GLENBROHANE “A Glint on the Hillside”
“The first bright of the morning sun
Glints rosy on the pinnacle,
The rocky ridge of old Sliabh Riagh,
Looks down on the Glen people”.
Glenbrohane “The Glen of the Little Boundary” glints peacefully from the northern slopes of Sliabh Riagh. Legend claims that in ancient times an army of the High King of Ireland was defeated on Sliabh Riagh (The Slope of the King), 466.6 metres above sea level. In January 1986, a book was placed on the top of Sliabh Riagh, with a note inviting anybody who came there to sign it as a visitors book. It recorded 70 visitors to the pinnacle, including walkers from the USA, England and the West Indies. There are the remains of at least one stone circle on the hilltop which is considered to be a prehistoric place of burial. The Kings Chair can be found amongst the rocks.
Laraghlawe (Glenbrohane) Graveyard has 116 memorial, all of which have been digitally surveyed and are viewable if you follow this link: Laraghlawe Historic Graves, click here | Ballyfroota Historic Graves, click here | Ballingarry Historic Graves, click here
One of Glenbrohane’s earliest and most important standing field monuments is the Ogham stone at nearby Ballingarry, which is one of the only known monuments of its kind in County Limerick. Ogham stones bear silent witness to an earlier, now forgotten language of the Celtic Iron Age (2,500 to 1,600 years before present). Ogham writing consisting of horizontal and diagonal lines along the vertical edge of stones usually commemorated the name of someone who, presumably, was a chieftain or king. The Ballingarry inscription reads as Maelagni Magui Gamati (Maolain, son of Gaghaidh). This site is on private property.
LEGEND OF SAINT PATRICK
According to local folklore, in the 5th century AD, Saint Patrick passed through Glenbrohane on his way to Ardpatrick. It was Christmas Eve when he and his disciples arrived at a widows home to ask for food and shelter. She pleaded, embarrassingly, that she had no fuel and very little food, but expected her cow to calve in a weeks time, when she promised to give them something to eat. Patrick sent one of his monks to inspect the cow. He returned with the news that it had calved. Still without fuel for a fire, Patrick sent another monk to cut rushes. To the widows astonishment, the wet rushes made a fine fire. The calf was slaughtered and cooked, and the cow gave a rich milk supply.
Next morning, the monks departed, but one of them had taken an axe that had been used to kill the calf. The widow sent a messenger to tell Patrick what had happened. When he discovered that one of his monks had stolen the axe, he cut his left hand off and buried the severed hand at Tempall na Lamh (Laraghlaw the Church of the Hand).
Laraghlawe, Ballingarry and Ballyfroota graveyards are the oldest known Christian burial places in Glenbrohane. Laraghlawe graveyard overlooks the Hill of Knocklong and has the ruins of an early church. Two local men who fought in World War II – William Sheehan of the US Army and P Irvin of the Royal Air Force have headstones in this graveyard. On the roadside near Ballyfroota famine graveyard is a cromlech, or dolmen tomb of ancient origin, where a plaque was unveiled by the American Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy Smith, in 1997.
A stone wall in the centre of Ballingarry graveyard is all that is left of its medieval parish church, dedicated to Saint Peter. It was described by Samuel Lewis in 1837 as a ruin situated on a gentle elevation and forming a conspicuous object. The graveyard has over 250 headstones, many of which have carvings of the highest quality.
SAINT PATRICKS CHURCH
The Massey’s were amongst the most prominent Protestant landlords from the 17th to the 19th century in County Limerick. The family claimed descent from William the Conqueror. Among their number were three generals of the British army and several members of parliament, among whom were staunch opponents of the Act of Union. In 1800, that Act abolished the Irish parliament and united it with the parliament in London for the next 120 years.
Their great legacy to the people of Glenbrohane was the site for the Catholic Saint Patricks Church, which they donated to the parish in 1819. It was constructed of local stone, the thatched church was built by Fr William Power, who raised £600 to build it. There were later additions in 1857, which saw it slated with materials from a quarry at Ballylanders. It was also extensively refurbished in 1942 and again in the 1990’s. Saint Patricks Church is one of only a few pre-Catholic Emancipation (1829) churches still in use in Ireland.
The former priests stable, in front of the church, was in use from the early 1800’s. In 1999, the parishioners refurbished the stable ruin (retaining many original features, including its cobblestone floor) as a permanent Nativity shrine to mark the millennium.
Looking two kilometres east from Saint Patricks Church is Ballingarry moat. This is thought to have been a mediaeval and, after 1200, a Norman protected farmstead. People went there in times of conflict, and cattle were kept there from time to time to protect them from wolves and theft.
The moat was archaeologically excavated by John Hunt in the 1950’s, when it was determined that it was used from about the eighth to 14th century. Remains of a rectangular mediaeval house were found on the summit of the moat, with the foundations of several other buildings underneath found during the dig. Artifacts found during the dig included fragments of pottery, an iron spear, gaming pieces, coins and combs made from animal bones.
Another oval fort with two ramparts is the Norman moat at Doonglaura, is thought to be one of the biggest in the country. It is believed that Saint Patrick left his priest, Colmáin, to stay there when he called to the raths of Coerbre and Brochain on the Sliabh Riagh on his journey to Ardpatrick. This site is on private property.
This road was a famine relief road, built by poor labourers during the Great Famine of the 1840’s, which runs parallel to the village, on a north-south direction, and one kilometre in length. From this information panel you can enjoy a short loop walk of 2.9 kilometres, which includes The Line.