4. Trinity island

Trinity Island is the site of one of two religious foundations on Lough Key. The other is Inchmacnerin, or Church Island, with a church established by St. Columbkille in the 6th century (Mattimoe 1992). Subsequently Augustinian Canons established a priory there.

Clarus Mac Mailin, son of the erenach of Inchmacnerin, who died 1251, founded the monastery of the Premonstratensians (reformed Augustinians), dedicated to the Holy Trinity, in 1215.

The ranks of Canons were augmented in 1228 by the defection of monks from the Cistercian Abbey of Boyle, which was seen by the Cistercian Council of that year as having become too gaelicized. The monks brought with them their manuscripts and learning, which, under Clarus' direction, developed eventually into the great manuscripts of the Annals of Lough Key and the Annals of Connacht.

A text in latin (see MacDermot of Moylurg, page 210) records a dispute between the Canons here, and the Monks of Boyle, over the burial of Dermot Mac Gilla Carraig, erenach of Tibohine, in 1229

The monastery was granted protection by the Justiciar of Connacht, when he and other Anglo-Norman notables visited it to pray, prior to attacking MacDermot's castle in 1235.

After the general suppression of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1536-7, this monastery was granted to the Mac Dermots who allowed the Canons to remain in occupation, and it appears that they continued to occupy the House until it was confiscated by James I in 1608.

The Island is the burial place of Sir Conyers Clifford, the Commander of the English forces in the Battle of the Curlews, 1599.


Trinity Island viewed from the landing place in Drummans Middle



Trinity Island
The east window dates from the 15th century. A sacristy and Chapter House are still traceable


interior of church, 9k
Some participants of the 1993 MacDermot Clan Gathering, after Mass on Trinity Island

It is also the final resting place of Una Bhán MacDermot and Tomás Láidir Costello. Una Bhán, daughter of Brian Óg MacDermot, died of grief having been forbidden to marry Tomás as the match was considered unsuitable.
Dr. Douglas Hyde, first president of Ireland, writes of the legend of Una Bhán in his Love songs of Connacht, published in 1893.The verses here are his translations from stories still extant in the late 19th century.

"O fair-haired Una, ugly is the lying that is upon you,
On a bed narrow and high among the thousand corpses,
If you do not come and give me a token,
O stately woman, who was ever without a fault,
I shall not come to this place for ever, but last night and tonight"
(Tomas, on visiting Una's grave just after her burial)

"...O fair Una, like a rose in a garden you,
And like a candlestick of gold you were on the table of a queen,
Melodious and musical you were going this road before me,
And it is my sorrowful morning-spoil that you were not married to your dark love.

O fair Una, it is you who have set astray my senses,
O Una, it is you who went close in between me and God,
O Una, fragrant branch, twisted little curl of the ringlets,
Was it not better for me to be without eyes than ever to have seen you?"