The McCarthy who kept the Normans out of Munster

By Frank O’Shea

At a time when the name McCarthy is dominating news out of America, it might be nice to remember the McCarthy who, after the battle of Callan in 1261, kept the Normans out of Cork and Kerry. That was Finghin McCaura.

Compliments Roaringwater Journal

I first visited McCaura’s grave more than 50 years ago. It was in a little boreen off the main Kenmare-Kilgarvan road. Readers are recommended to find the full story about the grave and the story of McCaura with accompanying photographs online at

Tintean is happy to recommend the Roaringwater Journal article to readers. It is a thorough and comprehensive look at the area. At the end of the article, there is a photograph which shows that work has been done on the site. My memory, however, is more in keeping with the ‘hawthorn blossoms’ and ‘briar and waving ferns’ in this lovely poem by Mary McCarthy Downing (1815-1881),

McCaura’s Grave

Mary McCarthy Downing

And this is thy grave, McCaura, here by the pathway lone
Where the hawthorn blossoms are blending over the mouldered stone.
Alas for the sons of glory, O thou of the kingly brow
And the eagle plumes and the belted clans, is it here thou art sleeping now?

Oh, wild is the spot McCaura, in which they have laid thee low,
The field where thy people triumphed over a haughty foe.
And loud was the banshee’s wailing, and deep was the clansmen’s sorrow
When with bloodstained hands and burning tears, they buried thee here, McCaura.

And now thy dwelling is lonely, king of the rushing horde
And now thy battles are over, lord of the mighty sword
And the rolling thunder echoes o’er torrent and mountain free
And alas and alas, McCaura, it will not awaken thee.

So farewell to thy grave, McCaura, where the slanting sunbeams shine
And the briar and waving ferns over thy tombstone twine.
Thou whose gathering summons awakened the sleeping glen
But, McCaura, alas, for thee and thine, it would never be heard again.

Frank is a member of the Tintean editorial collective