Ginni Swanton's Web Site

Dunmanway Intelligence
Saturday, July 18, 1868

Kinneigh Steeple

To the Editor of the West Cork Eagle


Taking advantage of the fineness of the season, I have endeavoured to obtain both amustment and instruction by visiting several localities in the County of Cork, and seeing in one of your lately published journals an account of or a description of the above-named steeple and its immediate locality, I resolved to visit the place and see for myself.

Accordingly I started from Cork on the early train and arrived in Enniskeane about 10:30. I immediately started on my way towards the object of my search. Enniskeane appears to be a thriving village situated on the banks of the Bandon river, and several new houses being erected there and the place being lately whitewashed it looked the picture of cleanliness.

Having inquired the road to Kinneigh, I started on my way until I came to a neat school-house, which I found to belong to the Church Education Society. Having entered I at once made the acquaintance of the master, Mr. Philips, who I also found to be clerk of the Church Education Society, at the place where I was bound to, and from his intelligence I learned many interesting stories, which with your kind permission on some future day shall be made the subject of another letter.

I started from Enniskeane in light to the north and having overtaken an old man on the way, with whom I entered into conversation, he led me to a portion of the old road between a Mr. Fuller's and a Mr. Harrington's, where he showed me a large round stone, in which was a circular hollow, and near it is an old white-thorn bush, well feathered with rags of various colours.

The tradition he told me was that a long time ago when Enniskeane was building, there was an Irish chieftain living in a village called Castletown--his name was Cain Mahony--he was the head of a sept and was of a violent and despotic disposition. On a particular day he led his sept on a cragh, which we call "Robty" and seized all the working materials and provisions of the builders and took them away towards his home.

The Saint so called, who was then the clergyman of the place, followed them on the road, and having used his best solicitations without moving the heart of the fiery Cain, knelt on this stone and used the following imprecation:

"East from his house the Saint holds up his hand and prays to God from the verdant sod on which he stands, that Donal may the head of Cain cut off and over his army gain a victory complete."

The hollow in the stone is said to have been made by the pressure of his knees, so ardent were his petitions. The place is considered sacred and numerous pilgraims visit it, and the rags on the white-thorn are placed there as tokens.

A little farther on the old man directed my attention to a well which he said was called Tobereen Pandrick. As well as I could learn from him he said the water contained in it was filled with all the virtues necessary to cure all human ailments. The well is a hollow in a solid rock--higher than the surrounding place. In this rock there is neither crack nor fissure by which one could perceive that a spring could enter, yet he told me that well, even in the present season of drought, never goeThes dry.

The water is used to cure sore eyes, sore legs, scurvey and the gout, but the place must be attended on three separate Sunday mornings before sunrise, and the round given each time. How the water comes there and how it obtains its virtue must be a mystery to Hydrography, I hope that some one of that able confraternity will visit the place and explain. It added greatly to the conviction of my mind that after all the cold water cure is the best.

From the elevated spot I had a view of the beautiful valley of Kinneigh, and standing on its proud elevation stood the noble and ancient building, Kinneigh Round Tower. It looked the picture of majesty itself, as it rose from amid the numerous groves, which surrounded it. My mind is not naturally superstitious, but as I gazed on the building and saw in the grave-yard beneath its heavy walls a vast concourse of people--a funeral--my thoughts reverted to the fairy tales of yore, and to those fairy legends which I heard in my youthful days. That sight was well worth the trouble of my visit.

Walking on toward the place I came on the ruins of a house which I was told were those of a well-known person named Shane Doodeen,--if I remember right the place was called Barnakiel; the house was what was called a sheebeen, and many a weary traveller was refreshed by a bumper of good poteen, that valley being notorious for the distillation of the mountain dew.

Looking from here to the south on the hill beyond me and the horizon, on the summit of Ardkilleen, which I was told was the Grant's landmark--it is what is called in Irish a Gallaun; it is twelve feet high, and is supposed to be thrown as a finger stone from a mountain in Kerry and pitched there; strong man was he, the imprint of his fingers are seen still on it.

There was a man lived in the neighbouhood about (I was told) 110 years ago, who never washed or shaved--a second Sampson, who used in his time to whitewash the stone. He had an unusual strength of lungs, which gained for him the cognomen of Shane Voice, and was treated in these days with great respect. He said he held communications with the invisible world, and held nightly orgies with the sentinels stationed in charge of the old tower.

Leaving here I was shown the spot where one of the holiest wells in Ireland was formerly, and multitudes of people visit it to give rounds in the month of May, and where a noted musician named Tim Shorten, the piper who would never play at a farmer's house until he would first see a good joint of meat stuck into the pot. There also Shamus O'Couhig and Dermuid naTrumper exercised their art. This well was closed up by inhospitable neighbors. The site of the Holy Well is called Faha-ving-diragh-a-chod.

'Tis said that Dermuid NaTrumper always played on a golden Jews harp, and was a poet besides; it is related of him that he went of a time to Gougane Barra, climbed up a hill 300 feet high, hid himself in the eagle's nest, and learned that famous song from the kingly bird called the "Eagle's Whistle." When the eagle went on his trip through his aeril (sic) dominions, Dermuid descended in safety, and on returning to Kinneigh he played his tune in concert with his brethren on Faha-ving-diragh-a-choil.

Hope I have not occupied too much of your space, Mr. Editor, I have closed a well-spent day by returning to Enniskeane, and again meeting Mr. Philips and Mr. Daniel Hurley, of Buckarees, returned them my best thanks,