KNOCKLONG “Where Great Armies Once Fought”
Cnoc Luinge “The Hill of the Encampment”
Knocklong was originally known as Druim Damhghaire, the Ridge of the Oxen, but takes its present title from Cnoc Luinge, the Hill of the Encampment. King Cormac mac Airt set up his camp on this hill when he invaded Munster during the third century. The King of Munster consulted a druid, Mug Ruith.
The druid used his magical powers to help the Munster men who then defeated Cormacs forces in a legendary battle said to have taken place about 250. Four centuries later, about 650, a more significant fight took place here when Dioma, King of Thomond, defeated the Connaught men, who were endeavouring to recover County Clare from North Munster. This historic battle secured Clare for the Dalcassians so Cnoc Luinge may derive its present name from an encampment of the seventh century rather than the third century. Cnoc Luinge has also been translated as the Hill of the Ships, as the tents on the hill resembled ships under sail. Another version says that there was once a lake from Emly village in County Tipperary to the hill of Knocklong, on which small boats or ships used to sail.
Although it is a small village, Knocklong played a role in modern Irish history. It is most famous for the rescue of Sean Hogan witch took place at the railway station in Knocklong during the War of Independence on 13th May 1919. Seán Treacy and Seámus Robinson were joined by five men from IRA East Limerick Brigade in order to organise Hogans rescue. Hogan was being transported by train to Cork, and the men, led by Treacy, boarded the train in Knocklong. A close-range shoot-out followed on the train. Treacy and Breen were seriously wounded in the gun fight, two policemen died, but Hogan was rescued. He was spirited away to Knocklong village, where his handcuffs were cleaved by Seán Lynch, one of the rescuers, in the local butchers shop. However that train station has since been removed. The community currently are in talks with CIE to develop a museum and green space area at this location to be ready for 2019 as a commemoration to this incident of national importance.
The Hill of Knocklong Graveyard has 153 memorials, all of which are available to view on Knocklong Historic Graves
AN ANCIENT BATTLE
In ancient times, Knocklong was known as Druim Damhghaire (the Ridge of the Oxen), however the present day translation of Knocklong is actually Cnoc Luinge, the Hill of the Encampment.
The Gaelic poet and historian, Fr Geoffrey Keating (who died circa 1750), gave an alternative origin for the origin of Knocklong as a placename. He said that Cormac, the High King of Ireland, who had spent all his taxes, was in need of food for his army. His advisers suggested that he could double the tax on Munster because it was really two kingdoms, Thomond and Desmond. The High King led his army to what is now Knocklong Hill. The Munster army camped on a hill named Sliabh Riabhach, to the south.
Druids working on behalf of the High King used magic to dry up all the rivers and springs of the area, creating a water shortage which caused many of the High Kings enemies and their animals to die of thirst. Fiachaidh, King of Munster, send to Kerry for a druid named Mogha Ruith. Soon afterwards, Mogha Ruith came and hurled a magic spear into the sky. A never-ending supply of water sprung from the ground where it fell. The druid then ordered that fires were to be lit on the slopes of Sliabh Riabhach. When the winds blew smoke in the direction of the High Kings army, Mogha Ruith emerged from the sky as a flying monster. Cormac and his army fled in panic.
In payment for his services, Mogha Ruith was granted fertile lands along the Blackwater valley, at Fermoy, some 30 kilometres south of here.
A RAILWAY CHILDHOOD
The building of a railway line through Knocklong in the 1850’s has greatly influenced the more recent development of this place, which then became focussed on the railway station. Childhood memories of growing up in the railway were recorded by Rita Williams, whose father, Matt Curtis, was a signalman based in Knocklong during the 1920’s and 30’s.
“There were at least four stopping trains either way, if not more. The station master, with lovely gold brocade on the cuffs and shoulder and peaked cap, met each train. The signalman on duty also met the trains, collected the tickets, closed the doors and gave the go ahead by waving a green flag”.
Two wicker baskets of fresh bread came every morning for the Railway Hotel, from Thompson’s Bakery in Cork. The baskets were returned every evening on the train to Cork. In those days, the Railway Hotel was a flourishing place, with many people coming and going, including many cattle dealers and businessmen with bowler hats. The post office and the grocery were always very busy places. The grocery had everything loose snuff, spices, cream of tartar, bread soda, etc. It seemed like an Aladdin’s Cave to us children.
“Fair day in Knocklong was on the first of October. What I remember most were the open-air stalls, with all sorts of sweets Peggys legs, bulls eyes, biscuits and cakes, mens hats and caps, and socks. There were coloured balloons and funny paper hats; pyramids of oranges and apples, and bananas. The stalls seemed to spring-up overnight, nothing there when you went to bed and in the morning – it was just like fairyland and to us children it was a strange and exciting place.”
WAR OF INDEPENDENCE
Sean Hogan, Seán Treacy, Dan Breen and Seámus Robinson, known collectively as The Big Four, led the Soloheadbeg Ambush of 21st January 1919. A policeman was killed in this incident, which became the event that sparked off the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921). Each of the republicans had a price of £1,000 on his head when Hogan was arrested near Thurles, County Tipperary, on 12th May 1919. On hearing of Hogans arrest, Sean Treacy realised that the British were likely to take Hogan by rail to Cork, where he would be interrogated, tried and probably executed. Consequently, together with Breen and Robinson, Treacy organised a rescue operation at Knocklong railway station.
Through their network of clandestine communications, Treacy learned on the morning of 13th May that the prisoner had boarded the Thurles train, accompanied by a police escort of one sergeant and three constables, all armed. At about 8am, when their train stopped at Knocklong station, the other members of ˜The Big Four affected Hogans escape. However, Sergeant Wallace and Constable Enright were shot and killed. Treacy suffered a wound to his throat. Breen was wounded in an arms and lung. For many locals, unfamiliar with the sound of gunfire, the bangs were originally thought to have been teenagers beating sticks on a tin roof near the station.
Sean Hogan resumed his activities in the republican movement. He ambushed Lord French in December 1919, took part in the raid on Drangan constabulary barracks in June 1920; and commanded a Flying Column (guerrilla unit) of the 3rd Tipperary Brigade.
Knocklong is a small village situated in County Limerick, Ireland, located on the main Limerick to Mitchelstown to Cork road. here is a map to help you find your way:
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