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O'Cahan Tomb at Dungiven Priory

O'Cahan Tomb

The Tomb at the Priory of Dungiven is located on the south wall with the head-pointing due west. The tomb itself consists of three parts: firstly a stone effigy of a horizontally extended figure at full length wearing what appears to be a quilted shirt. The legs of this warrior are bare and he holds in his left hand a long sword sheathed which, with his right hand, he seems about to draw as seen in image below.

The main architectual part of the monument is a Gothic arched canopy over the whole tomb. It is approx. 10 feet high and the angles of the carving are still sharp. The Tomb is believed to date from 1384 and is said to be the burial place of the O'Cahan Chief Cooey na Gall O'Cathain. The supporting Galloglass figures on the tomb resemble tomb carvings in Athassel, Co. Tipperary. It was also an Augustinian Priory and served as the retirement and burial place of the Norman-Irish deBurgh family. The style of the tomb at Dungiven has also been compared with a similar tomb at Iona monastery, representing a chief called Bricrius MacKinnon. From the detailed study of it's features the Royal Commission of Iona has stated that the "effigy must be assigned to the second half of the 14th century.


Cooey's Gallowglass


The second part of this tomb are a host of decorative miniature figures supporting the warrior effigy, all are attired in exactly the same manner and all in the same attitude of being ready to draw swords. These figures are believed to be gallowglass warriors, each wearing a large helmet, chain-armour around the throat and shoulders, a huge quilted shirt which reaches to below the knees, around the middle they have a sword-belt, and finally bare feet and legs.
The Style of architect may well have been influenced from this Iona tomb, due To Cooey-na-Gall own daughter being married to a MacDonald Lord of the Isles, so creating a close family and cultural link.

 

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