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Castlebar River and Lake names

Posted by Brian Hoban on August 31, 2009 at 18:45:38:

Several people have inquired from me about the proper name for Castlebar Town river. Below is an article concerning names of both Castlebar River and Lough Lannagh:

The original name of Castlebar river was the Suire. The current name on OSI Discovery Series Sheet 31 Map is given as Castlebar river-An TSiuir. The early inhabitants the Clann Cuan(Quinn) or Fir Suire were a nomadic people- hunter gatherers – as evidenced by the number of ringforts and crannogs. An early dug out boat was discovered here in the early 1960’s.

The proper name for Castlebar is Aglish Clan Cuan. The slight remains of an early Christian church may be seen in the cemetery from which the parish takes its name. In my young days and on some older maps Lough Lannagh is called Church Lake. This is probably a more accurate name for the lake. There is a townland further out the road to Westport called Annagh. (Eanach meaning marsh.) Lough Lannagh is probably thus called from a mis-translation of Loch Eanach.

The following poem and footnotes about the Clann Cuan was published by John O Donovan in 1844:

“The seats of the southern territory [i.e. Ceara]
Are Feart Lothair of much happiness
Aenach and Loch Buaidaigh
Before the multitudes I early boast of them
Of the race of Earc Cuilbhuidhe, it was heard
Are the Fir Thire of pellucid streams.
And the Clan Cuan without stain,
Who showed no small kindness to the bard
Over Clan Cuan of heavy preys
Were three chieftains accustomed to conflict.”

The situation of the territory of this clann is distinctly pointed out in the prose text prefixed to this poem , both as given in Duald mac Firbis and the book of Lecan, thus:

“O Cuinn , O Mhailfhiona and Mac Fhlanagain are otherwise called Fir Thire and also Fir Siuire form a river of the name Suire, which flows by the town at this day called Caisleain a Bharraigh.” It issues from a lake a short distance to the west of the town of Castlebar, and flowing through the town it takes a north- eastern course until it passes through the desmesne of Turlough, and close by the round tower of Turlough. “

“The Genealogies, Tribes, and Customs of Hy-Fiachrach, Commonly Called O'Dowda's Country.” John O Donovan 1844

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