ByRoute 17.2 Co. Longford // Co. Sligo

Kilmovee (Co. Mayo)

Kilmovee Cashel, one of are three such structures that lie upon a sandstone ridge in the townland of Kilcashel, is the largest and most intact Iron Age stone forts in the vicinity or indeed the whole West of Ireland, with surviving steps, terracing, formal entrance, creep-ways / souterraines and chambers within the walls. (Photo by Duncan Grant)

Kilmovee (Cill Moibhí –  “church of Mobhí”) (pop. 600) is a rural village and district noted for its picturesque woodlands.

Saint Mobhí (d.545 AD), known as “Mobhí the Teacher”, founded a famous monastic centre of learning at Glasnevin near Dublin, attended by the likes of  Saint Canice, Saint Comgall, Saint Ciaran and Saint Columcille until forced to close by a pestilence which devastated Ireland in 544 AD. (“Mobhí” was a pet form of the name Berchán)

The Kilmovee area was ruled in pre-Norman times by the O’Gadhra dynasty as part of Sliabh Lugha, a territory within the kingdom of  Gailenga, from which the name Gallen derives. The Norman de Angelo / Nangle  invaders, aka the Costellos, forced the O’Gadhras from their stronghold in Airtech Mór in 1225, and from Castlemore-MacCostello controlled the medieval Barony of Costello for several centuries.

The Annals of Connacht mention that in 1464 “An attack was made by Muirgius son of Cormac Mac Diarmata Gall, at Cluain Carthaig in Sliab Luga, on Edmund of the Plain Mac Goisdelb, wherein Tomaltach Oc O Gadra was killed with one cast of a javelin“.

The Three Wells” are reputed to have sprung up when Saint Mobhi struck the ground with his staff when he had no water to baptise the local people. An Ogham Stone, found in a wall in Kilmovee and remounted nearby, reads in part: “ALATTOS MAQI BR[–“.

The church of the Immaculate Conception (RC), founded in 1859, is attractively set amidst lush green pastures. The parish has other churches at Urlaur (St Joseph’s) , Glann (St Patrick’s) and Kilkelly (St Celsus’, 1963).

The Kilmovee Community / Family Resource Centre, opened in 2004, has become a vibrant cultural reference point for the people of the area and beyond, and hosts regular performances by the local amateur dramatic society and Cois Tine Heritage evenings of music, dance, song, story telling and home baked goodies.

Seosamh Mac Gabhann (d. 2008), a native Irish language playwright and music teacher who founded the local Senior Céilí Band Ceoltóirí Mobhí (famed for their “Kilmovee Jigs”) in 1975, has been commemorated since 2011 by an Annual Summer School, a week of masterclasses with some of the best tutors in traditional music, song, sean nós dancing and Gaeilge.

The Kilmovee 10K, an annual spring charity running event known as “the flattest 10k in Ireland”, has attracted runners from all over the country since 2010.

Kilmovee is

Lough Urlaur, a shallow lake with a moderate stock of pike, measures approximately 500 acres. Together with its neighbours, Lough Nanoge and Lough Roe, it is a Special Area of Conservation and a source of the River Shannon.

Urlaur Abbey


Urlaur Abbey, a monastery overlooking the lake, was founded in 1434 by the Hiberno-Norman Nangle / Costello family for the Dominicans, and was dedicated to St Thomas Aquinas. (Photo by Cleio)


Most monasteries in the West escaped suppression until the reign of King James I. The long delayed blow fell on Urlaur in 1608. An inquisition was held in that year and another in 1610. The friary was declared suppressed and its lands given to an adventurer, Sir Edward Fisher. Later it passed into the hands of Sir Theobald Dillon. But the friars went on living quietly at Urlaur.


Things got worse with the coming of Cromwell. Fr Dominic Dillon and Fr Richard Overton of Urlaur were put to death at Drogheda. A Fr Mac Costello was also killed by the Cromwellians and Fr Gerard Dillon died in prison.


In 1698 the friars had to flee the Friary again because of the Penal Laws. Despite the threat of transportation and possibly death, five friars remained in the area including Fr Pierce Costello and Fr Redmond Costello. By the late C18th the Friary was in ruins and the community was dwindling. The last friar was Fr Patrick Sharley who died in 1843.


Douglas Hyde‘s collection Legends of Saints and Sinners (1915) contains a tale called The Friars of Urlaur about the difficulty the monks had with an evil spirit, disguised as a black boar, that dwelt in the lake.


The Pattern of Urlaur is an annual festival held on 4th August since mediaeval times, to remember the feast day of Saint Dominic. It starts with a concelebrated Mass in the ruins, followed by music, sports, novelty events etc. Traditional food items like duileasc / dilisk  seaweed can be purchased.

Kilkelly (Co. Mayo / East)

Kilkelly (Cill Cheallaigh – “church of Ceallach”) (pop. 1000) is a village on the River Trimóge. The area features numerous small forests and small lakes.

The name Ceallach / Celsus is supposedly that of a son of a king of Connacht. Born c. 520 AD, he was educated at Clonmacnoise, ordained a priest and later became Bishop of Killala. After a turbulent time during which opposition to his appointment grew, he left the post and became a hermit on an island in Lough Conn. He was later murdered and his brother, seeking a place to inter his body, was refused permission on all sides until the people of the Kilkelly area allowed the burial to take place.

Kilkelly Ireland is an emigration song written c. 1980 by the American song writer Peter Jones, who discovered a bundle of letters  to his immigrant ancestor John Coyne dictated between 1860 to 1890 by the latter’s father, mother and siblings to the local schoolmaster Pat McNamara.

Kilkelly is

Barnacahoge / Barnacahogue Stone Fort is an excellent example of the small fortified homesteads of farmers from about 2000 to 1200 years ago. The walls would have contained thatched dwellings of mud and wattle and pens to herd livestock when there was danger.

Knock Airport


Ireland West Airport Knock, formerly known as Knock International Airport, Connaught Regional Airport, and Horan International Airport, primarily / ostensibly created to facilitate pilgrims visiting the nearby Marian Shrine at Knock,was officially opened on 30th May 1986.


The site, 200 metres above sea level on a hill in boggy terrain, was thought by many to be unrealistic, but the airport was built following a long and controversial campaign by Monsignor James Horan, the story of which has even spawned a musical. Wild rumours st the time included suggestions of US military interest in financing of an alternative to Shannon, then undergoing increasing use by the Soviet flag carrier Aeroflot and others for flights to / from Communist states.


The first commercial flights took off from the airport on 25 October 1985 in the form of three Aer Lingus charter flights to Rome. Ryanair commenced flights to London Luton during 1986, adding a route to London Stansted in 1992. In 1995 Aer Lingus commenced scheduled flights to Birmingham. Since 2003, flag-carrier, low-cost and regional airlines including Aer Arann, MyTravelLite, Bmibaby, flybe, Lufthansa and EasyJet have added several routes linking the airport with Irish, UK and European mainland destinations, and though not all routes have proven successful, by 2005 the airport was handling 500,000 passengers per annum.In recent years Ryanair has grown operations and is the largest airline to serve the airport with 14 scheduled routes.


Flygl0bespan, a Scottish company that had operated low cost links between the UK and Canada for several years, inaugurated cheap scheduled transatlantic services between British cities and New York via Knock in 2007, which continued for some two years before they became insolvent.


Voted Ireland’s best regional airport in 2006 and 2009 by the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland, Knock airport is a very pleasant terminal with good facilities and friendly staff, much less stressful than Dublin and more efficient than Shannon, marred only by poor public transport links on the ground.


All passengers aged 12 years and above are currently required to pay an additional “Development Fee” of €10 at the airport before being permitted to access the airside area. The fee is highly controversial as the “development costs” from 1986 are generally thought to have been paid off many years ago.

Temple / Tample  Cemetery, the location of the  main Roman Catholic church for the parish of Kilbeagh until 1858, contains an interesting Costello tomb. Nearby is a Holy Well dedicated to Saint Attracta, who is believed to have brought Christianity to the area and is still honoured by an annual “Pattern Day”.


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