Ahascragh (Co. Galway / Northeast)
Ahascragh (Áth Eascrach – “Ford of the Esker”) is a rural village on the Ahascragh / Bunowen River, a tributary of the River Suck. (Photo by GAA Galway)
The Battle of Ahascragh was a historic confrontation fought in 1607 between Crown forces and the O’Kelly clan.
The Castlegar Estate
The Castlegar estate was acquired in the early C18th by the Mahon family (pronounced “Mahn“), who intermarried on a number of occasions with members of the Browne family of Westport.
In 1819 the head of the family became a Baronet. Adventurer Edward Mahon founded the city of Castlegar in British Columbia in 1897, while his elder brother Sir William Mahon still held over 4.9 km2 / 1,200 acres of untenanted land in the Ahascragh area after the Wyndham Land Act 1903 had reduced his property.
Castlegar House, considered one of Sir Richard Morrison‘s most innovative works, was completed c.1815. In 1979 the Mahons sold the rather decrepid mansion to John Horan. The stables have been converted into self-catering apartments available for holiday rental.
The former approach to the house, known as “the Avenue”, is now a community amenity.
Ahascragh Mill, the most striking edifice in the village, features impressive natural stonework. Opened c.1810 by a family named Bell, the mill was taken over by the Hunt family, and later by the Mahons of Castlegar. It ceased milling in the1950’s, but the fast-flowing millrace remains in place. (Photo – www.goireland.com)
St Catherine’s church (CoI), built in 1813, was damaged by arsonists in 1922, and reopened in 1926.
St Cuan’s church (RC), named for the village’s patron, was reconstructed in1932-33 by the people of the parish according to a design by WH Byrne & Sons of Dublin, and incorporates a stained glass window by Harry Clarke.
(Saint Cuan, aka Moncan / Mochua, was an abbot who founded many churches and monasteries in Ireland and supposedly lived almost one hundred years. His death in 788 AD is recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters)
Ahascragh is not far from Ballinamore Bridge on ByRoute 14.
The Clonbrock estate
The remains of Clonbrock House (Photo –www.landedestates.ie)
The Clonbrock estate was acquired c.1580 by a branch of the powerful Dillon family, who continued to adhere to the Roman Catholic religion until the early C18th, when Robert Dillon was raised as a Protestant because of the threat posed by the Penal Laws to the integrity of the estate.The family subsequently remained members of the Church of Ireland.
Robert Dillon (1754 – 1795), later created Baron Clonbrock, commissioned William Leeson to design Clonbrock House, completed in 1788, to replace the old castle which remained intact until 1807 when it was accidentally burned in a fire resulting from a fireworks display on the estate to celebrate the birth of the 2nd Lord Clonbrock’s son and heir.
Robert Dillon, 3rd Baron Clonbrock, inherited the property in 1826 and lived until 1893. Described as being one of the better landlords, especially during the Great Famine, his considerate treatment of his tenants did much to maintain good relations on the estate right up to the early C20th. He and his successor Luke Gerald (1834 – 1917) (who as a young diplomat in Vienna wrote home to give instructions on how the new Long Room floor should be laid for dancing the latest waltzes) were regularly praised by their tenantry and the local nationalist press for their paternalism.
In the 1870s the Clonbrock estate in County Galway amounted to over 28,000 acres / 110 km2. By 1906 Land Reform legislation had reduced the property to 2,000 acres / 8.1 km2 of untenanted land. The 5th and last Lord Clonbrock died in 1926, and the mansion was accidentally burnt out in 1994.
Clonbrook, 10th December 1862, identity of rifleman unknown – taken from the NLI‘s Clonbrock Collection of photographs, containing over 2,000 glass plates spanning the years 1860-1930, mostly taken by Luke Gerald Dillon and his wife Augusta (née Crofton), (seen in one at the wheel of a motorcar in 1904). The images, many in Stereo Pairs (3D), provide a striking pictorial record of life on a landed estate.
Caltra & Castleblakeney (Co. Galway / Northeast)
Caltra (An Chealtrach or Cealltrach na Pailíse – “Friary of the cells”) is a village with a strong Gaelic football tradition
The church of Our Lady of Lourdes (RC), first erected in 1844, was extended in 1938 by the architect Ralph Henry Byrne (1877–1946). A water font from a Carmelite Friary that existed in Caltra until 1646 stands in front of the church.
Caltra is south of Newbridge on ByRoute 14.
Castleblakeney / Castleblakeny (Gallach) historically aka Gallagh and Killasolan, is a village with a history closely tied to one family.
Robert Blakeney, a member of a family of Elizabethan settlers in County Limerick, was granted lands in the parish of Killosolan, barony of Tiaquin, by the Cromwellian Commissioners, confirmed by royal patent dated in 1688.
Castle Blakeney was burnt in the 1720s and the family went to live at Abbert nearby, which they bought from the ffrenches and where they continued to reside until the beginning of the C20th.
In 1855 the Blakeneys owned an estate of 7,504 acres spread over two counties. Over 1,500 acres of the Blakeney estate was vested in the Congested Districts’ Board in 1911.
A Blakeney played an important role fighting against the British during the American War of Independence, and the family also like to claim a basis in fact for Sir Peter Blakeney, the hero of Baroness Orczy’s 1903 play and novel set during the French Revolution, The Scarlet Pimpernel.
The Castleblakeney Heritage Centre appears to be moribund.
Gallagh Man is a mummified Iron Age corpse found by peat cutters in a local bog in 1821, reburied and repeatedly disinterred to show visitors until finally sent to the RDS and then the RIA, where he became the first complete “bog body” ever to be exhibited. Thought to have lived around 300 BC, the man was dressed in a deerskin cape and had been staked to the ground and strangled with willow reeds in what was evidently a ritual sacrifice. He is preserved in the NMI. (Image – www.mummytombs.com)
“Kit Coleman” was the nom de plume of the Canadian newspaper columnist Catherine Ferguson (1864 – 1915), born Kathleen Blake at Castle Blakeny. Educated in Dublin and Belgium, she was married off to an old man at sixteen; widowed at 20, she emigrated to Canada in 1884 and became a journalist in 1890. She was a special correspondent for the Toronto Mail during the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893; in the British West Indies in 1894; at Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London in 1897, and for the Spanish-American War in Cuba in 1898, making her the first woman war correspondent in the world.
Castleblakeney is north of Woodlawn on ByRoute 12.