ByRoute 18.2 Co. Leitrim // Co. Sligo

These pages, currently UNDER CONSTRUCTION, should (provisionally) link Cloone Grange (Co. Cavan) with Grange (Co. Sligo)



Carrick on Shannon


The Thatch pub est 1734 on the Elphin Road, nowrun by Gene Anderson, is a great place to hear genuine Irish Traditional music. (Photo by Murray Kerr)




Curlew Mountains

Battle of Curlew Pass 1599


Megalithic site overlooking Lough Arrow





Ballymote (Baile an Mhóta – “town of the moat”)(pop. 1570) is a market town in southern County Sligo in the province of Connacht, in the north west of Ireland.

Ballymote Castle, the last and the mightiest of the Norman castles in Connacht. This castle, dating from 1300, was built by Richard de Burgh. It also has a Market House, a three-bay, two-story building currently used by the South County Sligo Community Mental health service of the Health Service Executive.

 Ballymote railway station opened on 3 December 1862.Ballymote lies on regional roads R293, R295 and R296, and on the main Dublin to Sligo railway line.

A number of sports are played in the town, including gaelic football at Corran park and soccer at Brother Walfrid Memorial park. Numerous other sports are played, particularly at under-age level. Golf is played at a nine-hole course on the outskirts of the town.

Some well-known people from Ballymote and the surrounding areas include:

The title Viscount Taaffe, of Corren, was created in the Peerage of Ireland in 1628, together with the subsidiary title Baron Ballymote. From 1661 to 1738, the Viscounts Taaffe were also the Earls of Carlingford.
From the 18th century onwards, the holders of these titles mainly lived in the Holy Roman Empire, where they also held the title of Graf von Taaffe (German: Count of Taaffe). In 1919, as a consequence of siding with the enemies of Britain in World War I, the viscountcy was one of only three primary titles (together with the royal dukedoms of Albany and Cumberland) to be forfeit under the Titles Deprivation Act 1917. Also in 1919, the family’s Austrian title was abolished along with all other Austrian noble titles. In any case, with the death of the 12th Viscount’s heir in 1967, all these titles, and any claims to them, are now extinct.

From the 13th century, the Taaffes had been one of the leading families in Ireland. In 1628, Sir John Taaffe was raised to the Peerage of Ireland as Viscount Taaffe, of Corren, and Baron Ballymote. He left fifteen children, of whom the eldest, Theobald, who succeeded him as 2nd Viscount Taaffe, took a prominent part in the English Civil War and on the Restoration was created Earl of Carlingford. The 1st Earl was succeeded by his second son Nicholas, who had served in the Anglo-Spanish War, as 2nd Earl. He was killed at the 1690 Battle of the Boyne fighting for the former King James II of England against William III of Orange, when his title was attainted and his estates forfeited.
The Taaffes in continental Europe[edit]
The 2nd Earl’s younger brother, Francis, studied at the University of Olomouc (Olmütz) in the Imperial Margraviate of Moravia, and served at the court of Emperor Ferdinand III as well as under Duke Charles IV of Lorraine, whose most intimate friend he became. He rose to be a Field Marshal in the Habsburg Army, having greatly distinguished himself at the 1683 Battle of Vienna and in the other Turkish campaigns, and was a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece. He was sent on many important diplomatic missions, and at the end of his life was Chancellor and Chief Minister to the Duke of Lorraine. Despite the Jacobite connections of his family, Francis Taaffe was confirmed as 3rd Earl of Carlingford by King William III, and the attainder and forfeiture of the estates incurred by his elder brother was repealed. This favour he owed to his position at the court of the Holy Roman Emperor, William’s most important ally in the Grand Alliance.
On the 3rd Earl’s death, his titles and estates went to his nephew Theobald, who succeeded as 4th Earl. His father had fallen during the 1689 Siege of Derry, and he had himself served with distinction in the Habsburg Army.
On the 4th Earl’s death in 1738, the Earldom of Carlingford became extinct; both the Imperial and Irish estates as well as the viscountcy of Taaffe went to a cousin, Nicholas, who succeeded as 6th Viscount while his Irish estates were claimed under the Act of 1703 by a Protestant heir, leading to a lengthy lawsuit. Like so many of his family, Nicholas Taaffe had been brought up in Lorraine, was Chancellor of Duke Leopold and joined the Habsburg Army; he fought in the Silesian Wars against Prussia. After years of fighting for his Irish estates, the case was ended by a compromise embodied in a private Act of Parliament, by which the estates were sold and one-third of the value given to Nicholas Taaffe. With the money he acquired the castle of Ellischau (Nalžovy) in Bohemia; he had also inherited other property in the Habsburg dominions. He was naturalised in Bohemia, and left on record that the reason for this step was that he did not wish his descendants to be exposed to the temptation of becoming Protestants so as to avoid the operation of the Penal Laws. Nicholas Taaffe had a distinguished career in the Habsburg Army; he eventually rose to the rank of a Field Marshal, and was created Graf von Taaffe (Count of Taaffe) by Empress Maria Theresa. The Taaffe family thus held titles of nobility from different countries, governed by different rules. While the Irish titles descended according to strict primogeniture, the title of Count was under Austrian and Holy Roman Empire law and applied equally to all male-line descendants of the original grantee in perpetuity; male family members were thus styled Graf, female family members were styled Gräfin.
With the Taaffes now living mainly in the lands of the Habsburgs, a Committee of Privileges of the House of Lords in 1860 recognized the right of the family to hold the Irish title.
Eduard Graf von Taaffe, 11th Viscount Taaffe had a distinguished political career in the service of the Habsburgs and served for two terms as Minister-President of Austria under Emperor Francis Joseph I, leading cabinets from 1868 to 1870 and 1879 to 1893. Upon his death in 1895, his peerages passed to Heinrich Graf von Taaffe, 12th Viscount Taaffe.
Loss of both titles[edit]
In World War I, the Taaffes remained loyal to the Austrian monarch. Thus in 1919, the 12th Viscount was deprived of the viscountcy following the enactment of the Titles Deprivation Act 1917. Under the provisions of the Act, his heirs and successors were entitled to petition the British Crown for restoration of the title. However, on the death of his last male-line descendant Richard in 1967 no eligible heirs remained and the title effectively became extinct.
Independent of the legal situation in Britain, the monarchy was abolished in Austria in 1918, and on 28 April 1919 the newly established Republic of German Austria abolished all noble titles by law. Heinrich Graf von Taaffe, 12th Viscount Taaffe thus lost both his titles and ended his life as plain Mr Taaffe.
Brother Walfrid, the founder of Glasgow Celtic Football Club

Commemorative sculpture of Brother Walfrid
Michael Corcoran, Brigadier General of the 69th Infantry Regiment during the American Civil War

September 11 memorial
Ireland’s National Monument to Fighting 69th in Ballymote
The Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg unveiled Ireland’s national monument to the 69th Infantry Regiment (aka The Fighting 69th) and Michael Corcoran in Ballymote on 22 August 2006. At the foot of the monument is a piece of steel from the World Trade Center in New York, which was attacked on September 11, 2001. The steel was donated by the family of a local man who died in the attack..




Ballintogher (Co. Sligo / East)

Ballintogher (Baile an Tóchair – “settlement of the wooden causeway / track”) (pop.200), created a borough in 1266, has changed hands and fortunes many times due to its strategic location south of the Killery Pass, separating the baronies of Carbury and Tirerril. The Pass overlooks Killery on Lough Gill.

Kingsfort House was probably built c. 1790 by the Maguire family, the leading local Roman Catholic landlords and later Justices of the Peace. There is a record of French troops under General Humbert’s damaging the house as they passed through the village after their victory at the Battle of Collooney, and compensation to the amount of £1 10s had to be paid to Mr. Maguire. One room was regularly used as a court for petty sessions, complete with a raised platform for the judge and a small cell for the prisoner. In recent years Kingsfort House has been run as  Kingsfort Country House guesthouse and restaurant.

Ballintogher’s former Church of Ireland edifice (c.1847), a sturdy Gothic Revival style structure designed by Joseph Welland, chief architect to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, is now privately owned.

Killery parish church (RC), a vaguely art deco edifice designed by architect Vincent Kelly and built in 1933 to replace an older structure nearby, is the first church in Ireland dedicated to Saint Therese of Lisieux, a fine marble statue of whom stands over the main door; a relic given to the bishop by her elder sister, Mére Agnes of the Carmel of Lisieux, is a prominent object of devotion in the church

The scenic surrounding area is of great geological interest, created during the last ice age, with a large range of soil types and rock structures, including a dark-green band of magnetic serpentine in the Slishwood Gap.

Archaeological and historical sites include several megalithic tombs and numerous ringforts, a testament to settlements dating back over several millenia.

Castleore is the location of one of the best preserved cashels in County Sligo, some of the stones from which were used to build the first Anglo Norman settlement at Ballintogher.

Ballintogher is


Dromahair (Co. Leitrim / East)

Dromahair / Drumahaire (Droim Áth Thiar – “Ridge of the western ford” / Droim a dhá Eathair – “Ridge of the two  demons / air-spirits”) (pop. 500) is an ancient settlement surrounded by beautiful countryside on the banks of the River Bonet (An Bhuannaid), which flows into Lough Gill.

Dromahair’s exceptionally picturesque C19th streetscape was modelled on a Somerset village  by the Earl of Leitrim. There are several very good shops and pubs / music venues (notably Stanfords and The Blue Devon).

This is one of several County Leitrim districts quietly repopulated during the Celtic Tiger years by urban refugees in search of rural lifestyles. However, the economic crisis has left a lot of empty properties.

Dromahair History


Saint Patrick is recorded as coming to Dromahair in 440AD, and “labouring there for a considerable time“, founding a church, a monastery and a nunnery, of which no traces remain. The location was long known as Carrig Phadraigh – “Patrick’s Rock”.


A major stronghold was established c.950 AD at Dromahair by the Uí Ruairc / O’Rourke clan, chieftains of Brieifne / Breffni, an ancient Gaelic kingdom that at its zenith stretched as far as Kells in County Meath.


Dromahair is the place from which Tiernan O’Rourke‘s wife Devorgilla escaped in 1153 with the king of Leinster, Dermot McMurrough , a romantic folly which brought about a feud, McMurrough’s eventual exile from Ireland, his appeal to King Henry II of England for help, and the Norman invasion that eventually led to the destruction of Gaelic Ireland.


The O’Rourkes remained powerful regionally until Elizabethan times, and then only locally until the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, when they were ousted by Cromwellian forces.


In 1798 General Humbert’s French and Irish forces, pursued through Leitrim to Longford, rested in Dromahair, and captured British artillery was thrown into the Bonet to allow faster movement of the army.

Breffni Castle, once the mightiest of the many O’Rourke strongholds, has long been reduced to sparse ruins; together with its relatively intact C14th Banqueting Hall, it occupies a focal point on a green promentory overlooking the river gorge.

Dromahaire  / Villiers’ Castle, a Manor House constructed c.1626 by Sir William Villiers, is an atmospheric ruin.

Drumlease parish church (CoI), an attractive edifice with manicured grounds, appears to date from the mid-C19th.

St Patrick’s church (RC) was erected in 1889, not far from where the saint is supposed to have founded the first parish church in Ireland.

Creevelea Abbey


Creevelea Abbey, (Photo by gypsybill)


Founded in 1508, Creevalea was the last Franciscan Friary to be built before King Henry VIII‘s 1540 Dissolution  of the Monasteries, after which the O’Rourkes continued to sponsor it as their family chapel. It was reopened as a monastery in 1601, but  the friars were finally forced out c.1645 by Cromwellian soldiers.


The last of the Maguire landlords of Ballintogher was buried under Creevelea’s high altar.


The nave, choir, tower and transept are well preserved, and a carving of Saint Francis still remains in the ruins, now protected as a national monument.

William Butler Yeats used to visit the local parish priest, the model for his poem The Ballad of Father Gilligan, while Dromahair features in the opening line of  The man who dreamed of Faeryland –

He stood among a crowd at Dromahair
His heart hung all upon a silken dress
And he had known at last some tenderness
Before earth took him to her stony care…

The Abbey Manor Hotel, furnished with fine antique furniture throughout, has a lovelyVictorian conservatory, a distinctive bar and a good restaurant, but can be noisy at weekends.

Breffni Holiday Cottages are pleasant modern self-catering facilities in the grounds of the rather splendid C19th Dromahair Lodge.

The Riverbank restaurant, run by John Kelly and Declan Campell, is very highly rated.

Ard Nahoo Health Farm offers ethical eco-retreats in natural surroundings.

The Tour De Humbert Cycling Trail passes through the village.

Dromohair Community Festival in summer 2009 was a great success, likely to be repeated. The village also hosts an annual Wise Women Festival in May / June and a Harvest Food Festival and Festival of Film Adaptations in September.

Terrific views of Lough Gill and its islands can be seen from a high rock plateau near the village, which is surrounded by stunning unspoiled natural landscapes, dominated by the impressive  “Sleeping Giant” formation of Keelogyboy, Leean and Benbo mountains. Also visible are O’Rourke’s Table and  Greenawn, a beautiful conical wooded hill that  Saint Patrick is said to have considered “the nicest in Ireland“.

Dromohair is



From Manorhamilton take the N16 towards Sligo, but after about 3km turn right for Lurganboy. Turn left downhill in the village of Lurganboy. This will take you back on the R280. Turn left in the direction of Bundoran. This ride takes you through Glenade and some of the most breath-taking scenery in the North-West.


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