The moat which once cut the neck of land was now dry and overgrown; the gateway remained, but it was sinking—the earth claimed it. There were the ruins of a great house a little way inland, to which no doubt the descendants of the chieftain retired on the decline of brigandage; and the rough hunting life of its semi-chieftains was figured by the gigantic stone fox on a pillar in the middle of the courtyard and the great hounds on either side of the gateway.
Castle Carra must have been the strongest castle in the district of Tyrawley, and it was built maybe by the Welsh who invaded Ireland in the thirteenth century, perhaps by William Barrett himself, who built certainl y the castle on the island opposite to Father Oliver’s house.
William Fion (i.e., the Fair) Barrett landed somewhere on the west coast, and no doubt came up through the great gaps between Slieve Cairn and Slieve Louan—it was not likely that he la nded on the east coast; he could hardly have marched his horde across Ireland—and Father Oliver imagined the Welshmen standing on the very hill on which his house now stood, and Fion telling his followers to build a castle on each island. Patsy Murphy, w ho knew more about the history of the country than anybody, thought that Castle Carra was of later date, and spoke of the Stantons, a fierce tribe. Over yonder was the famous causeway, and the gross tragedy that was enacted there he yesterday heard from the wood-cutter, William’s party of Welshmen were followed by other Welshmen—the Cusacks, the Petits, and the Brownes; and these in time fell out with the Barretts, and a great battle fought, the Battle of Moyne, in 1281, in which William Barrett was killed. But in spite of their defeat, the Barretts held the upper hand of the country for many a long year, and the priest began to smile, thinking of the odd story the old woodman had told him about the Barretts’ steward, Sgnorach bhuid bhearrtha, ‘saving your reverence’s presence,’ the old man said, and, unable to translate the words into English fit for the priest’s ears, he explained that they meant a glutton and a lewd fellow.
The Barretts sent Sgnorach bhuid bhearrtha to collect rents from the Lynotts, another group of Welshmen, but the Lynotts killed him and threw his body into a well, called ever afterwards Tobar na Sgornaighe (the Well of the Glutton), near the townland of Moygawnagh, Barony of Tyrawley. To avenge the murder of their steward, the Barretts assembled an armed force, and, having defeated the Lynotts and captured many of them, they offered their prisoners two forms of mutilation: they were either to be blinded or castrated. After taking counsel with their wise men, the Lynotts chose blindness; for blind men could have sons, and these would doubtless one day revenge the humiliation that was being passed upon them. A horrible story it was, for when their eyes were thrust out with needles they were led to a causeway, and those who crossed the stepping-stones without stumbling were taken back; and the priest thought of the assembled horde laughing as the poor blind men fell into the water.