The History of the Connors Family

Millstreet in 1844

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The following account consists of excerpts from The Blackwater in Munster by J.R. O'Flanagan, 1844. This was reprinted in O'Kief, Coshe Mang, Slieve Lougher and the Upper Blackwater in Ireland, Vol 1 by Albert E. Casey.  In 1844, John Hall Leader was 16 years old and living in the Millstreet area. 

The Blackwater in Munster by J.R. O'Flanagan, Esq., London, How, l844, pages 2, 3, 155-159, 162-170.

The river Blackwater, (in Irish, Awin Dubh;) is generally Awenmore or Avonmore, that is, "the Broad-water," by the native Irish. Spenser, however, in his Faery Queen, mentions it by a name which comes very near the Irish of its present appellation -

                      "Swift Auniduff, which of the Englishman
                       Is named Blackwater."

The source of the Blackwater is in a bog, near the [b]oundaries of Cork and Kerry, It runs in a tolerably direct course from east to west, until it reaches Cappoquin, when it bends suddenly, and runs due south to the sea. In its progress it has many tributaries. At Drishane it receives the Fin Aion, or White River; and Racool, a rapid mountain flood, which runs down from the hills of Muskerry. The Bantyre, having its source in the Boggra hills, joins it west of Clonmeen. The Clydagh, which also rises in the Boggra, runs into the Blackwater, after forming the bounds on the east of the parish of Kilshanick, All these pour in their waters on the south side. On the north it receives the Oon Araglin, near the ruined church of Cullin. and close to Kanturk the Oon Dalue, or Double Rapid River; this washes the base of a hill yet bearing a mouldering ruin, called Castle M'Auliffe. At Bridgetown, a beautiful stream., the Awbeg, or Mulla of Spenser, joins.


Close to Bantyre Cross the-river is met by Ballymaquirk Bridge, near which is Nashville, the seat of William Leader, Esq. There are very good mills at Nashville, on the north bank, which, for a considerable distance, is enriched by the extensive plant?ations on Mr. Leader's estate. The land along the river is not very productive; but-the tenants seem contented, and speak highly of the Leader family, who was the principal proprietors in this district. Other seats near are Minehill, J. Wallis, Esq., and the Glebe, the Reve, Mr. Bevan,. The water is of moderate depth for a considerable distance. On the north bank is Dromagh, the estate of Nicholas Philpot Leader, Esq. There are extensive collieries here, which afford employment to a great number. Dromagh colliery has been worked more than a century, and the father of the present owner expended a large sum in improving the works connected with the colliery, to render the mine available: they are now meeting a very extensive demand. There are other collieries here, at Clonbanin, Dominagh, and Colclough, in full work; and if the projected navigation from Mallow had been perfected, the country along the line of Blackwater would be enjoying fuel at a very moderate rate, and the inhabitants of the entire line bettered by the intercourse necessarily created. The description of coal is not unlike that found in Kilkenny, very sulphureous for the greater part, and as bituminous in quality, but it is rather more lasting. In some places the coal is found near the surface where the veins are thin, and gradually widen as they strike downward. The coal is generally enclosed in a case of ferruginous slate, which splits into-plates resembling house slates, but being of a brittle quality, is not fit for use as such. Some veins of excellent coal have been found. The culm which covers large coal is considered good, and is useful for forges and burning lime. Distant about a mile north is Dromagh Castle. It consists of a quadrangle, flanked by four circular towers, one at each corner. It was the chief seat of the O'Keeffe's in former days, and the entrance is by an archway, with small towers in the walls on each hand. The entire remains are clad with ivy, which considerably increases the picturesque effect by diminishing the regularity of the building. One of the towers, fitted up, makes a comfortable dwelling. The greater portion of the building is in good repair, and used by Mr. Leader as his farmyard offices.

This castle was built by Dermot MacCarthy, son of Teague, Lord Muskerry, who died in l448. It is of very ancient structure, and bears evident traces of having been a stronghold. Its proximity to the strong castles in its vicinity leads to the conjecture that it must have had other works for defence than now appear. From the summit a splendid view is obtained; the eye travels along-the ridge of mountains from that of Claragh, back of the castle, behind Mlllstreet, to Killarney, with its charming lakes, twenty miles distant, and takes in the majestic Mangerton, the Paps, the wooded Toomies, and the high reeks of Macgillicuddy. Among a few handsome seats close by are Coole House, H. O'Donnell, Esq.; Mount Leader, H. Leader, Esq.; and Rathduane, J. E. M'Carthys Esq.

After a short distance we reach Millstreet, situate on the south bank of the Blackwater. The village, a century back, con?sisted of a small inn, a mill, and some half dozen cabins. Of the inn mention is made in a letter written by Derrick the poet, in 1760, and his account was also evidence of the desire of the peasantry to show their title to respectability. He says, "The inn at Mlllstreet, however indifferent, is a perfect palace compared to the spot where we slept the night before. The rain continuing to pour heavily, we stopped at a wretched hovel on the confines of an extensive, bleak, rugged mountain, where they collect the dues of a turnpike. They showed us into a miserable cabin, in which there was something that wore the appearance of a bed. Mine host of the cottage, whose name was Haly, had more importance than a grandee of Spain. He told us that there was not a better man in Cork or Kerry than himself; that he was well acquainted with the Earl of Shelburn and Sir John Colthurst, to both of whom he was nearly allied, and, therefore, he never let either of these families pay turnpike, as he wished to keep up family connections."

This country once belonged to the O'Learys, who were lords of several castles, and the district called Iveleary, There are descendents of the family still living; one of the race, no ignoble representative, was accustomed, some sixty or seventy years back; to take his station on the high road leading into Millstreet, and invite all coiners to partake of his hospitality. He is represented as a fine specimen of an Irish gentleman, of venerable benevolent appearance. He was a justice of peace, and one whose word was law. His look bespoke authority. He suffered no stranger of respectable appearance to pass through Millstreet, without introducing himself to him and courteously requesting the pleasure of his company to discuss his good cheer.

In the Reve. H. Townsend's Survey of Cork, he gives an instance of the hospitality of O'Leary:-Some friends of his arrived at Millstreet, and being very tired wished to retire early to rest, O'Learys who was acquainted with one of the party, prevailed on them to sup at his house. They went with a fixed resolve neither to drink or remain longer than was necessary for the repast; but such was O'Leary's power of pleasing, that they willingly prolonged their stay till morning, and were led im?perceptibly from one bottle to another till it became no easy matter to discover where they had their lodgings. A worthy scion of the honourable house-M'carthy O'Leary, Esq.-resides at Coomlegaun ift the neighbourhood, and is owner of a large portion of the town. Millstreet has vastly increased, containing more than three hundred houses, and has a considerable traffic, its chief importance being derived from the establishment of a military station.

Claragh now stretches its conical head to the sky, as we bend from the west northwards, by Nohaval, on the verge of the counties of Cork and Kerry. Near the ruins of the church of Nohaval, which are close to the bank of the Blackwater, is the stump of a round tower, which, with the church, was dedicated to St. Finian.

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This page last modified on Sunday, March 23, 2008

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Millstreet in 1844

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