CONNEMARA...continued

From Irish Pictures Drawn with Pen and Pencil Richard Lovett

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On the isthmus connecting Loughs Corrib and Mask stands the village of Cong, the name being derived from the Irish word Cunga, which means 'a neck.' About the year 1010 Cong was the seat of a bishopric, and there are still extant the ruins of a very fine abbey dating from the twelfth century. It belonged to the wealthy order of St. Augustine. During the last fifty or sixty years the remains have suffered severely from the depredations of those who considered and used it as a handy quarry. It was famous in early days for wealth and ecclesiastical treasures; of the latter the famous Cross of Cong, described on p. 44, is a good example. The Annals of the Four Masters record that in 'A.D. 1150 Muireadhach Ua Dubhthaigh, Archbishop of Connaught, chief senior of all Ireland in wisdom, chastity, in the bestowal of jewels and food, died at Cong in the 75th year of his age.' This man's name is Inscribed upon the processional Cross of Cong.

Cong Abbey
Cong Abbey

Roderick O'Connor, who is often described as 'the last King of Ireland,' died here in 1198. The popular view, that he was also interred in Cong Abbey, is incorrect, he having been buried at Clonmacnois. But here he spent the last fifteen years of his life. 'Standing between the river and the abbey, the picture naturally rises before us of the ancient monarch, broken down by the calamities which his family was suffering from, a foreign invasion, which he was no longer able to resist, but still more so by the opposition and ingratitude of his own children and relatives--passing up the river with his retinue, landing here in 1183, and received by the Lord Abbot and his canons and friars, and then taking leave of his faithful adherents at the water's edge, being conducted in procession to the abbey, which, it is said, his munificence had endowed. There as a recluse, untrammelled by the weight of state affairs, and possibly unaffected by the quarrels of his chieftains and kinsfolk, the Last Monarch of Ireland, abdicating his authority because the country no longer supported him, died, a sad but fitting and prophetic emblem of the land over which he had ruled.'[3]

Not far from Cong is the Plain of Moytura, where one of those famous battles--half-historic, half-mythic--lasting three days, took place in the dawn of Irish history between the Firbolgs and the Tuatha de Danaan. Those who wish to get some accurate notion of what really took place on that occasion cannot do better than consult Sir W. Wilde's Lough Corrib, where they will find the history of the great struggle minutely traced.

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NOTES

[3] Sir W. Wilde's Lough Corrib, p. 181.



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