Lough Ree funnels into the River Shannon north of Athlone, Ireland Sarah777

The River Shannon’s Main Lakes

Lough Ree (above) funnels into the River Shannon north of Athlone, Ireland Photo Sarah777

Co. Longford

Gurteen, approximately four miles west of Ballymahon, was the childhood home of John Keegan Casey (1846 – 1870), a populist balladeer who participated in the 1867 Fenian uprising and was imprisoned in Mountjoy for eight months, as a result of which his health was broken. He died on St Patrick’s day and is buried in Glasnevin cemetery. A museum commemorating both John and his father was housed for a time in the Leo Casey Schoolhouse, currently for sale.

Co. Westmeath

The neighbouring village of Auburn was where an RIC lorry was ambushed on 1st November 1920, resulting in the death of one policeman and one IRA volunteer

The nearby Colvin Estate was the scene of notorious evictions accompanied by riots in 1887. John P Hayden, editor of The Westmeath Examiner, was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment with hard labour for “obstructing police constables and other ministers of the Law while in the execution of their duty“.

Tang (An Teanga – “The tongue”) (pop. 700) is a rural community on the border between County Westmeath and County Longford, here formed by the River Tang, a tributary of the River Inny, which flows into Lough Ree.

St Mary’s church (RC) serves the half-parish of Tang; the other half is Nouvaghal in County Longford.

The Old National School (1858) provides the main focal point within the area.

Cornelius Rabbit of Tang (1944) was the most famous of a series of well-known children’s book by  author Mary Flynn,  a Dublin schoolteacher from nearby Ballymahon.

Tang is near Ballymahon (Co. Longford) on ByRoute 15.

 Co. Roscommon

Knockcroghery (Cnoc an Chrocaire – “The Hanging Hill / The Execution Hill”) (pop. 160) is a rural village in County Roscommon, Ireland. It is located on the N61 road between Athlone and Roscommon town, near Lough Ree on the River Shannon.

The village nestles at the foot of a stony ridge, which protects it from the east wind that sweeps in from Galey Bay. This accounts for the original name of the village, “Creggan” (Irish: Creagán, meaning “Stony Hill”).

The name change of the village occurred in Cromwellian times (17th century) when Sir Charles Coote laid siege to Galey Castle; the garrison (O’ Kelly / Ó Ceallaigh chief and clan) resisted and for their defiance were taken to Creggan and hanged on the stepped hill just north of the village, now commonly known as Hangman’s Hill. To mark this, the name of the village was changed to ‘Cnoc na Crocaire,’ the Hill of the Hangings, now Anglicised as ‘Knockcroghery’.[1]
Economy [edit]

For over 250 years the village was famous for the production of the tobacco clay pipe, or “Dúidín”. By the late 1800s there were up to 100 people involved in the manufacture and distribution of the village’s clay pipes. Production ceased abruptly on 19 June 1921 when the village was burned down by the Black and Tans during the Irish War of Independence. Knockcroghery is also known for its clay-pipe making. T

oday, a visitor centre and workshop are located on the original site of Andrew and P.J. Curley’s pipe factory, where pipes are handcrafted using the original methods of production. The clay-pipe visitors centre is located in the middle of the village and sells clay-pipes and other hand-crafted souvenirs.

Nearby at Gailey Bay on the shore of Lough Ree, stands Gailey Castle, built in the 14th century. Out in the lake is the island of Inishcleraun named after a sister of Queen Maeve, Clothra. Queen Maeve is said to have been killed here by an enemy while she was bathing.

Portrun is the local lakeside resort, and is popular with tourists and locals alike in the Summer months.

Also in the area stands Scregg House, seat of the Kelly family. On the grounds of the house are some excellent examples of Sheela na Gigs. The building itself is an example of a 3-storey 5-bay mid-18th century country house.

Culleen Hall is located 1 km south of Knockcroghery, and is used as a venue for concerts and local events, as well as a local pre-school.[2]
Hangman’s Hill, the site of the hangings of the O’Kelly clan in the 16th century, is located at the northern end of the village, opposite the Post Office. Beside the Post Office at the northern end of the village is a picnic area on the bank of a stream.

St. Patrick’s Catholic Church was built circa. 1870, and is an example of late nineteenth-century ecclesiastical design. It features a two-stage bell tower with pinnacles and a more recently added copper spire.

Most of the architecture of the village centre dates from the 1920s, when the village was rebuilt after the burning by the Black and Tans. Some buildings, such as the church, the community centre, the parochial house, Murray’s and the Widow Pat’s, predate this however.

Knockcroghery is known by many as the home of Roscommon’s famous All-Ireland winning captain Jimmy Murray (5 May 1917 – 23 January 2007). He captained Roscommon to their only two All-Ireland Senior Football title wins in 1943 and 1944. He was also captain in their 1946 final and replay against Kerry. As the 1943 final also went to a replay, he is the only man to have captained a team in five All-Ireland senior football finals. His public house is a well-known landmark and revered by lovers of Gaelic football from all parts of Ireland.

The Burning of Knockcroghery

In the early hours of 19 June 1921, the Black and Tans set Knockcroghery village alight. It was an act of vengeance for the killing of a British general in Glassan two days previously by the Westmeath Volunteers. British intelligence agents mistakenly believed that the killers had come from Knockcroghery. The Black and Tans arrived in four lorries and parked at St. Patrick’s Church. Reportedly drunk, they fired shots into the air and ordered the people out of their homes. They easily set fire to the thatched roofs of the cottages, using petrol. They were less successful in setting Murray’s, Flanagan’s and the priest’s houses alight, due to their slated roofs. Having no time to take their possessions with them, the people rushed from their houses onto the street, still in their nightshirts.

Unable to set Murray’s roof alight, the Black and Tans set fire to the back door. John Murray reacted quickly to put the fire out, saving the house. The occupants of the thatched houses did not have this opportunity, and their houses burned to the ground very quickly. Michael O’ Callaghan described the scene: “the raiding forces drove up and down the village, firing shots at random, cursing loudly, and laughing at the plight of the people of Knockcroghery. The people were terrified, particularly the children, whose cries of fear added to the terrible scene.” The flames above Knockcroghery alerted the people for miles around to what had happened, and by daylight, the streets were full of people. Jamesie Murray remembered the assistance given to the now homeless people of Knockcroghery: “They came from all over to help. People brought clothes, and a fund was soon set up. The families who were now homeless were accommodated in the vicinity, many staying with relatives who lived nearby. Farm sheds were converted into temporary dwellings. Later, three or four new cottages were built on the Shrah road and given to bachelors, who then took people in.”

The village was rebuilt over the next few years, with help from government grants. The rebuilding provided employment locally, at a time when it was needed.

Events & popular culture

The Knockcroghery Fair is a festival held annually, generally on the third weekend in September, which attracts people from all over Ireland.

Peadar Kearney, writer of The Soldier’s Song (Amhrán na bhFiann), also penned the song “Knockcroghery” when he was challenged to find a word to rhyme with the village’s name. His success in rhyming “Molly Doherty” with “Knockcroghery” is open to debate.


Knockcroghery railway station opened on 13 February 1860 and finally closed on 17 June 1963.

Roscommon railway station is located 10 km from Knockcroghery village and is on the Westport-Dublin line, also serving indirect routes to Ballina, Galway and Ennis.

Knockcroghery is served by Bus Éireann’s Route 21 (Westport-Athlone), with indirect routes to Galway, Dublin and other towns.
Knockcroghery is situated on the main N61 road between Athlone and Roscommon towns, and near the M6 Galway-Dublin motorway.

Rindoon Deserted Medieval Town, County Roscommon

Strategically positioned on a peninsular that thrusts out like a finger into Lough Ree, Rindoon is one of Ireland’s best preserved deserted medieval towns. The castle at Rindoon is thought to date to 1227 and was constructed by Geoffrey de Marisco. It appears that Geoffrey de Marisco was a villain on a Game of Thrones level of nastiness. He was Justiciar of Ireland between 1215 and 1228, and took full advantage of the young King Henry III by being as corrupt in his dealings in Ireland as possible. He amassed huge swathes of land and a fortune by seizing goods, lands and taxes in the Kings name and then keeping the rewards for himself. He was eventually dismissed from office in 1228. He was even excommunicated for misappropriating funds from the Church (the money was just resting in ye olde account apparently).

However he is most noted for a truly despicable event in 1234. He was a long time friend of William Marshall and his brother Richard, and when William died childless, Richard Marshall was the rightful heir to the vast lands owned by his brother. Richard was denied these lands and exiled, falsely accused of treason and associating with the Kings enemies in France by the Kings councillors in an attempt to amalgamate the huge Marshall inheritance into the Royal coffers. The councillors pressured King Henry III into ordering Geoffrey de Marisco to capture Richard Marshall, and if he succeeded de Marisco would be rewarded with all of the Marshall lands in Ireland.

Marshall and a small number of loyal men were surrounded on the Curragh of Kildare by Walter de Lacey, Lord of Meath, Hugh de Lacey, Earl of Ulster, Maurice FitzGerald, Lord of Offaly and a large number of knights and soldiers. De Marisco is said to have advised his old friend Marshall not to surrender and to fight, declaring that he would support him, however as soon as the battle started de Marisco withdrew his men, telling Marshall that he had just remembered that he was newly married to Hugh de Lacey’s sister and so could not possibly fight his brother-in-law. Despite this treachery, Marshall bravely fought on, and is said to have slaughtered six of the knights in a battle that raged for over ten hours. He fought so furiously that the others feared to approach him. They had their foot soldiers maim Marshall’s horse with lances and halberds, in its agony the horse threw Marshall at the feet of his foes, one of his enemies lifted the backplate of his armour and stabbed him in the back. Despite his grevious wounds Marshall survived, until the medical treatment he received (having his wounds probed with a red hot poker) finished him off, and the noble knight died.

De Marisco and his son William were vilified for their treachery, and were not even rewarded for their part in Marshall’s fall, as the King declared that de Marisco was in league with Marshall. The de Mariscos were declared outlaws and became pirates on the Irish sea, regularly raiding shipping to Drogheda and Dublin.

The castle that de Marisco constructed at Rindoon was one of the most important Norman castles in Connacht, and after de Marisco forfeited his lands when he was declared outlaw, the castle became a Royal possession. The castle was in the hands of a ‘constable’ who was responsible for its maintenence and defence, and records from the time show that money was regularly spent on the castle to bolster its defences and maintain it.

The castle is surrounded by a deep ditch and bank, and the base of the walls are clearly battered to provide protection against undermining and to deflect stones dropped from the battlements above into the front ranks of an attacking army.
The gateway is well defended with grooves showing where a portcullis would have barred the way, and murder-holes strategically positioned above so the defenders could pour boiling fats and oil down on top of the attackers.

Unfortunately the interior of the castle is in a dangerous state so access is currently restricted, but hopefully it will be opened to the public soon. (ANYBODY VISITED LATELY? iS IT OPEN NOW?)

The defences of the castle held strong when the town was raided and sacked by Feilimid Ó Conchobhair in 1236, as he was unable to seize the castle. After Feilimid became King the following year in 1237, a period of peace and prosperity came to Rindoon, however it was not to last. Feilimid’s son and heir Aed was far more warlike than his father, and successfully sacked Rindoon twice in 1270, in 1271 and 1272. The raid in 1272 was said to have been so bad that Rindoon was described as being ‘levelled’.

Rindoon Castle was repaired by Geoffrey de Geneville the Justiciar and rich Norman Lord who had inherited Trim Castle in County Meath through marriage. This work was continued by his successor Richard d’Ufford, who spent a fortune repairing the beleaguered town. Rindoon was finally effectively destroyed Ruaidrí Ó Conchobhair captured and burnt the town and seized the castle, while the Anglo-Normans in Ireland were distracted during the invasion of Edward Bruce. There were further small attempts to reconstruct the town, but it was positioned in increasingly hostile territory, and the resurgent Gaelic tribes repeatedly raided the town before it was finally abandoned. Some of the features of the site appear to date to the sixteenth and seventeenth century so it is apparent that activity, albeit on a much more muted scale, continued sporadically at Rindoon.

The remains of a windmill are also visible at Rindoon. The earliest mention of a windmill at Rindoon was recorded in 1273 when 45 shillings was paid to Richard Le Charpentier for steel to construct the mill. A mill also appears in the 1636 maps.

These remains are likely to date to that first half of the seventeenth century. The remains are of a round stone tower three stories tall (probably still at its original height). The tower is set on top of a low mound and surrounded by a ditch, it is thought the mound may well be the remains of the site of the original medieval mill.

The church at Rindoon appears to be of thirteenth century date. It is a typical nave and chancel church and is positioned on a height overlooking the beautiful Lough Ree. There are a number of other medieval features to discover at Rindoon, like the stone walls that once enclosed the town, and you can still make out the plots where houses and field systems give tantalizing glimpses of everyday medieval life.

Rindoon is a fantastic site to visit, and as well as the intriguing history and archaeology, it makes for a lovely walk. It is similar in feeling to the other deserted medieval town I visited in March, at Newtown Jerpoint in Co. Kilkenny. At both of these sites you get this real atmospheric feeling that the medieval past is only covered by a thin veil, that the quiet fields covered with sheep were once vibrant markets, streets and houses thronged with people going about their daily lives. A site well worth a visit!

Rindoon is roughly half way between Roscommon Town and Athlone on the N61 and it is well signposted from the road (sat nav co-ordinates N53.54389° W008.00299°). There is a small area to park your car. The main part of the site is about a 15min walk through fields, the fields are full of livestock (cattle and sheep) so do remember to bring appropriate footwear and please close all gates behind you.

Lough Derg

Lough Derg, historically Lough Dergart (Irish: Loch Deirgeirt),[1] is a freshwater lake in the Shannon River Basin, Ireland. It is the third-biggest on the island of Ireland (after Lough Neagh and Lough Corrib).

It is a long, narrow lake, with shores in counties Clare (south-west), Galway (north-west), and Tipperary (to the east). It is the southernmost of three large lakes on the River Shannon; the others being Lough Ree and Lough Allen. Towns and villages on Lough Derg include Portumna, Killaloe & Ballina, Dromineer, Terryglass, Mountshannon and Garrykennedy.

The lake’s name evolved from the Irish Loch Deirgdheirc.[1] This was one of the names of The Dagda, an Irish god, and literally means “red eye” (text from Wikipedia)

The Shannon Estuary

The Shannon Estuary (Irish: Inbhear na Sionainne) is a large estuary where the River Shannon flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The estuary has Limerick City at its head and its seaward limits are marked by Loop Head to the north and Kerry Head to the south. The estuary defines the main boundary between County Kerry/County Limerick to the south and County Clare to the north.

The length of the Shannon Estuary is 97 km (60 mi). The Shannon has a high tidal range, up to around 5.44 m (17.8 ft) at Limerick docks, such that the estuary has been considered for tidal power schemes, despite occasionally experiencing a tidal bore (text from Wikipedia)

Shore Island

This 30-acre island owned by a local farmer is a 10 minute boat ride from the Clare shore according to the selling agent. The island is currently used for grazing cattle and is surrounded by deep tidal waters and is accessible by boat at all times. Fresh water is pumped to the island. There are a number of old ruins on the Island, “which could be helpful for planning permission purposes,” says the agent., who says the island is most likely to be bought by someone “who values their privacy”. (Irish Times 26th July 2012)

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