Lord Baron of Inchcleraun Island
This island formerly formed part of the kingdom
of Hy-Many. It is now included in the County Longford. Clothra was the mother of Lughaidh who was, at a
remote period, king of Ireland. “In the reign of Lughaidh the lakes Neagh and Ree began to make their
appearance.” St. Diarmid, patron of Inis Clothrann was brother of St. Fedliminus, who was Bishop of Kilmore;
both were descended from Dathy, the last pagan king of Ireland, who was killed in year 427.
St. Diarmid was the teacher of St. Ciaran of
Inisangin, afterwards the founder of Clonmacnoise. Inis Clothrann, as a religious seat, is probably older
than Clonmacnoise. St. Diarmid wrote a pious work which the learned Colgan states was in his possession. His
festival is honoured on the Ioth of January. St. Diarmid's church, measuring eight feet by seven, is said to
be the smallest in Ireland. To the north-west of Grianan Meadhbha, or Queen Meave's palace, is Temple Clogas,
the first church erected by St. Diarmid on Inis Clothrann. The belfry of this church was thirty feet high and
its bell so loud-sounding as to be heard a distance of seven miles. It is one of the few ancient square
belfries now existing in Ireland.
“I shall visit Inis Clothrann,
Which exceeds all the others far in beauty.
It was on this isle of grass and beauty
That Meave of Croghan, Queen of Connaught,
Fell by the son of the King of Uladh.
In time of war and bloody murders,
The Clanna Rory and the sons of Uisneach,
Mighty men of strength and courage,
Rose up to war and emulation,
For one fair damsel, yoleped Deirdre.
Five hundred years after the Saviour Had suffered for the
sins of mankind, The holy Diarmid here erected Seven churches and a steeple; He also placed on Inis Clothrann, That
beauteous, fertile, airy, island, Two convents of which the ruins Are to be seen still on the island.” —MSS. of
Ord. Survey. This island, sometimes called “ Quaker Island,” also “Island of the Seven Churches,” is about one mile
long and one-third of a mile broad. By reason of its churches it is the most important island in Lough Ree. From
the middle of the eighth to the end of the thirteenth century, bishops, priests, poets, historians, professors,
princes, chiefs, without count, lived, died, and were buried, on this holy isle. “Fair City of the Lake, the day is
long gone past, When choral voices lent rich echoes to the blast.”
Inchcleraun (Irish: Inis
Cloithrinn), also called Quaker Island or Holy Island, is an island situated inLough
Ree on theRiver
Shannon, in County Longford of
centralIreland. which was
granted to Baron Delvin in 1552. The island has the ruins of St. Diarmaid’s Monastery, a monastery founded
by Diarmaid the Just in AD 560. These buildings constitute a National Monument.
Inchcleraun island has(143 acres) located in the centre of Lough
, with Knockcroghery
, County Roscommon to its west and Newtowncashel
, County Longford to its east..
early monastic site, founded 6th century (c.540 or probably earlier) by St Diarmuid
Augustinian Canons Regular (— Arroasian)
refounded after 1140;
plundered several times;
plundered 1098 by O'Brien
Granted to Baron Delvin 1552
Augustinian Canons Regular ruins near parish church purportedly remains of a foundation dependent on
Grant 1552 - Holy Island - Inchcleraun Island,
With the government showing little inclination to reach
a more permanent settlement with the O’Farrells, Delvin led a raid across Lough Ree shortly before Christmas
1548.21 Despite opposition from the nearby Dillons, it seems that Delvin succeeded in gaining a foothold in the
southern reaches of the O’Farrell lordship. In 1552 the crown
granted the dissolved monastery of Holy Island, Lough Ree, to the baron, together with associated lands
and tithes.22 This was more than a mundane grant of
ecclesiastical land in one’s county of residence, which many peers, gentry and officials received: it must be
viewed in the context of mid-Tudor expansionism. The government was willing in 1553 to nominate a ‘captain and
governor’ of the O’Farrell Boy branch, yet allowed Delvin to build up a landholding profile within the branch’s
sphere of influence on the banks of Lough Ree. Lord Deputy Croft and his advisors described these lands as in ‘a
waste, wylde Countrey amonge the yrishe where lytle obedyence doth contynue’, but Delvin had announced his
intention to fortify his new territory.23
The Baron Delvin was also granted the monastic
site at Granard, in the northeast of the Annaly lordship in what is now called the County
Longford; this also represented a projected expansion of English
influence. Before the 15th century Granard Abbey had been an exclusively English foundation, but papal order forced
it to admit Gaelic men. The house quickly lost its English identity, and fell completely under O’Farrell
patronage.24 Thus Delvin’s acquisition of Granard represented an effort to reincorporate former English church
lands into English society. Confirmation of the achievements of Baron Richard in enhancing the importance of his
house came in 1553, when he joined O’Connor Roe in a devastating raid on the MacDermots of Moylurg, a lordship
situated west of the Annaly and a considerable distance from Delvin territory.25
County Longford Monastery of Holy Island Lough Ree also
Granted to Lord Delvin in 1552
Inchcleraun (Inis Cloithrinn) (also known locally as Quaker
Island) is home to a monastery founded by St Diarmuid in 560. St Diarmaid the Just was a teacher of St. Ciaran of
Clonmacnoise, one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland. The island is said to have been named after ‘Clothra’, sister
of Queen Maeve who retired to the island after her husband Ailill, Kind of Connacht, was killed in battle in the
st century. On the east shore of the
island she built a fortified garden called ‘Grianan Maeva’ (The beautiful sunny spot of Maeve). Apparently she also
died on the island at the hands her nephew who killed her while she was bathing with a lump of cheese fired from a
sling shot. Today the ruins of the monastery and seven churches remain, including one church with an usual square
belfry which is visible from the shore of Lough Ree (round towers were more typical of the time
719 St Sionnach of Inchcleraun died
on the 20 April.
769 Curoi, the son of Alniadh,
Abbot and Sage of Inchcleraun, and of Caill Fochladha (Lough Derravaragh)
in Meath died.
780 Eochaidh, the son of Focartach,
Abbot of Fochladha and of Inchcleraun, died.
1010 The men
of Munster plundered Inchcleraun and Inis Bo-finne
1050 Inchcleraun was
1087 The fleet of the men of
Munster, with Muirchertach Ua Briain, sailed on the Shannon to Lough Ree and plundered the islands of the lake (inc.
Áed Ua Finn (Hugh O'Flynn), the Bishop of Bréifne,
died in Inchcleraun
1141 Giolla na Naomh Mac Fearghail,
chief of the people of Annaly (
Angaile), the most prosperous man in
Ireland, died at a great age and was buried at Inchcleraun.
1150 Morogh, the son of the above,
the tower of splendour and nobility in East Connacht died in Inchcleraun.
1160 Gilla na Naomh Ó
Duinn, ollam of
Inchcleraun, teacher of history and poetry sent his spirit to the Supreme Father amidst a choir of angels on
the 17th day of December in the year of his 58th birthday.
1167 Cinaeth Ua Cethearnaigh,
Priest of Inchcleraun died.
1168 Dubhcobhlach, the daughter of
O'Quinn, wife of Mac Corgamna, died and was interred in Inchcleraun
1170 Diarmaid Ó
Briain, Coarb of
Comman, was chief senior of the east of Connaught, died in Inchcleraun in the 95th year of his
1174 Rory O'Carroll, Lord
of Éile, was slain in
the middle of Inchcleraun
1189 It was at Inchcleraun on Lough
Ree that the hostages of O'Connor Maon-Moy were kept at the time.
1193 Inchcleraun was plundered by
the sons of Costelloe and by the sons of O'Connor Maon-Moy
1232 Tiapraide O' Breen, Coarb
of Saint Coman, an
ecclesiastic learned in History and Law, died on his pilgrimage on the island of
1244 Donnchad mac Fíngein Ó
Conchobhair, who was the grandson of Hugh, son of Torlogh O'Connor, Bishop of Elphin,
died the 23rd of April on Inchcleraun,and was interred in the monastery of Boyle.
- 1552 - Lands and Tithes of the Holy Island
of Lough Ree granted to Nugents and Lord Delvin
Reference: History of Longford
Louqh Ree (for steamer service see pink pages) is
smaller than Derg, being 17 miles in length. Formerly it was called Lough Ribh, and sometimes "Great Lough Allen."
A boat for visiting Lough Ree may be hired at Athlone, with or without rowers. The numerous promontories, bays, and
creeks of the lake greatly add to the charm and variety of its Bcenery, and some of the islands are very beautiful;
but it all wants sun.
This "Lough of the Kings" formed the frontier line
between Hy-Many, the principality of the O'Kellys, on the west, and " Kilkenny West," in the kingdom
of Meath, on the east.
Among several interesting islands we may mention
Inis Clothrann (or Quaker
Island), named after the sister of Queen Mab (or Meave). On the
highest point of it once stood that queen's palace, and it was on the sunny strand below that she was bathing
when the cowardly Ulster chief struck her dead with a stone from his sling. Professor Stokes states that St.
Dermot is said to have lived here about the year 500; and many remains of churches and buildings
"The monastery of Inisbofin (or
White Cow Island) is, in some respects, the most interesting of any upon Lough Ree, because its foundation is
attributed to St. Rioch, the nephew of St. Patrick, ... a Briton or Welshman by birth."
On Bare Island no
hares are now living to explain the name; they have relinquished it in favour of the later tenant, Lord
Castlemaine. On the western shore is the interesting ruin of Randoum Castle, "a famous spot
in Irish history for the last 2000 years." In ancient times it was called John's (Eoin) House after a local Celtic saint; when the Normans, who hated the Celts, came and
"established a castle of the Knights Hospitallers, they changed the dedication to that of St. John the
Baptist. The castle still stands, with a round tower, "a church dedicated to the Holy Trinity, and a
fortified wall, "unique in Ireland."