Cork and Kilnamartyra

By Dan O Riordan, Mark Dooley, Donal Noonan, Brendan O Connell and Daithi Mc Sweeney

In AD 820 the monastery of saint Fin Barre was attacked by sea-borne raiders . In AD 914 a great fleet from Scandivian devasted Munster and the monastery in Cork was one of the monasteries raided by the vikings .

However some of the original newcomers were merchants were allowed to remain undisturbed in the port of Cork . They took over some of the neighboring territory in Cork. The people of Cork traded with them purchasing wine , salt and and other goods from them .

The Vikings most likely settled in a small cove in Cove street . Excavations revealed the existence of a tidal mill-pond stretching over the area now known as Meade’s street , Cove street, Mary’s street and Sullivans Quay. An archeologial dig found a heavy stone wall which surrounded the mill-pond in the latter middle ages .

In 1130AD a Viking thief who stole the jewels of Clonmacnoise but could get none of the ship’s from Cork to take him abroad. He was hanged by Cormac Mac Carthy whoes castle was based at the north side of the river Lee .

The Lee divides in two at the western edge of Cork city. The river Lee flows eastwards into Cork city . On the western approaches it divides into two channels ; the north channel and the south channel these channels converge at the eastern edge of the city . The original viking base was, as has been said above, at Cove street an inlet of the south channel .

The area between the two arms was the marshy district from which Cork got its name (Corcach means march). Here on the edge of the marsh is where the Vikings settled .

St Finbarrs monastery occupied a ridge over looking the march from the south side . St Finbarr had moved from his original base in Gougane Barra , an remote and peaceful hermitage in an isolated valley, the source of the river Lee 64 km due west of Cork . Cork city evoled from his settlement .

Our district , Kilnamartyra lies 48 km due west of Cork city. A small monastic settlement founded by St Lachteen survived his death in 622 AD and in fact lasted until its destruction by Cronwellian forces in 1650 . It suffered a viking raid in 832 AD which left it in a sorry state but it was subsequently restored and continued as a place of pilgrimage . The church was known as Cill na Martra (called the “Church of the Human Relic”) as Lachteens hand was preserved in a shrine as an object of veneration. This name is now applied to our district and village in which the school is situated.