To conclude this mini series on the lovely valley of Glenasmole, let us consider the name and it’s possible meaning. There are two lines of thought: the first is that it represents Gleann na Smól(aigh) and means the ‘valley of the thrush or thrushes’. Quite why this valley would have notably more thrushes than other valleys is hard to say but you’ll have to agree that it is a beautiful and evocative designation.
The alternative is found well explained here: https://www.duchas.ie/en/cbes/4428218/4386851/4456567 and that Glenasmole represents Gleann na Smóil and means the ‘valley of the burnt or black patch’. This version is not quite so appealing but equally of interest. Like Fionn McCumhaill it too is rooted in mythology – we’re back in the 12th century Book of the Dun Cow where the ancient story of Togail Bruidne Dá Derga is told – the destruction of the Dá Derga habitation, the slaying of the mighty Conaire Mór High King of Ireland and several hundred others. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Togail_Bruidne_D%C3%A1_Derga for a summary.
Eugene O’Curry working for the Ordnance Survey in the 1830s reported that this Dá Derga hostel was said to be located along the mearing that I wrote about two days ago. You will recall I mentioned this is still locally called the Moat Road and there are two moats down along the banks of the Dodder yet, both marked on our Dublin & North Wicklow Mountains map. I’m not quite sure why you’d have a bruíon or living place up on a height like this but it is a story! In other accounts it was said to be visible from the sea. Anyway, there was said to be a track to this place which is remembered in the name Bohernabreena also at Glenasmole: Bóthar na Bruíne – the track to the Dá Derga bruíon. This ties the two names together.
So in this version Gleann na Smóil – the ‘valley of the burnt or black patch’ is a memory of the sacking & burning of Bruidne Dá Derga.