History of Macroom
The name Macroom can be explained in 3 ways
1) Derived from the Irish version of Maigh Cromptha or crooked plain
2) Said to have it's origins as the Plane of Crom the pagan God
3) Based on the landmark of a tree near the bridging point of the
river. This gives its name as
meaning "crooked Oak".
First documented reference to Macroom reaches back to about 550
ad. When it was known as Achad Dorbchon and existed within the Kingdom
of Muscraighe (Muskerry).
Up until 1600, this area is referred to as a major religious centre.
At various times it was a Bardic
religious centre where the area represented a centre for the Druids
of Munster, an ancient burial grounds and also served as the seat
of the Bishop of Cork.
The earliest references to settlement at Macroom are in the form
of archaeological ruins, some of which are still visible today.
These include ring forts, stone forts, fulacht fiadhs (cooking pits)
and souterrains (underground passageways). Standing stones are noticeable
in the district. They dot the landscape with great regularity. Some
of these mark prehistoric burial sites. Some of the stones are as
high as 15 feet with some of the stones bearing Ogham inscriptions.
The area represents the home place of St. Finbarr, founder of Cork
City, and the site of his first church near Macloneigh.
A battle at Bealach Leachta (Bealick) at the confluence of the
Sullane and the Laney rivers took place in 978 between Brian Boru
and Miles MacBrain, chief of the O'Mahoneys and King of Carbery.
The purpose of the battle was for Brian Boru to avenge the death
of his brother Mahon who had been killed by MacBrian. Following
the slaying of MacBrian by Brian's son, Murrogh, Brian became King
During the reign of the Ui Fhloinn (O'Flynns) tribe in the twelfth
century a castle was built at Achad Dorbchon (Macroom). Evidence
suggests that the O'Flynn family were one of the earliest and most
influential families of the Muskery region. They had their headquarters
at Macroom and established the first village site. The castle was
the focal point for all subsequent development at Macroom.
In the thirteenth century Macroom suffered 3 invasions. The final
was by the McCarthys who went on to become the dominant and most
powerful family within the region. The rise in prominence of Macroom
in the years leading to the 17th century was due to the early influence
O'Flynns and the McCarthys.