Co. Mayo's Peninsulas

The Curraun Peninsula

Corraun Peninsula (Photo by )

The Curraun / Corraun / Currane Peninsula (Corrán Acla – “sickle of Achill”) (pop. 1000), nearly an island itself,  is located in the old Barony of Borrishoole and is attached by a narrow isthmus to the mainland north of Clew Bay, and is accessible from Mulranny on ByRoute 1.

The large (50 sq. mi.) peninsula is widely regarded as little more than a prelude to Achill Island, and its inhabitants consider themselves and the islanders as part of the same community / parish. It is essentially a rural district, with population points at Dooaghbeg, Bolinglanna, Curraun / Currane, Mweewillin, Belfarsad, Polranny, Tornragee and Owenduff, all on the narrow road encircling the peninsula’s hills like a necklace, ideal for cyclists,with ever-changing views of sea and slopes.

The hills on the peninsula, characterised by outcrops of reddish rock, are more often walked by shepherds than hillwalkers, but they can make for a rewarding day out. They are gently sloping on their southern side facing Clew Bay,  but on their north side there are cliffs and corries. A large central area of forestry is crisscrossed by a network of  paths and trails, some signposted.

The southern shore of the Curraun Peninsula has a number of low sea cliffs and rocky shore sites offering spinning for coalfish, pollack and mackerel and occasional garfish, bottom fishing for bull huss, conger and dogfish. In addition there is good float-fishing for wrasse, while Altapheebera adds bottom-fishing for flounder and plaice. High water is best. Lugworm can be dug in a small bay to the west of Currane.

The peninsula is dotted with sites of archaeological interest, providing evidence of human habitation since prehistoric times.

The Spanish Armada Memorial is a stone plaque  commemorating the 400th anniversary of the 1588 wreck  close to Toorglass (Currane) of the San Nicolas Prodaneli, a  member of the Levant (Mediterranean) Squadron, boasting 26 guns and 355 men, originally a 834-ton merchant carrack built in Ragussa (present-day Dubrovnic, Croatia),  named in honour of her commander and probable owner Marin Prodanelic.

Dooagh / Doogh / Dogh /  Beg is the location of a ruined C19th stone structure, used as an ice house for the local  commercial fishing industry founded in 1855 a Scotsman named Alexander Hector, and supervised by Scottish overseers.

Corraun Hill / Cnoc an Chorráin (“hill of the hook”) (553 m / 1815ft ) may derive its name from its shape, or perhaps to the promontory Gob na hAirdeGubnahardia, near which the village of Currane is situated. The summit commands great views of Clew Bay, Clare Island, Achill and the Mullet peninsula.

Lough Nambrackkeagh (“the lake of the blind fish”). (Photo by Dr Stephen Davis, UCD)

Currane, has a good community website – http://www.currane.net/

This village had a working copper mine until the end of the C19th.

Corraun House

 

Corraun House, built in the mid-C19th by the Currane landlord, Charles Scrase Dickens, a grandson of the great English author, was home to his family and descendants for almost a century.

 

The gardens at Corraun House were once renowned for their variety of plants, shrubs and trees, both native and imported. Two gardeners were employed and visitors came from far and wide to see the gardens and glasshouses.

 

The house was sold to the local schoolmaster in the late 1940s. From 1948 to 2006 the east wing of the building was a small traditional friendly pub called ‘The George’.

 

The current owners, Jane and Alistair Steger-Lewis, are restoring the house and gardens, and also offer B&B accommodation.

Sir Robert Peel, 3rd Bart (1822 – 1895), undistinguished Irish Secretary 1861-1865, also built a house in Currane. His namesake father, UK Prime Minister 1841-1846, had as Chief Secretary for Ireland set up the world’s first modern police force (“Peelers”), and later, as British Home Secretary, established the Metropolitan Police ( “Bobbies”).

Gubnahardia Harbour is a tranquil haven for local fishing boats.

Polranny / Pollranny / Poll Rathnaí (“Fern Hollow”) has been described as “seven houses and a shed“.

The Polranny Pirates are a group of artists, writers and academics who have a house in Polranny and maintain a blogspot.

The Michael Davitt Bridge connecting the mainland to Achill Island; the original structure, inaugurated by the eponymous Fenian in 1887, was replaced in 1947 and again in 2008. A swinging section caters for the passage of small boats.

A great photo of Polranny Hill (457m) can be seen here.

Tonragee / Tóin re gaoith “Backside to the wind”) is a small village with a pub called the Way Inn, and is probably best known for the Tornragee Pipeband.

Bellacragher Bay, a large tidal inlet, is home to a commercial fish farm.

 

 

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