Archiver > FERMANAGH-GOLD > 2007-04 > 1176971631

Subject: Re: FER-GOLD The Dogs.
Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2007 04:33:51 EDT

Hi All,
In response to the enquiry about "The Dogs" the following from the CD of
John O'Donovan's Letters from Fermanagh in 1834 which I produced from the book I
did away back in the dim and distant past of 1993. The CD was wonderfully
produced by Jan Hart of Ariadne Web Design.
JC (file:///D:/odonovan/1835.htm)
Monday, Enniskillen/ Novr 24th 1834.

Dear Sir,

I arrived here yesterday at 12 o'clock and got all the extracts &c, sent up
by you. The Annals throw great light on Muintir-Pheodachain and I was much
pleased to find that the Mac Gillinnions were its ancient chiefs, because they
are at present by far the most numerous family in the district, but have
shamefully anglicized their name to Leonard. The family of Muintir-Pheodachain
also exists in Fermanagh but they are fast changing the name to Swift, from some
fancied signification of the name.

The following passage throws great light upon the situation of the
A.D. 1429. "Many of the men of Breifny were slain by Muinter Pheodachain or
Tulach orda on Sliabh da Chon." &c, &c."
These names do not become interesting until they are connected with the
present ones. Tullagh odra is yet the name of a townland in the parish of
Devenish, and Slieve Da Chon is so called at this day by the Irish speaking people
of the district but those who speak the English, the Two Dogs. Slieve Da Chon
signifies the mountain of the Two Dogs, and there is a wild tradition in the
country that Fin Mac Cool's two famous greyhounds Sgeolan and Bran, were
metamorphosed into two mountains by a witch who appeared to them in the shape of
a doe. Mr. Johnston of Aghakeeran, a famous sportsman in his day, calls
these two hills the "Two Beags."

They are about a mile asunder, and the larger is called by peasantry AN
CHOIN MHOR, and the smaller AN CHOIN BHEAG but Big Dog and Little Dog are now the
established names in the country, and the mountain district is called Sliabh
Da Chon by all. _(1)_ (file:///D:/odonovan/letter25.htm#1) I send you a
trace from the Grand Jury Map of Fermanagh which shows the situation of this

I can never forget the story of the two dogs or the interesting individual
who told it to me and Mr. Taylor at Derrygonnelly.
My comment in the book.
(1) The "Dogs" are now surrounded by newly planted conifer forests and in
future will be difficult to see. This mountainous area between Garrison and
Derrygonnelly known as The Dogs or in Irish, Slieve Da Chon, the Mountain of the
Two Dogs. The hills are supposed to be the two hounds of Finn Mac Cool who
were metamorphised into adjacent hills by a witch who had taken on the shape
of a doe. O'Donovan records this story but has less than a love of stories of
Finn Mac Cool and the Danes. He is sick of inane stories about them and
comments dryly in a letter from Maghera on September 3rd, 1834, that everything in
Ireland was erected by the Danes or Finn MacCool. He traces a lot of this
Finn Mac Cool and the Danes to books such as Hugh McCurtin's, History of
Ireland, which had such an effect on the mind of the people that these mythical
super humans took over from many of the previous associations of place in the

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