The mass rock at Inse an t-Sagairt in the town land of Innisfoyle (locally known as Slios) has for generations been a place of pilgrimage and reverence for the people of Bonane. There is a very strong folk belief that a priest was murdered while celebrating mass there during penal times.
Folk belief has it that this event occurred in 1829. At that time there was woman in Glengarriff, known as Nell na Deataighe. Nell ran a Shibeen (Illegal pub) and a house of ill repute! It was in her house that the murder was plotted!
There was still a price of £45 on the head of a priest and this provided an incentive, not to mention immunity from prosecution. Five men with the name Conchabhar, (pronounced “Kruhoor” meaning Con or Cornelius) plotted the murder in Nell’s Shibeen. They were known by their nicknames of Conchabhar Randum, Conchabhar Raibheach, Conchabhar Clampar, Conchabhar Chuithig and Conchabhar Mhiceire.
They became aware that mass was to be celebrated at the mass rock at Inse an t-Sagairt. They crossed the mountain from Glengarriff and made their way down a rocky ravine in the mountain, clearly visible from the Baureragh road, known as Eisc Caol. They came upon the priest while he was celebrating mass and with no chance for escape they dragged him to a fallen tree nearby where he was decapitated.
The priest’s clerk was taken prisoner and he together with the severed head was first taken to a house, no longer in existence, near Killowen, Kenmare. Blood from the head dripped on the flagstone of the door and legend has it that this stain could not be removed; even when the stone was replaced the stain reappeared!
The clerk was taken to Dromore Castle, where he was released on the strand and two mastiffs set loose on him for the sport of his captors.
Being a strong swimmer he took to the water where he outmanoeuvred the dogs. Grabbing a dog by the scruff of the neck with each hand he headed for the other side of the bay, some three miles away.
Propelled by the powerful animals he had little difficulty in reaching the far shore where he disposed of the dogs before making good his escape.
A journey to Cork by the perpetrators to claim the reward proved in vain. Catholic Emancipation had just been won so the money was never paid and the head was dumped in the River Lee!