First Historical Record

Fenagh 1244

We have no specific reference of Fenagh until 1244, at which date the Annalists (four Masters and Annals of Ulster) record an interesting event.

Fenagh was plundered by O’Connor who encamped there on his way to meet the O’Reilly clan in battle. The O’Reilly’s had killed his foster son and kinsmen Teige O’Connor. The O’Connor were not intent on exacting retribution . The Church was wrecked and many of the monks were slain. The Abbot who was absent during the desecration on returning demanded an eric for the damage and murder done.

Eric; The eric was the fine payable to the kinsfolk of one who met with a violent death by those responsible for the deed. It was part of the Brehon laws and was in force in some places as late as the beginning of the seventeen century.

The Abbot demanded as eric from O’Connor “that you deliver up to me the very best man among you”. O’Connor answered “That is Manus the son of Muirteach Muimhneach”. However Manus did not agree and refused. Manus insisted “he who is the head of the army” should be the eric.

The Abbot said he would not leave them “until I obtain my eric”. O’Connor’s army marched out of Fenagh accompanied by the Abbot. It seems that on reaching Ballinamore the river crossing was flooded and as a result O’Connor’s army could not go any further. O’Connor ordered his army to knock down the nearby church of St. John the Baptist so that a bridge could be constructed across the river. They were getting along very successful with their work of desecration, when suddenly a huge beam crashed on Manus, killing him instantaneously. In this way the Abbots demand of eric was fulfilled.

Manus was buried at Fenagh and three times the full of “Fenagh Bell” of gold plus thirty horses were given to the abbot, as an offering for this soul. The annalists tells us that Manus was interred outside the door of the church at Fenagh. A monument of hewn stone and a beautiful cross were erected over his mortal remains. Sadly they were broken down not long afterwards by the O’Rourke’s.