The decision to hike up Cnocura Mountain (pronounced locally as Conna-Coora) (481 m in height) was inspired by my curiosity about a battle described by Liam O’Dwyer in his book, “Beara in Irish History”.
According to O’Dwyer a fierce battle was waged between Conmaol, King of Ireland and Tighermas of the Heremonions in 1230 B.C. This date is in question however as abstracts from “The Annals of the Four Masters,”place their lives and deaths in the 1600’s B.C., a much earlier time frame for this battle. Although Conmaol would be overthrown by Tighermas eventually, the battle on and around Cnocura brought Tighermas close to defeat.
Troops of Tighermas were situated in the promontory Fort of Dunbuidhe, which later became the site of Dunboy Castle near the town of Castletownbere. Conmaol’s fleet swept into the sound, taking Tighermas’ men by surprise. They fled to the surrounding hills and were followed to Gabhair (Gour). Continuing their retreat they climbed the steep sides of Cnocura Mountain and met their death at the top. They were slaughtered because they hadn’t anticipated a surprise attack coming from the other side of the mountain. Some of Conmaol’s men had landed their boats in Urhan and had climbed the hills to meet their exhausted victims at the top. According to O’Dwyer the name Urhan comes from “uir” (generative “ura”) which was the old Irish word for “slaughter”. Uir is also old Irish for “grave”. Tighermas’ loss of men during this battle was devastating; the dead were buried where they fell. The fallen officers of Conmaol’s troops however, were taken to Gabhair (Gour), where they were cremated with honour.
I could feel my heart race as I looked at the magnificent view surrounding me. I realized Tighermas’ men must have been able to see their pursuers as they fled; one could see for miles and miles. It must have felt like the edge of the world…such terrible, amazing beauty! I wanted to stay longer but the wind was chilly and storm clouds were rolling in. I will return on a sunny day to take better photographs, (the view must be exquisite on a cheerful, bright day), and perhaps bring a gift for the dead who still haunt the landscape.