Loughglynn & Gortaganny (Co. Roscommon / West)
Lough Glynn / Glinn (Loch Glinne), an artificial lake constructed in the early C19th by Viscount Dillon‘s land agent Jerrard Strickland, is of ornithological interest and is especially important to wildfowl in dry periods in winter.
Loughglynn Castle & House
Loughglynn Castle, a Norman-era fortification of which one tower still stands on the south side of the lake, is said to have belonged to the Fitzgeralds, and was later used as a farmyard for Loughglynn House.
A branch of the Dillons lived in the Castle in the C18th. A son of this family, Theobald, became the Viscount in 1682.
Loughglynn House, long the main residence of the Viscounts Dillon, was built circa 1715, extended in the 1820s and altered again in the early C20th.
In 1806 Charles Dillon, 12th Viscount Dillon, raised the 101st Regiment of Foot, recruited from the inhabitants in and around Loughglinn.
The Dillons were absentee landlords for much of the C19th and their agents, the Stricklands, lived in the house.
Purchased by the Bishop of Elphin in 1903, the house was run by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary as a convent and school where teenage girls learned Home Economics. The sisters established a dairy and Loughglinn butter and cheese was famous all over the world until they ceased this activity in the 1960s. They then opened a nursing home for their own retired sisters and also had residents who were not nuns and known locally as the patients.
In 2003 Gerry Gannon bought the convent for a sum less than €2m. It is now reportedly in the ownership of his wife Margaret
The Duffy Memorial commemorates Edward “Ned” Duffy (1840 – 1867), chief organiser of the IRB / Fenian Movement in Connacht, who spent much time at his sisters’ local cottage school. On hearing of his death in Millbank Prison, O’Donovan Rose wrote a poem which includes the lines: “In the dead house you are lying, and I’d “wake” you if I could, but they’ll wake you in Loughglin, ‘Ned, in that cottage by the wood“.
The church of Our Lady of Good Counsel (RC), designed by William Byrne and built in 1905 to replace a barn church erected in 1798, features a striking octagonal bell turret with a spire, polished granite interior pillars, richly molded arches and attractive stained glass windows.
The War of Independence was a time of several local incidents, notably the Loughglynn Ambush of 19th April 1921 when four IR. men staying in a house near Loughglynn wood learned that the Black & Tans were combing the area under a Captain McKay of the Leicestershire Regiment and attempted to escape. Two were wounded. Following a drumhead court martial the others, Bergin and McDermott were shot on the spot. The local anthem honouring them is called The Woodlands of Loughglinn.
Mother Éireann is the name given locally to the monument commemorating everyone from the area who gave their lives during the War of Independence, standing across from the church
Two Gardai named as John Morley and Henry Byrne were murdered at Shannon’s Cross, Loughglinn, on 7th July 1980, following an armed robbery on the Bank of Ireland in Ballaghaderreen. Two other Gardai survived the shoot out.
Loughglinn is close to Fairymount and is linked by the R325 to Ballaghaderreen, both on ByRoute 17.
Cloonacolly Lough and Cloonagh Lough are popular fishing lakes.
Gortaganny / Gorthaganny is a tiny village on the shore of Errit Lough, one of the most fishing lakes in County Roscommon.
Errit Lodge, home at various times to members of the Barlow and French families, is now derelict.
The church of St Mary (RC) was founded in the 1830s andthe first building is preserved as the nave of the present church. The higher section with the belfry was added in the 1880s and the sacristy and choir loft was added in 1930s. It is served by a parish priest from Loughglynn.
The Coney Island Bar is a friendly pub with a purpose-built American / Dutch style structure for barn dancing.
Lough / Lake O’Flynn, the source of the River Suck, derives its name from an C11th fort built on its shore by the O’Flynns, who reportedly gave a a warm welcome to the O’Sullivan Beara and his dwindling party on their famous march from West Cork to Leitrim in 1602. Fished mainly for brown trout, the 300-acre lake is most easily accessed on the southern shore, where there is a boat harbour , pier and pleasant waterside picnic area. (Photo by EbSp)
Kiltullagh (Co. Roscommon / West)
Kiltullagh(Cill Tulach – “church on the hill”), a rural parish in the long spur of County Roscommon jutting between County Galway and County Mayo, is an area of green pastures, gentle hills, streams, lakes and bogs.
Ballinlough (Baile an Locha – “town of the lake”), the principal village in the old parish, is a lively community with an interesting past (but no connection with the O’Reilly / Nugent Baronets of Ballinlough Castle near Delvin, Co. Westmeath).
Kiltullagh church (CoI), built c.1820 to a design of architect Thomas Cosgrove, is positioned at a focal point so that it can be viewed from all four roads leading into the village. A captivating structure with its fine stonework and stained glass, it was closed for some time but has recently undergone restoration and is currently again in use. The well-maintained grounds contain several interesting burial monuments.(Photo – www.buildingsofireland.ie)
The church of the Immaculate Conception (RC), erected on a site donated by landlord Thomas George Sandford Wills of Castlereagh House, and incorporating timber from a shipwreck off Achill Island, was completed in late 1894. The building was nearly destroyed by fire in 1913, when a Mr Bailey from Bargarive spotted the flames and rang the church bell to alert the community of the impending disaster. “Improvements” were carried out in 1954, 1966 and 1993.
The White House Hotel, a well-reviewed accommodation facility on Ballinlough’s village square, seems to have fallen victim to the recession.
Carrick near Ballinlough was where a Mr Kenny ran a private school round the middle of the C19th; he was an unrivalled Greek scholar who taught classics to dozens of students, many of whom went on to study for the priesthood – the parish of Kiltullagh was unbeaten for the number of men who went on to become priests both in the Archdiocese and on the missions, including Dr Feeney, Bishop of Killala from 1839 to 1847, and Dr Regan, Bishop of Chicago.
Kiltullagh Hill to the north of Ballinlough is traditionally held to have been crowned by a church erected by Saint Patrick on a site presented by the local chieftain, Enda O’Flynn, an early convert to Christianity; some believe that Saint Medbu may also have been involved.
Archaeological excavations have confirmed Christian activity on Kiltullagh as far back as the C5th AD; the hill was probably already a sacred site, as evidence of pre-Christian burials have also been found.
The ruined church on Kiltullagh was built in 1432 and destroyed in 1645 by Parliamentarian troops; one story is that they had set out from Dunmore to burn the Augustinian Abbey in Ballyhaunis, but found the hill in Cloonfad too much of a climb for their horses and weaponry, so diverted to Kiltullagh and then went on to Ballintubber Abbey in County Mayo. Others maintain the church was razed five years later by forces under the command of Oliver Cromwell’s son-in-law, General Henry Ireton. Recent surveys tend to support the theory that there was an earlier wooden structure close to the site of the stone church.
Granlahan was the location of a Franciscan monastery established in 1441, which seems to have been maintained one way or another until c.1814; the site is now a cemetery. Franciscan monks returned to Granlahan in 1851 at the request of the then Archbishop of Tuam, John McHale; the brothers ran a small school and dispensed agricultural expertise to the farming community until a lack of vocations forced them to close their doors in 1972.
St Patrick’s church (RC) in Granlahan, probably founded c.1814, underwent a major overhaul in 1958 and has since received received several facelifts and “improvements”.
Clonfad / Cloonfad (Cluain Fada – “long meadow”) (pop. 300) is a crossroads community that attracted a notably high proportion of immigrants from Eastern Europe and Brazil during the Celtic Tiger era.
St Patrick’s church (RC) was erected in 1934.
Cloonfad Walking Routes
Cloonfad Walking Routes renew a very old tradition with a network of public walkways taking walkers through scenic moorland to surrounding villages, notably the Derrylahan Loop.
A pre-Christian pathway ran along the crest of Slieve Dart, and Saint Patrick passed this way en route to Croagh Patrick in nearby County Mayo. The area was also a favourite hunting ground for the legendary giant hero Finn MacCool. Numerous monuments and artefacts bear witness to several millennia of human habitation.
Most of the routes follow grassy pathways, bog tracks and old boreens or ‘green roads’, providing opportunities to explore a wide variety of habitats, including forests, farmland, expanses of bog and the wild mountainous flanks of Slieve Dart. Some of the best historic sites can be found around the mid-point of the Derrylahan Loop.
Close to the bridge over the picturesque Cloonfad River is an old water mill, complete with a large mill-wheel cut from the sandstone rock of Slieve Dart.
A natural spring, long recognised as an ancient Patrician baptismal site, was also a children’s burial ground, last used in 1947. A nearby Mass Rock, used as an altar for illegal Masses during the C18th Penal era, is still the venue for outdoor services celebrated at least once a year.
Dooloughan Lough was where archaeologists quite recently discovered the Cloonarkin Canoe, an almost 10m long black oak canoe shown by tests to be more than 2,000 years old.
The Derrylahan Resource Centre, the starting / finishing point of most of the routes, is a typical C19th stone cottage with a flagstone floor, large open fireplace and ceiling beams made of bog oak, and offers a range of visitor facilities.
Nearby is a restored teach an ailis / sweat house – a small, beehive-shaped structure of stones that once served as a kind of sauna. A fire would have been lit inside, and locals suffering aches, pains or other ailments would have taken turns to sweat away their malady. Similar constructions can be found scattered across the north of the country.
Derrylahan area. (Photo by Jennifer)