Maghtochair: Inishowen

Pdf Maghtochair. Inishowen: Its History, Tradition and Antiquities. Journal Office, 1867.
Size:†17.9M†bytesModified:† 6 May 2009, 17:11

Inishowen: Its History, Tradition and Antiquities by Maghtochair, the pseudonym of Michael Harkin, is based on a series of well received articles in the Derry Journal which were composed and put together in book form in 1867. The chapters cover the ancient, medieval and modern history of the Inishowen area up until the mid 19th century. Harkin wanted to preserve traditions that were fast disappearing as the Gaelic language declined.

The introduction describes the topography, physical features and geography of Inishowen including its rivers and lakes, headlands, peninsulas and inlets and ecclesiastical divisions. The mythical past is retold beginning with the arrival of Parthalon's expedition, the arrival of the Tuatha De Danaan, the Milesians and finally the story of Niall The Great or Niall of the Nine Hostages from whom the O'Neill dynasty claimed descent. The following section describes the cairns , burial sites, standing stones, druidic temples, circular forts and other ancient remains from the pre-Christian era.

The coming of St. Patrick and the conversion of the conversion of the Gaelic chieftains to Christianity spelled the end of pagan Druidic religion. The location of these events are described by Harkin including the ruins of rearly Christian sites including chapels, churches and monasteries including the Abbey at Fahan. St. Columba also known as Colmcille, was reputedly the great-great-grand-son of Niall of the Nine Hostages who brought Christianity to the pagan Picts of Scotland from his native Donegal.

The coming of Christianity did not bring the tradition of warfare between the rival Gaelic clans to an end. Vikings raided the Irish coasts during the 8th and 9th centuries and in the 12th century Strongbow invaded Ireland with a force of Norman knights. In subsequent centuries most of Ireland came under English rule but Ulster remained predominantly Gaelic. The O'Neills and O'Donnells were eventually defeated at the Battle of Kinsale and fled Ireland for good in 1607.

By the mid 19th century the Gaelic Catholic population of Inishowen were administered by the authorities of County Donegal and paid rent to Anglo-Irish landlords and tithes to the established Anglican Church. The remainder of the book describes the various different localities, places of note, ancient ruins and other antiquities and explains stories and legends associated with them. Harkin also describes the national schools, the religious orders, the succession of local parish priests, the activities of rebels, notorious murders, Irish superstitions, folk traditions and much more.


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