What's in a Name

Extract from "Sweet Inniscarra" by Tim Sheehan

History of Inniscarra:
“Sweet Inniscarra by the banks of the Lee, where it winds itself gracefully, down to the sea” are lines of a popular lyric which readily suggest that Inniscarra is a Leeside parish in a setting of natural beauty and with roots deep in the history and culture of the past.
The name Inniscarra dates from the 6th century and is traceable to the arrival of St. Senan, the patron saint of the parish. When St. Senan followed the course of the river Lee from Cork harbour he arrived at a place which was then known as Tuaim n-Aba, an inch or an island with three channels of the river Lee. He settled close to the largest channel at the confluence of the rivers Lee and Bride where he founded a monastery. The place is now known as Inniscarra graveyard.
The inhabitants of the area at that time were of the Eoghanacht race, the dominant power in Munster, made up of a rather loose federation of dynastic groups that descended from Eoghan, a great king who ruled Munster a century before the dawn of Christianity. We learn from the metric life of St. Senan that the Eoghanacht Rathlind, a leading dynasty of the race, with headquarters at Templemartin and from whom the name O’Mahony sprung, had some control over the area in which St. Senan settled in Inniscarra.
From an incident in the metric life of St. Senan, which gives the origin of the name of Inniscarra, it is understood that the ethos of the originators of the O’Mahonys was to stamp their identity on every challenge to their power. On hearing of the arrival of St. Senan, the king of Raithlind, a prince of the tribe, Lugaid the Breasted, sent a messenger to Inniscarra demanding taxes from Senan who refused to pay. Lugaid, asserting his authority, sent his racehorse to Senan to be fed on corn. Sometime afterwards the horse got drowned in a deep pool at the confluence of the rivers Lee and Bride. The horse’s leg showing above the surface of the water gave rise to the name Cara, which when joined with the name Inis, the inch or island where the incident occurred, gave the name Inniscarra.
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