Lore about the O’Flahertys

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  • Teideal (Title): Lore about the O’Flahertys.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 853915.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): none.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): English.
  • Catagóir (Category): Lore.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Lucy Simpson.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 17/06/1980.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): Private.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): Unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

Here Joe shares some stories and lore about the ‘Ferocious’ O’Flahertys, who held sway in Conamara for some three hundred years prior to the Cromwellian settlement. One chieftain who was particularly despised for his cruelty was Tadhg ‘na mBuille’ Ó Flathartaigh – Tim O’Flaherty ‘of the Blows’ – whose death at the hands of a widow’s son from Renvyle is among the stories Joe tells here. Additional folklore has it that Tadhg forbade any person to cut turf within seven miles of the castle, and that he poisoned the nearby lake, killing all the fish in it.

Among the many castles built by the O’Flahertys throughout Conamara was one in Áird Thoir, a short distance from the house where Joe was raised. It is built at the isthmus separating Áird Thoir from Áird Thiar, and is said to have had a trap door that enabled the chieftain to dispose of troublesome guests directly into the sea below. Ruins of the castle are still visible, and are the reason why Áird Thoir is also called ‘Áird an Chaisleáin’.


An account, in Irish, of the death of Tadhg na Buille was recorded from the late Michael Tom Mhacaigh Mac Con Iomaire, An Coillín, Carna in 2001 by Seán Ó Guairim. The recording is held in the archives of Áras Shorcha Ní Ghuairim, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, Roisín na Mainiach, Carna.