Art O Laoire (Arthur O’Leary) is said to have been a soldier in Maria Theresa’s Hungarian Hussars. He cut a dashing figure when he returned to his native district of Macroom, where he is said to have worn a sword. The sword drew attention to him. So did his ungovernable temper. Abraham Morris, one of the local gentry, offered Art five pounds for his horse. Art declined. Art was later shot and killed by Morris and his men. The year was 1773. Art’s wife was Eileen Dubh ní Chonaill, aunt of Ireland’s Liberator, Daniel O’Connell. The story of Art and Eileen unites Muskerry and Iveragh, the barony from which the O’Connells hail, but it unites both with Glenflesk where Eileen’s mother was Maire ni Dhuibh, one of the Black O’Donoghues, the terror of the Williamite settlers in the days of the Irish tory. Eileen had been married previously, a child bride at Firies of an O’Connor of Kerry, who was deceased when she first saw Art at a fair in Macroom.
Art was shot at Carriganimma, and the return of his riderless horse to Eileen at their house is one of the iconic images of Munster in the era of the penal laws, as iconic as the image of Eileen kneeling at the corpse of her slain husband. She wrote the famous lament, or caoineadh, on Art: Caoineadh Airt Ui Laoire, which is one of the great poems of the eighteenth century in any language. Art was buried first at Kilnamartra and later removed to Kilcrea for burial.