"but Finghin Mac Carthy had learned much from his opponents during his years of conflict, while he had the added advantage of knowing intimately the territory over which he fought. At Callann he chose his battleground, at a spot where a mountainy river called the Slaheny joins the Ruachtach,61 close by the castle of Ardtully. No doubt he reckoned that here the heavily-armoured cavalry of the invader could be used to the least advantage. Battle was then62 joined and Finghin mac Domhnaill mhic Charthaigh emerged victorious.
Unfortunately no details of the conflict, --apart from the names of those slain--are available. Incidentally, the fullest account of the battle is given, not by the Munster annals, but by the Annals of Loch Ce
and Annals of Connacht
A.D. 1261. A great war and numerous injuries were committed in this year by Finghin, son of Domhnall Mac Carthaigh and his brothers, against the foreigners. There was a great hosting by the Geraldines into Desmond to attack Mac Carthy, but it was Mac Carthy attacked them, and defeated them. There were killed there the son of Thomas (John was his own name), his son, and fifteen knights along with them. Eight good barons were also slain with many squires and soldiers (sersénaigh) innumerable.63
The loss of the head of the Munster Geraldines and his heir64 was not the most grievous blow the Normans suffered. Worse still was the loss of prestige occasioned by the magnitude and conclusiveness of the defeat itself. Little wonder that it marked a turning-point in their fortunes. In the early days of the conquest, their heavily-armed professional soldiers had but to show themselves to strike terror into the hearts of the natives, as did John de Courcy's men when the Ulaidh assembled to attack them at Downpatrick in 1178.65 Indeed, only the year before Callann, another crushing defeat at Downpatrick drew the following poetic lament: Unequal they came to the battle,
The foreigners and the race of Tara,
Fine linen shirts on the race of Conn,
The foreigners one mass of iron.66
Now, however, Finghin Mac Carthy's lightly-clad Gaedhil had proved themselves the equals of the Normans in battle. The resulting uplift to their morale made itself felt immediately. At the head of the Desmumu, Finghin swept eastwards and northwards through Desmond, burning the Norman strongholds of Dún Mic Oghmainn,67 Dún Uisce,68 Macroom, Magh Oiligh,69 Dunloe, and Killorglin, as well as much of the land of Uí Chonaill.70
'Fasighi imdha i nNessumin' (many wastes in Desmond) the Annals of Innisfallen
commented briefly. Not even the Cogan lands in Muskerry escaped, for at least three of the castles mentioned, --Dún Uisce, Macroom, and Magh Oiligh--were on the territory of the Cogans. Finghin spared nobody in his determined efforts to clear everyone of Norman descent out of the once extensive kingdom of his great-grandfather, Dermot Mac Carthy."