Placenames project - Silverhill

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Introduction – The evolution of townlands
Townlands are the smallest administrative unit of Irish local government, and the network of townlands, as it now stands was laid out in the first half of the 19th century.  The Boundary Survey commenced work in 1824, marking out, on the ground, where necessary, the actual boundaries of every townland. Where they felt it necessary, they subdivided the pre-existing land divisions, to create smaller units.  The Ordnance Survey built on the work of the Boundary Commission to produce maps of the entire country at a scale of 6” to the statute mile. As part of their work the Ordnance Survey carried out an extensive documentary and field survey of placenames and recorded the results of their work in Field Name Books. Some, but not necessarily all of the names recorded in the Field Name Books were incorporated in the subsequent maps. The Ordnance Survey set down definitive names for each townland and also for other features entered in the Name Books, these were signed with the initials J oD, presumably for John O Donovan, although not all of the initials were by the same hand.

Prior to the development of the townland system the lands of Ibrickane Barony were denominated in ‘quarters’ and the earliest known list of these quarters is from a survey of the O Brien estates  by Henry Illsworth in 1615 in which he lists 63 quarters and gives the names of the immediate lessors. Further surveys  by the O Brien Estates always accounted for approximately the same number of quarters although the names varied a little.  In the early surveys Silverhill was not listed as a land division in its own right and it would have been included with the present-day townlands of Glendine North and South, which also included  Caherogan, Knockbrack, Cloughan Beg, and part of Tooreen, (although Cloughan Beg was often treated as a quarter in its own rite)  It will be clear, therefore that references to Glendine prior to the  1850’s can be read as including Silverhill

In all, the Ordnance Survey created 110 townlands (counting Mutton Island as one) from the earlier 63 quarters, which comprised the Barony of Ibrickane. Thus Kilfarboy has 40 townlands, Kilmurry Ibrickane 51 (including Mutton Island) and Killard 19.

Early maps.

As Glendine did not have any concentrated human settlement, nor any ‘big houses’ it rarely figured on maps prior to the  first map by the Ordnance Survey in 1842. The earlier maps on which the region was identifiable are:
                William Petty's map of 1685, which indicates a location for ‘Glandine’
                Pelham's Map of 1787 which shows the general area between Clohanmore and Miltown Malbay only. and
                Moland's map, 1703


IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT ALMOST ALL OF THE INFORMATION BELOW WAS PROVIDED BY MICHAEL JOE MCMAHON who lives in Glendine North and farms there, as well as in Tooreen and Silverhill. Any mistakes below, however, are the fault of the author.

Silverhill . This is a long narrow townland on the North-Western side of a ridge, which rises about 850’ above sea-level, at its highest point. The name is unusual in that it is the only townland in the parish named in English, as opposed to Anglicisation of Irish words. Although the eponymous Cnocán an Airgid is identified in the Field Name Books  it gives no explanation for the selection of ‘Silverhill’ rather than, say, ‘Knockanargid’ or some such.
Notwithstanding that the townland was much more intensively cultivated in the 19th century, it is difficult to see the relationship of the land to silver from an agricultural perspective, so, in the absence of any other explanation, it is possible that the value was in the stone quarries, of which ample evidence remains, both in the  disused quarries  evident  on the ground and the quality local building. The need to extract the quarried stone might also account for the network of old roads of which there is still ample evidence.

The standing stones near Aill Mhor may constitute part of an archaeological stone alignment, or may be just to prevent cattle scratching on the nearby revetment, by presenting an easier scratching post. The revetment appears to be designed to prevent cattle falling into the deep crevasse alongside. This crevasse being inaccessible to livestock, still retains native oak trees, remnant of the landscape prior to clearance for agriculture.

1. Knockawneen an Tairgid [- Cnocáinín an Airgid , Hill of Silver] is the eponymous Silverhill, notwithstanding that it is quite remote from present-day settlement.
                                                                Location map for No. 1 Knockawneen an Tairgid
                                                                Photo Knockawneen an Tairgid

2. Cruck Roor [-  Cnoc Ramhair, the Robust Hill or Cnoc Rua the Red Hill.]
                                                                Location map for No.2-Cruck  Roor
                                                                Photo - Cruck Roor
                                                                Pronunciation Cruck Roor

3. Halloran’s mud cabin, the remains of this mud cabin are still clearly visible. It was once occupied by a family called Halloran.
                                                                Location map for No. 3 -  site of Hallorans mud cabin
                                                                Photo, site of Halloran's mud cabin         

4. Mine shaft. An exploration company drilled two shafts 90’deep here in the early 1900’s, in expectation of coal deposits. Although coal is often found in the locality, it has not been found suitable for commercial exploitation, Traces of zinc were also found during this drilling operation.
                                                                Location map for No. 4 - Mine Shaft

5. Morony’s Garden. This small garden, situated above the 800’contour line is reputed to have saved the lives of a family called Morony, during the famine because the potato crop did not succumb to blight. Remains of a stone structure nearby, which could be mistaken for an archaeological artefact, are in fact the remains of a cow cabin that stood there until recent years.
                                                                Location map for No. 5 - Morony's Garden.
                                                                Photo, Morony's garden
                                                                Photo, Morony's garden relative to other places.

6. Aill an Eas, [-Aill an Eas, Cliff of the Waterfall],  one of three crevasses in the ridge, which appears to be the ‘Gaimnashanavoe’  referred to in the  Field Name Book. As with Aill Wore, this crevasse being inaccessible to livestock, still retains native herbage, remnant of the landscape prior to clearance for agriculture. There are watercourses through the two larger crevasses which join to form the Silverhill river.
                                                                Location map for No. 6 - Aill an Eas
                                                                Photo - Aill an Eas
                                                                Photo - the waterfall


7. Heather  the Cruick. This name derives from Idir Dhá Chnoc, Between Two Hills. It is a crevasse between Aill an Eas and Aill Mhor, but not as steep as its neighbours. The Irish word  ‘cnoc’ is pronounced in this name after the Connemara style ‘cruck’ while in other local placenames, such as Knockbrack it is pronounced ‘knock’.
                                                                Location map for No. 7 - Heather the Cruick
                                                                Photo - Heather the Cruick

8. Aill Wore [- Aill Mhór, the big cliff]. See no 6 above – Aill an Eas.
                                                                Location map for No. 8 - Aill Wore
                                                                Photo - Aill Wore
                                                                Pronunciation - Aill Wore

9.  Site of Standing Stones. The standing stones  near Aill Wore may constitute part of an archaeological stone alignment, or may be just to prevent cattle scratching on the nearby revetment, which appears to be designed to prevent cattle falling into the deep crevasse alongside.
                                                                Location map for No. 9 - Standing Stones
                                                                Photo - Standing stones

10. Bearnabancallaun – Bearna Bán Callán, the White Gap of Callan. This is a fairly slight hollow in the ridge. There is no obvious reason to call it white nor to associate it with Mount Callan, which lies to the West. The name appears  as ‘Barnahauncallaun’ on the first O.S map but this seems to be a mistake by the cartographer,  It is not mentioned in the Field Name Book. Barnahauncallaun would appear to derive from Bearna hAbhann an Callán, the Gap of the Callaun River, but as there is no watercourse it makes even less sense than Bearnabancallaun.
                                                                Location map for No. 10 - Bearnabancallaun
                                                                Photo - Bearnabancallaun

11. Leim a Liddy [- Léim a’ Laoidhe, The Jump of the Liddys (or Leahy’s)], no other information available at present.
                                                                Location map for No. 11 - Leim a Liddy

12. Garrai Rannie [- Garraí Rathanaigh, The Ferny Garden].
                                                                Location map for no. 12 - Garrai Rannie

13. Earls Fort. This is shown on the First O.S. map but without any name. Although the area is covered with overgrowth there appears to be some evidence that the fort had two, if not three ramparts. The family name Earls has been long associated with the area. The inter-relationship between the surnames Earls, O hIarrlaithe, Hurley, O Muirthille, Hillery, and Commane is worth further investigation. The Illsworth Survey of 1615 showed that Danell O Heliry held the adjacent ‘quarter’ of Lackamore.

                                                                Location map for No. 13 - Earl's Fort
                                                                Photo Earls Fort

14. Garrai Eoin- Garraí Eoin, Eoin’s Garden. No further information.
                                                                Location map for No. 14 - Garrai Eoin.

15. Cruck a Therry, [-Cnoc a Terry, Hill of the Terry (Alts)] The Terry Alts were an agrarian society, similar to ‘Whiteboys’ who were avowed to the protection of the land holdings of small cottiers, in the period after Catholic Emancipation in 1828. As with the United Irishmen 30 years earlier and the Fenians in 1867, the Terry Alts were particularly active in this area. This remote hill is believed to have been the local training ground for the Terry Alts.
                                                                Location map for No. 15 - Cruck a Therry.
                                                                Photo Cruck a Therry

16. Bothar an Ard [- Bothar an Árd, the Road of the Height].There is evidence of many old roads on the hillside, more that might have been necessary for the ordinary course of agriculture. Besides the roads made for the extraction of stone there is a local tradition, as well as the geographic evidence that an old bridle path, part of a route from South to North, Clare passed over Silverhill, from the Cloughanmore direction towards Fahanlunaghta. There is a tradition that Maire Rua McMahon used this route when travelling from Clonderlaw to Lemaneh. ( see also the reference to No 19. Ceimashanavoe in the townland of Glandine North)
                                                                Location map for No. 16, Bothar an Ard
                                                                Photo Bothar an Ard
                                                                Photo of track of bridle path used by Maire Rua
                                                                Pronunciation, Bothar an Ard

17. The O.S. namebook records the name Gaimnashanvoe, with the comment “The true name is Céim na Sean Bó  i.e. the step of the old cow” but they did not include it as a place on the subsequent map, nor is it now known locally. ( see also the reference to No 19. Ceimashanavoe in the townland of Glandine North)

18. Hanrahan’s cabin. This is the site of a mud cabin once occupied by a family called Hanrahan. The family, who were keen poultry keepers, included two young brothers who were eating their breakfast of boiled eggs one morning. It was a custom, or pisherrogue, at the time that, in order to bring good luck, one should blow into the empty eggshell after eating a boiled egg. One of the Hanrahan boys did this, but blew so hard that part of the eggshell was shot  into his brothers eye causing the loss of his sight and, ultimately the ruin of the family. The ruin of their mud cabin is still clear and appended to it is the remanent of a mud hen-house.
                                                                Location map for No. 18 - Hanrahan's cabin
                                                                Photo, Site of Hanrahan's mud cabin
                                                                Remains of Hanrahan's hen-house