in the story of the rocks which are always part of and prevelent in Irish creation myth.
The rock is the foundation of remembrance and is thus placed over the dead to remember their location.
When these rocks are removed by the modern world and developers build dwellings and offices over them the history is smothered and as the legend advises that the Finn endure like the rocks themselves regardless of the grass or the spade or the plough or the castle crumbling the Clough a Regan reamins.
* the word 'gunnell' maybe based on old French rather than English as I dont see how they got a gu out of coin.
gu does come up in the scottish gaelic
gu meaning to or that is.
there is no gun or neal or nell.
The name Chandler converts back to candler or candle but to place the h it would be ciandler.
The song is the can and the d'le is the singer and a sea chant.
The Irish dictionary of today defines gun as just that the gun, and the Fian are assocate with the battle as is the carrig o gunnel[rock of the candle of the gun.
It is interesting to note the bulding of the castle itself in ruins in 1823 or so, was built by the prolific Brain boru in the early 1000 AD period.
The word clough does not appear in the Irish indicating the change of text writing of the Irish during the period of church rule.
there is a clo maning form and there is a clu meaning reputation and the word cloch appears as a stone or the word cloigh meaning to overcome or adhear.
Problay the Clough o Regaun simply means the stone of Regaun [Regean].
gaun is probaly the prononciation writing of the dipthone 'ea' from gean which means love or affection and re is moon therefore regaun would be the pronciation of the two words-- re, moon and gean, love love of the moon stone.
of the moon love would indicate the Clough a Regaun basically.
This might incorporate also the element ath laun the old Irish name for Limerick
the ath being the crossing of the luan the moon light.
The Irish of today incorporated many different languages, Latin ,French Greek, English and its own pronuciation of the Gaelic.
tThe Gaelteach of todays western speech is basically Highland Gaelic from the Scots highlands .
The relatives of the Erinn speech.
They were from Erinn .
copyright April 6 2011
Sourse: Legends and Tales of Ireland, Thomas Crofton Croker , Simkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent and Co., London
Glascow, Thomas D Morison, undated