ROYAL SOCIETY OF ANTIQUARIES OF IRELAND.

THE "RIAN BO PHADRAIG" (THE ANCIENT HIGHWAY OF THE DECIES).

BY THE REV. P. POWER, WATERFORD.
[Read AUGUST 8, 1903.]

THE history and character of our ancient roadway systems are a matter of much importance, and no little difficulty. Its difficulty, however, does not justify the neglect which has hitherto fallen to its lot. On the other hand, its importance might be expected to secure for it a fairly prominent place in archaeological works. Since Mr. John Hogan, forty years ago, treaded of the ancient roads of Ossory, little or nothing has been done to identify, trace, or describe our early highways. Yet materials for the work are not wanting. Records of campaigns, marches and battles, "Lives" of Saints, historic tales, place-names, local tradition, and the physical geography or topography of the country, furnish valuable matter which, perhaps, the present attempt will induce others more favourably circumstanced to utilize in the study.

In an introduction to the general subject of early Irish roadways emphasis requires to be laid on the fact that 'Bothar' of Celtic times, as, indeed proportionately the roadway of the age of Elizabeth, differed very materially from the modern macadamised or steam-rolled highway. In early Ireland, and often, too, in a much later Ireland, the line of communication was a mere 'Slighe' or 'Rian', allied in general character to the "track" of present-day Australian bush parlance. The word Bothar', incorporating the term 'bo', suggests a cattle-track. The Irish ‘Bothar' differed very materially from the Roman roadway as in the former pavement of any kind, except in bogs or soft places, was not attempted. Across bogs, and generally in soft, yielding soil, it would be necessary from time to time to elevate the track somewhat. Trunks of trees stretched crosswise, and then overlaid with brushwood, made the readiest and best embankment. The ancient engineer favoured a beeline, or the nearest practicable approach thereto, for his road. A river in his path necessitated, perhaps, a slight deviation to suit the ford; a mountain chain required a corresponding bend or curve to catch the gap or pass. "Where it crossed a plain, his roadway was called a Slige ‘Slighe’ or  'Bothar', as we have seen; on an embankment or causeway through a bog it was a Tochair; approaching a mountain-gap, and sometimes otherwise, it became a  'Bealach', and at the crossing of a river an 'Ath', and occasionally a 'Cumhas’, (pronounced Couse).

It seems established that, at least in early Christian times, there were main roads from the provincial capitals to outlying parts of the province. This much we gather generally from " Lives" of Saints. Thus St. Declan is represented as driving in his chariot from Ardmore to the neighbourhood of Cashel, &c., &c. The reference proves, at any rate, that the original twelfth-century compiler of the Irish "Life" believed in the existence of such a road in St. Declan's day. Cashel would, therefore, be connected directly with the chief places of Thomond and the princely duns of Kerry, on the one hand, and with the strongholds of the Decies, on the other. It is, of course, accepted of all that the provincial capitals were, in their turn, connected with Tara by the four great roads which centred there. Regarding the means of communication with the duns and lailea off the main line, little is known. In many cases the 'Casan' leading to the retired dun in question was probably not negotiable for wheeled vehicles. Indeed, except where they crossed plains or unbroken ground, the main lines themselves must have been but sorry carriage roads, judged by our modern standard.

The ancient roadway for such I assume it to be which forms the subject of this paper was first noticed by Smith, the historian of Waterford, Cork, and Kerry. "Writing a century and a-half since, the observant authority aforesaid describes this venerable work as the 'RianboPhadruig', or "Track of St. Patrick's Cow," the name by which it is vividly remembered still. I say "remembered " rather than " known," because age, the advance of cultivation, &c., have within the past seventy years succeeded in well-nigh effacing the trench which Smith saw and described. The historian, who did not know Irish, mistranslates 'Rian' as "a trench." It is, in reality, a track or mark, rather than a trench. A track on a mountainside will, of course, frequently and easily become a trench in the course of time through the action of mountain torrents and winter rains. In Smith's day the "Track" was a remarkable artificial feature, plainly traceable across all the then untilled country extending from within a mile, or less, of Lismore to the boundary of Tipperary. Had the historian carried his examination into the adjoining county, he would have found that the 'Rian' was traceable also far into Tipperary almost, if not actually, to the ford of the Suir at Ardfinnan and, perhaps, much farther. Subsequent writers who refer to the subject merely copy Smith, and add nothing to our information in return for their trial of our patience. Assuming the accuracy of Smith's conjecture that the 'Rian' represents the ancient main road from Cashel south to Lismore, and thence again to Ardmore the present writer commenced, some years since, a study on the spot of the vestiges still remaining, and the local tradition thereto appertaining. Year by year, as opportunity offered, he has continued his investigation to the present time, with the result that he is now in a position to lay before the Society the following detailed account of what he believes to be the most venerable highway yet accurately traced out in Ireland. Local tradition, as far as it bore on the matter, has been laboriously examined, weighed, and sifted, and of every detail corroboration often cumulative has been carefully obtained. Here, at risk of prolixity, stress may not inappropriately be laid on the great worth, for historical and allied purposes, of the traditions of an Irish-speaking population. Received with adequate criteria, such traditions will be found to have much value. What has hitherto generally passed in English literature for Irish tradition and legend is neither one nor the other, but absurdity, streaked with vulgarity, manufactured by demoralised "guides" for gullible 'Gallda', that is, English-speaking, tourists. If inquirers into antiquity have hitherto failed to profitably tap this fount, the fact ought to point the moral necessity of acquaintance with the language of the race as well as with the racial methods of thought.

The legend of the ‘Rian', as referred to by Smith, and as told from Ardfinnan to Ardmore, will bear brief repetition. St. Patrick's cow, accompanied by her calf, was grazing peacefully on the alluvial flats by the side of the Tar river, in the extreme south of Tipperary, when the calf was abducted by a wily cattle-thief from Kilwaterrnoy, or somewhere to the south of the Bride, in the County Waterford- The robber, with his booty, started in haste for his home, eighteen or twenty miles distant,
and shortly afterwards the cow, having discovered her loss, commenced a distracted pursuit. In her fury, as she went, she tore up the earth with her horns hence the double trench till she overtook the robber, to whom she promptly gave his deserts. If anyone doubts the narrative, why, there is the trench, like the lloman hero's statue, to rebuke his incredulity! Speculation is often profitless work; at the risk of unfruitfulness of effort, we may, however, hazard a moment's speculation as to the connexion, in the present instance, between the national Apostle and our ancient highway. Smith suggests that the road may have been made in the saint's time, and under his directions, for the purpose of connecting the two important ecclesiastical centres, Cashel and Ardmore. This theory is, however, not sustainable for this, if for no other reason, that our road connects directly, not Cashel and Ardmore, but the former and Lismore. The foundation of Lismore took place about 634, two centuries after the coming of St. Patrick; though, previous to the advent of St. Carthage, there had been a religious establishment of some sort there. The more ancient route to Ardmore, prior to the foundation of Lismore, was probably via the pass of the Suir, near Newcastle, to which fuller reference will be made later on. Does it not seem more likely that the connexion of St. Patrick's name with the ' Rian ' should be due to the cow tribute to St. Patrick's successors, which we can well conceive following this route from the southern Desii to Cashel? Or the wild legend may have grown of itself, as legends grow, and it may be that the name grew in its turn out of the legend. The writer must, however, confess his experience, begat of a somewhat extensive study of place-names and their legends, that legends more frequently grow out of place-names, the origins of which are lost, than names out of legends.

Our ancient road we may, for convenience of examination, divide into four sections: (a) from Cashel direct to Ardfinnan (15 miles); (b) from the latter place to Lismore, over the Knockmaeldown Mountains (12 miles); (c) from Lismore, but not in a right line, to Ardmore (20 miles); and (d) from Lismore south, and in a straight line, to the Bride (5 miles). This gives us a total length of fifty-two miles or thereabout. In the first section that is, on the northern side of the Suir tradition almost entirely fails us. There is but little surviving. We find, however, a suggestive line of a still existing but very ancient road the whole way practically from the royal city to the point where we pick up our first definite trace of the ' Rian.' This line we may fairly regard as the representative, if not actually, at least approximately, of our ancient road. In sections (b) and (c) it is possible, from physical traces and remains, and by the aid of a well-defined and emphatic tradition, to practically reconstruct the road-line, and follow it in detail.

Starting from Cashel, the early connecting line with Lismore would correspond approximately with the old road which emerges from the city at the junction of the townland of Ash well's Lot and Waller's Lot. It followed (approximately, of course) the conterminous boundary of the two divisions in question for one-eighth of a mile, and ran thence due south, for a similar distance, through the second. Then, through Spafield (one-quarter mile), and through the townlands of Owen's Lot and Bigg's Lot the approximate line is traceable in the course of the existing old road. At the southern extremity of the townland last named our road makes a slight detour to the east, and then again turning due south it continues through Knocksantlour (one-fifth of a mile), along the western boundary of the latter (one-fifth of a mile), through Lalor's Lot (one mile), along the conterminous boundaries of Carron and Attykett, of Carrigeen and Parrenkindry, of Farbankindry and Knocknaveigh, of Knocknaveigh and Ballygerald east, and of Ballygerald east and Lough Kent (a mile and a third). At the northern boundary of Lough Kent demesne the direct road which, from analogy of its general bee-line tendency, we should judge to have run right through the present demesne, is lost. After a break of close on a mile we again pick up the thread, or rather the road, about the middle of Chamberlainstown. At Chamberlainstown we enter the Decies, the boundary hereabout of the latter being more or less identical with the present northern boundary-line of the Diocese of Lismore. It is fair to state here that, as far as the portion of the road between Cashel and the point now reached is concerned, the writer has had no opportunity of local investigation. The last paragraph has been almost entirely worked out from the Ordnance Map. Of the remaining forty-five miles of the 'Rian', however, he claims to have investigated practically every foot. Enquiry locally should elicit the fact that the lane leading north and south through Chamberlainstown, and meeting the present Outragh-Woodenstown road at right angles, led, at one time, further north, so as to fill up, in part at any rate, the break in the line just sketched.

On the hypothesis that we are on the line of the 'Rian', and that this is fairly represented by the existing road, we follow the former along the western boundary of Whitelands and of Rathard. At places our venerable highway has degenerated into a mere by-road; in patches it has disappeared altogether; and, worst of all, on two or three occasions it bends suspiciously, though but slightly, from the direct course. In the main, however, it continues a straight line through Mortlestown, Knockagh, Loughluchra, Kilmaloge, and along boundary of Kilmaloge with Garranavilla. In the neighbourhood of Garnavilla schoolhouse the ancient route ceases to be merely approximate, and becomes more or less certain. It lay parallel with the line of the present highway at the distance of one field's width from the latter, on the west. Thence the course was in a straight line till it crossed the line of the present Rochestown Lough Ryan road to meet northern termination of a still existing old road or lane to Ardfinnan, via Feamore, Touloure, and the site of St. Finnian's church and monastery. The last-named is represented, of course, by the present Protestant church, as the ancient ford of Ardfinnan is represented by the present bridge.

At Ardfinnan we enter on the second section of our road and find ourselves on solid ground. The ancient highway is demonstrable the whole section through. Ardfinnan has continued the chief crossing-place of the Suir from pre-historic times. It took its name from the church founded here by St. Finnian, the leper, late in the sixth century. St. Carthage established a second church here before his arrival at Lismore. Missionaries and peaceful pilgrim students had no monopoly of the ford. Armies bent on death and plunder used it frequently. An earl of Desmond (John, son of Garret), on no mission of peace intent, was drowned here in sight of his army in 1399. The river must have been bridged here very early, as an old name of the place was Ath-an-Droichid.

The Suir was here fordable in three different places. One, the principal ford was on the site of the present bridge; the second was at Rochestown, somewhat higher up; and the third at Neddans, half a mile lower down the river. Curiously enough, each of the fords in question is marked by an early church-site. Our ancient roadway, crossed by the ford first named; a branch road, still existing at the eastern side and still traceable on the opposite side, crossed the second. It was, by the way, over this second, or Rochestown ford, that the Cromwellian forces passed.

The site of the present (western) village of Ardfinnan must have been anciently a swamp. Even today some of it is liable to flooding from the river. Yallancey's Map, in the Record Office, gives the site as portion of Lacken M'Kearish ploughland. Across the river flat the course of the ancient road would necessarily be variable and uncertain. From this, however, at the distance of less than a quarter of a mile from the riverbank, the land rises abruptly on south and west, forming cliffs, in places from twenty to thirty feet in height. Up the slope, to the southwest, our ancient highway is still physically and traditionally traceable. Its course was up the lane to rear of the Petty Sessions House, till it debouched above on the line of the present new road to Goaten Bridge, at the point of juncture with the latter of the old road, via Lady Abbey. From the Ford of Finnian's Height another ancient road, which may form the subject of a future communication to the Society, led westwards, via Tubrid, &c., apparently to the famous establishment of St. Abban, near Mitchelstown. Through part of its course this old highway, where still existing, is popularly and generally known as 'Bothar na measan'. Unfortunately all efforts to trace the legend connected with the name 'Road of the Lapdogs' were fruitless.

According to tradition, the line of the 'Rian' is indicated by the present rugged and but little used roadway, via Lady Abbey. We may, I suppose, take it that the roadway in question represents the ancient way, at least approximately or generally. The road passes the ruined abbey so closely that the gable of the latter forms the boundary-fence of the roadway. Lady Abbey was a late Carmelite foundation, to which, strange to say, there is no reference in the ordinary sources; it may have taken the place of an earlier Celtic church. A mile, or thereabout, to the south of Ardfinnan, our road lies along in fact forms the western boundary of Killardamee. With much difficulty I discovered the early church-site, at a considerable distance to the east of our road, however. The name here is suggestive 'Cill Airde Midhe'. Is ' Midhe' equivalent to 'Mo-Ide' (My Ita) ? If it be, I cannot account for the aspiration of the t. On Garryduff townland the ancient line parts company with the present road, at the bend of the latter to the south-east. Our road must have preserved its southerly course through (i.e. by the east fence) the field now known as "the Lisburn." At the entrance to this field, on the inside, is an unused space which is regarded with so much reverence that no one has ever dared to till it. It bears now but little resemblance to a lios, yet it was this which gave its name to the field.

Tradition is somewhat uncertain as to the course for the next half mile, or thereabout to the elbow in the road at the entrance-gate to Widow Murphy's house, at Tullow. With analogy as our guide, we may safely assume that the road continued in a nearly direct line entering the townland last named, beside, or on the site of, a quarry, on its north boundary. From Mrs. Murphy's house, already mentioned (A, Map 2), for the next ten or twelve miles, i.e. to within half a mile of Lismore, we can fortunately verify every foot of the ancient route. According to clearly defined tradition, it followed the line of fence which runs due south to the Tar river. Within a few perches of the river-bank the track took a slight bend to the east, for the purpose of escaping the swampy ground in front. Its course was through, or by the side of, the two farmhouses close to the stream, on the north bank. The "inch", or river flat to the east of the track, and north of the river, was called, and is still frequently styled, the faicce ('Faithche '). As has been already suggested, the river here is liable to flooding, especially on the north side; and no doubt it was still more liable thereto anciently. Therefore, we may assume that the entrance to the ford, the ford itself perhaps, and the exit therefrom would be somewhat liable to variation. On the north bank, directly in line with the 'Rian,' the ground is particularly soft, hence the slight detour to the east.

South from the Tar, with tradition as our guide, the tracing of the roadway is comparatively easy. The course is through the townland of Kildonoge. You will look in vain in the Ordnance Map, by the way, for the site of the church from which the place is named. This edifice, probably of the seventh or eighth century, stood on the spot now occupied by the most westerly of the two or three houses adjoining the crossing-place of our ancient road over the Tar. From this ford the ‘Rian ' shaped its course for the mouth of the gap through the Knockmealdown (anciently Slieve Gua) range.

The accompanying map (No. 2, 1.) shows the exact ascertained ancient course of the' Track' to the mountain base. Here it is to be observed that the Glengowley stream, flowing down from the mountain, has materially altered its course. It is evident from the clay-cliffs a few perches to the east of the present stream, and from the general old river-bed character of the soil along the line of our track, between the river and the public road, that the stream has shifted considerably westwards. It is not at all improbable that, from about the line of present public road, back to the Tar, the ' Rian' followed part of the way, at least the pebble-covered bottom of the shallow stream. The beds of watercourses are still sometimes used as roads in the neighbourhood to the present day. Having crossed the public road on our way southward, we may observe how, in two or three cases, the quondam roadway manifests its former existence in its effect on the outline of fences and fields. The course was exactly by the west side -wall of Edmond Prendergast's house. From this point, the ‘Rian’ runs through practically uncultivated mountain for the next seven or eight miles, and throughout much the greater portion of the way the ancient roadway is still physically outlined. An elbow (indicating a change of course) in the Glengowley stream has obscured the track for a few perches at the mouth of the glen. Occasionally, too, through the glen and up the mountain side, the course is confused by modern turf paths.

The rise, as we advance towards the boundary of "Waterford County, is considerable, the summit of the gap being about 1880 feet high. Up the mountain side the track still steadily pursues its southerly trend with a slight curve to the east, to clear the top of the smaller glen which starts almost from the summit. There is hardly a hill, bank, prominent rock, well, or ford, or other natural feature within Glengowley, or on the mountain sides overlooking it, which has not its peculiar name. In all I took down from the lips of native Irish-speakers no fewer than forty-one place-names all on the Kildonoge townland, and all unrecorded on the Ordnance Map. A mile or more from the summit (Sepeal an Ultaig) is passed on the right. This is the ruin of a small, oblong building, apparently of dry stone. Unfortunately no light can be thrown by local tradition on the origin of the name, or the history of the strange structure far up in the mountain solitude. 'Ultach' signifies, of course, a native of Ulster. This, at least, is the primary meaning of the word; but local usage gives it a very different force in
Waterford perhaps throughout Munster as readers of the Munster poets are aware, namely a professional fortune-teller, or " wise person." The ranks of the profession seem for a period, some two hundred and fifty years ago, to have been recruited largely from the dispossessed Celts of Ulster, who, in many cases, transferred themselves in considerable colonies to the sister provinces. The use of the word in the sense indicated throws a curious light on a minor phase of the past which there is little left to enlighten. It illustrates, too, the tenacity of tradition, so characteristic of Irish-speaking communities. A district close by Lismore was generally known, forty years since, as 'Bothar-na-n-Ultach', and it may be that an enquirer could find it by that name still. Strangely enough, Irish-speakers seem to credit the craft to the County Monaghan.

Half a mile from the summit we pass 'Tobar Mochuda' on the right. The occurrence here of this well, bearing the name of the great founder of Lismore, is very remarkable, especially as connected with the ‘Rian’ and its purpose. Local usage assigns the name 'Carraig a Bhuideal', I suppose from its appearance, to a rock in the depression on the summit through which our track leads. A word or two may here be appropriate as to the physical characteristics of the ‘Rian’ as far as we have traced it. Its appearance varies: in parts it might, at first sight, be mistaken for an ordinary turf track; in others, where grass or heath covered it, it bears the impress of hoar antiquity. In general, it is a slight depression in the earth, say seven feet in width, flanked by grassy banks from a few inches to a couple of feet in height. Towards the summit, where the ground is unbroken, it assumes the appearance of a grass-grown carriage drive of considerable width. From the county boundary, forward to Lismore, definition of the track is clearer. Sometimes it shows as a grassy ditch between two high banks, at others a ravine excavated by winter floods, and at others again (on the level) a ribbon-like trail in the closely cropped heather. Before we cross the boundary into the County of Waterford, it may be mentioned that the hollow, to avoid which the 'Rian' has made a slight detour half a mile from the summit, is called 'Cam na Bearna'.

From the county boundary our ancient roadway is plainly traceable down " the southern side of the Knockmeldown," through the absolutely uninhabited townland of Knockannanagh, and the practically unoccupied townland of Raenabarna, till, beside the only human habitation on the latter, it crosses the Clogheen-Cappoquin main road. Here, on the south side of the main road, the ‘Rian ' appears as a considerable trench say 9 feet wide, with double banks fully 7 feet high. The contractor who constructed the main road just mentioned once informed me that the line of the ancient " Track" where it crossed his road was indicated by a deep deposit of rich, black earth, distinguishable from the surrounding soil, and that the place swallowed up a surprising and to him anything but agreeable quantity of rough road-filling material. From the main Clogheen road we trace our ancient highway across a couple of cultivated fields to the brink of the Glenokeefe stream. Here engineering work in connexion with the modern bridge has obliterated the track, and all trace of it is lost at the crossing-place. A few yards beyond, however, we again pick it up, and then through the length of the townland of Poulfadda, i.e. for three-quarters of a mile, or thereabout, we follow it without difficulty. The course is roughly parallel with the modern road, across some seven or eight cultivated fields and a few unreclaimed but enclosed patches of mountain. The ' Rian' crossed the modern road near the bend or elbow in the latter, seven or eight perches to the west of Monalour bridge. There is here a very slight curve in the track to carry it towards its second crossing-place over the Glenokeefe River. The crossing-place in question was apparently a perch or thereabout to the south of the iron bridge. For the next quarter of a mile the track is not physically traceable. The growth here of Monalour village, which, forty years ago, had double its present population, has naturally led to the destruction of the 'Rian ' in the village precincts.

A quarter of a mile (S.S.W.) from the river we again meet with the trail. Thirty years ago the ‘Rian’ was visible here, so that there is no difficulty in procuring evidence as to the exact course. "We can, in fact, fix the latter to the yard. Thirty years earlier the trench was as clearly defined here as it is now in the uncultivated region north towards the mountain. The soil within it was very black and rich, and sometimes of great depth a recent alluvial deposit. It is no wonder that in a mountainous district, where soil was won from the wilderness with utmost difficulty, a considerable stretch of the Rian through a poor man's farm should be regarded as a valuable asset from an agricultural point of view. Reverence for the highway of the saints prevented its demolition for a while, but the temptation to annex finally prevailed, and thus it came to be that the early roadway passed under the dominion of the spade. It will be noticed how the present lanes and roadways, when leading in the same direction as their early prototype, run rather beside than along the course of the latter. This can be observed at Monalour Lower and Cooladallane Upper, and farther south, at Glentaun. The soil of the Rian was too valuable to hide beneath a roadway.

Through the south part of Monalour Lower and through Cooladallane our "Track," while following the general direction of the laneway, appears now on the east of the latter, and again on the west. From Bob Begley's house, Cooladallane, a slight depression, following the line of boundary-fence between adjoining farms, indicates the course. This depression can be traced with care, in a right line, as far as the new road to Mount Melleray. Crossing this road the Rian enters a piece of unreclaimed land, across which its course is apparent to the least observant eye. Still on Cooladallane Upper, it strikes the northern end of the lane running up from Glentaun, runs roughly parallel with it on the east side, strikes the northern boundary of Glentaun, and follows, now on one side and again on the other, the present general course of the road for nearly a mile. The course of the Rian here, it will be noted, is right through the actual present site of more than one dwelling-house.

We have now reached the brow of the steep hill overlooking Lismore-Mochuda and the storied Blackwater of Munster. We have got to within half a mile perhaps of the river. The last few perches of the Rian which I have been able to verify have become a deep watercourse. Diligent examination and repeated enquiries have failed to elicit any satisfactory information as to the route hence to the river. We can, however, locate the fords in the river, and from them we may fairly infer the further course. Down the hillside and across the ancient commonage of Ballyrafter there may have been no fixed road. At any rate, it has not been found. The fords of the Blackwater at Lismore are two, one a few perches to the east of the present bridge; the other nearly opposite to "the round hill," half a mile further down. Both crossing-places have continued in use till quite recent times; in fact, the latter is still occasionally used. It is not unlikely that there was a third ford at the present " Queen's Gap," a quarter of a mile to west of Lismore Bridge. The city of Lismore was reached from the north by either of these fords most generally, it would seem, by the Round Hill ford, which communicated (almost certainly by a continuation of the 'Rian' with 'Bothar na Naomh'. The road last mentioned we may dismiss for the present, with the observation that it was the ancient highway to Lismore, running east and west.

One would, perhaps, have expected the "Rian to cease at its junction with the Bothar na Naomh ('Road of the Saints'). But it continues its southerly course for at least four or five miles further. We lose it for a quarter of a mile at, or about, its junction with the Saints' Road. Probably ancient settlements or buildings have helped to obscure the track at this point. The "Round Hill," it may be well to explain, is a natural high and rounded gravel mound, surmounted by earthen fortifications, and surrounded by a circular rampart also, of course, of earth. It resembles in size and appearance the pre-historic mound of New Grange, on the Boyne. We may be able, with tolerable accuracy, to gauge the purpose of this great earthwork, but when, or by whom, it was erected it would probably be vain to speculate, and it is certainly outside the scope of the present enquiry. Our Rian probably skirted the "Round Hill" on the eastern side, and, running through the site of Mrs. Byrne's farmhouse, reached a point a quarter of a mile or less to the south of the latter, on the townland of Deerpark, which tradition enables us accurately to fix. Fifty years ago the "Track" was physically traceable across Deerpark, just as it is now visible to the north of the Blackwater. Preservation of the Rian in this place we owe to the enclosure here, by royal licence, of 1,200 acres as a deer-park, in the reign of James I., and to the consequent reservation from tillage, till a comparatively recent period, of the area enclosed. Many persons still living distinctly remember the Rian here. Messrs. John O'Donnell and John Farrell, of Deerpark, describe it as they saw it fifty years ago a double trench four or five feet deep and of about the same width at the bottom. Some of the fields through which it lay perpetuate its memory in their names 'Pairc a'Riain', &c. He would be regarded as a daring man, half a century since, who would use spade, pick, or plough, in or upon the trench. Across Pope's farm, through the large field called 'Cnocan' across the Lismore-Killahalla new road at right angles by the conterminous boundary fence of Pope's and Corbett's farms, and through the field called 'Pairc a Leasa', the memories of Messrs. O'Donnell (70) and John Farrell (65), aforesaid, and John Murray (90), Upper Bridane, carry the ancient roadway till it escapes from us again at the south end of the last-named field. Between this point and the Awbeg stream, a furlong or two to the south, there is a stretch of bog and swampy bottom on which, though no memory of the fact survives, it is probable turf was formerly cut. This would effectually account for the disappearance here of the Rian. Whether or not turf cutting took place in this bottom, iron mining was certainly carried on here, and, as the existing mounds and pits testify, on a somewhat extensive scale.

At the south side of the Awbeg our track again appears. It follows a line of fence up the slope till it enters Deerpark wood. Half way up the hillside, within the wood again, I traced it, with the assistance of John Murray, already mentioned, who has lived here for close on a century, and has wonderful stories of the Rian, which he remembers well. At the point last mentioned we lose the "Track" beyond hope of recovery. The course is, however, towards the Bride, which it should cross about Fountain. As there is no regular or well-defined ford at this place, the matter becomes a puzzle. Perhaps there was a ford anciently, afterwards deepened by the Earl of Cork to render the Bride navigable to his iron works at Tallow. Be this as it may, the tradition is persistent, and was as emphatic a century ago as it is today, that the Rian crossed the Bride at Fountain, and that it ran to or in the direction of Kilwatermoy. It would appear as if this southern prolongation were the line of communication with Molana Abbey, on the lower Blackwater; but theorising is dangerous with the data at hand. Better content ourselves at the present with the statement of ascertained and carefully verified facts, and patiently await rediscovery of lost links of a long-forgotten chain.
At the south side of the Bride, and adjacent to the Camphire-Tallow road, on the modern townland of Fountain, is a field known as 'Clais a' Laoigh', in which a depression is pointed out close by the road fence, as the identical spot where the outraged cow overtook and executed dire vengeance on the cattle-thief. So generally known was the legend, and so intimately did popular belief associate the robber with this district south of the Bride, that, half a century ago, natives of Kilwatermoy parish, when away from home, would not very willingly admit their birthplace.

In connexion with the continuation southwards of the Rian, the Bealach Eocliaille will perhaps at once suggest itself to students of our annals. The Bealach is thus referred to in the Four Masters, under date 872:
'Indreadh nanDeisi la Cearbhall go Bealach nEochaille' ; and again,
under date 1123
'Morsluaigheadh la Toirrdhealbhac mac Ruaidhri Ui Conchabhair
co Bealach Eochaille dia ro ghabh gialla Deasmumhan uile'.

Is this continuation of the Rian, southwards from Lismore, the historic Bealach? The raising of the question may tempt some more favourably circumstanced student to undertake the investigation. It might perhaps be inferred from its touch with the ancient religious establishments of Fountain 'Gill Naoimh Fhiontan' and Kilwatermoy
'Cill Uachtair maighe', that it was ecclesiastical in its origin, if not in its character. It is curious, by the way, to note perhaps it is more than a mere coincidence the existence of an ancient religious establishment at every point where the Rian has crossed a river. Thus, at Ardfinnan, Kildonoge, Lismore, and here now again at Fountain! To these instances we may add the crossing-place of the Blackwater by the O6cap na "NaoTii at Affane.

The third section of our ancient roadway is in some respects the most unsatisfactory. First of all, it does not follow a right line; the latter was rendered impossible by a navigable and unfordable river. In this section, moreover, we suffer from a redundancy of ancient roads in one place, total failure of our road in another, and uncertainty at half a dozen points. Add to this that tradition is not on the whole as vivid and definite here as it is in the last section. Indeed, too, the writer feels bound to acknowledge that this portion of the subject has hardly been sufficiently investigated. He proposes, however, to give the result of his incomplete study of the matter for the present, with a promise to modify or amplify the facts and conclusions, should further discovery render modification or amplification desirable.

The ancient main road east and west from Lismore presents no difficulty. It can still be traced traditionally, without halt or break from about the south-east angle of the townland of Glenmorishmeen in the Barony of Coshmore and Coshbride, to the eastern boundary of the townland of Knockalahara in the old parish of Kilmolash, a distance in all of perhaps eight miles. Throughout practically the whole way the ancient course is represented by roads and byways still in use. As has been already stated, it is well known along the total at present discovered line of its route as 'Bothar na Naomh'. We first identify it a mile or so to the west of Lismore, where it corresponds with the modern road to Fermoy on the south side of the river. At the bend in the present road, a few perches to the west of its junction with the road to Tallow, the former swerves a little from the course of its ancient forerunner of saintly memories. The 'Bothar na Naomh' struck a more direct line to the rear (north) of the cottage known as Roseville, that is, along the southern boundary of Castlelands townland, down the avenue leading from the public road to the farmyard of Lismore Castle, out by the gate-lodge, and hence along or approximately along the main road, through the main street of Lismore, and finally by or along the conterminous boundaries of adjoining townlands for four miles to the historic ford of Affane. On the road side (north), on Upper Drurnroe, the now disused cemetery, " Reilig Dheaglain," is passed. This place has been identified as the birth-place of St. Declan, Apostle of the Decies, by the late Very Rev. Francis O'Brien. Curiously enough, Irish-speakers on the west of the Blackwater seem to be entirely unaware that the continuation of the road on the far side of the river is known by the Irish- speakers of that region as 'Bothar na Naomh'. Conversely, dwellers along the section east of the Blackwater are entirely unaware of a western section similarly named to their own. The name " Ford of Affane " is tautological; the word 'Ath' is incorporated in Affane, i.e. 'Ath Mheadhoin'. This place is occasionally referred to in the Irish Annals in connexion with the advance of an invading army.

From Affane, leading due east, the 'Bothar na Naomh' corresponds with the present public road to the termination of the latter, at a point seventy or a hundred perches from the eastern boundary of Knockalahara townland. The road was formerly continued twenty perches or so further in the right line, but this short section has disappeared. Now a difficulty confronts us: we seem to have reached a cul de sac. Neither tradition nor physical indication enables us to carry our road further north, east, or south! Separated from us by only the length of two small fields is the site of Kilcloher ancient church, the circular enclosure of which is still traceable. Here, according to the Bollandist " Secunda Vita," the founder of Lismore tarried for some days with his retinue on their way from Rahin to the place of his resurrection.

Reverting to the Rian, which we have now carried to a point some perches from the eastern boundary of Knockalahara. In front of us, for half a mile, is a low-lying flat part of the townland of Ballygambon known locally as 'Moin a huidhre'. Whatever may be said of the second part of the name, there is no doubt of the local meaning of the first word, 'moin', a bog more accurately, a turf-bog. There is now no indication of bog or turf, nor does tradition remain of the former existence here of either; but the name, fortunately preserved, is evidence that turf was once cut on the flat a fact which would sufficiently account for the obliteration of any ancient roadway across. The area to which the Irish name just quoted is applied terminates, on the east, some perches from the brink of the Finisk River, and exactly here, in line with the 'Bothar na Naomh', we do actually find an old lane leading east to the ford of the Finisk, through the latter, and finally away indefinitely in a straight line towards Waterford city. Our concern with this ancient highway terminates just now at the far side of the ford. From this point a second ancient line started in a southerly direction, towards Ardmore. Throughout this latter portion of its course our road is not popularly connected with St. Patrick so much as with St. Declan. To St. Declan's holy city we can follow it hence for twelve or thirteen miles; sometimes it is incorporated in a modern public road, and sometimes in a disused road. Occasionally all physical traces have practically disappeared, but tradition definitely fixes the course. A brief recital of the route will suffice. From the ford southward, for the first half mile, it corresponds generally with the present main road by the gate-lodge of Whitechurch House to Knocknascagh Cross-roads. Thence the course is plain to Goish Bridge, by the old road, still occasionally used, along the western boundary of the townlands of Clonkerdin, Ballygambon Upper, Keerin Upper, and Tinakilly, and through Curraheen, Ballycullane, and Graigue. At Goish Bridge the track is lost for a few perches. It was doubtless variable at this point to correspond with the variation in power, volume, and course of the Goish stream which it forded here. A few perches to the south of the ford it becomes visible again, as a by-road, running roughly parallel with the main public road, at the width of some two or three fields from the latter. About the middle of the townland of Creggs the by-road ceases. Seventy years ago, however, the ancient road was clearly traceable along the eastern side of a line of fence, distant a couple of fields' width from the public road to Clashmore, till it emerged on the present connecting line of new road through Ballinure and Ballindrumma (East and West). Hence to the village of Cross it corresponded with the public road still in use. From Cross our ancient road would seem to have corresponded approximately with the modern public road along the north boundary of Ballinamultina and south boundary of Clogheraun, and thence, via Ballycurrane Schoolhouse, towards the Lickey River. A quarter of a mile, or more, south from the schoolhouse the ancient track diverges from the course of the modern road, and follows a by-road down to the stream. The ford here gives its name to the townland on the north side of the stream Ughnagaraveel.

On the south side of the stream the course is by a series of ancient and partly disused borheens, via the north boundary of Drumgullane, and through the Gush of Grange till we strike the main Dungarvan-Youghal road. Near the crossing-place of the Lickey we pass a remarkable well, known locally as 'Tobar na Feirse'. It will be noted, too, that our road takes us by the very door, so to speak, of several important "forts." There is one, for instance, on the townland last named. This is 'Lios Greineain', which gives its ancient name to the parish of Grange. From the point of junction with the Dungarvan-Youghal road, already mentioned, to the most southerly part of Ballybrusa West, the 'Rian' has been obscured, but reconstruction of the course from general tradition of the locality presents no special difficulty. Throughout at least this particular portion of its route, the ancient road was called 'Bothar na Hiolog', i.e. "Road of the Bog Willow," and also " St. Declan's Road." There is some uncertainty as to the exact line through Ballynamertina; it must have followed approximately the course of the existing road running southward to Ardmore by the eastern boundary of the townlands of Curragh and Duffcarriek. For the last mile or so of its course the modern representative, or rather perpetuation, of the venerable highway of early Christian times is generally known to this day as 'Bothar na Trinse'.

To ensure completeness of our work, it will be necessary for us now to retrace our steps to the ford of the Blackwater at Affane marked on the 6-inch Ordnance Sheet 'Casan na Naomh', i.e. "Path of the Saints." From this point it appears highly probable, if it is not actually certain, that a second and shorter, because more direct, line of communication with Ardmore led, by the approximate course of the present public road, along the south-west boundary of Springfield, and through Quarter and Bewley, to a second ford of the Finisk, at the present Kilmolash Bridge. Here, again, will be noted the phenomenon of the ancient church-site close by the ford. This place was first provided with a bridge some sixty years since. Long previously, however for centuries certainly, and, perhaps, from prehistoric times the spot was a well-known crossing-place, to which ancient roads and paths converged. Thence up the hillside, by the western boundary of Kilmolash, through Woodstock, and along the lane to the western boundary of Knocknaskagh Upper, our road is easily traceable. At the crossing-place of the stream, between the two townlands, the existing borheen system has evidently diverged considerably from the line of its ancient forerunner. The latter probably followed the barony boundary, and emerged above (somewhere about the south-west angle of Ballygambon Upper) on the ancient Whitechurch-Ardmore road, already described. At this point of juncture, by the way that is, on Keereen Lower was another ancient church site, not marked on Ordnance map.

An account of the 'Rian bo Phadraig' would be more or less incomplete without some reference to another ancient road leading apparently towards Ardmore from the north. Like the great track to Lismore from Cashel, already described, this second track is also connected nominally with St. Patrick's Cow, but it is not at all as well, or as generally, known as the Lismore 'Rian'. Like the latter, too, this second track is traceable chiefly in the unreclaimed mountain on the borders of counties of Tipperary and Waterford. Like the Lismore road also, it appears as a shallow, double trench, grass or heather covered, but clearly defined. The course appears to be S.S.E., instead of due south, as on the Lismore road. Of this second line of road only two sections are traceable with certainty, unless it be admitted (which, I think, it must be) that the 'Bothar Garbh', running south through Coolagortwee, Coolnacreena, Cluttahina, to Affane, is its continuation. The first section, which is only half a mile or so in length, is clearly visible from the plain of the Tar, like the cicatrised mark of a gigantic sword-slash across the northern brow of Crohan mountain, near the southern boundary of Tipperary. The second section, about three-quarters of a mile in length, is a continuation (at the distance of a mile and a half) of the first, across the nearly flat summit of the townland of Middlequarter mountain (1,200 feet), approaching the county boundary with Waterford. The mile and a quarter intervening between the two sections is a great cut-away turf-bog, with a strip of reclaimed land, and the southern slope of Crohan Hill at its southern end. Disappearance of the "track" on the south slope of the hill (between the two sections still visible) is satisfactorily explained by a great fire which occurred here over a century ago, and continued for months, till the foot or more (in depth) of peat on which it fed was burned out along the cap and southern slope of the hill. The second surviving section of our ancient track passes close by the western base of two remarkable elevations, or cones Knockardbounce (1,296 feet) and Knocknascolloge (1,426 feet) and by the eastern base of Knocknanask (1,591 feet), till it is lost again in 'Moin a' Bhraca' (cut-away turf-bog now a morass). At the place of its disappearance the track was apparently running for the head of Coolagortwee, or Glensheelane valley, down which (continuing its regular course) it would certainly continue. By the roadside, in Cluttahinna townland, are two remarkable monuments one a stone, marked the "Earl's Stone" on the Ordnance Sheet, on which tradition states the wounded and captive, but still defiant, Earl of Desmond was allowed to rest after the battle of Affane, and the other an ancient but now unenclosed and practically forgotten burial-place, known as "Beam a na n-Garlach" This second 'Rian' would appear to have been intended as a more direct line from the ford of Kildonoge, on the Tar and, consequently, from Ardfinnan and Cashel, to Ardmore. It is true no trace of the track is discoverable nearer to the Tar, or further north or west, than the northern slope of Crohan mountain, already alluded to a point distant, perhaps, two miles from the ford with which we are supposing this road to have communicated.

That there was yet another and somewhat more direct route from Ardmore to the Munster capital would appear from the Life of St. Declan. This the oldest, most likely, of all the ancient roads would have come in from Molough, near Newcastle, probably via the now superseded track along the conterminous boundary of Clashganny and Middlequarter, and would have formed a junction, at the head of Coolagortwee glen, with the tragic memories. The chief ford of the Suir at Newcastle was from Molough, on the northern side of the river, to Clashganny, on the southern side. It was approached from the north by a track corresponding to the present road and lane by the abbey ruins, and from the south by the boreen leading down to the river through Clashganny. Here, again, appears the phenomenon of a church beside the ford. In reality there were two churches in this case one on either side. The site of the second is indicated by a mound and monumental pillar-stone in the field called 'Pairc na Cille,' close to the river, on the townland last named. Where the btfcayi <5 a r^ joins the townlands of Coolagortwee and Coolnacreena there is a small bridge, called from the ancient ford here, 'Beal atha na Saighead'. Allusion has already been made to the mention of this Newcastle track, or of some such road, in St. Declan's "Life." On more than one occasion the saint is recorded to have ridden in his chariot over Slieve Gua towards Cashel. Once particularly the journey to the neighbourhood of Ardfinnan, from the saint's monastery by the southern ocean, is stated to have been performed in a single night. On another occasion Declan, on his way home to Ardmore, passes close to Molough, where was then a house of religious women, and, in connexion with the journey, the ford of the Suir at Newcastle is specially mentioned.

It is, perhaps, but fair to students, or intending students, of the subject that they should be afforded facilities of verifying the statements (startling in their degree as some of them may sound) made in the foregoing pages. I beg, therefore, to append a list, far from complete, of Irish-speaking residents along the various lines whose courtesy and topographical and traditional knowledge helped me materially in my quest. Indeed, without the assistance and traditional knowledge in question, the maps could never have been compiled. Here follows my list of sage and venerable living authorities who supplied a considerable portion of the materials for this essay:

IN COUNTY WATERFORD:

Messrs. Donovan (Curragh) and Hallinan (Grallagh).

Messrs. Purcell and Philip Troy, Knockaneris.

Messrs. Murphy (Clonkerdon) and Brown (Rockfield).

Messrs. Gleeson (Knockalahara) and Leeson (Drumroe).

William Hartery, Affane.

Messrs. Farrell and O'Donnell, Deerpark.

John Murray (Bridane) and Michael Phelan (Camphire).

John O'Donnell, Michael O'Donnell, and "William Lineen, Glentaun.

Dan Donovan, Tom Brunnock, and J. Crotty, Srough.

John 0'Gorman, Ballyinn.

Thomas and Bob Begley, Cooladullane.

Tom Fitzgerald and J. Nugent, Monalour.


IN COUNTY TIPPERARY:

Messrs Prendergast (Kildonoge) and "Walsh (Tullow); John
Mullany (Kilmaloge); O'Donnell (Killeigh); Morrissey (Crohan);
and Maher (Monatouk).

A brief explanation of the accompanying maps is necessary to a complete understanding of this Paper.

The first, or general map shows the whole fifty-two miles of "Rian," with the less authenticated track via Crohane Mountain and Coolagortwee Glen, as well as the ancient road via Kilmolash. The capitals A to L (along the line of "Rian") of this map fit in with the respective corresponding capitals of the three large-scale maps. SciL 'A' of small-scale coloured map with 'A' of the detailed sketch-map, No. 2, I; <C J of coloured map with ' C ' of detailed map, No. 2, II, &c.

The three detailed maps cover the ground between the first definitely authenticated point of the "Rian" at Tullow, and its last (in the straight line) on Deerpark Hill. Each of the three maps gives three continuous sections of a mile and a third, making a total of four miles a map, or twelve miles in all. The 'A' of Map 2 corresponds with the position of Mrs. Murphy's house at Tullow; the capital at end of one line corresponds with same letter at commencement of line following, and so on. It will be noted, however, in the case of the first line (I, Map 2) that the latter is not continued to the end of the page. The reason is obvious curvature, which carries it outside longitude, or space, available. Portions of the "Rian," physically and traditionally traceable, are indicated by the dark line, while the dotted line marks the parts exactly fixed by definite tradition only, and the line of small circles sections conjecturally restored.

Footnote
It is clear, from the Irish " Life of St. Declan," two careful transcripts of which lie before the writer, that the name " Slieve Gua," though now confined to the parish of Seskinane, was formerly applied to the whole mountain chain. The changed extension of the name has led to some confusion in the minds apparently, and certainly in the works, of certain writers.






ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Patrick Power was born at Callaghane, three miles from Waterford, on 8th March, 1862. He was educated at Ballygunner National School, the Catholic University School, Waterford, and St. John's College, Waterford. He was ordained in 1883 and for three years he worked on temporary mission in Liverpool. Being threatened with tuberculosis, he went to Australia, where he spent seven years in the diocese of Wilcania-Forbes, being Rector successively of Cobar, Bourke and Wilcania, New South Wales. He came into contact with the aborigines; and it as probably in Australia that his interest in archaeology was first developed. On his return to Waterford he was attached to the Cathedral for three years; he then successively became Diocesan Inspector of Schools, Chaplain to the De la Salle Training College, and Curate at Portlaw.
About 1900 he published a Manual of Religious Instruction, which ran to thirty editions and was used extensively in this country during the first two decades of the century; it appears to be still in use in Australia.
His interest in place-names, ecclesiastical antiquities and archaeology soon became more than a paragon or hobby. He made extensive explorations throughout Waterford. Even in his student days he published in local papers articles on Waterford history. For many years he was editor of the Journal of the Waterford and South-East Ireland archaeological Society. In addition to numerous articles he published the following books:-
Celtic Crosses of Kilkiernan, Kilklispeen and Killamery (N.D.)
Chapel of St. Finbarr, University College, (N.D.)
The “Rian Bó Phádraig” (1903)
Place Names of the Decies (1907)
Donnchadh Rua Mac Namara (1911)
Dunbrody Abbey (1911)
Parochial History of Waterford (1912)
Lives of Saints Declan and Mochuda (1913)
Place Names and Antiquities of South East Cork (1917-18)
Ardmore Deugláin (1919)
Prehistoric Ireland (1922)
Early Christian Ireland (1925)
Ancient Topography of Fermoy (1931)
Ardmore: Its founder and Early Christian Memorials (1931)
A Bishop of the Penal Times (1932)
The Ogham Stones, University College, Cork (1932)
Short History of County Waterford (1933)
Aran of the Saints (1935)
Waterford and Lismore: A Compendious History of the United Dioceses (1937)
The Cathedral Parish of Holy Trinity, Waterford (1940)
St. John's and Ballygunner (1942)
From 1910 to 1931 he gave lectures on Archaeology in Maynooth. He became associated with University College, Cork, and in 1915 he succeeded Sir Bertram Windle as Professor of Archaeology a post which he held until his retirement in 1932. In 1926 the National University of Ireland awarded him the degree of D.Litt.
From personal experience I can certify that Canon Power was a most agreeable colleague, with old-world courtesy and unfailing gentleness. He was most unworldly, devoting all of his scanty means to the purchase of books and manuscripts. Barring his interest in horticulture, he was devoted solely to his subject, retaining his studious habits even to the last. At the same time one never forgot that he was a saintly priest, firm but unostentatious in his faith.
He died on 16th October 1951.
Alfred O’Rahilly University College Cork.


Galtee Walking Club, Tipperary