Ahascragh is a small village with a population of 250 located in East Galway. The village gets it’s name from the Irish Ath H’oiseir (Ford of Oscar) which in turn get’s it’s name from the Ford of the Sandy Ridges which forms part of the Esker Reada that runs accross Ireland. Saint Cuan is the Patron saint of the village. His death is recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters in 788 A.D. Also in the Annals of the Four Masters there is reference to the battle of Ahascragh in 1307 between the English forces and the O’Kelly Chieftains. Nowadays the village can be described as “a typical bit of old Ireland, with many characteristics of the past”.
Annaghdown, situated on the shores of Lough Corrib , was once the site of a 12th century diocese, later abandoned by the Diocese of Tuam. Saint Brendan of Clonfert is supposed to have died here in 577 A.D., having first founded a monastery. The archaeological remains of the village reflect its monastic history, and comprise holy wells (named after Saint Brendan and Saint Cormac) and ruins of a castle , the cathedral, and Augustinian priory another religious foundation. Annaghdown has a particularly tragic place in Irish history. Before the local roads were properly surfaced it was customary for the people of the vicinity to travel by boat to Galway to market, animals, poultry, people and produce travelled together in the boats.
Thirty miles out to sea from Galway lie the three Aran Islands, home of the sturdy fisherfolk immortalised by the playwright J.M. Synge in Riders to the Sea and The Aran Islands. The three islands- Inishmore (7635 acres), Inishman (2252 acres) and Inisheer (1400)- are rugged and barren. Through unremitting toil the islanders have made soil from sand and seaweed to provide sustenance for their livestock. The everyday language of the islanders is Irish, and their songs and stories enshrine much of Ireland’s folklore and culture. Kilronan, on Inishmore, is the main town of the islands and the terminus of the boat service from the mainland.
This charming village on the N18, with a wide market square and cross, still retains much of its rural charm despite the passing traffic. The O’Heynes, or Hynes, Lords of Aidhne, had their stronghold here in ancient times and, with the help of other Irish clans, inflicted a terrible defeat on the Normans in 1225, a feat still recalled in that rousing song, The West’s Awake. However, in 1236, Richard de Burgo, after successfully conquering County Galway, granted Ardrahan to Maurice Fitzgerald who built a stone castle, the ruins of which lie just north of the village. The boundary of this early Norman settlement continues across the N18 where the gable of a medieval church still stands in the churchyard. The lower section of a round tower, one of just four in County Galway, lies imbedded in the surrounding wall, suggesting an even earlier monastic settlement in Ardrahan.
Athenry, 15 miles east of Galway City, proudly claims to be the finest surviving medieval town in Ireland. Founded about 1235 by the de Bermingham’s, as Connachts second major town, it became ‘fossilized’ after its disastrous sacking in 1579 by Red Hugh O’Donnell. As a result, Athenry still retains more and better medieval monuments than anywhere else in the country. Not only is Athenry’s street plan unchanged since medieval times, but its town walls, with wide surrounding moat, five out of six wall towers an done fie arched gateway surviving, are without doubt the most impressive and best of their period.
Aughrim is a neat compact village straddling the Aughrim River. It won the tidiest village in County Wicklow award in 1996. There are a number of charming granite terraced houses opposite Lawless Hotel. Aughrim is an important agricultural, horticultural and timber processing village. The GAA County Ground is located on the edge of the village. The new angling lake is licensed for all year round trout fishing and is open daily to visitors.
Ballinasloe ( Beal Atha na Sluaigheadh – the Town of the Ford of the Hostings), is an ancient town which increased in importance when Turlough O’Connor, King of Connacht, fortified Dun Leodha (Dunlo) at the beginning of the 12th century. In 1124 he built a stone castle there to command the river crossing. The town has a population of 6,000, and is situated in the centre of a district that is steeped in history. Ruined Churches and Abbeys testify to the piety of its people and their steadfastness during Penal Times. Old Forts and castles tell of ancient enmities and of the long struggle between Norman and Irish. The tragic battlefield of Aughrim reminds us of the time when Irish and Anglo-Irish united to fight for the cause of the Catholic Stuarts against William of Orange, and died in their thousands.
The low lying area of Ballyconneely lies exposed to the Atlantic waves. Many beautiful beaches are found here, the most unusual of these being the Coral Strand, a rich golden beach which skirts the main road between Clifden and Ballyconneely village. In sharp contrast the rocks and craggy islands off the western tip of Ballyconneely have threatened many passing boats and fishermen in the area. The location of a lighthouse at Slyne head in 1863 has given a safe passage to many and ben a friendly light in the night sky to the surrounding areas. Amongst the sand dunes looking towardes the lightohouse is the beautiful Connemara 18 hole Championship Golf Links.
This attractive little town, on the N63, is situated by the River Suck, which forms the county boundary with County Roscommon, and, thus is an ideal base for the angler. Its long street and square are kept neat and tidy, and it is not surprising that the town has won number of Bord Failte Tidy Town awards. Just 1.5 km north of the town, lies Aghrane Woods with lay-by, picnic sites and forest walks.
Ballymoe is the centre of a small rural area involved in small scale mixed farming. It has examples of natural history i.e. – raised bogs, forts and a mass rock from penal times. Despite the small size of Ballymoe it has nevertheless produced many notable individuals down through the years, and has a long and varied history, and also has a multitude of various sporting achievements and local organisations which respond to the needs of the locality. The local businesses are also highlighted to present the commercial dimension of the Ballymoe area. We hope over the next few pages you will gain an insight into Ballymoe and if you have any queries you can get in touch with the Ballymoe Development Group.
A busy market town on the North East corner of Down District, Ballynahinch was laid out by the Rathdown family in the first half of the 17th century. Windmill Hill is famous as the site of the Battle of Ballynahinch in June 1798. Ballynahinch Community Centre has facilities for basketball, badminton, tennis and outdoor playground. Just outside Ballynahinch is Spa Golf Club, host to the annual Heart of Down Golf Tournament organised by Down District Council. Riding facilities are available at Ballynahinch Riding Centre.
Barna, a picturesque little spor with an excellent bathing beach, namely, the Silver strrand. Spiddal, in the heart of an Irish-speaking district, is a charming little holiday resort with a fine sandy beach. Bathing, boating and shore fishing are attractions.
Carna is in the heart of the Gaeltacht, an area where Irish is the everyday language. This is an area rich in ancient culture and tradition. On the sixth century St. McDara built a small church on one fo the islands off the coast. The unique stone roof of the church has recently been restored. The saints feast day is celebrated in mid- July when people make their way to the island for the celebration of mass. This is also an area renowned for its skilled boatmakers the best known of these being the Galway Hookers and the small craft used commonly along the west coast called the curragh.
Carraroe is, perhaps, the main centre of Cois Fharraige, (By the Sea), the extensive Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) area of South Connemara. It is one of the most important places promoting Irish culture involving both language, song and dance and, like many places in the district, organises Irish Summer schools for children from English-speaking areas. It is also a very popular holiday resort for Irish-speaking holiday makers from other parts of the country. It is the ideal base from which to explore not only its own peninsula wedged between Casla Bay and Greatman’s Bay, but also the whole series of islands composed of Lettermore, Gorumna and Lettermullen, all joined by causeway to the mainland. There is an old world atmosphere to be found here, with endless winding boreens and high granite walls leading to now silent turf quays and deserted beaches.
Twelve miles (19 km) south-west of Tuam on the Galway road is the village of Claregalway, near which are the ruins of a Franciscan abbey built by John de Cogan in 1290. It was one of the most beautiful of its kind in the country. The church consists of nave, choir, north aisle and transept, surmounted by a graceful tower, of which parts remain in good state of preservation. The archers under the tower are particularly beautiful, as are the windows and arcades. The old castle near by, with its massive square tower, was built by the de Burghs.
The Village of Clarinbridge is south of Oranmore, on the Galway to Gort Road, close to the head of Dunbulcaun Bay, the most easterly inlet of Galway Bay. The name Clarinbridge derives from the bridge across the Clarin River and the river took its name from the plank bridge that succeeded the original hurdle crossing. According the PW Joyce, the name translates into Irish as Droichead and Chl?ir?n, (the Bridge of the Little Plain). Other sources refer to the village as Ath-Cliath Medah-Raighe (the Hurdle Bridge of the Old District). Beside the Clarinbridge River there is an earthwork which is reputed to have been a medieval fortification. On the east coast close to the Ballynamanagh bridge, is Dunbulcaun, a ringfort with a motte-type, central mound.
Further afield from Clifden, 7 miles (11 km) to the north-west, the little fishing village of Cleggan is the gateway to Inishbofin and its neighbouring islands. Inishbofin is ideal for an interesting out-of-doors holiday: its attractions include remarkable cliff scenery, good beaches, sailing, sea angling, and much of interest to antiquarians, geologists and naturalists.
Nestling at the head of Clifden Bay between mountains and the sea is the capital of Connemara. A small market town it was founded by John D’Arcy in 1812 and grew rapidly in the first half of the nineteenth century. John DArcy’s own home was Clifden Castle a gothic structure now in ruins situated on the Sky Road overlooking the sea. A monument stands to the west of the town on the hill. A beauriful view of the town and the two church spires can be has from this point.
Clonbern is located 17km from Tuam, 42km from Ballinasloe, 50km from Galway city, 40km from Roscommon and 40km from Knock. Cluain Beirn, Beirn’s meadow, or the cloon or bog-island of Beirn. Cluain is rendered in English by lawn or meadow. Its exact meaning is a fertile piece of land, or a green arable spot surrounded or nearly surrounded by bog or marsh on one side and water on the other. (Joyce) ‘Irish Names of Places’ It consists of 267 houses with population of 910. Clonbernis a half parish of Kilkerrin and share most of its features. In the past agriculture was the main source of income but this is slowly changing.
This quiet village, near Cong and the Mayo border, is an ideal centre for the trout angler as it nestles easily between the two great lakes of Corrib and Mast. For the more adventurous, Mount Gable lies just 2 km to the West, and is an easy climb of about one hour’s duration. The effort is worthwhile because the views of Lough Corrib stretching away to the south, Lough Mask to the north and the Connemara mountains to the west are simply stupendous.
Cornamona village is one of the major centres for trout and salmon angling on the northern shores of Lough Corrib. There are large pike to be caught here also as is evidenced by the large one exhibited in the local pub. Most of the larger islands on the Corrib, including Inchagoil, lie directly south-east of the Dorrus Peninsula on which Cornamona is situated. The village is in part of the Gaeltacht or Irish speaking region of North Connemara.
Corofin is a small market village about 13km from Ennis. It is the centre of a complex of lakes, one of which is Inchiquin Lake where there are two ruined castles once O Brien strongholds. Sir Frederick Burton was born in Corofin House in 1816. He went on to be the director of the National Gallery in London, and died in 1900. The Clare Heritage Centre displays the traumatic period of Irish History, between 1800 – 1860, including the Famine, land tenure and culture. Built on the River Fergus on the edge of the Burren, Corofin is a convenient location from which to tour the area.
On the eastern shores of Lough Corrib, the largest lake in the republic is Corrandulla, a fine location from which to base an angling trip in the area.
A village on the Galway-Dublin road , Craughwell was the birthplace of Robert O’Hara Burke (q.v.) , who explored central Australia in the nineteenth century, and the graveyard of Killeeneen holds the grave of ‘Blind Raftery’ (Anthony Raftery) , (1784-1834 ), poet, harpist and composer of songs. The local countryside has a number of field monuments: ruins of castles, gallery graves, pillar stones, ring barrows and tumuli. Nearby is Saint Cleran’s House, formerly the home of film director John Huston. The kennels of the local hunt, the Galway Blazers, are nearby.
Dunmore is in North County Galway on the N83, 13km north of Tuam and near the borders of Roscommon and Mayo. The population of the parish of Dunmore is 2,900, the town itself has a population of 385. Linked by heritage with the castle is the Augustinian Abbey in the town itself and about 700 yards away by road. The Abbey was founded by the De Bermingham’s in 1425, although local tradition has it that there was an older abbey near the present site and written evidence suggests that an abbey existed as early as 1398. The Abbey can be linked by the river by providing a walk to the castle.
Eyrecourt is a very attractive village with some interesting architecture. The village has two nineteenth century churches, one Catholic and the other Church of Ireland. The Church of Ireland church has some very fine Mural plaques bearing the names ofthe Eyres, Pollocks and other local latter-day gentry. The church itself is an architectural gem and exhibits some interesting carved ornamentation. The Catholic Church has some fine stained glass windows, the work of John Early of Dublin. It also hasa Sanctuary Lamp donated by Count de Bastro, from Kinvara, a friend of Dick Martin and Lady Gregory. The large house, beside the Catholic Church now the home of the Clarke family, was formerly the presbytery.
Galway, the city of the tribes, is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. The city grew from a small fishing village. In 1235, the Anglo Normans had captured the fort of the Galway chieftains, and built a strong castle, around which the medieval settlement grew. The walling of the city started in 1270, and the city grew as a merchant city. It’s wealth was created by 14 merchant families, who later became known as the 14 Tribes of Galway. During the first half of the 17th century, it was a well built city, however, two seiges by the Cromwellian and the Williamite forces saw the fall of the city. The Tribes went into exile, and it is only today that a real revival of the city is evident. Today it is a city known for it’s love of the arts and culture.
Glenamaddy is the most important town in the north eastern corner of County Galway. It became the music capital of Connacht during the 1960s when the Showband craze swept the country. To the east of the town lies Loch Lurgeen, a raised bog of special significance to those interested on the flora and fauna of wetlands, including David Bellamy, the noted TV nature expert.
Gort, is a market town situated half way between Galway and Ennis, and ideally located to explore the Burren and South Galway/North Clare. Nearby are the famous Coole Park (Nature Reserve and Heritage Centre) formally the home of Lady Gregory and cradleof the Irish literary revival; Thoor Ballylee (Formally the home of the poet W B Yeats ) and a small museum at Kiltartan Old School, the Gregory Museum. The town of Kinvara is only 15 km away, with its sea-angling and the Burren is easily accessible to the west. The town of Gort has been designated a heritage town, and its street-plan and shop-fronts (some of the finest examples of traditional shop-fronts in Ireland) are the reason for this.
Headford, some 28 km north of Galway, is the popular angling centre for the eastern shore of Lough Corrib, and Greenfields, some 6.5 km west of the town, is its boating harbour. The town is situated next to the Black River (noted also for its trout angling) which is the county boundary with Mayo. Headford is also the centre of an area rich in archaeological monuments, ranging from prehistoric burial cairns, Iron Age stone enclosures, early Norman and later castles, to a bewildering array of monastic sites. These include nearby Ross Errilly Friary, founded in 1351, which has been described as the best preserved monastic ruin in Ireland. Today, the modern cattle mart, although replacing the fairs and markets once held in the town’s two squares, ensures the local popularity of this North Galway town.
The eastern island is the smallest of the three Aran Islands and is only 8km from Doolin in County Clare. Inishere most outstanding ruin is O’Brien’s Castle, a 15th century tower house. Ancient ruins here, includes those of Teampall Caomhain (St Kevin’s Church), in a sandy hill near the shore and St Gobnat, the female saint with Cork connections.
Inishmore with a population of just 900 is the largest of the three Aran islands. Its main village is Kilronan, which has a good deep harbour. Visitors to Aran can get a superb introduction to the islands’ culture and history at Ionad Arainn, the excellent Visitors’ Centre. In addition to an excellent social life, Inishmore has some very important ancient sites. The most famous of these is Dun Aengus, perches on the edge of a sheer 300 ft cliff, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. This massive fortress covers almost 11 acres and consists of three enclosures of large limestone blocks. But there are other areas of interest too, including Arkin’s Castle, a Cromwellian fort that maintained a garrison during the 17th and 18th centuries. At St Ciaran’s Monastery, east of Kilronan, there are several early cross-slabs, pillars and a holy well dedicated to this early saint. Near here too is the very early St Soorney’s Church. To the west of Kilronan is the church of St Enda, the saint who is most associated with the spread of Christianity on Aran. Inishmore’s other village, Kilmurvy, about 7km from Kilronan, also has churches nearby, including the church of St Colman McDuagh and the Church of the Saints.
Kilcolgan or in the Irish language “Cill Colgain” means The church of Colga. The Village is named after Saint Colga, who founded her own monastery, now in ruins. Overlooking the estuary of the Dumkellin River lies Kilcolgan Castle. The Castle and Tyrone House, now in ruins was once the residence of the Saint George Family. Drumacoo Church, 3km west of Kilcolgan with its Gothic type doorway, is associated with Sr. Sorney, a 6th Century nun. The Church also contains the vaults of the Saint George Family.
Kilconnell is situated on the old Galway/Dublin road, come 13 km from Ballinasloe. This quiet village contains one of the finest Franciscan Friary ruins in Ireland. The Friary was founded in 1353 by William O’Kelly, chieftain of the O’Kelly clan, on the site of an earlier 6th century monastic settlement of St Conall. Although the Friary was one of the few places successfully defended against the Cromwellians in 1651, it eventually fell into ruin after the nearby Battle of Aughrim in 1691. At the west end of the village, there is a stone memorial to the O’Donnellans a noted clan in this district in ancient times.
Kilkieran, sometimes written Kilkerrin also, from the Irish Cill Chiarain – “The Church of Kieran”, is a small fishing village on Kilkieran Bay in Connemara. Kieran, who founded the well-known monastic site at Clonmacnoise, is said to have passed through here while on a visit to St. Enda in the Aran Islands. Today, a fine stone pier services the village which specialises in seaweed and salmon processing.
Killimor is a rural village situated on the N65 between Loughrea and Portumna, approximately 56km east of Galway City. We have a population of approximately 1500 spread over a radius of 8km. The main livelihood of the area is farming, dairy and mixed, shops and pubs on the main street and some self-employed people. We have mainly a young population who live in the area and have managed to secure employment locally or in near-by larger towns. The main pastimes/sports of the area is hurling and camogie and more recently athletics and soccer, with a keen interest in horse racing and horse breeding. Visitors are made very welcome in Killimor and are made to feel at home.
Kilronan, Cill Ronain – “The Church of Ronan” is the chief centre in Inishmore, the largest of the three Aran Islands. The village is situated on the sheltered east coast, on the northern section of Killeany Bay and is the main port in the islands. Its impressive stone pier gives safe anchorage to the fleet of modern Aran trawlers and a safe docking point for the many daily ferry trips from both Galway city and Rossaveal on the mainland. Although now well serviced with modern guest houses, restaurants and bars, some hints of the traditional life style of the islanders can still be observed in Kilronan. Irish is still spoken here and love for traditional music and dance is still very much evident among the islanders. Ionad Arann, Aran’s Hertiage Centre is located at Kilronan. The purpose of the centre is to introduce you to the landscape, traditions and culture of these harsh but beautiful islands. The Centre is open Easter to September daily.
Kiltormer is a rural village situated approximately 64km from Galway city, Portumna 19km, Loughrea 21km, Ballinasloe 11km and a 30 minute drive to Athlone, the centre of Ireland. The main livelihood of the area is farming – dairy and mixed, 2 shops, and 3 pubs. The village National School is attended by over 100 pupils with 4 teachers and a part-time remedial teacher. The population of the parish is mainly young couples that have remained on the home territory, being self employed. Others commute to work daily to the surrounding towns and city of Galway.
Kinvara – “The Head of the Sea”, and gateway to the Burren in County Clare, is County Galway’s only prominent sea village on the southern shores of Galway Bay. Situated at the head of Kinvara Bay, it once was a thriving port to which the necessities of life, such as turf fuel, were brought by the traditional Connemara sailing craft in the 19th century. This trade is recalled each Summer in Cruinniu na mBad, as sea festival organisd by the village, which sees the old boats compete in a host of exciting races and events. Dun Guaire Castle guards this end of the bay, and is one of the most popular tourist spots in County Galway. Medieval-type banquets are held each summer in this old 16th century tower house, and recall the stirring times when the O’Heynes, O’Shaughnessy and Martin clans were lords of this impressively restored castle. Just to the east of the building are the probable remains of the dun or earthen fort of Guaire, the 7th century King of Connacht, who gives his name to the present castle. To the west of the village stands the early 19th century church which contains restored paintings by Count de Basterot, a famous writer and traveller of the time. His residence, Doorus House, now a youth hostel, lies 5 km further west again and it was here that W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory, in association with Edward Martyn, planned the foundation of the Irish National Theatre.
A noted beauty-spot, the lake with its Abbey behind, appears on many postcards (The Abbey is actually a Victorian ‘castle’ built by a wealthy Liverpool cotton merchant , Mitchell Henry M.P.). It was taken over by a group of Benedictine nuns who moved there from Ypres during the First World War, and opened and exclusive boarding school for girls, which is still there. Parts of the Abbey are open to visitors, there is a craft shop and tearoom. Like so much of Connemara , the area is noted for angling
Named after the Lawrence family, the first Lawrence in the area came from Lancashire as a follower of Sir John Perrot, Lord Deputy of Ireland in the reign of Elizabeth I, and married an O’Madden, daughter of the local chieftain. Walter Lawrence (1729-1796) arranged for the erections of a victory arch to mark the success of Henry Gratten and the Volunteers. The Volunteers were a military force raised to repel a threatened French invasion which never materialised, they turned their attention to domestic politics and under the leadership of Henry Gratten and Henry Flood, by means of a series of intimidatory marches in Dublin, forced several important concessions from the Government leading to a period of significant commercial prosperity after 1780.
A noted beauty-spot on a corner of Killary Harbour. The film The Field (1990, Richard Harris, Tom Berenger, Sean Bean, John Hurt, directed by Jim Sheridan) was filmed in this region, it is based on a County Kerry story by John B. Keane. Killary Harbourwas at one time believed to be one of Ireland’s few fjords, but is now considered to be probably a drowned valley, it is a splendid sheltered deep-water anchorage and was at one time a base for the British Fleet. The highest peak in Connacht, Mweelrea (‘The Bald King’) towers over the water which is now used for mussel-farming on rafts. The nearby Ashleagh Waterfall is a local beauty-spot. Leenane is a convenient centre for walking and cycling tours of this beautiful region.
Originally founded as a Protestant settlement by a 19th century Quaker named Ellis, Letterfrack is an excellent base from which to visit the Connemara National Park, which is east of the village. The park has a visitor’s centre where information on the park is displayed, as well as having facilities for hill-walkers, there are several walks of varing degrees of strenuousness, through the park , which includes some of the ’12 Bens’, as the highest peaks in Connemara are known. There is a hostel at Letterbrack where it is possible to camp and hire bikes to explore the very scenic surrounding countryside. Boating and sea-fishing are available locally.
This tranquil countryside contains rich fine farmland. As a result it has been inhabited since prehistory, and archaeologicl remains are everywhere here. Loughrea’s ecclesiastical connections stretch back through the mists of time, and continue today. In the last three years over IR5 million has been invested in the town to make it a very pleasant shopping centre. The town can boast of having the only working ‘Town Moat’ in Ireland. This waterfilled mediaeval moat was built in the mid-13th century. It ran directly outside the mediaeval walls, and its circuit can still be seen. Loughrea town is named after the grey lake near which it is built. It has excellent fishing and boats can be hired locally.
Maam Cross is a meeting point of several of the roads that traverse the different parts of Connemara. The route from Oughterard to Maam Cross (10 miles/16 km) lies through countryside that presents an amazing variety of bog, moorland , lake and mountain scenery. Southward from the cross a road runs through lake-strewn moorland to Screeb Lodge and Gortmore. At Gortmore the road on the left leads to Rosmuc, where the author and 1916 leader Padraic Pearse studied the Irish language (his cottage here is open to the public)
One of the first castles west of the Shannon was erected here in 1203 by Walter de Burgo who siezed on a local church, and piled it with earth and stones before using this as a mound for a motte-and-bailey – type fort. From this stronghold he proceeded to plunder the surrounding countryside. In 1229 his son Richard built a proper stone castle on the site, which was in turn destroyed in 1316 by Felim O’Connor. In 1414 a Franciscan friary was established nearby by one of the O’Maddens; the community was dispersed at the Reformation, returned in 1680, was dispersed again by the Cromwellian Wars, returned 1686 and was scattered for the last time by the War of William and James. The remains was re roofed and are still used as the local parish church.
Monivea is situated approximately 16km from Galway Airport, 25.6km Northeast of Galway City, and 9.6km from the historical town of Athenry. The village adjoins extensive woodlands and peaceful countryside. The economics of the area is agricultural based, with emphasis on dairy and shop farming, and the total population is 820. The village was created by Robert French, a member of the fourteen tribes of Galway in the mid 18th century. He developed a linen industry on the estate and by 1770, there were 270 houses with 96 looms and 370 spinning wheels and a broad green for flax drying running through the village. These broad greens have been preserved by the local community and give Monivea its really unique feature today.
Mountbellew is a small market town situated on the main Galway to Roscommon road, approximately 27km northwest of Ballinasloe. It is an attractive and vibrant town with a population of 1,100. The Irish for Mountbellew is An Creag?n meaning “The Rocky Place”. There are many amenities that Mountbellew has to offer as an inland town. For the past few years Mountbellew has won the Best Tidy Town in County Galway in the National Tidy Towns competition. The town square was designed by Sir Henry GrattanBellew, an architect and engineer and the name most associated with Mountbellew. He also built Mountbellew Bridge which provides an attractive entrance into the town.
Moycullen is a village half way between Galway and Oughterard. Lough Corrib with its renowned fishing is a short distance from the village and there is local bed and breakfast accommodation. Violet Martin was born at Ross House nearby. The man who guarded Napoleon in Saint Helena, Major Poppleton, is buried in the family vault of the Martins, as his wife was a Martin. There is a variety of historical remains in the vicinity: churches, wells, cairns and other ruins.
The name Oranmore derives its origin from the Irish words “UaranMor” which means “big spring”. The well or spring is situated at the edge of the town under the bridge and at the corner of the station road. The spring well is known locally as “Tobernacallybeartha”. There are many explanations given as to why it was thus named. The following are but a few: The cailleach bearach was a personification of the fertility goddess who was known to appear in many guises both, as an old hag and as a beautiful young woman. Some say that the well was called after her.
The delightful village of Oughterard is the chief angling centre on Lough Corrib. A detour to the right in the village square will bring us by some of the most scenic shorelines of Lough Corrib. After a journey of 13 km, the road stops rather abruptly opposite the wooded Hill of Doon. There are breath-taking views here of the north eastern arm of Lough Corrib as it dramatically fades into the distance towards the mountains and valleys of Connemara. We return to Oughterard, taking the road to the right named ‘scenic route’, from where panoramic views of the lake are obtained again.
In the south-eastern end of the county, 20 miles (332 km) from Ballinasloe, Portumna is well known as a fishing centre and marina for Lough Derg and the Shannon and has golf (9) and tennis. Outside the town are the imposing ruins of Portumna Castle. Portumna Forest Park is one mile (2 km) from the town on the Ennis road. This wildlife sanctuary of one thousand acres borders Lough Derg and has a laid out nature trail and many lovely forest walks.
Recess, set among superb lake and mountain scenery, is one of the choicest beauty spots of Connemara. On one side is Glendalough Lake and on the other Derryclare Lough. North of Derryclare, Lough Inagh stretches along the glaciated valley of Glen inagh, separating the Twelve Bens from the Maamturk Mountains. Recess is a well-known angling resort and has green marble quarries.
Renvyle, where the coast scenery is unrivalled: almost the whole northern shore of the Renvyle Peninsula and the coast eastwards to the Little Killary is fringed with beautiful sandy beaches. A superb coast drive is to Salruck and Lough Fee.
Rossaveal or Rosaveel – “The peninisula of the whale or sea-monster”, is 36 km west from Galway city and is now the chief fishing harbour of County Galway. A series of new quays to service the modern larger trawlers replace the old 19th century boats to carry turf to the Aran Islands. A cold store, auction room and fish processing factory have all been added in recent times and Rossaveel now acts as a ferry port for the vessels making the short trip to the Aran Islands. A fine example of a Martello Tower dating from the start of the 19th century and built to curb invasion attempts by the French stands a little further south along the coast of Casla Bay. At the end of the bay lies the important cross-roads of Casla where Udaras na Gaeltachta has established an industrial estate near the headquarters of Radio na Gaeltachta, the Irish-language broadcasting service.
The village of Roundstone (the stone of the seals) on the west side of Roundstone Bay, is perhaps the most picturesque fishing harbour in Connemara. It owes its origins to Alexander Nimmo, the great 19th century Scottish engineer who not alone constructed its first pier but also personally helped to develop this delightful village. Today, a number of small craft industries operate in the area including bodhran maker, Malachy Kearns who can be seen making these ancient drums in the local IDA craft workshop from 9 am to 6 pm daily. Roundstone is a fine holiday resort, with intimate pubs and restaurants overlooking the harbour and hotel and guest house accommodation readily available. Artists, botanists, sailors and sea anglers can all indulge themselves here, while nearby Gurteen and Dog’s Bay will please the most avid beach person and caravan devotee. The hill climber will also feel at home here, for Roundstone lies beneath Errisbeg Mountain, an easy climb for most, with fantastic views of sea, lakes and mountains waiting as a reward.
Once a small seaside resort 3 km west of Galway, Salthill is now an important suburb of this expanding city. Salthill seems to have grown as a result and, today, it is the premier resort in Ireland. While it may have lost some of its simple, rural charms, it has gained a wealth of amenities in the process. The giant Leisureland complex, with its host of childrens entertainments, including an indoor heated swimming pool, proves very popular, especially when the weather acts the spoilsport, as it will do at times here in the west. The golden half-mile of casinos, pubs and restaurants also play their part by day and discos and musical pubs rule the roost at night.
Shrule is a village on the N84 beside the County Galway border. It has a fine 13th century castle and a small local museum. There are a number of interesting archaelogical monuments in the vicinity.
Spiddal, in the heart of an Irish-speaking district, is a charming little holiday resort with a fine sandy beach. Bathing, boating and shore fishing are attractions.
Tuam gets its name from the Tumulus – a bronze age burial ground – on which the town is built. It was established in the 5th century when St Jarlath founded a monastery here, stopping when a wheel broke on his chariot. The O’Connor Kings, Turlough and Ruari, lived here In the 11th century. Turlough built a castle and an abbey which later became a cathedral. All that remains is part of the wall of their castle, a stone throne known as the chair of Tuam, and the O’Connor name. Attacked several times in the 16th and 17th centuries, the town has stood up to the ravages of time.
Williamstown is not really large enough to be a town but is a substantial village and is situated a little over half way between Dunmore and Ballymore in North Galway. Few other places will boast of such a strange beginning because it was founded in the last century by William McDermott, a local landlord, just to spite a rival who tried to establish another town close by! All is quiet in Williamstown now, as the era of the landlord is long over and the other town failed to survive.
Woodford, which lies 14km south-west of Portumna is a pleasant, peaceful village set among some lovely wooded countryside, with the Slieve Aughty Mountains adding to the beauty of the place. During the last century, however, the peace of these quiet woodlands was shattered as Woodford led the way in the Land War against the landlord system. The Woodford Evictions, which followed, gained world wide attention, thus ensuring eventual victory for the oppressed tenants led by Charles Stewart Parnell and Michael Davitt. The heritage centre at Woodford is always delighted to assist visitors in tracing their ancestors in the east Galway area and many of the church records have now been put on a computer data base.