The Extent of Ely O'Carroll
The promoters of Ely O'Carroll tourism would be interested in O'Donovan's letter on the extent of Ely O'Carroll, part of which was incorporated in King's County in 1605.
Of the extent of Ely O'Carroll.
The exact extent of this celebrated territory has never been yet pointed out, though several have attempted to do so. That the Abbe Mageoghegan and Archdall were wrong in making the Barony of Eglish a part of it, I have already shewn from ancient and modern evidences of the most satisfactory nature.
I have also proved that its northern boundary (limit, mere) is defined by the boundary of ancient Meath, by the boundary of the Diocese of Meath, by the River Avon Cor or Comcor and by the situation of Birr, Drumcullen and Kinnitty, which are all described by very ancient writers as on the boundary of ancient Meath and Munster, or what was the same thing, on the confines of Feara Ceall and Ely. Its northern boundary is therefore certain. But its southern, eastern and western boundaries remain to be proved.
East boundary proved:-
That the ridge of the Slieve Bloom range of mountains divided Ely from Ossory, we have several direct and circumstantial evidences to prove. 1st. The poem of O'Dugan giving the limits of Ossory:- ...
From the soft Blawna (Bloymo) to the sea
The most beautiful part by far of Banva (Ireland).
2nd. O'Heerin's poem describing the tribes of Ely:-
"Lords to whom stoop the nuts,
Are the O'Carrolls of the Plain of Birra
Their head is King of Ely to sweet Bloyma
The most hospitable habitation in Ireland."
3rd. Inquistion taken in 1621 found that:-
"The Territory of Ely O'Carroll consisted of the pasture lands of Ballycrinass, Rosscullenagh and Drumcan, extending to the Lake of Leghagh, commonly Laghaghirisallive and bounded on the west by the lands called Laghenagarken and on the east joining or near Glencrokin; was always called Ely O'Carroll and had never been measured or surveyed. The mountain land was found to extend from the Laghanagerah (Lochan na gCaorach) to a hold called PolleDowa (Poll Dubh in Roscomroe) and from thence in a south easterly direction to the Slieve Bloom Mountains, which are the limits between Ely O'Carroll and Upper Ossary and meet at a village called Garryvoe or Scully's land." - Betham Antiq. Researches, Vol. I, p.95.
Could a perfect copy of this Inquisition be procured? It can't be possible that all the lands in Ely O'Carroll are mentioned in this abstract published by Betham.
There is then every evidence that the boundary of Ely O'Carroll and Ossory extended along the Ridge of Slieve Bloom from the most western point of Doohy Regan or the Barony of Tinahinch in the Queen's County, to the north western point of the Parish of Kyle or Clonfertmulloe near Roscrea.
That Terminus has left the impress of his authority and antiquity on this boundary line from the one point above mentioned to the other, is proved by the fact that it has been adopted as the common boundary of Townlands, Parishes, Baronies, Counties and Dioceses. The summit (bealach gabhrain) of the Slieve Bloom ridge to the extent above described, divides the Queen's County from the King's County and the Dioceses of Kildare and Ossory from that of Killaloe.
It is, therefore, an ancient fixed boundary between ancient Munster and Leinster and therefore between Doohy Regan and Ossory on the one side and Ely O'Carroll on the other; Doohy Regan and Ossory lying on the east side of it in Leinster and Ely O'Carroll on the west in ancient Munster.
I have now, I trust, with sufficient satisfaction traced the northern and eastern boundaries of Ely O'Carroll from Birr to near Roscrea, but there a startling difficulty presents itself and two important questions must be answered before we can advance one step farther in the enquiry, viz: 1. Is Ely O'Carroll entirely included in the present King's County? 2. If not, how much of it is comprised in the present Co. of Tipperary?
We learn from O'Flaherty who lived very near the time when this territory was reduced to Shire ground and who seems to have had the proper English authority before him, that the entire of it was not placed in the King's Co.
"This Ely (O'Carroll's Country) in the Queen's rectius King's County, formerly belonged to Munster as did the natives of it, being situate on the confines of Ormond; but in the last century a part of it was formed into a County in Leinster by the King and a part annexed to Ormond in the County of Tipperary in Munster." - Ogygia, Transl. Vol. II, p. 234.
I think that this passage is translated incorrectly by that silly ninnyhammer Healy, the greatest ass that ever undertook the translation of an author. But whether it be translated rightly or wrongly, it is sufficient to shew that the learned O'Flaherty was persuaded that the entire of Ely O'Carroll was not placed in the King's County. This is corroborated by the fact that the Devil's Bit Mountain is called in Irish Bearnan Eile. Keating says that the River Siuir had its source in Bearnan Eile in Ikerrin. Preface Haliday's Edit.