ByRoute 14.2 Co. Roscommon // Co. Mayo

Barnageehy / Windy Gap (Co. Mayo / Northwest)

Bearna-na- Gaoith (“the gap of the wind”) / Barnageehy is a fairly common Irish toponym, found with slight variations in its anglicanisation / translation / spelling in hilly areas all over the island, from distant County Cork or County Down to the nearby Ox Mountains.

During the French Invasion in August 1798, the Windy Gap was the route that local priest Fr Andrew Conroy showed General Humbert to enable his troops to take Castlebar by surprise, and is now regularly included in that town’s annual International Four Days Walks and forms part of the Tour d’Humbert cycling route

Nephin & its Glen

 


Nephin / Nefin / Néifinn (806m / 2646 ft), the second highest peak in  Connacht (after Mweelrea), stands isolated and aloof from its neighbours in the Nephin Beg range.

 

The meaning of Néifinn is disputed: sohe hold that it means “sanctuary”, while others contend that it derives from Nemed, common ancestor of the Fir Bolg and Tuatha de Danann. In the saga text Cath Maige Tuired (“The Battle of Moyturra”), it is identified as one of the twelve great mountains of Ireland under the name Nemthenn. This is suggestive of nemeton, a Gaulish term for a sacred clearing in a wood or sacred grove. The word recurs throughout the Celtic world, from the Galatian Drunemeton (‘sacred oak-grove’ in modern Turkey) to Nemetobriga in Spain and Aquae Arnemetiae, the sacred spring at Buxton in Derbyshire. The Old Irish fidnemed refers to a shrine in a forest. Some sort of ancient significance may be inferred from the decision by the 1111 Synod of Raith to make the mountain the northern boundary of the diocese of Cong.

 

Gleann NéifinneGleann NeimhthinneGlen Nephin is not only the glaciated valley around Nephin (806m), apparently the only such place in Ireland named for its adjacent summit, but also refers to a wider district defined by Lough Conn to the east,  Barnageehy to the south, and Birreenacorragh mountain to the west. In 1838 its northern limit was noted as the townland of Ballybrinoge in Crossmolina parish by John O’Donovan, who identified it as of the seven constituent parts of the medieval barony of Tirawley.

 

King Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair / O’Connor of Connacht (1088-1156) colonised this area and the neighbouring Ui Maill territory with his kinsmen, the Mac Diarmada of Moylurg. A tract commonly referred to as The Welshmen of Tirawley preserves the tradition that with the arrival of the Normans Glen Nephin was settled by William Mor na Maighne Barrett (fl. 1267), and gives a gruesome account of a long conflict between the Bourkes, the Barretts, and the latter’s tenants, the Lynnots.

 

In 1632 Myler Barrett sold most of his property to Tibbot and Walter Bourke of Turlough. In 1653 the land was confiscated  from Barrett and Bourke alike as part of the Cromwellian Redistribution, and acquired by new owners named Jackson, Gore, Hadsor, and others.

Bofeenaun (Co. Mayo / North)

Bofeenaun is a small and very isolated rural village and valley district between Nephin (806m) and Lavally Lough, a popular lake for coarse fishing.

Bofeenaun Abbey, on the shore of Levally Lough,  was traditionally associated with Saint Finan and long occupied by Conventual Franciscans.

St Mary’s church (RC), aka Archbishop McHale Memorial church, was built in 1912. It is used as a venue for classical music concerts every summer.

Lough More, locally aka “the black lake“, lies between Bofeenaun and the nearby townland of Cloughbrack. crannog dating back to 804-809 AD was discovered here in 1989.

Former President Mary Robinson (née Bourke) is the most famous resident of the area, which is popular with Irish, British and Dutch holidaymakers and retirees seeking to “get away from it all“.

Bofeenaun is in the same parish as

Beltra, Glenhest & Cloonduff (Co. Mayo / North)

Beltra village shares its name with the nearby lake.

Lough Beltra / Loch Bhéal Trá , very popular with salmon and trout anglers. (Photo by Photomad)

The lake is drained by the Newport / Black Oak River, spanned by an attractive old stone bridge as it flows through Glenhest to Newport and Clew Bay on the Atlantic Ocean.

Glenhest / Gleann Oistín, a valley at the north-west corner of Lough Beltra, is the location of the Cloondaff Court Tomb / Cairn, discovered in the 19th by a local priest, Fr Gillespie. Believed to be some 5,000 years old, it has long  lost the mound originally covering it, but its two-chamber gallery is still visible, as is the court-stone by the portal / entrance. The site is often partly covered in scrub, so might be difficult to spot.

Cloondaff is a small community in Glenhest.

Cloonduff is close to Newport on ByRoute 1.

Pruglish Wood is the best place to commence an ascent of Nephin. The area is criss-crossed by stretches of the Bangor Trail and Western Way walking routes.

Bellanaderg Bridge is the start / finish of the looped Keenagh / Kennagh Walking Trail, taking in spectacular views towards Glenhest and Newport, panoramas of  remote North Mayo / Erris scenery all the way to the Atlantic , and a variety of terrain that includes country lanes, an old greenway, high mountain slopes, crystal clear rivers and streams, a super waterfall and the stunning Glendorragha Valley. (Brochure)

Bellanaderg Bridge is linked by the R312 with Castlehill on Lough Conn.

Bellacorick (Co. Mayo / Northwest)

Bellacorick Bridge, erected with some ingenuity c.1820 +on the new Castlebar / Erris Central Road (the Ballina section cme later) by a civil engineer called William Bald to span the Owenmore River, is commonly aka “the Musical Bridge”; the slabs forming the coping of the parapet on either side can be ‘played’ by rolling a stone along or striking them in rapid succession to produce peculiar notes on a musical scale. The C17th Erris prophet Brian Rua U’Cearbhain foretold  that the then unbuilt bridge at Bellacorick would never be finished, and to date it has not.

Bellacorick / Bellacoric (Béal Átha Chomhraic – “ford mouth of the confluence”)   effectively comprises a single pub surrounded by some 800 acres / 3.2 km2 of  lowland blanket bog that was once used mainly for milled peat production and is nowadays a Special Area of Conservation because of the intact habitat

(Nearby Eskeragh, pronounced roughly like the Catalan words for “left” and “left-handed”, is included in the Bellacorick SAC; Eskeragh Bridge, the location of a curious configuration of four low Standing Stones, is just north of the Owenboy Nature Reserve, home to a rare species of moss).

Bellacorick’s ESB peat-fired power station, fed with turf harvested from  the 20,000 acres / 81 km2 of bogland owned by Bord na Mona, stored outdoors in large polythene covered piles and transported to the furnaces by diesel locomotives, operated for some 50 years until the last Millenium. Although the massive chimney, long a major local landmark, was demolished for safety reasons in 2007, other parts of the complex still disfigure the landscape.

Bellacorick Windfarm, the first such complex to operate commercially in Ireland, opened in 1992.

Knockmoyle Bog, Bellacorick. (Photo – www.ucd.ie)

Bellacorick is

(Bangor Erris)

 

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