6. Cunga Fheichin

CONG--IN IRISH, CUNGA, "NARROWS" so called from its situation upon the isthmus that here divides Loch Mask from Loch Coirib, and also Cunga Fheichín, in remembrance of its patron saint--is an island formed by a number of streams that surround it on all sides.There is water everywhere--gliding by in the broad river; gushing from the surrounding rocks; oiling up in vast pools that supply several mills; oozing through the crevices of stones; rising in the interior of caverns; appearing and disappearing wherever its wayward nature wills; passing in and out everywhere, except where man tried to turn it--into the monster dry canal.The village, which is approachable by four bridges, and occupies a small hill, is T-shaped, and consisted in 1861 of eighty-eight houses, and four hundred and sixty-nine inhabitants.It is a market town, and was formerly a great milling depot; to which latter circumstance, and the patronage of the adjoining extensive ecclesiastical establishment, it no doubt owed its origin.As the tourist approaches it, a good view of the eastern end of its old abbey is presented; and, turning up by the main street, he has before him the ancient cross, figured and described at page 94.

Outside the confines of this village, the scene presents a remarkable contrast--upon the south and east, all is bare, grey limestone rock; while on the west and south lies a beautiful, well-wooded, and highly cultivated demesne, through which glides the clear stream of the Cong River.The eastern roads lead to The Neale, Ballinrobe, and Kilmaine, and by Headford to Galway; and its south-western to Loch Measca, and through Joyce's Country by Mám into Conamara.The northern and western streams divide the village from the county of Galway.

The Annals of Cong, which, if all collected, would almost form a history of Ireland, might commence with the battle of Moytura, stated by the bards, and believed by the early writers (where they assign dates to events), to have been fought in the year of the world 3303. For some centuries after that period, and down to the Christian era, the great plain to the west and north immediately adjoining this village, and on which the battle took place, was thickly studded with inhabitants, whose dwellings and monuments the tourist is now about to visit, and which are certainly amongst the most remarkable in the British Isles.It does not appear, either from history or tradition, that St. Patrick or his attendants visited Cong, or that his immediate successors approached nearer to it than Inis a' Ghaill; but, in the seventh century, St. Feichín of Fore,[fn81-1] struck, perhaps, with the extraordinary resemblance which the natural features of Cong, and its underground rivers, etc., bore to his ecclesiastical home in Westmeath, is said to have blessed this neck of land, from which the extensive parish of Cong still takes its name, and to have erected a church here; and the good man left his track, and gave his name to several holy wells and churches in the district westward of this village. It is also said that, so early as A.D. 624, an Irish king, Domhnall Mac Aedh Mac Ainrnire, founded an abbey here, and that St. Feichín-was its first abbot.Colgan also states that Cong was "celebrated for divers churches, as their walls and remains at this day testify." Such may have been the case at the beginning of the seventeenth century, but they no longer exist, and the name of only one remains, attached to the field of the Cillín Breac,, or "little speckled church," to the south of the present abbey grounds.There is, however, a stone near the river side, in an old garden to the left of the second eastern bridge, which takes precedence of all other stones in Cong upon which the craft of man had been exercised in Christian times, and which, as known by the Irish name of Leac na bpoll, or the "flagstone of the holes," is here figured.It is a large triangular red grit flag, two feet thick, and eight and a half feet long in its greatest diameter, from under which a never-failing limpid spring issues. Its <<<<<< I St. Feichin died of the great yellow plague, or B~idhc Chonail~, that twice devastated Ireland, first in 539, and then <<<<<<< upper surface is hollowed into five basin-like smooth excavations, averaging twelve inches wide, and four and a half deep, and usually known as Bulláns, from the Latin bulla, a bowl; and which from their being invariably found in immediate connection with the most ancient churches, may be regarded as primitive baptismal fonts. What desctiption of church St. Feichín erected here and dedicated to the Virgin before his death, in 664, or where it stood, is unknown, although Colgan states, in the Acta Sanctorum, that it was "his own monastery." But in truth the Irish church of that period was but the daimhliag, or domhnach, and the Culdees or early ecclesiastics lived either within it, or in stone cells, or clocháns, or in wooden houses, in the surrounding enclosure, and occasionally in the adjoining round tower.

Cong was originally a bishopric, and with those of Tuam, Killala, Clonfert, and Ardcharne, was named among the five sees of the province of Connacht, regulated by the Synod of Rath Breasail, in Laoighis in the year 1010; but the see was shortly afterwards removed to Enaghdun. Keating also styled it a bishopric.

In 1114 the Annals of the Four Masters state that Cunga Cill Beanáin and several other ecclesiastical establishments "were all burned this year." The bishopric removed and the cathedral burned; but the odour of sanctity still clinging to the venerable locality, hallowed by the remembrance of St. Feichín, a fine opening offered to the Augustinians to display their architectural taste, and to establish their ecclesiastical power in Connacht--so that probably between the fonner date and 1127-28, when the deaths oftwo of its Airenachs (or conventual superiors), Gilla-Ciaráin O Roda, and O Dreada, are recorded, the abbey and monastery were founded.This magnificent establishment was erected for Canons Regular of the Order of St. Augustine. [fn83-1]

The ruins of Cong church and monastery occupy the south-western angle of the island, but have become so mixed up with modern buildings, that it is now difficult to find a point of view from which to give a good representation of the entire.Our chapter headpiece made many years ago by Samuel Lover, R.H.A., from a point somewhat to the north-east of the bridge of the Cillín Breac, very truthfully represents the scene.

Among the splendid ecclesiastical remains of Cong, the twelfth century advocates may revel, and defy us to prove an earlier date for their erection than that of the introduction of the Augustinian Order into Ireland, even if their ornamentation and design did not afford ample data for judging their age.

<<<<< I The property of the Abbey of Cong, and especially their great estates in Joyce Country and Conamara, were, in the reign of Elizabeth, granted to the Provost and Fellows of Trinity College, Dublin. <<<<<<< These ruins would scarcely have held together to the present day, had not Sir B. L. Guinness restored several of the dilapidations, cleared out much of the rubbish which had accumulated within and around them, and rendered the burial ground sufficiently decent for the interment of Christian people.[fn84-1]

We enter the abbey from the village by a very beautiful doorway, which, although it has been often figured, we would here present to our readers, but that we know it is of the "composite order," having been made up some years ago of stones taken from another arch in this northern wall.Within it, we find ourselves in the great abbey church, one hundred and forty feet long, entirely paved with tombstones; facing the east window, with its three long, narrow lights, and having in each side wall of the chancel a slender window looking north and south.The chancel walls are perfect, but the northern wall of the nave no longer exists.Underneath the chancel window the guides and village folk maintain that Roderick O Conor was buried, when, after fifteen years' retirement within this abbey, he died here in 1198.But this we know from history to be incorrect, for the Donegal Annals distinctly state that "Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair, King of Connacht and of all Ireland, both the Irish and English, died among the canons at Cong, after exemplary <<<<<< I Among the restorations effected may be particularly specified, those of the completion of the arch over the central light of the east window, and the introduction of the missing stones in the decorated doors and windows of the beautiful western fa~ade, described at p. 90. All these restorations were carved from the native limestone by Mr. Peter Foy, of Cong, and his work bears careful comparison with that of the originai artists. >>>>>> penance, victorious over the world and the devil.His body was conveyed to Clonmacnois, and interred to the north of the altar."

But, although Roderick himself was not buried here others of his name and lineage were.Thus we read that in 1224, "Maurice the Canon, son of Roderick O Conor --the most illustrious of the Irish for learning, psalm-singing and poetical compositions, died--and was interred at Cong." It is probably his tomb which is pointed out as that of the king. "A.D. 1226, Nuala, daughter of Roderick O Conor, and Queen of Ulidia, died at Cunga Feichín, and was honourably interred in the church of the canons." [fn85-1] And in 1274, Finnuala, daughter of King Roderick, died at, and was probably buried at Cong.But although the dust of the last monarch is not beneath our feet, that of chieftains, warriors, and prelates remains and especially that of the abbots, down to the days of James Lynch, whose decorated tomb is dated 1703- and even later, for the Rev. Patrick Prendergast who was always styled "The Lord Abbot," was interred here in 1829. [fn85-2]

Several of these ecclesiastical flags are decorated with crosses, fleur-de-lis, chalices, and ornate croziers, etc.; <<<<< I ~nna~s of ~he Fo~r Mas~ers. Nuala was " the wife of Mac Donslevy, who was at that period styled King of Uladh," or that portion of Ulster " lying eastwards of Glenree, Lough Neagh, and the Lower Bann."--See O'Donovan's note, under >>>>>> A.D. 1226. 2 There is a tradition that, when the few remaining Canons were driven forth from this monastery, they were harboured by some of the author's ancestors at Ballymagibbon; and upon one of the farms of that property, now called Abbotstown, Father Prendergast resided till the day of his death, at the round <<<<<<<<< and here are a few Latin inscriptions in raised letters, but with one exception no Irish writing can be discerned anywhere within the confines of the abbey.In the south wall there is a recess, with a circular arch, probably the tomb of the founder, or some munificent endower; there are also in this south wall piscinae, and other minor details of church architecture, unnecessary to describe; and lower down the same side is the small chapel-tomb of the Berminghams, once so powerful in Ireland, and who so identified themselves with their adopted country, that they dropped the Norman name, and assumed that of Mac Feorais.They became Lords of Athenry, and acquired great possessions in Connacht.[fn86-1]

During the clearances recently made, a few objects of interest were discovered, and among them a stone, bearing portion of an incised cross (see page 78).It is too narrow to have been a monumental flag, the longest arm of the cross being but thirteen inches; it was probably one of the terminal crosses that marked the boundaries of the ancient sacred enclosure.

<<<<<<< age of eighty-eight. He was a very fine, courteous, whitehaired old man--a good specimen of the St. Omers' priest of si~ty years ago. He did not nominate a successor, nor was such appointed by any Irish chapter, or by the General Abbot at Rome. Prendergast succeeded Abbot O Maley. He was the owner of several reliques, which he used to take great pride in showing and e~plaining to the author, when a boy--the cross of Cong, the shrine of st. Patrick's tooth, and the piece of linen marked with the blood of the martyr, etc. I The late Earls of Leitrim and Charlemont married the last two of the female line of the Mayo and Galway Berminvhams, who held the Ross Hill and other lar~e estates >>>>>>>> Another stone of still greater interest, discovered in making these restorations, is the quadrangular fragment of the shaft of an ancient cross, which in all probability is a portion of the village cross referred to at page 94; for not only does it bear the same names as those on the base of the latter, but it accurately fits the mortise in that plinth, being sixteen inches by eight. This stone, now about two feet high, and the two inscribed faces of which upon opposite sides are here figured, is at present placed in the east window.

The inscription, which is in ancient raised letters, means--A prayer for Nichol and Gillebard O Dubthaigh, or O Duffy, who were abbots of Cong; but which inscription is more perfect on the plinth of the market cross, figured and discribed at page 94.

The O Duffys were distinguished ecclesiastics in this locality, and the Annals contain many entries concerning them.Thus we read that in "A.D. 1150 Muireadhach Ua Dubhthaigh, Archbishop of Connacht, chief senior of all Ireland in wisdom, in chastity, in the bestowal of jewels and food, died at Cunga on the 16th of the month of May, on the festival of St. Brénainn, in the 75th year of his age." His name is inscribed on the great processional "Cross of Cong," made in 1123. --See page 100.

"A.D. 1168, Flannagán Ua Dubhthaigh, bishop and chief doctor of the Irish in literature, history, and poetry, and in every kind of science known to man in his time, died in the bed of Muireadhach Ua Dubhthaigh, at Cunga."--See page 100.

Cadhla or Catholicus O Duffy, and several of the name, attained to the see of Tuam; in 1136, we read of the death at Clonfert, of Donnell O Duffy, "Archbishop of Connacht and successor of Cíarán, head of the wisdom and piety of the province"; and Cellach O Duffy was Bishop of "Mayo of the Saxons" in 1209.But none of these died abbots of Cong, and the only Abbot of the name referred to in the Annals is the one described by the Four Masters in the following quotation, under the year 1223: Dubhthach ua dubhthaigh abb Conga decc. "Duffagh O Duffy, Abbot of Cong, died." As to who this "Gillibard" or Gilla-Bard was, we have no clue from an examination of the Annals, and cannot, therefore, state when his death occurred; but it must have been subsequent to that of Duffagh and Nichol; and was probably in the beginning of the thirteenth century.

Before leaving this church and its crosses, let us perform an act of partial expiation, by introducing to the visitor the following illustration, showing the four decorated sides of a portion of the shaft of a very beautiful sandstone cross, which was abstracted from these ruins many years ago, but is still in existence. [fn89-1] The two end portions of the illustration represent the sides; the left-hand middle is the front, and the right the back, which latter is countersunk, evidently for the insertion of a metal place, which was probably inscribed with the name of the person who

erected it, or to whose memory it was raised.The top is mortised for the reception of the tenon of the upper portion of the shaft.

The original plan of this abbey is not easily made out at present. Through an arched doorway in the southern [fn89-1] This cross, which is now twenty-three inches high, is in the pleasure-ground at Moytura, and is by some believed to have been in the possession of the late Father Prendergast.Others say it was rescued from the dilapidations at Cong by the late Mr. Fynn, the author's relative, and at that time proprietor of the Moytura property.

When the broken shaft of O'Duffy's cross, now in the east window, is restored to its position upon the base of the market or street cross, this beautiful piece of medieval work shall be restored to the abbey. [This has since been done. Ed.] wall we pass into a low vaulted apartment, and thence into a large open space containing the principal stairs, which lead up to the second story of the great tower, the upper portion of which, however, no longer exists.The space to the east and south of this, which was formerly occupied by the monastery, is now a graveyard, and the site of the Roman Catholic chapel, and is divided by a high screen wall, the western facade of which forms the present great architectural feature of this splendid pile, and is well shown in the above illustration. It measures eighty feet in length, and contains a doorway and two windows, with circular arches; and two large and most elaborate ornamented lancet-headed doors, with undercut chevrons along the deep moulding of the arches, which spring from clustered pillars, the floral capitals of which--all of different patterns--present us with one of the finest specimens of twelfth-century stone-work in Ireland [fn91-1].On page 113 is shown portion of these highly ornate imposts. Above the string course appear some narrow lights probably those of the dormitories.To the west of this wall stood the open cloisters, which were probably so low as not to obscure the decorated front represented on the foregoing page.From this point the ground slopes gradually to the river, where, according to tradition, the friars of old had a fish house--the walls of which are still standing--so constructed that, when the salmon or trout got into the crib below, it touched a wire, that rang a bell, to inform the providore or cook of its arrrival.

Passing under an arch, and over a bridge constructed of immense flagstones taken from the river's bed, we pass into Ashford, the demesne of Sir B. L. Guinness, the view of whose residence is figured overleaf.Let another describe it, and its environs. "Whether," says Sir Bernard Burke, in alluding to Cong, "you consider its unbounded fertility, the varied beauties of its surface, or the historical events which invest every plain and every mountain with an interest peculiarly its own, it stands forth to the lover of the wild and the beautiful, to the antiquarian and the geologist as unsurpassed by any portion of the British Empire.And we do not hesitate to insist that in this island, so favoured, the ancient town and neighbourhood of Cong are pre-eminent; in each of the particulars above alluded to, this portion of the counties of Galway and Mayo is unrivalled in its peculiarities.It presents a varied surface of contradictory elements--streams of barrenness [fn91-1] Several stones have been inserted in these doorways, which now present us with some of the finest and most enduring specimens of carved limestone in this or any other country. and fertility, exquisite beauty and wild desolation; green valleys and rocky plains, lakes and rivers, and huge mountains, are so thrown together in wild confusion, that it would almost seem as if nature had wandered here in one of her sportive moods, producing on every side such a marvellous contrast and variety.It is in the loveliest part of this district that the property is situated, of which we have engaged to furnish a few particulars.Ashford, formerly a residence of lord Oranmore, occupies one of the most striking and beautiful sites in the whole island; and is situated on the right bank of the river, which, flowing past the ruins of the ancient abbey of Cong, is adorned in its short course with all that can constitute the interesting and picturesque.The writer well remembers this mansion, now comfortable, a dilapidated building, in the midst of a neglected domain--a very picture of poor Ireland herself when stricken by famine and pestilence.It was built by one of the family of Brown, early in the eighteenth century, somewhat in the style of the French chateau.The situation was well chosen; and the founder made it an exception to the almost general rule, that Irish mansions are erected near to, but not upon, the most eligible spots. The river, the lake, the deep and solemn woods that environ it, the extreme fertility of the domain --encircled as it were by a framework of bare rocks and interminable waters--constitute a species of oasis in this wild district, at once lovely, striking, and peculiar."

Within the demesne, and in the immediate vicinity of the handsome tower recently erected here, and shown in the foregoing illustration, there can'be seen one of those artificial caves formed by the ancient Fir Bolgs, or Tuatha Dé Danann, to which we shall have occasion to refer hereafter; but, as it is so nigh at hand, the visitor should inspect it now.This cave, called Lisín Árd, "the small high fort," which is sunk within an ancient circular rath, now surrounded with aged hazels, measures twenty-seven feet from its eastern entrance to its turn to the south, which latter portion is twenty-four long.Its average height is six and a half feet; and it is roofed with immense flags, supported on projecting corbels.There is also here a natural grotto, called Teach Aille, "the house of the cliff," where the waters of Loch Measca present themselves externally in their transit through the various north-western pools and caverns to Loch Coirib.Let us re-cross the river by Tóin a' Chaisleáin, "the bottom of the castle," or site of the old castle of Cong, which certainly existed in the days of Roderick O Flaherty, but the last fragment of which was removed about a hundred years ago, when "the circular road" of Cong was constructing.

Now, that we come prepared with historic knowledge, derived from our visit to the abbey, let us inspect the Street or Market Cross, the dark limestone plinth or base of which, with a carefully engraved facsimile of its inscription, is here shown, the translation being: "A prayer for Nichol (Nicol, or Neal), and for Gilliberd (Gilbert) O Dubthaidh (O Duffy), who were abbots of Cong." It is sixteen inches high, and measures thirty-six by thirty inches upon the upper surface, into the step or mortise of which the present shaft in the abbey originally fitted.There is now a modern shaft in its place, the cap of which, together with the three steps on which the plinth now rests, was erected by the Elwood family in the famine year of 1822: prior to which the base stood upon a large block of natural rock, which, however, together with the inscribed base, etc., was removed, as it was regarded as an obstruction to the thoroughfare.

To follow out the history or annals of Cong in succession during the fourteenth and subsequent centuries, would be a mere recital of the dissensions of rival chieftains, the feuds of hostile clans, or of the Saxon against the Celt; but, before we leave the shadow of the abbey walls, some memorabilia of this parish and abbey claim a passing reference.These reliques consisted formerly of the Cros Cunga, or great processional cross of Cong; the Fiacal Phádraic, or shrine of St. Patrick's tooth; the Clog-dubh, or black bell of St. Patrick; and the Fuil a' Rí, or King's blood.This last consisted of a bit of discoloured linen said to have been dipped in the blood of Charles I at the time of his decapitation at Whitehall, and which was believed to possess the royal or Stewart faculty of curing the king's evil. Hundreds came to be ' touched ' by Abbot Prendergast; and in all probability this was the latest instance in which this rite was exercised in the British Isles.When last heard of, this scrofula cure was in the possession of a family near Ballindine.

The Fiacal Phádraic is a handsomely decorated shrine of wood, in the form of a horse shoe, satchel, or reticule, eleven and a quarter inches wide by nine wide, and somewhat wedge-shaped; and it is said, traditionally, to have been constructed to hold one of the teeth of our Patron Saint.It is, however, believed that there are other reliques of a similar kind still in the country.It is one and a half inch thick at bottom, and fines off to a thin metal plate at the narrow top, in continuation of the highly decorated rim which originally surrounded it, but which like other portions of the brass, silver, and gilt materials has been much injured, and bears the marks of "tinkers' hands" in the mode of soldering.On the chief or front side is a crucifixion in metal work, with two figures on each side; and below it an arcade of trefoil arches.Beneath, there is a row of four (there were five originally) raised gilt figures, holding books, shrines, and croziers; and from an inscription underneath we learn that they represented Saints ' Benen, Brigida, Patric, Columcille, Brendan,' and between which and the silver plate to which they are attached is inserted, either as a relique or for artistic purposes, a portion of fine linen.

On the front is an imperfect inscription, the upper line of which is in embossed--the lower is in the raised character of the twelfth or fourteenth century: 'Thomas de Bramichem: Dns: de Athen--me fecit ornari pisca parte.' This Thomas de Bermingham was probably the Lord of Athenry in the thirteenth or fourteenth century; but certainly the original shrine is older than his time.

On the back or reverse side is a raised, but unfigured cross, on each side of which are a series of figures--two raised, and two engraved on the silver plate.Two of these are of ecclesiastics, holding croziers; and one is that of a female holding a harp, which is well worthy of inspection, as it is probably one of the oldest representations of that instrument which we now possess.The shrine is also highly decorated with crystals, stones, and amber, placed in collated studs, like those in the shrine of St. Manchán of Liath.Upon it there are also several pieces of gold and silver filagree work, similar to those around the central crystal of the Cross of Cong. Probably this shrine remained in the hands of the Berminghams, who had large possessions all round Cong. Its modern history is this: About the year 1820 a man named Reilly, said to be a native of Sligo, made a living by going about [All these remarkable shrines are now in the National Museum, Duhlin. Ed.] this part of the country with it "performing cures upon man and beast." One day the old Abbot met the custodian of the shrine, and asked him to show him the ."Whose is this?" said the priest, when he had it in his possession. "It belonged," said Reilly, " to the canons of Cong," "Then," said Father Prendergast, "I am the last of the Augustinian canons of that monastery, and I'll keep it "; and so, to the amazement of the owner, he rode off with it.He afterwards lent it to Mrs. Blake, who preserved it at Blake Hill, near Cong, whence it was removed to Mionloch, upon the occasion of the serious illness of one of the family, who afterwards presented it to Dr. Stokes, by whom it was deposited in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy.According to a tradition in the parish, this shrine came from the county of Sligo, where there are still some recollections of St. Patrick's tooth.

The origin of this shrine is as follows: In later life St. Patrick began to lose his teeth; and some of these were preserved by his friends and disciples, and gave names to churches commemorative of the circumstance, as in that of Cill Fiacail, or "the church of the tooth," near the town of Tipperary, etc.It is stated that, in the Irish Apostle's visitation of northern Connacht, he proceeded along the coasts of Sligo and Mayo, and, crossing the river Moy at Beirtreach, he raised a cross there, and afterwards erected the church of Caiseal Irra, in Uí Fiachrach --probably in the present parish of Cill Easbuig Bróin.And while there sojourning, bishops Brón and Macinee came to him, "and he wrote out the alphabet for them; and he gave a tooth from his mouth to Bishop Brón, because he was dear to Patrick.There also the holy man laid the foundation of the church of Caiseal Irra, in the court of which is the stone upon which fell the tooth."

The large processional cross, now preserved in the National Museum (RIA Collection), and known as "The Cross of Cong," is undoubtedly one of the finest specimens of metal work, enamel, niello, and jewellery of its age in the western world.It stands thirty inches high, and the breadth of the arms is nineteen.The illustration on the frontispiece affords so faithful a representation of it, that it is unnecessary, especially in a work of this nature, to enter into a minute description of its artistic details.It consists of an oaken cross, covered with plates of bronze and silver, washed in many places with a thick layer of gold, and having interspersed golden filagree work of most minute character around its front centre.All the front and back plates are elaborately carved with that intertwined pattern, or strap work, with grotesque animals, which is specially characteristic of Irish ornamentation on stone, metal, vellum, and vitreous composition, and which is seen on so many of our great monumental crosses, and is well represented in the Moytura Cross, figured at page 89.The outer corners of each compartment were originally studded with precious stones, glass, or figured enamel paste, in white, and dark blue colours.Supported upon a raised boss, decorated with niello in the centre, there is a large polished crystal, under which was placed originally the relique sent from Rome to King Turloch O Conor, in 1123, and thus stated in the Annals of Innisfallen under that year: "A bit of the true cross came into Ireland and was enshrined at Roscommon by Turloch O Conor." And, again, in the Book of Clonmacnois, under the year 1136, we read, that Roderick O Conor and Nuada O Concennan were arrested by Turloch O Conor although under the protection of the Comharba- of St. Jarlath, and of O Duffy and of the Bacall Buidhe, or "the yellow staff," by which name, as Dr. Petrie, in his learned article upon the subject, has shown, this shrine was popularly called from its golden appearance.Around its sides there are a series of Latin and Irish inscriptions both in the Irish character; the letters are punched into the silver plate, apparently by dies or types, and so deeply that the metal plates beneath are indented with almost equal sharpness; and this enables us to read uninterruptedly even where the external plate has been injured.The foot of the cross springs from a highly decorated dog's head, which rises out of a globe, the ornamentation of which, in detail, is a marvel of the workmanship of its own or any other period.Beneath that ball is a decorated socket, into which was inserted the staff or pole with which the cross was carried.The inscriphon affords, unerringly, the history of this magnificent relique, the time and purpose for which it was made, and recounts the names of those in any way concerned in its formation.The following is a facsimile engraving of the Latin inscription, which is in duplicate on both sides of the lower portion of the edges: ~ha~'ccr~lce c~ux ~e~lz~r q4a urcon~l~ororbl~ Or, in modern characters--Hac cruce crux tegitur qua pasus [passus] conditor orbis. "In this cross is covered the cross on which the Founder of the world suffered."

Some of the Irish inscriptions are slightly defective, but sufficient remains to furnish us with the following information: "A prayer for Mureduch U Dubhthaig, the Senior of Erin"--the notice of whose death at Cong, in 1150, is given at page 87.

"A prayer for Therrdel U Chono [Turlough O Conor] --for the King of Erin; for whom this gressa [or shrine] was made."

Another portion of this inscription refers to the ecclesiastic whose death is recorded at page 88: "A prayer for Domnull Mac Flannacáin U Dubdaig [O Duffy], bishop of Connacht and Coarb, of [Saints] Commán and Ciarán, under whose superintendence the shrine was made"--which also lends support to the assertion already made that the work was completed at Ros Comáin, where O Duffy was Abbot of the celebrated monastery of St. Commán, as well as that of St. Ciarán at Clonmacnois. "The fourth, and last compartment," says Dr. Petrie, " of these inscriptions, is not the least valuable, though it only preserves the name of a person of inferior station--that of the artificer who made the shrine, as it proves incontestibly what without it might, and probably would have been deemed doubtful; namely, that the shrine was of native workmanship."

"A prayer for Maelisu Mac Bratdan O Echan, who made this shrine." This O h-Echain was comharba of St. Finnén, of Cloncraff, in the county of Roscommon.

Probably the cross was brought to Cong Abbey by the O Duffys; but as to what became of it for five centuries we have no historic account. There is a tradition in the parish that it was kept in an iron box, with other reliques, about a hundred years ago.The author remembers it during his boyish days, in the possession of Abbot Prendergast, who kept it with the other reliques already mentioned, in a three-cornered cupboard in his little sitting-room at Abbotstown.See page 86.It used, however, be placed upon the altar of Cong chapel at the festivals of Christmas and Easter.After Fr. Prendergast's death it was removed to Cong, at which time the central crystal had been removed, and was usually carried by a lady in her pocket.If still in existence, it is not known where the relique for which this cross was made is at present.It must have been a very small fragment, such as can at present be obtained in the Vatican.The cross was purchased by the late Professor McCullagh, and presented, in 1839, to the Royal Irish Academy, where it served to form the nucleus of that great national collection of secular and ecclesiastical antiquuties, that for its age and the scanty means at the disposal of those who have created it, is undoubtedly the finest national collection in Europe.

The fourth and last relique connected with this locality was the Black Bell of St. Patrick, which the author procured many years ago for the Academy, and of which an illustration is given overleaf.It had long been in the possession of the Gerarty family, near Ballinrobe, who brought it every year to the "pattern" held on the top of the Reek or Cruach Phádraic, on "Garland Sunday," and where, in the little oratory there, the pious pilgrim was allowed to kiss it for a penny; and, if he had been affected by "rheumatism pains," he might put it three times round his body for two pence.But times got bad, the pattern thinned, and the Maor or keeper of theClog dubh sold it, to help to pay his passage to America.Certainly, if wear and tear is a sign of age, this antique should claim our highest veneration.It is eleven inches high, and six wide, and is formed, like most of our ancient Irish bells, of iron intermixed with other metals.It formerly belonged to the parish of [THERE IS A MISSING BIT] Cong and its environs still claim our attention.The great monumental carns and stone circles of upwards of two thousand years ago that abound in this neighbourhood seem to have impressed the people--as they appear to have done in the Aran Isles--with a special desire to honour the memory of the dead; and so on all sides we [MISSING BIT IS HERE] Cill Odhar, near Headford, where, in one of the ancient descriptions of the hereditary property of the O Flahertys and their dependants, it is said that "Mac Beóláin, of Killower, is the keeper of the black bell of St. Patrick." It was believed in the locality that this bell was a present from an angel to the saint, and was originally of pure silver, but that it was rendered black and corroded, as at present seen, "by its contact with the demons on Croaghpatrick, when the Apostle of Ireland was expelling them thence." See O Flaherty's West Connacht, page 370. meet with wayside monuments, crosses, pillar-stones, and tumuli erected by those who composed the passing funerals, as they rested at any of these spots on their way to the hallowed precincts of St. Mary's Abbey. And afterwards each relative of the deceased, or the passing friend, or the "good Christian" put up a stone, or cast a pebble upon one of the little heaps, several of which can still be identified as belonging to particular families.Upon the eastern road there is the Croisíní, a collection of small wooden crosses placed on a wall under an ash tree.And on the west,as we pass into the county Galwayover Tóchar na h-Aithe, by Poll Tuathail, and Poll Liabáin, and by Poll a' chuartail, and proceeding westwards towards Creig a' Rí, or "Royal Rock," we pass a great collection of these monuments, some of the principal of which, from Hall's Ireland, are figured on page 103. Along this road we pass several pools, where the waters of Loch Measca appear in their transit to Cong and Loch Coirib; and among the limestone rocks that stretch across the isthmus stands the tall tower of Aughalard Castle, with its adjoining group of ruins shown above.It is exceedingly well built, and presents several details of considerable beauty and great architectural interest, especially in the loop-holes at the angles and in the top mouldings of its light, graceful windows.

Among the limestone rocks to the north-west of this castle may be seen two of the caves, for which Cong is celebrated; both are artificial, and one of them can at present be entered.

There are three descriptions of caves in this locality--natural, artificial, and mixed.The first is magnificently represented by the great chasm in the limestone rock about a mile to the west of Cong, and to the south-west of Aughalard; and which, from the number of pigeons and woodquests that used in former times to flock into it, is popularly known as the Pigeon hole, and in Irish, Poll na gColum, a locality rendered memorable by Lady Morgan; and the legends of which have been so graphically described by Samuel Lover, and where in boyhood we tried to purloin from old Babby, the priestess of the place "the blessed trout," with the mark of the gridiron on his side.

Call at the cottage nearby, and say you want to see the Pigeon hole; leave your car at the stile of one of the green fields that mottle the great limestone crop all around, and walk down a few hundred yards to the east.Hark!--listen!--the ground is hollow; there are sounds issuing from beneath your feet.Draw nearer stand opposite the little clump of dwarf oak, hazel, and holly, through which these subterranean noises rise to light and air.Look down the flight of steps up which that graceful girl is rising, with a pitcher of water on her head; descend by a flight of steps into the bowels of the earth, between huge masses of lichen-covered rock draped with tendrils of ivy, fifty or sixty feet long, depending from the top, and every chink and crevice of which is festooned with ferns and mosses of the greenest hue.Look up; the light of day is obscured by the over- hanging branches, and at your feet gushes a rapid translucent river, at which women are beetling clothes, or filling their water vessels.Fill your eyes with the scene --try and penetrate the chilling gloom that broods over the great chasm that spans the mighty rocks that have fallen on your right.Lo! presently on the top of one of these immense blocks stands for a moment a weird female figure, bearing a lighted flambeau, the genius loci --the Meg Merrilies of the scene.Away she flits--darkness again, save the reflection of the light on the stalactitic roof above; then, emerging from an unobserved passage, she stands on another and more distant crag, with her long white locks, and pale aged face, personifying the banshee of the ancient Fir Bolg.She hurls stones into the deep pools beneath, and utters a loud wail, that reverberates through the cavern, till the repeated echoes fade in the distance, and we watch the lurid light of the expiring lasóga she has thrown on the waters, as they float on through these subterranean caverns to the lake, or to rise in the great mill pond of Cong.

In the grounds of Strandhill there are two caves somewhat similar, "The Ladies' Buttery" and the "Horse Discovery"; the latter so called because it was discovered by a horse and plough having fallen into it, owing to a portion of the roof having suddenly given way, many years ago.Through both the waters of Loch Measca pass into Loch Coirib. Still more to the north-east there is "Webb's Hole," and in the townland of Cooslughoga, adjoining the roads leading to Cross and The Neale, a miniature pigeon hole, called Poll na deórach, or "the dropping-hole," with steps leading down to it; and several other natural caverns, through which the waters of the upper lake percolate.

All these the guides will show those interested in such matters; and also relate the atrocities of Captain Webb, and the marauding exploits of "Macnamara the robber," and the prowess of his bay mare; and also point out the hiding place of "Kelly the outlaw";-- most of the legends concerning all which have been related by Caesar Otway.

The artificial caves abound all over the plain of Moytura, from Cnoc Meadha to Binn Shléibhe.Probably they were all originally within, or surrounded by, forts or cahers to which they served as places of protection and security for women and children, and the wounded or defenceless; or to stow away valuables in case of attack.They may also have been used as sleeping apartments, and perhaps as granaries and storehouses, although at the time they were built the chief food of the Irish was animal.The following general description will apply to most of them, and the details and illustrative plans and sketches of a few particular ones will enable the reader to understand the manner of their construction, and the tourist to identify those he may desire to inspect by artificial light.

By fancying a trench sunk in the ground, ten or twelve feet deep, and from twelve to fourteen wide, and about thirty or forty feet long, either in a straight line, or turning at an angle about midway, probably to avoid an obstruction--the sides lined with walls two feet thick of moderate sized stones, put firmly together without cement, and not in courses; and the roof formed of enormous flags, many of them eight and nine feet long, four or five feet wide, or upwards, of a foot thick, laid on top--we have a good general idea of a Mayo Fir Bolg, or Tuatha Dé Danann cave, of probably two thousand years old. Towards what must be considered the entrance end the cave narrows, and the floor rises; but the general level of the roof is preserved, and the upper side of the flags of the roofing is now about two feet under the sod.At the distant end the cave widens often into a large oval chamber, and there is in some caves a small aperture, possibly for air and light, or communicating with those above, or to let out smoke. They were all entered by square apertures in the roof, as whenever the cave is perfect the ends are built up. This trap door may have been covered incase of emergency with a flag.

The Moytura caves present one remarkable peculiarity: they are nearly all divided into two chambers by a contrivance evidently intended, not merely for security, but concealment, as follows: A few years ago the author discovered a cave at Coill Donn, "the dark wood," adjoining the road leading from Cross to The Neale, sunk in the centre of the remains of a large caher to the north-east of the "Plain of the Hurlers," and of which the two following diagrams drawn to a scale of sixteen feet to the inch, present the elevation and ground plan.Its direction is from south-west to north-east; but, from the great variety in the line of these souterrains, it is manifest their constructors paid no regard to the points of the compass.Descending through an aperture at the low, narrow, southern end, which is now only three feet high, we pass into a chamber twenty-two feet long, but widening and deepening, towards the northern extremity.It is six feet wide, and four feet nine inches high; and in the lower part of the end wall there is a horizontal passage, about three feet square and six long, at the end of which a perpendicular shaft or chimney, eighteen inches by thirty, rises; getting through which, we land on a platform of masonry, three feet four inches high beyond which is another larger chamber, twenty-three feet long, and averaging six feet wide, and seven high --roofed over, like the southern portion, with immense flags that span the top.In the left corner is a small square recess, like a cupboard; and overhead a small aperture, through which light and air were admitted.The end of the cave approaches the outer circle of the fort, with the wall of which it may have communicated. The upper diagram shows the section, and the lower the ground plan of this great cave, which is altogether fifty-four feet in length.A marks the first hall with its descending entrance; B, the low, narrow, connecting passage; C, the perpendicular shaft; D, the ledge at the southern end of E, the second, or great hall, at the extremity of which is the recess and ventilating aperture.

While, however, in modern architecture the general design of a dwelling, church, or fortress, is the same, the details often differ widely; so it was in cave building, for we find a great uniformity of purpose in all.In the townland of "Cave," at the south-west foot of Cnoc Meadha, one of these straight subterranean habitations may be seen, and from thence to the eastern rise of Binn Shléive numbers of the same class of underground structures are met with; and as we approach the battlefield they abound in every townland; and, if we refer to the Ordnance Maps, we see the great number of localities in which the word cave is marked.The cave at Attyricard, mentioned at page 74, is of this class, as is also that in the great enclosure of Cathair Péatar, or "pewter fort," at Ballymagibbon, although that extensive passage took a somewhat curved direction; and there can be no doubt that the remains of caves are still to be found on the sites of all the great cahers in this locality.That at Leaca fionna was only closed during the last century.

Another form is the Angular or Crooked Cave, of which that at Lisín Ard in Ashford described at page 93, is an example but one of the most curious of this class is that at Cuas luchóga or Cooslughoga, "the rat's cave," which is placed within the circle of an ancient fort, near Cailleach Dubh, about midway between the roads leading to Cross and Baile'n Roba. Scrambling down through the narrow dilapidated north-western entrance we get into a chamber, marked A on the following ground plan, twenty- one feet long, seven high, and six feet three inches wide, and running nearly east and west.The roofing flags are of immense size, and supported on corbels that jut inwards for about nine inches.At the extremity of this hall the walls narrow, and a small door appears, as shown in the left-hand cut at top of the illustration given in the sketch below.Creeping through this very small doorway, we get into the second or larger apartment, ,~ ~t.~ marked B, which is twenty-four feet long, and differs from that of most other caves in having the western side wall composed of large upright flag-stones, not unlike those that support the roof of the passage into New Grange; and, like those of that remarkable structure some of these are indented with artificial depressions along their sides and edges, as shown in the lower compartment of the prior illustration.We have not, however, as yet found on any of the Moytura caves those peculiar carvings, spires, lozenges, and volutes, such as characterize the caves of Meath.Either such were not known at the period of the construction of the Mayo caves; or, more likely, were only used in sepulchral caverns, and probably expressed ideas connected with the life of the deceased, or ideas of futurity.

This second chamber turns somewhat to the north, and is curved round its extreme angle, in the southern side of which we meet the high doorway shown by the second top figure in the foregoing illustration. From that, a narrow passage leads through a very small aperture at its top, over a barrier similar to that in the cave of Coill Donn, into a third, or northern, chamber, twenty-two feet long, marked C upon the diagram on page 11O.

Not far to the north-east of this place, and upon the boundary of the Plain of the Hurlers, to be described presently, is Cathair Dubh, "the black fort," of which there are still some remains of the outer wall at the mearing of the townland, to which it gives name.Within this enclosure there is a very extensive curved cave, in good preservation, and remarkable for having still perfect the oblong doorway in the roof, by which access was gained to the interior. Having passed for twenty feet in a south-eastern direction, a long narrow passage leads at a acute angle into a chamber twenty-four feet long, and widening towards its northern extremity.

These details of a few out of the many caves in this locality, and in the neighbouring townland of Craobhach, that may he visited by the antiquarian tourist, will serve to give a general idea of their construction.Muileann a' Leipreacháin, or "the Leprechan's mill," not far from hence--where in former times the people left their caisgíns of corn at nightfall, and found them full of meal in the morning--is worthy of inspection as a natural cave.Although the grinding stones are still heard, no meal has been ground there since an old woman complained that she had been defrauded by the little miller.

"Kelly's Cave," at Learg na hÉille, "the path to the Neale," to the left of the road leading from Cong to Nymphsfield, affords a good example of the mixed variety already referred to; for, while it is evidently a huge cleft formed by nature in the rock, portions of the wall in front and on the sides are undoubtedly artificial.But the best instance of this description of cave, will be found in the great cavern to the west of the hill of Carn, near Loch Measca, where the entrance and a long passage, evidently artificial, and roofed over with immense flags, leads into a very large natural cave, from the roof of which depend numerous stalactites.

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