Attymas & Carradoogan (Co. Mayo / Northeast)
Attymass (Áth Tí an Mheasaigh) is a rural village and parish on the scenic western slopes of the Ox Mountains. The area features several lovely lakes and over 100 sites of archaeological / historic interest, including Megalithic tombs, Fulachta Fiadh, Crannógs, Standing Stones, Ringforts, an Ogham stone and several Early Christian ruins and Holy Wells.
Kildermott Abbey, now a ruin overlooking the largest lake in the district, Ballymore Lough, may have derived its name (Cill Diarmuda – “Dermots church”) from patronage by the McDermott Lordships during the reign of King Henry VIII, as no connection with a saint of that name is known. The Abbey may have founded by Norbertine monks, believed to have already established themselved in the parish at this time. Local legend has it that the Abbey once stood on the opposite side of the lake and was moved stone by stone by boat to its present location. A graveyard located on the lake side of the Abbey is thought to have been used for the burial of unbaptised babies, and folklore suggests that a girl in her twenties is interred by a hawthorn close to the north wall of the chancel.
The church of the Immaculate Conception & St Joseph (RC) is believed to have been built in 1835, and has been much added to and improved since that time.
The Great Famine saw 240 deaths in the parish in a mere six months between October 1846 and April 1847, followed by hundreds more before the end of the disaster.
The Fr Peyton Memorial Centre, officially opened in 1998, commemorates locally born Fr Patrick Peyton, CSC (1909–1992), aka “the Rosary priest”, jetset missionary who lived an ostentatious lifestyle with Hollywood film stars and founded the International Family Rosary Crusade, a distinctly sinister Roman Catholic evangelization movement known to have been funded and directed by the American CIA in Chile, Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia. A formal declaration opening the cause for sainthood of Father Peyton was made in 2001, earning him the title of “Servant of God.”
Loughs Brolly, Carrowkerribly and Cartoon provide good fishing for trout and pike.
Lough-a-coilleen is a scenic lake on the mountain top over looking Carradoogan.
Carradoogan / Carrowdoogan (Ceathreamhadh di Dhubhagain – O’Duggans Quarter) is a village and boggy district within the parish of Attymass.There is an ancient “enclosure” in the village.
The Old Slack Family House, a ruined pre-Famine cottage, was chosen to be the centrepiece of the Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park, New York. Rather than create another statue or traditional monument, American sculptor Brian Tolle chose to use the quarter acre available to recreate a corner of rural County Mayo, complete with the reconstructed remains of the cottage from Attymass. Other features of the memorial include wild plants from Ireland and a stone from every County. (More on the NY Memorial here). A monument was unveiled in Caradoogan in 2004 marking the spot where the dismantled cottage once stood.
The Staighre (“Stairs”) is a 2mi pathway with steps laid down over 100 years ago for locals to harvest turf from the bogs situated on the nearby mountain top. Here and there they bridge rivulets and in places are obviously terraced to accommodate steep ground. Folk memory recalls donkeys with their ‘creels’ of turf making their way down these stairs. The steps were also used as shortcuts to Derreen and to Attymass church, and are now popular with hillwalkers.
Carradoogan’s sheep are invariably of the breed known as “Blackface” – horned, with black or black and white face and legs. The fleece can vary from short, fine wool used for carpets and tweeds to strong coarse wool, which is sold mainly for the Italian mattress trade.
Bonniconlon / Bunnyconnelan (Co. Mayo / Northeast)
Bonniconlon / Bunnyconnellan (Muine Chonalláin), known locally by the first and officially by the second of its English toponyms, and historically also called O’Dowda’s town, is small village in the old Barony of Gallen. The village and district used to be in County Sligo when the border was the River Moy at Ballina, but has been in east County Mayo since the frontier was changed (back?) to the Windy Gap in the Ox Mountains.
Waymarked walking trails take in the many historical and archaeological points of interest in this exceptionally scenic area. Local antiquities include Standing Stones at Lisardmore, Carracram, Carrareagh and a fine Gallery Grave in Carracram. Famine Walks are also available from Bonniconlon village.
Glenree Bronze Age Farmstead, preserved for the past 4000 years under the bog, is a remarkable landmark.
The O’Dowdas of Bonnyconlon
The O’Dowdas of Bonnyconlon came into being in 1656 when two branches of the ancient O’Dubhda / Dowd clan were reunited with the marriage of David O’Dowda and Dorothy O’Dowd, who were compelled to re-settle in Bonniconlon with their sons.
Their heirs inherited the Bonniconlon estates over several generations, while the younger sons left for foreign service. Thady O’Dowda enlisted in the Austrian army, reaching the rank of Lt. Colonel. He married Antonia, the daughter of Baron Vippler and had two sons, James and William.
When David O’Dowda died, his nephew, James Vippler O’Dowda returned from Austria and became The O’Dowda, and later inherited the title Baron Vippler. In 1798, he raised a company of 200 men from his estates and joined the French invasion force led by General Humbert. When the rising ended at Ballinamuck, he was executed as a rebel.
His wife Temperance (née Fitzgerald) brought up their two sons, and the elder, Thady became The O’Dowda. During the Great Famine he refused to collect rent and, facing bankruptcy, was forced to sell the estate in 1854, and leave to live with his son Dr James Vippler O’Dowda in Dublin, thus ending the association of his family with the ancestral lands.
The O’Dowda family are commemorated for their work during the Great Famine by a monument close to the church, paid for by the local people. Another monument recalls the 1798 Rebellion.
Captain Gallagher, a romantic folk hero and champion of the oppressed in the same league as Robin Hood, El Zorro or Curro Jiménez, was born and reared locally in the late C18th. One of the last wholesale robber captains in Ireland, his deeds are still recalled in folk history throughout the region. His execution in 1818 was reputedly the last public hanging to take place on the notorious 1798 Hanging Tree on the Mall in Castlebar. An account of his doings can be read here.
The Howley family from Bonniconlon were Roman Catholic land agents associated during the C19th with Belleek Castle in Ballina.
The church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (RC) is said to be older than Ballina cathedral (1834). Bonniconlon / Kilgarvan parish is in the Diocese of Achonry, which extends across the Sligo border.
The local Bofield Ceili Band, one of the most renowned bands of its genre, sometimes plays at the local church, displaying its versatility to suit the solemnity of the occasion as required.
Judges Bar & Shop, one of three pubs in Bonniconlon, was used as a location in Simon Cathcart’s small 2002 film Black Velvet.
The Bonniconlon Agricultural Show, the largest event of its kind west of the River Shannon, attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Bonniconlon is within easy reach of Ballina and Castleconor (Co. Sligo) on ByRoute 1.