Colonel James Grove White: Castle Cor (Castle Corith)

Sheet 24, 6 inch O.S. Sheet 164, 1 inch O.S.

Barony of Duhallow. Parish of Kilbrin It lies about five miles north-east of Kanturk.

Castle Cor means “Castle of the Weir", Castella de Corra. Ing. temp. Elix. Castle Carra, Ing. Temp. Car. I. (O’Donovan).

Castle Cor Demesne contains 548a. 3r. 24p. statute mile. In 1881 the pop. was 60, val. £516 (Guy).

Archdall’s "Monasticon Hibernicum” (pub. 1786) gives; "In Barony of Duhallow, and two miles north of Loghort. It appears from a plea roll 30th King Edward I. That there was an abbey at Castle Corith (King, p. 133), but we have no other account of it" (p. 60).

When I visited the site of the Abbey at Castle Cor in 1905, there was very little of the masonry work remaining.

The site is situated in the park, about 480 yards north-east of Castle Cork House; the mouth of the cave is about 20 yards east of the site of the Abbey. It is shown on the six inch O.S. map and is named "Poulnagat Cave".

The Rev. J. F. Lynch writes: "In Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland", are the following three


Cork, A.D. 1285. — John Korker for not having John Fitz Richard, whom he pledges, 40d.

Cork, AD. 1286. - John le Corkere, because he did not have John Fitz Richard, whom he pledged, 40d.

Cork, A.D. 1292. - John Fitz Richard, of Castle Koruth (Castle Cor), for pledge of the same Robert (de Stableton, Sheriff of Cork), 1/2 mark.

Fiants of Elizabeth, 2261 (1856) - Pardon to Donogh O’Kormick, of Castlecur, yeoman; John McCormick, of same; and Fynyn O’Swilliwan, of Castlenacurra, yeoman. 6th May xv., A.D. 1573. P.R.O. Dub.)

The Book of Dist. and Sur. (circa 1657) gives: Castle Cor, 115a. 1r. Op. The owner before 1641 Rebellion was Dermod McCarthy. He was attainted and Castle Cor granted to Quartermaster John Chinnery, P.R.O., Irld.).

The Subsidy Rolls Records, 1663: Barony of Duhallow. John Chinnery, of Castle Curre, value in goods, E9 7s. 6d.; in 1665, his valuation in goods was £11 19s. 7 1/2d., and later £12 5s. 6d. (P.R.O., Irld.).

A Patent of James I. gives: "King’s letter to accept a surrender of the lands of Loyert (Lohort), Kantorke, Castlenecurry (Castle Cor), Dromsane, and other lands in Dowhallie (Duhallow) Bar., Cork Co., from Dermod McCarthie, otherwise called McDonogh of Dowhallie, and to regrant the same to him and his son and heir, Dermod McCarthie the younger. 16 June, 1614, Pat. 12 (P.R.O., Irld.).

The townland of Castle Cor is mentioned in the will of John, first Lord Lisle, dated 1781, as having been purchased from W. Taylor, Esq., as well as BallymcPierce, North and South Ballygradda, Ardtemple, Knock, Ballymartin, Rathnagard, Megano, Lackile, Coolmehian, Drimangore, Bullintubber, Ballyphilipeen, and Drumsickeane (Lisle Papers). Castle Cor was in the possession of the Chinnery Family in 1666 (see Chinnery, of Flintfield, Co. Cork, B.L.G.). This is a branch of an ancient family settled in Essex. The Visitation of that County mentions John Chinnery, a gentleman entitled to bear Arms in the reign of Edward III.

George Chinnery, Esq., settled in Cork prior to 1642. His son, John Chinnery, Esq., of Mallow, was an undertaker for the plantation of Munster, and obtained a grant of Castle Corr, in Co. Cork, by Patent, dated 16 August, 1666. He married Katherine, daughter of Robt. Terry, Esq., of Castle Terry. His eldest son, George, of Castle Cork, born at Ballindore, 1653, attainted by James II., 1689, married, first Margaret, daughter of John Lysaght, Esq., of Mount North, Co. Cork, ancestor of the Lords Lisle, by whom he had issue. His eldest son, John, succeeded to Castle Cork, which he sold to William Freeman, Esq., of Kilbarry, He died unmarried.

Smith, in 1750, writes about Castle Cor as follows: Castlecorith, now Castle Cor, two miles north of Loghort, the seat of William Freeman, Esq., is a handsome house, fronted with hewn stone, and flanked at each angle with turrets, and near it is a pleasant park, where are the remains of an ancient fortification, in the midst of which stood a castle of the Barrys. (Smith, Vol. I., p. 284).

Croker has the following anecdote which he contributed to the Gentleman’s Magazine, in October, 1842: "Last summer tom Power, who holds a few acres of ground in the townland of Kilbarry, immediately outside the deer-park of Castlecor, dreamed that there was a large quantity of gold and other treasure burried in the old rath which lies upon the ground. After he awoke he lay musing for some time until again overcome by sleep, when the same dream occurred to him the second time, as also a third time on the same night. On getting up he called one of his sons and both proceeded to the spot. The pit is situated on the top of a small glen, along which a small stream runs, which divides the lands of Kilbarry from Drummin. Upon diggingeldest son of George Chinnery they discovered a bed of rich manure, which they were raising and drawing away for a fortnight. They took up 300 horse-loads, making an opening towards the fort thirty feet in length and eleven feet deep. Their work was at length impeded by a large piece of timber, from which they cleared the manure with great labour, and discovered a perfect tank, twelve feet square, and three feet deep, made of black oak, each plank four inches thick, it resting upon four pillars or legs, two feet high and one foot square. Into the tank was a shoot as if to convey water, one foot wide at the mouth, and made of the same description of timber." Croker hazards no conjecture as to what use the old fort dwellers applied this tank, and recites this story because of its quaint fulfilment of a dream (Smith, vol. i., p. 301).

Townsend writing in 1810 about the coal pits near Kanturk, states: An attempt to commence a new and improved mode of working these collieries has been reserved for the enlightened and liberal mind of Edward Deane Freeman, Esq., and it could not be confided to better hands. Some of the best pits are upon his estate, to the south-west of Kanturk, and about eight miles from his residence, Castlecor. Under the direction of an experienced artist, he has just erected, at considerable expense, a large water- wheel, to work the pumps necessary for discharging the water of the pits. The shaft now sinking at the south side of the coal vein will, it is calculated, meet it, supposing that it descends with an uniform declination, at the depth of about an hundred feet. In this case the miners will have the advantage of working upwards, as well as laterally, the difficulty lessening as they proceed, the reverse of which has hitherto attended the more unskilful labours of preceding operators (vol. i., p. 419).

Again he writes: A little further to the north (i.e. from Ballygiblin), is Castle Cor, the seat of Edward Dean Freeman, Esq., to whom I am indebted for much information relative to this and the neighbouring barony. The house, now one of the best in the country, has been lately much enlarged, and the junction of the new part with the old effected with more felicity of contrivance than usually accompanies alterations of this nature. The offices are no less remarkable for compact and convenient arrangement. A copious supply of water, conducted from the commanding grounds of a neighbouring hill, furnishes by means of pipes this most necessary article to every place that requires it, with a degree of facility few situations admit of and still fewer attain. The demesne is not less indebted to Mr. Freeman for judicious alteration and tasteful embellishment.

A deer-park, formerly severed by a public road crossing the house, has been thrown into the pleasure grounds, without any inconvenience to the public, and with infinite advantage to the place. In this are many very old and large trees, chiefly oaks, some of which measure fifteen or sixteen feet in girth. They are, for the most part, of a mushroom shape, with short stems and a wide spreading head. From the fertility of the soil and the lowness of the situatuion, one could have expected greater height, but the oaks of this country, except where thickly planted, generally grow in this form. Other trees planted by himself, particularly larch, not more than twenty years old, are very tall and vigorous for their age.

A large brook runs through the demesne, of which Mr. Freeman has availed himself for the purpose of irrigation with great effect. His style of farming, as may be expected, is on the best plan of` modern practice. Potatoes are considered by him as superior to turnips for feeding cattle, and in many respects better suited to the husbandry of this country; an opinion which I certainly feel myself very much inclined to approve. Without undervaluing the turnip, it will hardly be disputed that the potato is a much more nutritive root, and possesses an import advantage in keeping so long. It is also a more certain crop, and in the drill husbandry may be raised with little labour, and a much smaller consumption of dung than the common method requires. The Swedish turnip produces largely, and keps well for spring use, but it is objectionable for the strong taste it gives both to the milk and to flesh (vol. i., p. 427).

Lewis writes in 1837: - "Castle Cor, the ancient family mansion of J. Deane Freeman, Esq., situated in a richly wooded demesne, which is particularly remarkable for its fine oaks." (Under Kilbrin).

O’Flanagan, in his "Munster Circuit," pub. 1880, gives the following story:- "It is very pleasant to have to record many acts of kindness evinced by Protestants towards Catholic friends and neighbours during the penal days, such as the following. A Catholic gentleman of the county of Kerry, named Duggan, having noticed that a Discoverer (Popish Discoveres) was about taking proceedings to deprive him of his estate, was informed by a Protestant friend of high position in the County of Cork - Mr. Freeman, of Castle Cor — that he (Mr. Freeman) was willing to take the initiative in such proceedings, and thus save the property for Mr. Duggan, which that gentleman heard with gratitude.

Judge Mr. Freeman’s surprise when he was visited by the Discoverer in a chaise, going post to Dublin, and, as there were few inns on the road at the time, it was customary to halt each evening at some house of hospitable repute. The Discoverer made no secret of the purpose of his errand, being unaware of the great intimacy subsisting between his host and his intended victim. Mr. Freeman asked ‘if it was convenient for the traveller to give him a seat in the chaise, as he found he had pressing business in Dublin, and was willing to share the expense of the joumey.’ The traveller was only too glad to have the company of so reputable a country gentleman, and also to have the travelling expenses lessened, and away they drove.

That night they halted near Clonmel at the house of a hard-drinking, fox-hunting squire — a mutual friend of both Mr. Duggan and Mr. Freeman. The latter no sooner informed the Tipperary squire of the object of the journey, both of himself and his companion, that the jovial squire proposed to keep the Discoverer in such a state of inebriety he would be able to leave the house until Mr. Freeman had made all safe for their mutual friend Duggan. Accordingly, next morning, the Discoverer had such a splitting headache he was quite unfit for prosecuting his journey, and, as Mr. Freeman was pressed for time, he was compelled to travel along. The result was that when, about a week later the Discoverer reached Dublin, he was rather taken back on finding that the various denominations of land - heretofore in the possession of the Papist Duggan - were then owned by that staunch Protestant gentleman, Deane Freeman, of Castle Cor, and to this day some nominal rent-charge is paid by the Duggan family to the representatives of Deane Freeman for the lands thus protected.

Many similar acts are recorded, but this must suffice as an example". (p. 47).

Matthew Deane Freeman was a member of the Duhallow Hunt in 1808 (Minute Book of Duhallow Hunt, 1800 to 1808. "Journal”, p. 51, 1896).

John D. Freeman and Edward D. Freeman were original members of the Duhallow Cavalry, formed 23rd March, 1822 (J0urnal" for 1899, p. 181).

O’Flanagan writes in 1844:- The Freemans have been in possession of Castle Cor for a period exceeding 200 years. The mansion was built on the site of an ancient castle, some distance from the ruins of a monastery, yet traceable in the deer-park. The monastery is considered to have been fortified.

By intermarriage of William Freeman with Jane, daughter of Sir Matthew Deane, Bart., they became connected with the Deanes of Dromore. Sir Matthew was created a baronet in 1700, and his descendant is now Lord Muskerry. The Freemans are nearly allied to the houses of Lord Lismore, Lord Carew and Lord Muskerry (p. 151).

At the end of the 18th century a Mr. John Bowles, a great friend of the Freemans, came with his own horse and trap to stop for one night at Castle Cor and actually remained forthy years, and probably would have remained for life, only that the wife of Edward Deane Freeman (formerly a Miss Allen, of Erroll Park in Scotland) disliked him, and had his portrait removed to a bedroom from among the family portraits where it had always been; this naturaly so enraged him that he left Castle Cor the following morning.

His love, however, for the Freemans was so great that he gave instructions in his will that he should be buried with them in Kilbrin churchyard, and that at his funeral his coffin should be removed from the hearse and left at Castle Cor gate for half an hour. These instructions were carried out. He was very wealthy, and but for Mrs. Freeman’s injudicious act, he would have left his entire fortune to the Deane-Freemans, which would have saved them their property. The famine, non—payment of rents in those bad years, coupled with lavish hospitality to the poor in those bad times, and the greatest hospitality to everyone coming their way, at all times, were the causes of the downfall of the Deane-Freemans, and Castle Cor and their vast estates in seven counties were sold in that merciless Court, "The Encumbered Estate Court”.

At the Union, Mr. E. Deane-Freeman was offered an Earldom, but he declined it, making the remark that "he preferred being an old Country Gentleman to a new Peer". This was another mistake, as the title would probably have kept the family in being.

A large number of the famous miniatures on ivory of the Deane Freemans are now in the possession of Major William Deane-Freeman-Thompson, of Drumholm, Ballintra, Co. Donegal. In St. Mary’s Church, Crumlin, Dublin, as a Deane-Freeman monument, surmounted by their armorial bearings: - "In memory of William Deane Freeman, Esquire, Queen’s Counsel, and Assistant Barrister for the County of Galway (fifth son of the late Edward Deane Freeman, Esquire, of Castle Cor, in the County of Cork, and of Terenure, in the County of Dublin), who, at Galway, on the 20th day of October, 1852, died suddenly on the Bench, in the discharge of his public duty, in the 60th year of his age. His remains lie interred in this churchyard in the grave of his ancestors. This tablet is erected by his borthers, the Reverend John Deane Freeman, of Yeoland Conyers, in the County of Lancaster, England and Edward Deane Freeman, Esqr., of Sandfield, near Mallow, in the County of Cork".

"This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners". - 1 Timothy, 1st Chap., 15th verse (M.D.I. vol. iii., p. 264).

The Field Book of 1840 gives:- “Castle Cor Demesne. This is a townland of great extent. All a wooded and ornamental demesne, in the midst of which stands a gentleman’s seat, called Castle Cor House. It contains three Danish forts, a mined church, a graveyard, constructed by Protestants or for Protestant use. An old cave called Paulnacoth, near the side of old abbey".

Castle Cor House: - Edward Deane-Freeman, Proprietor. It is a most beautiful house built in an extensive demesne, and the residence of Edward Deane-Freeman, Esq. (Ord. Sur. Office, Dublin).

In the townland of Kilgilky, near Castle Cor, is a curious flat rock. It is situated in Mr. L. Curtin’s farm, one field north of Thomas Flynn’s house. On the east side of this rock a square hole is visible..

Buttons of the “Castle Cor Chace" (prior to 1800), are in possession of Mr. William Norton Barry, M.F.H., of Castle Cor. Mr. Robert Day, J .P., describes them as follows:- “Both are of solid silver and are parcel gilt. One has engraved upon a ribbon, which is gold, upon a silver ground, ‘The Castlecor Chace’. Its companion has a stag in full chase, with antlered head thrown back, with a wreath inscribed ‘The Castlecor Chace’, all gilt, upon a silver groundwork”. (“Journal” for 1896, p.59).

Mr. D. Franklin, hon. secretary of C.H. and A.S., in 1897, writes: - The following legend is from an old manuscript, which I do not think was ever printed. It is dedicated - To Keefe O’Keefe, esq., the representative of that illustrious Sept, the following fairy legend is most respectfully inscribed by Matthew Horgan, 1839". At a future date I hope to give the southern legend, or Rosscarbery one, as the present is in the northern, or Mallow one, and to add some details as to the probably mythological character of Cleena, and who she really represented in Irish folk-lore; but I have the present paper almost as it came from the pen of the writer, very trifling, mostly verbal, alterations being made.


It was on the twelfth of June I happened to pass through the fine demesne of Castle Cor, near which I passed by the old cemetery of Kilbrin, which was walled on the south side, and an earthen, fence protected it on the north. There were a great many headstones with incriptions, facing east, and some vestiges of the ancient building as yet existing, and for the time it appeared to be built, was rather extensive, which was about the beginning of the fifteenth century. The walls were three and a half feet thick and about ten feet high, but the ground was much raised abut it from the long accumulation of earth and bones. One side door remains as yet perfect; the jambs are well carved, and the arch equilateral, protected or relieved by a counter one. The entire graveyard is overspread with wrought stones, probably taken from this ruin, so that it appeared to be long since a place of some note, and took its name from the founder, who was called O’Byrne.

I proceeded in a westerly direction, to see the side of the demesne, which is only remarkable for extent, broad fences with old trees, and some covers for hares and foxes. In some time I arrived at the flower garden, the site of which is well chosen. The great oak is near this, which is about six feet in diameter, with twelve limbs; each may be considered a reasonably large tree, and in the best state of preservation. This part of the demesne is frequented by herds of deer, and the oak trees, from sheer antiquity, are falling to decay. I soon approached the old avenue, which is extensive, with a double row of very fine limes. The quantity of timber is very great, and there are mounds of earth raised round them for their better preservation. In summer they afford an agreeable shade, and in winter the rain can scarcely penetrate through them, their boughs are so thickly matted together. From this I had a good view of the house, which is spacious, with projecting flankers and rusticated coynes, and in the centre it finishes with a pediment decorated with figures.

At some distance from this, in an easterly direction, I perceived an elevated spot, which I ascended. It was covered with ancient oak and ash coeval with time, spreading their immense arms, and forming a deep and cool shade. The fragments of an ancient building appeared scattered on the entire of this eminence — jambs, plinths, pedestals (the cutting of which was very good), and solid masses of masonry, with the cement of lime and gravel as adhesive as ever.

After examining the place, and making observations on the all—destructive hand of time, which levels the proudest work of manas well as the simply thatched cottage, I was accosted by the shepherd of this part of the demesne. He was old and hoary, leaning on his long staff, which was quite polished from the friction of his touch hands. Knowing that I was a stranger and that it was likely I came to see the demesne, he saluted me in his native language, with which I happened to be well acquainted, and which, pleased, or rather encouraged him so much, that he was very communicative of what he supposed me ignorant of particularly the legend of the spot on which I stood. It may be wrong of me to relate everything told me by this old man, yet it may be acknowledged that it is the duty of the historian to relate the truth, whether it be liked or not, and tell faithfully what I heard from him, as my wish is to afford amusement and instruction. He conducted me to the most elevated part of the eminence, where I rested on one of these fragments of masonry, while he sat near me on the soft mossy ground, and related his story as follows:-

The Druid and His Two Daughters

In the beginning of the eighth century there lived in the country of Alla a prince called Caomh, or “gentle”, who was the head of that illustrious Sept of O’Keeffe, and governed then a large tract, bounded on the west by the territory of Luacardhea (now Kerry), and extended to the east as far as the County of Waterford, including that fertile plain called Feur-magh-Feine (now Fermoy). Fermoy was the inheritance of the Draoi Ruadh, the last of the Druids, who had the reputation of great wisdom, experience, and bravery. He was the faithful ally of the King of Munster, whose life he saved in battle, together with his army, when reduced to the last extremeties by the King of Leathcuin.

He raised a great storm by his art, which bewildered the enemy, so that they were under the necessity of laying down their arms and submitting to the mercy of the conqueror, who gave them their lives and liberty at the intercession of the Druid, on condition of yielding up the disputed lands and giving hostages for their future peaceful and good conduct. The Momonians returned home full of joy after gaining a decisive victory and considerably extending their territory, on which occasion the King raised the Druid to the dignity and title of Prince of Fermoy.

This Druid had two very accomplished daughters, who were considered the greatest beauties of the age, and on whom nature and art showered their choicest gifts. They were mistresses of the sciences, particularly the elder, called Cliodhna, or Cleena, who made such a progress in enchantment that she could transform creatures to any figure or form she pleased, so that in process of time she was entitled "the queen of the fairies". The younger sister, her inseparable companion, was named "all beautiful", or Aoivil, as well as Cleena, was “lovely".

Caoiv, O’Keeffe, who inherited the neighbouring territory, was a prince accomplished both in body and mind. He was remarked amongst all for his modest and gentle deportment, though he might have disputed the prize of bravery and manly beauty with the most gallant knights of the age. This prince was in the habit of visiting at the Druid’s palace, on which occasion he joined in the sports and pastimes of the day on the great esplanade before the palace, in the middle of which was erected a lofty pole, supporting one of the far—resounding shields of those times. According to the laws of chivalry, the adventurer should strike this, which was the signal for a feat of strength and activity — a combat on foot or on horseback, throwing the stone, lifting a great weight, hurling the ball, wrestling and chariot races, in which O’Keeffe very much signalized himself, and generally gained the victory from all his youthful competitors. This afforded the Druid much satisfaction, and he always gave his unfeigned applause to O’Keeffe.

The Princess Cleena and her beautiful sister, together with the attending females, were generally spectators on these occasions, and admired O’Keeffe beyond all his companions. Her admiration was, in some time, kindled into love, which she did not resist nor took much pains to conceal even from her father, who was rather pleased with the discovery, as he could never have any objection‘ to an alliance with O’Keeffe, whose territory was both fertile and extensive. Annexed to his own princely inheritance of Fermoy, this would be a considerable tract, and as he happened to have no son, he resolved to bestow it on O’Keeffe with he elder daughter, Cleena.

The younger princess, Aoivil, who happened, unfortunately, to fall in love with Coiv, concealed it from her sister, and practised all her innocent arts to gain his affection. She so well succeeded, that he became deeply enamoured with her, which did not long escape the penetration of Cleena, who felt so unreasonably angry and jealous of her only sister for behaving treacherously in not avowing her passion before she herself had entered into all the arrangements of her father for her espousals with Caoiv. Her jealousy of her sister was so violent that she privately called on the olderst of her nurses, who was well versed in the occult science, to assist her with all her art to punish the innocent Aoivil.

They arranged to meet on the following night in the most unfrequented part of the palace, where, according to directions, she placed on the fire a brass vessel on a tripod before her, and blew up the fire, with which Cleena lighted her torch. On this occasion she pronounced some words while she threw into the vase a handful of rare herbs, and lastly burned a handfhl of human hair over it to give full effect to the enchantment. She poured this composition, when perfected, into a jug, and kept it for a proper opportunity, which soon occurred to her satisfaction.

From this time forward the punishment inflicted privately on the unfortunate Aoivil was almost intolerable, so that there appeared a visible change in her person. Her beauty was fading from care and sorrow, like the flowers of the field which are withered by the northern blasts; a consumptive fever wasted her strength, and her condition became each day more oppressed and dangerous. To alleviate, and seemingly restore her health and less her sufferings, Cleena administered the prepared composition to her, which was a most powerful, sleepy juice, and which at once caused her apparent death from the greatness of the enchantment. They wrapped her in a white veil, pure as her own innocent soul, and then laid her in a cofiin of polished oak, placed on a bier of the same timber, decorated with flowers and lightly covered with a pall. She was thus exhibited to the whole court. The old Druid and her mother were inconsolable from profound grief, and the court and entire country lamented that one so beauteous and so gentle, was taken away so suddenly from then. After being waked for a reasonable time, she was conveyed to her cold and silent tomb, which was a deep and dreary vault under the palace, Alas! what heart was so callous to sensibility as not to be deeply afected for so much purity and gentleness, or what eye could refuse a tear of sorrow for her death?

After nightfall, Cleena and her old nurse proceeded to the vault by another opening well known to themselves which communicated with it from the outside, and removed the still lethargic Aoivil to the cave of Castle Cor, which is situated under this eminence on which we are now seated. When Aoivil recovered from her state of torpor she looked about her, eagerly asked “Oh where am I, or am I in a dream?" Cleena answered her and said, "Dear Aoivil, you are no longer in your father’s palace. Be tranquil and easy, as you are now in a place of safety from which you cannot be removed, but shall for ever continue so until you forget O’Keeffe, to whom I am bethrothed." She uttered a deep-drawn sigh, and said it was impossible for her to do so during her existence, and said also, “If you have any interest in your only sister, or the slightest lover for her lead me to my father and restore me again to my beloved O’Keeffe". Hearing her continued sighs and lamentations for a long time, and knowing that love had the greatest share in her profound sorrow, she perceived how impossible it was to soften down her passion; and lest she might escape from her prison, she, in a fit of uncontrollable jealousy, transformed her with the power of her wand, into the shape and figure of a beautiful white cat.

O’Keeffe, who was during this time at his own residence of Cuillin, was not informed of Aoivil’s death till after her interment. He became truly inconsolable, and though a stranger to pusillanimity in the field of battle, he shed abundance of tears on this occasion for her loss. But the lamentations and grief of the Druid knew no bounds, so that in some time it brought him to an early grave together with his lady.

O’Keeffe, attended their obsequies, and performed the rite of sepulture according to their directions. He was interred on the summit of a conical hill near Fermoy, called ever since "Cairn Thierna”, or the "chieftain’s cairn", on which an immense heap of stones was raised over the grave, and the remains of the Druidess were deposited in the remarkable tomb called to this day "Labacally", or the “old woman’s bed", which is situated abut a mile to the north of Fermoy, and yet noticed by the people as a curiosity.

After due time was allowed for mourning their death, the nuptials of O’Keeffe and Cleena were celebrated with much rejoicings, to which all the princes and chieftains of Munster were invited.

Proclaim a festival: for seven days’ space

Let the court shine in all its pomp and lustre;

Let all our streets resound with shouts of joy,

Let musick’s care-dispelling voice be heard;

The sumptuous banquet and the flowing goblet

Shall warm the cheek and fill the heart with gladness.

On this occasion tilts, tournaments and races, were exhibited as usual, and prizes distributed to the victors; yet the nuptials were not celebrated with the happiest omens, which shall be related in the sequel.

The Cave

Under this eminence, in an early direction, is the deep cave of Castle Cor, of which I have already made mention, and of which wonders are related.

It is said that it contains treasures of gold and silver under the control of a white cat, who is seated on a throne of great value, and that this cat was once the beautiful Aoivil, metamorphosed into this figure by her sister, but is allowed to assume her natural form for the space of a week every year at midsummer; and that whoever is so fortunate as to visit her during that time, and is free from the desire of sordid gain, and prefers her, with her beauty, to her treasures, shall put an end to her enchantment.

This is similar to the spell laid on Cuanan and his beautiful daughter, who are confined to their palace in the Blarney lough, as well as Giroid Jarla in Lough Guir, together with various other personages, who are not likely to be freed from their enchantment in this age so devoted to sordid gain. In order that you may know all this, I shall tell it as it was related to me, so that should you be inclined to see the cave and try the adventure, you shall obtain the instructions such as I heard:-

"After the difficulties of the narrow passage are surmounted, which require some fortitude and perseverance, the first and only exertion is a great leap over a deep hollow of 25 feet broad, when you approach the light. Should you fail in this attempt, it will be in vain to make any more efforts, for the power of the enchantment is such that you find yourself at the entrance of the cave, which will be barred against you like the solid rock. Should you wish to succeed in this immense leap, try yourself over the celebrated one over the Mallow spa; the great leap over the river of Annalinta; or the extraordinary one of Beanahcorcai, to the north of Blarney. Should you succeed in these great leaps you may venture with confidence into the cave and be certain of passing the deep chasm, after which the light from the cave will be brilliant and effulgent - not from the sun or moon, for everything in it emits a light pecurliar to itself; not like the glare of a hot summer’s sun, nor like the pale light of the silent moon.

After escaping the dangers of the deep hollow and recovering from the exertion, you will, in the distance, through a vista, in a great wood, discover the palace of the enchanted princess. Care must be taken that you shall not be attracted by the finest scenery imaginable, the melody of the birds, or the murmuring and transparent streams, to tarry on the banks for your amusement, as a delay may be fatal to you, but proceed directly of the most magnificent of palaces, the gates of which will be wide open, and the entrance to the courts and apartments quite easy, without the slightest obstruction. Your astonishment will be naturally raised at the splendour of the apartments, particularly the last one, in which the most precious curiosities of nature seem to be collected. The rich covering of the walls is splendid, and at regular distances is hollowed into niches filled with exquisitely-finished figures of silver and gold. The lower parts of the walls is equally decorated, and the cornices and ceilings are beyond description of the finest workmanship, and superior to anything almost every finished. At the end of this magnificent room is the costly throne of the enchanted princess, on which she sits on crimson cusion trimmed with the most costly lace. Thus the enchantress Cleena has changed this frightful cave into the most magnificent palace, abounding with all sorts of riches that the sufferings of her sister may be the easier borne by her. The air in which she is confined is perfumed with the sweetest and most fragrant odours, and the floor, in a great measure, is covered with heaps of the most valuable gold and silver coins. This is the greatest attraction of all those who visit the cave, and the cause of their severe punishment for their love of money and thirst for gain is the cause why during life they will have to lament and grieve for their loss. Those who saw the princess relate that she appeared about the age of twenty, that it is impossible to suppose a finer complexion, that she has an air of majesty and a profusion of charms covering her whole person. Should she, when in the form of a white cat, not frown on the adventurer, he may see the beauty and vast treasures of her palace, together with the extensive and enchanting gardens; have his table covered with the rarest and most wholesome food, together with the most excellent ‘uisge beatha’. _

Hitherto, all those who chanced to see the enchanted cat were astonished at the riches contained in the palace, and no sooner did they commence loading themselves with the precious coins they found on the floor than a tremendous wind overwhelmed them with its force, and they found themselves prostrate outside the cave with the loss of an eye or limb, a punishment for their sordid disposition."

Castle Cor

"A large castle, with strong turrets and deep passes, was built on this spot, on a fragment of which you are now seated, the recollection of which has escaped the memory of the historian and the oldest of the natives. It was inhabited by the chieftains of the country in succession till the revolution, when it became the property of Mr. Deane, who was the last fortunate person who approached the white cat in good humour, and returned from the cave loaded with treasure, which he converted to a good purpose in the improvement of the estate. He afterwards made many fruitless efforts to enter, but to no purpose, being so often thrust back with invisible force. Yet it is believed by the old inhabitants that when the rightful heir is in want of money he will obtain a free and easy entrance to the presence of the enchanted cat, who will be all gentleness and purring with melodious sweetness while he is loading himself with a large quantity of these precious coins.

After the ancient mansion fell to decay, or was almost delapidated from time, the family erected that handsome castle with the front facing this eminence for its better preservation, and to be always in view of it. They have also, with more precaution, closed up the entrance of the cave with solid masonry, so that it is now difficult to open it".

We then descended to the entrance to the cave, which was situated at the foundation of a lofty limestone cliff, and which, acording to the shepherd’s account, was closed up in a firm and durable manner with stones and cement.

The Sequel of Cleena’s Story

Cleena resided in her father’s palace, which was situated in a place now called Glanworth, and on the spot where a castle was erected many centuries after by the Roches, over the clear Funcheon, with its pure and healthy springs. The water there is of the purest quality, particularly a copious spring in the cliff under the palace which was erected in the time of the Druid, who was induced to build it near the spring for its very salubrious quality; and it is even now admired and much frequented. She had another residence at a place now called Castletownroche, on the banks of the transparent and flowery-banked Mulla.

She removed for the following year to the territory of her beloved husband, whose residence was situated in a place called Cuillin, bordering on the country of Luachardhea. It was during this that she unfortunately lost her invaluable wand, which was, perhaps, taken possession of by Oberon, the fairy king (who envied Cleena her great power), which prevented her from restoring Aoivil to her natural form.

In twelve months after their marriage the birth of an heir crowned the union of Caomh and Cleena with real happiness. Feastings and rejoicings were the order of the day, and their court, together with the neighbouring town, was crowded with the chiefs of the country, emulating each other in their attachment to Caomh and Cleena, his beautiful consort, who always attracted the notice and admiration of all persons for her majestic figure, exact symmetry, and fine countenance; and in two years more they were happy by the birth of twins, two little females, as white as snow, with mild eyes, and cheeks emulating the rose.


On this occasion also, tilts and tournaments were introduced, as much for joy as for exercise of the troops in the art of war. Yet peace reigned over the land, with the exception of some trifling skirmishes with the Danes of Dublin, Cork and Limerick, who about this time were acquiring strength and confidence in the country, together with a knowledge of military affairs. They devoted much of their time to commerce, walling in their seaport towns, making incursions into the country, and taking possession of the ancient Irish entrenchments, in which experienced soldiers formed garrisons, who maintained themselves in them against the efforts of the inhabitants. When closely besieged in any of these forts, which were great mounds of earth and stones, enclosing a small area of half-an-acre - sometimes more, and generally much less - they excavated a passage, escaped to the next fort at night, and returned the following morning with reinforcements. In this manner, and well disciplined, they oppressed the natives when least on their guard - when perhaps pillaging the evacuated encampment of the Danes. It was by stratagems of this sort that these northern and plundering invaders conquered all England and a good part of Ireland, and also retained their possession for so long a time.

On this account, Caoimh and the other powerful chiefs, were on the alert, and watched the motions of those plunderers, who, through courtesy and the advantage of commerce to the country, were hitherto permitted in the seaports; but at this time there was a strong jealously conceived against them for their rapine and cruelty to the natives where they could act with impunity, and before many months passed aver they broke into an open rebellion, the principal cause of which is related as follows:-

Ceallacan and the Danes

Ceallacan, King of Munster, became acquainted with the King of Norway’s beautiful daughter, called Bédhion, or Beavina, who then resided in Dublin in her brother Sitif, or Sitric’s court, and who, in token of peace and friendship, but treacherously, invited Ceallacan to espouse her.

The King of Munster, with all the joy and happiness of a bridegroom, proceeded to Dublin (or, as it was then called Uthcliath Dubhlnhe), with a slight retinue of romantic and valiant young chiefs, who, like himself, were full of thoughts of enjoying Danish beauties. Ceallacan no sooner arrived in the vicinity of the city then he was convinced of the treachery of the Dane, but before he could retreat was arrested, and all his noble and brave companions cut to pieces, with the exception of one, who brought the disastrous account to Munster.

This news was no sooner made known by the only person who escaped the slaughter, than it aroused the people from their lethargy, who at once assembled their forces, and unanimously elected O’Keeffe to command them. They also entrusted their fleet to Faildhe Fionh, who was then the hereditary admiral of Munster, and who, in consequence of residing on the western coast of Corcaduivne, was more accustomed to a naval life. Coraduivne, a wild district, together with Jobhrahac, the most western part of Europe, was the patrimony of Faildhe.

The army, under O’Keeffe, marched with the utmost speed to Dublin, where they discovered that Sitric had his headquarters in Dundealgain (Dundalk), and where his fleet was also moored, with Ceallacan on board the Commander’s ship in close confinement, and ready to sail with him to Denmark the first fair wind. O’Keeffe no sooner arrived there than Failbhe was discovered entering the harbour in good order, and with a fair breeze, and at once commenced a furious engagement with Sitric, and under great disadvantage, as O’Keeffe, through want of boats, could not, for a long time, afford much assistance. However, from their perseverance and great bravery, not a Danish ship escaped.

Ceallacan was released, and the enemy terribly slaughtered. After this decisive victory Caoimh returned to Munster with his victorious army, and the princess, with the ladies of the court, together with a vast concourse of the inhabitants, advanced far to meet them, showing unfeigned joy on this happy occasion. The merceniaries received their reward, and the army was disbanded to return to their respective districts.

O’Caoimh’s family were every year increasing in numbers and happiness, when an unforseen and unlucky accident occurred, which exposed how treacherously Cleena had behaved to her unfortunate, though amiable sister. Heaven is sometimes slow, but always certain to punish crimes and disorders, with venegeance against all who condemn its decrees, sooner or later. Thus, the old nurse of Cleena fell dangerously ill, and was at the point of death, when her conscience was a burthen to her in recollecting the fate of Aoivil and her hand in the transaction. She therefore called O’Keeffe to her apartment and unfolded the entire to him - how Aoivil was living, but metamorphosed, and confined in a deep and remote cave without chance of liberation or recovery.

The prince was thunderstruck at this relation of the old nurse, and at once sought an interview with Cleena, whom he constantly implored and requested to free Aoivil from her enchantment; but the princess was inflexible to all his solicitations, as it only tended to increase her jealousy; and she withal said - "Though my sister does not now consider you among the living, she still loves you as tenderly as ever. She is fully resigned to grief and bewails your loss, without intermission, since the battle of Dundealgain, where I convinced her that you fell fighting against the enemies of your country; and though I may be inclined to restore my sister to her former shape, it is entirely out of my power, through the loss of my precious wand".

This answer of Cleena, though in some measurable reasonable, so displeased the prince with his lawful wife, and her jealousy so deep-rooted, that it appeared almost impossible to reconcile them. She, therefore, in time retired to her fairy palace of the “grey rock", after having taken her daughters to be educated under her own care in this enchantment retirement.

(For Mr. Franklin’s account of Cleena’s palace, see "Carrigcleena”, “Journal" p. 80, 1897).


Colonel James Grove White

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