ByRoute 15.2 Co. Longford (W) // Co. Mayo (N)

 

Creggs & Glinsk (Co. Galway / Northeast)

Creggs / Creegs (Na Creaga – “the rocks”) (pop. 100), a pretty little village in the old Civil parish of Kilbegnet, was once a popular rural hub, with a monthly Fair, dancing, football and Feiseanna (music competitions). Of its once famous seven pubs, only three remain.

memorial monument commemorates Charles Stewart Parnell, who made his last public speech here only two weeks before his death. The monument was inaugurated by Éamon de Valera in 1946 to mark the centenary of Parnell’s birth. (A better photo would be VERY welcome!)

The CS Parnell Heritage Centre in the village hosts a range of activities and is the home of the Kilbegnet & Ballinakill Historical Society.

Creggs is

Ballinakill church


Ballinakill church occupies a site said by archaeologists to be an “early ecclesiastical enclosure”, probably dating back to the C5th / C6th. The medieval building, of which little remains, was erected in the early C13th- undoubtedly one of the earliest, and reputedly the first, Gothic church in Connacht.

 

The church contains a fine limestone effigy of a Norman knight in full battle regalia, thought to represent William De Burgh, founder of the various De Burca / Burke / Bourke dynasties.

 

The church was extended in the C14th century by the addition of a chapel, long used as the burial place of theMacDavid Burkes, with a flamboyant South window that was filled with a large monument to Sir John Burke in 1722.

 

The land was granted to Sir Nicholas Malby in 1577.

Glinsk (Gleann Uisce – “glen of the water”) is a small village located in the valley of the River Suck, which has a 60-mile hiking trail.

Glinsk Castle


Glinsk Castle stands on the site of an earlier castle owned by the Lords of Clonconway, the MacDavid branch of the powerfulDe Burca / Burke family. The present Tower House,  reputed to be the last castle erected in Ireland, was built by Sir Ulick Burke, probably c.1628, when he was made a baronet.

Gutted by fire at an early stage, it survives as an exceptionally well-preserved ruin, with mullioned windows making it look more like a gentleman’s country residence than a fortified defensive structure. The tall, elegant chimney stacks are regarded as the best examples of their kind in Ireland (Photo byHyacinth45).

Ballymoe (Co. Galway / North)

Ballymoe /Bellamoe (Béal Átha Mó – “ford-mouth of Mogh”) (pop.435) is a crossroads community situated on the western side of the River Suck. The surrounding rural area features raised bogs, forts and a mass rock from penal times.

The name Béal Átha Mó is derived from a fort which was said to have been built by Queen Meabh of Connacht, under the order of the druid Mogh. The fort and village later became known as Átha Mogh Mór and Béal Átha Mogh.

St John’s church (CoI), built in 1815 to serve the rural parish of Oran and closed for worship in 1962, is apparently largely intact but abandoned and overgrown,  making for a dramatic photograph.

Éamonn Ceannt, one of the executed leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, was born in 1881 in the RUC barracks in Ballymoe where his father Jameswas stationed as a police officer. The Garda barracks in the town today is named in his honour.

Fr Edward J. Flanagan (1886 – 1948), born locally, emigrated to the USA in 1904 and in 1917 founded Boys Town, Nebraska, a centre for homeless / troubled / delinquent youths, made famous by a 1938 film starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney. He is commemorated in Ballymoe by a statue and a Memorial Centre.

Williamstown (Co. Galway / North)

Williamstown (Baile Uilliam / Liam) (pop. 275) was founded in 1836 by landlord William McDermott of Springfield House purely to spite a rival who tried to establish another local town (which failed to survive).  The village is quite scenic, and enjoys a strong musical tradition.

The old church of the Sacred Heart (RC) was completed in 1839.

The Mickie Timothy Traditional Music & Set Dancing Festival, held every August, includes  céilís, concerts, sean-nós singing and dancing sessions and workshops, plus busking competitions, all in honour of a well-loved local farmer, carpenter and accordionist who travelled everywhere by bicycle and died in 1996 at the age of 87.

The Carrenderry Bog Road is a popular signposted walking route aross a remote landscape.

The countryside around Williamstown is noted for its numerous Ringforts. Parts of an ancient roadway are visible at Castletogher.

Templetogher (“the church of the pass / causeway”), the location of an old mill and granary, is also the most ancient Christian site locally, with an  early church outline and a once popular Holy Well named for Saint Patrick, who is said to have passed this way.

Another mill stands in neighbouring Clough, and a second Holy Well can be found in nearby Beaugh.

Corralough lake is popular for angling; boats are available for hire.

Dunmore (Co. Galway / North)

Dunmore (Dún Mór – “Big Fort”) was named for a stronghold of the ancient O’ Connor kings of Connacht.

Dunmore Abbey, an Augustine Priory established in 1425 by Walter de Birmingham, Lord Athenry, on the site of an ancient monastic settlement reputedly founded by Saint Patrick, survived until King Henry VIII‘s 1540 Dissolution of the Monasteries, when most of the complex was levelled to form a market place, leaving only a section converted into a parish church, the rather impressive ruins of which are still visible.

Dunmore castle was originally erected beside the Sinking River c.1225 by the de Berminghams, but was torched by the O’Connors in 1249, by Fichra O’Flynn in 1284 and by Rory O’Connor in 1315. The present castle was probably built after the last burning. Although taken by Sir Henry Sidney, it remained in de Bermingham hands until the Cromwellian plantations. The mullioned windows on the top floor suggest that it was partially rebuilt and used in the late C16th / early C17th century. It was inhabited until the early C19th.

Henry Mossop (b. 1729), son of a Dunmore clergyman, made his first stage appearance in Dublin in 1749 and two years later launched a successful acting career in London under David Garrick’s management. Returning to Ireland, he took over the Smock Alley theatre in 1860 and entered into intense rivalry with Spranger Barry‘s Crow Street theatre, which involved both houses in financial difficulties. Back in London in 1771 to recruit actors, he was arrested for debt and made a bankrupt. He toured the continent for a year in an effort to acquire funds but his health broke down and he died in poverty in the winter of either 1773 or 1774.

Gideon Ouseley


 

Gideon Ouseley (1762 – 1839), born into an Anglican gentry family in Dunmore, spent much of his childhood in the cabins of peasant neighbours. During a wild youth he lost an eye in a tavern brawl,  reputedly leaving him with a frightening appearance.

 

Gideon was converted to Methodism in 1791 by English soldiers stationed locally. Setting out to convert others, his knowledge of the Irish language and of peasant mores— not to mention his eccentric preaching astride a white horse— won him renown as Methodism’s ‘apostle to the Irish’.

 

Oliver St John Gogarty wrote two plays under the pseudonym Gideon Ouseley,A Serious Thing and The Enchanted Trousers.

 

The writer John Mulvey Ousley was of a later generation of the same family.

The area around Dunmore is noted for its large number of ringforts.

Dunmore is

Milltown (Co. Galway / North)

Milltown, a small village on the banks of the Clare River, has won the National Tidy Towns prize for the tidiest town in County Galway seven consecutive times in recent years.

Milltown Community Centre, a place for the young and old to participate in many varied activities, has an interesting little museum.

Milltown Heritage Park &  Riverside Walk are impressively landscaped and laid out with picnic areas and other amenities, including a scenic Slí na Sláinte rural walk.

The Dick Dowling Cottage is a replica by Robert Riddell of the birthplace of Richard W “Dick” Dowling (1838 – 1867), who was raised in New Orleans and Houston, Texas, where he established a successful chain of saloons; as the victorious Confederate commander at the Second Battle of Sabine Pass in the American Civil War, he is considered first prominent citizen and hero of the city of Houston, where Tuam Street was named in his honour.

Millbrook House was the home of John Birmingham (1816–1884) an astronomer, amateur geologist, polymath and poet, who  travelled extensively in Europe and was proficient in several languages, corresponding with scientists and contributing to learned journals in various countries. In 1846 and 1847 he was active in works to relieve the worst effects of the Great Famine around Tuam, and established a reputation as a good landlord. At Millbrook he built what the Tuam Herald called a large wooden house with a sliding roof, which formed his first observatory. In 1866 he discovered the recurrent nova T Coronae Borealis and the Birmingham Lunar Crater. The Royal Irish Academy awarded him the Cunningham Medal in 1876. In 1881 he discovered a deep red star in Cygnus constellation, now named after him. Other subjects on which he published articles included rock formations, meteor showers and sunspots.

Michael Joseph “MJ” Molloy (1917-1994) was born and died in Miltown, and meticulously recorded local folklore for some 50 years. He trained at St Columban’s College in Dalgan Park to become a missionary priest in China, but contracted TB and began using his long hospital stays to write plays, of which nine premiered at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, three were produced in London, three on Broadway, New York, and many broadcast / televised. His main works includeThe Old Road (1943); The King of Friday’s Men(1948); The Wood of the Whispering(1953); The Will and the Way (1955); Daughter from Over the Water ( 1958); The Wooing of Duvesa (1964); The Bride of Fontebranda (1975); Petticoat Loose (1979);The Bachelor’s Daughter (1985); and The Runaways (1987). His grave bears an inscription from Isaiah  – “Woe to those who call evil good and who call good evil”.

Kilconly & Kilbannon

Kilbannonis the site of  the mother church of the Archdiocese of Tuam, older than Tuam itself;  founded by Saint Benan / Benignus, the son of Sescan, a chieftain from an area in the modern County Meath, the continued importance of the monastic community was evidenced by the erection of a Round Tower c.1000 AD.

 

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