What to do and see in North Mayo

We took a trip along the North Mayo coastline to visit amongst others, Downpatrick Head and the Ceide Fields and were left pleasantly surprised with how stunning this part of Ireland is.

Killala village

Our first stop was Killala, a quaint seaside village. Killala was the scene of the last major engagement in the 1798 rebellion. The Irish rebels, helped by the French, held onto Killala for 32 days but on the 33rd day, after 20 minutes of fierce fighting 600 Irish troops were killed and the rebellion was effectively finished.

Within a small area of the village there’s a round tower, an old deanery, a Church of Ireland cathedral and the area has an old world feel to it.

Mayo village
Killala village in Mayo

Downpatrick Head

As I was browsing through our Wild Atlantic Way passport I noticed that Downpatrick Head was featured and after a quick google realised that it was along the route to the Ceide Fields.

A nice bit of luck especially given it was the highlight of our trip that day.

Downpatrick Head
Dun Briste, Mayo

Dun Briste is a 50 metre sea stack that sits 80 metres off Downpatrick Head.

St. Patrick founded a church at Downpatrick Head and legend has it that Dun Briste was caused by the man himself. He was so angered by a local Chieftain who wouldn’t convert to Christianity he struck the ground with his crozier causing a piece of the land to break away from the mainland.

St.Patrick also drove all the snakes out of Ireland – is there anything this guy couldn’t do?!!

A more logical explanation for Dun Briste is that it was caused by a storm in the 14th century with the inhabitants saved by ropes from the mainland.

Other points of interest here include a blowhole where rebels in the 1798 Rebellion hid out as they were being pursued by soldiers, but unfortunately a high tide swept the rebels away.

A Lookout Post used during World War II and also the large Eire 64 sign from 1942-43 which was used to inform pilots they were flying over Irish territory.

Downpatrick Head is simply stunning and gives the Cliffs of Moher a good run for its money. It’s not flooded with tourists and parking is free – take that Cliffs of Moher!!

We next drove the short but very scenic journey to Ceide Fields.

Ceide Fields

Ceide Fields is a Neolithic site and contains the most extensive field systems in the world. It’s well worth doing the tour as it really helps to explain the significance of the site.

North Mayo
Ceide Fields, Mayo

The visitor centre has a futuristic pyramid shape design which blends in well with the landscape.

Across the road from the visitor centre is a viewing point where you can view some of the spectacular Mayo coastline and cliffs and also see as far as Downpatrick Head.

Blacksod 

We also drove the Mullet peninsula and visited several of the many sandy beaches along this scenic coastline and stopped at Blacksod Harbour with it’s picturesque lighthouse which was built in 1864 of local granite blocks and has an unusual square design and a connection to world events.

In June 1944, under an agreement with Britain, Ireland although neutral during World War II, continued to send weather reports.  The local lighthouse keeper Ted Sweeney sent the daily forecast which predicted stormy weather, unbeknownst to Ted, his report was used by General Eisenhower and Winston Churchill to delay the D-Day landing until the storm had passed.

Fishing boats in Blacksod Harbour
Blacksod harbour, county Mayo, Ireland
Blacksod Lighthouse
Blacksod Lighthouse in Mayo

Mayo is a large county and if you are planning a visit it’s worth staying a few days as there are lots of things to do and see, check out this blog post on west Mayo.

Background Sources:

OPW sites - http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/

Buildings of Ireland - http://www.buildingsofireland.ie/

Failte Ireland http://www.failteireland.ie/

WAW - https://www.wildatlanticway.com

The Liberator’s home

On a recent trip to Kerry, we visited the ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell, the Liberator.  Since we had visited his crypt and round tower at Glasnevin cemetery, you can read about our visit here and got to touch his coffin and for years admired his statue on O’Connell street, we couldn’t miss an opportunity to see where the great man once lived.

Brief history of Daniel O’Connell’s Life

Daniel O’Connell was born in  1775 in Cahersiveen, Kerry.  The O’Connell family had been wealthy Roman Catholics that had been dispossessed of their lands.

Daniel O'Connell
Portrait of Daniel O’Connell at Derrynane House

His Uncle Maurice O’Connell

At the age of five, Daniel moved to Derrynane House to live with his wealthy childless Uncle, Maurice “Hunting Cap” O’Connell who had fostered him. Maurice was the head of the O’Connell clan and was to have a strong influence on Daniel’s education and life. Daniel was eventually to inherit this house and he renovated it and made it his Summer residence.

Old picture of Derrynane House
Old sketch of Derrynane House, the ring wing is now demolished

Under the patronage of his wealthy Uncle, Daniel went to France to study along with brother, they had to flee France during the French Revolution. Daniel went to Law school in London and trained as a barrister. After he qualified, he worked for several years as a barrister around the Munster circuit.

His wife Mary O’Connell

In 1802, he married a third cousin, Mary O’Connell, despite his Uncle and families wishes, as Mary was not wealthy, it was a love match and they went onto have a happy marriage and seven surviving children. When Mary died in 1836, Daniel was heartbroken, he stated “she gave me thirty-four years of the purest happiness that man ever enjoyed.’

There were rumours of Daniels infidelities and illegitimate children at the time but these may have been spread by his political enemies.

Dining room at Derrynane house
In the dining room of Derrynane House, portraits of Daniel’s wife Mary O’Connell and his Uncle Maurice ‘Flat Cap’ O’Connell

Campaign for Catholic Emancipation

In 1811, he established the Catholic Board, which campaigned for Catholic emancipation.  This would give Irish Catholics the opportunity to become members of parliament.

In 1823, he set up the Catholic Association which embraced other aims to better Irish Catholics, such as: electoral reform, reform of the Church of Ireland, tenants’ rights, and economic development.  This Association was funded by membership with subscriptions set at 1 penny a month, so Irish peasants could afford it.  The campaign was successful and sufficient funds were raised to campaign for Emancipation.

Fatal Duel

In 1815, in a speech Daniel referred to the Dublin Corporation as a “beggarly corporation”. The corporation members were outraged and because O’Connell would not apologise, he was challenged to a duel by John D’Esterre.

They met in Kildare for the duel and D’Esterre who was an experienced duellist shot first, by chance his bullet missed O’Connell and hit the ground in front of him, O’Connell had aimed low and shot D’Esterre in the hip, not intending to gravely hurt him but the bullet logged in his stomach and D’Esterre died from his injuries two days later. Daniel felt much aggrieved at the killing and supported D’Esterre’s daughter for 30 years after.

Duelling pistols
Duelling pistols, the bottom pistol was Daniel’s

 

Daniel O’Connell Member of Parliament

O’Connell stood in a by-election to the British House of Commons in 1828 for County Clare, he won the election but was unable to take his seat as members of parliament had to take the Oath of Supremacy.  The Prime Minister fearing another rebellion in Ireland, if O’Connell was refused his seat, introduced the Catholic Emancipation Act 1829.

Daniel Imprisoned

In 1844, Daniel was arrested and imprisoned for 3 months, he had been charged with ‘seditious conspiracy’ for his campaign to repeal the Act of Union, which had moved the Irish parliament to Westminister in 1800. The Repealers hoped to re-establish an independent parliament for Ireland by putting pressure on the British authorities. The Repeal campaign organised Monster peaceful meetings, one had been held on the Hill of Tara with 100,000 people in attendance.

On his release from prison, a procession was held and Daniel was paraded through the streets of Dublin, in a large chariot, called the Triumphal chariot. This chariot was restored and is now displayed in the Coach house at Derrynane house.

Daniel O'Connell's Triumphal chariot
Daniel O’Connells Triumphal chariot
Daniel O'Connell atop the Triumphal Chariot
The Triumphal procession of Daniel O’Connell

Derrynane House 

In 1825, Daniel’s Uncle, Maurice O’Connell died and Daniel finally inherited Derrynane House and set about renovating it.  The house dated back to 1702 and over the generations, rooms and wings had been added as needed. In the 1950’s, two great granddaughters of Daniel O’Connell’s who were then aged in their 80’s resided at Derrynane, as the original house dated back to the 1700’s and as no maintenance work had been carried out on the house in many years it had already fallen into disrepair.

Derrynane House
Derrynane House

After the ladies passed away the house was gifted to the Irish state, by this stage, it was decided that the main section of the house had to be demolished, this housed the kitchens and bedrooms, the other wing of the house, the part that Daniel had designed and constructed in the 1820’s are what remain of the house today. Daniel added a dining room, drawing room, a study and library and changed the entrance of the house, he also added a small church to the house, which also survives.

Home of Daniel O'Connell
Derrynane House, ancestral home of the Liberator Daniel O’Connell
Ornate table belonging to Daniel O'Connell
Ornate table carving of dogs and Irish harp under a table in the drawing room of Derrynane House
Daniel O'Connell's drawing room
Drawing room with large wooden throne at Derrynane House
Library at Derrynane House in Kerry
Portrait of Daniel O’Connell hanging his library at Derrynane House

In 1847, Daniel went on a pilgrimage to Rome to get the Pope’s blessing, in Genoa in Italy, he took gravely ill and died a few days later at the age of 71 years old. He was a man who was ahead of his time, although a religious man,  he believed in the separation of the church and state.

This is the actual bed from the Feder hotel in Genoa that Daniel O’Connell died in. It was donated to the Office of Public Works by the Pontifical college in Rome who had come into possession of it back in 1926 from the family that owned the hotel.

 

Daniel O'Connell's deathbed
Daniel O’Connell’s deathbed from the Feder hotel, where he died in 1847

Daniel had stated on his deathbed, My body to IrelandMy heart to Rome, My Soul to Heaven

His last bequest was granted and his heart was sent to Rome and his body returned to Ireland and his coffin is held in a crypt under the Daniel O’Connell round tower at Glasnevin cemetery which you can visit and view.

Daniel’s ancestral home is now maintained by the Office of Public Works and you can visit the house from March until early November, click here to find directions.

 

Sources:

Information gathered during visit to OPW - Derrynane House

Background Info: http://www.theirishstory.com/2013/02/03/daniel-oconnells-childhood/

Background Info: derrynanehouse.ie

Background Info: wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_O%27Connell

The story behind Ireland’s smallest chapel

A few photos from a visit to Carrick-on-Shannon in county Leitrim, we regularly drive through Carrick heading to Sligo but decided to stop for lunch and a stroll a few months ago. I had heard that Carrick had the smallest chapel in Ireland which had been renovated in the last few years so we decided to go and view it, we found it tucked away on the corner of Bridge street and Main street.

The story goes that when a local woman named Mary Josephine Costello died at the age of 47 on the 6th of October 1877, her husband Edward Costello, a local rich merchant was so heartbroken by the death of his beloved wife, he decided to have a chapel built in her memory and have her coffin interred within it.

Victorian mourning

The Victorian era (1837 to 1901) introduced new funeral rituals and in particular after 1861 when Prince Alfred, Queen Victoria’s husband died and she went into a long period of mourning, influenced many Victorians and would of had an influence on the grieving Edward’s decision to commission the building of a chapel in memory of his wife.  Early deaths were viewed increasingly as tragic and deserving of elaborate and grand-scale mourning.(i)  Following Queen Victoria’s example, it became customary for middle class and wealthy families to go through elaborate rituals to commemorate their dead. This included wearing mourning clothes, having a lavish and expensive funeral, curtailing social behaviour for a set period of time, and erecting an ornate monument on the grave.(ii)

Costello had his wife’s remains embalmed and entrusted her body to the care of the local Marist Sisters convent in Carrick until the chapel could be completed.(iii)  Two years later on the 22nd April 1879, the chapel building works were completed and the chapel was dedicated with a mass held where Mary Josephine’s body was interred in a decorated coffin and placed into a sunken floor and covered with a thick glass lid.  Edward had a mass held in the chapel every month until his own death in 1891, his coffin was also interred in the chapel.

The chapel is believed to be the smallest chapel in Ireland and the second smallest in the world, it measures 16 ft by 12 ft and is made of cut stone, there is no woodwork in the church, the roof is made of arched piece of masonry and there is a large stained glass window made from designs by Mayer of Munich.(iii)  The Carrick Heritage group raised funds and had the chapel renovated in 2009 and it is opened daily all year round, its free admission but donations are welcome.  

Chapel in Carrick
Costello’s Memorial chapel

 

Church doorway
Archway into chapel

 

Coffin
Edward Costello’s coffin

 

Mary Josephines carved coffin
Mary Josephine Costello’s coffin

 

Mary Josephine Costello Leitrim Portrait
Portrait of Mary Josephine Costello

 

Coffins encased in the glass floor of the chapel

 

Irish stained glass smallest church
Stained glass window from designs by Mayer of Munich, renovated by Connon studios Dublin

A quick look inside the chapel

 

 

Sources:

(i)   https://victorianmonsters.wordpress.com/victorian-funerary-practices/
(ii)  http://www.tchevalier.com/fallingangels/bckgrnd/mourning/
(iii) http://www.carrickheritage.com/costello-memorial-chapel.html

Images: melcoo

 

Belvedere House

A few photos from our visit to Belvedere House, located outside Mullingar in Westmeath, Ireland.

Belvedere House was a Georgian villa built in 1740 by Robert Rochfort, Lord Belfield from designs by renowned architect Richard Cassells.  It was originally designed to be a hunting lodge or holiday villa but later became the main residence of Robert Rochfort, after he accused his wife Mary Molesworth of having an alleged affair with his brother Arthur Rochfort. Robert was told of the affair by his younger brother George, who disliked Mary.  Mary was said to have confessed but only under force and Arthur fled the country, pursued by his brother who planned to shoot him on sight, he returned a few years later and was sued by Robert for the alleged affair and fined 20,000 pounds, Arthur couldn’t pay and ended up in a debtor’s marshalsea prison.

Belvedere House - Georgian villa
Terraces at Belvedere

 

Rochfort had his wife Mary, imprisoned in their family home at Gaulstown for the next 31 years, with no outside communication allowed with family or friends only some servants.  She once escaped and returned to her father’s house in Dublin but he sent her back.  Mary’s plight only came to an end, when Robert died and her son George had her released. Robert Rochfort became known as the Wicked Earl for his treatment of his wife.

Wicked Earl - Robert Rochfort
Lord Belvedere, the Wicked Earl

 

Belvedere House and gardens is today run by Westmeath county council and you can go inside the house and view some of the rooms and the downstairs kitchen, there is also a cafe, gift shop, Victorian walled garden, a fairy garden, play ground for kids and lakeside walks which run along Lough Ennell and includes three large garden follies or sham ruins that Robert Rochfort, later known as Lord Belvedere had built, one is called the Jealous Wall which resembles the ruins of an abbey, he had it built in the 18th century to obscure his view of his younger brother George’s new larger house called Tudenham Park.

For opening times and directions, check out the Belvedere House website.

 

 

A Winter murder at a Seaside Village

The seaside village of Enniscrone in west Sligo along the wild atlantic way, has long been a popular holiday destination, going back as far as the 19th century, when the Victorians began visiting the small seaside village, located on the shores of Killala Bay in west county Sligo. It has been a popular destination since the 1850’s, when the local landlord, Robert Orme built the Cliff bathhouse for holidaymakers to enjoy the Atlantic ocean, the old bathhouse building still exists to this very day.

In the winter of 1909, a newly married couple visited the village on a short holiday, while one of the spouse’s planned a short relaxing break, the other had more grisly plans.

On the 10th December 1908, Michael Gallagher a native of Mayo and a Constable in the Royal Irish Constabulary, married Sarah Knox, a 22 year old young woman from Crossmolina in Mayo. Michael was older at 30 years old and had joined the RIC in 1898. He was described as a powerfully built man and nearly six foot tall.  

Michael told Sarah as he was eleven years in the force he needed to have a longer service before getting married and so the marriage was to be kept secret. Sarah remained living at her family home at Cloonkee, Crossmolina, Co. Mayo, unaware that it was after seven years a member of the R.I.C. could marry.

Sarah Gallagher nee Knox


In November 1909, Sarah received the following letter written from the barracks at Aclare, Co. Sligo.

 

R.I.C., Aclare
Dear Sarah – Just a line to let you know I received your welcome letter a few days ago. I am glad to see by it you are well. I will meet you Thursday next, 4th Inst. at Ballina at the usual place. Then we can have a few hours before we start for the seaside. Keep your mind to yourself, and I will get a few days at home about the matter. Excuse haste – post leaving. – Yours as ever.
M. GALLAGHER
x x x

At Enniscrone, Co. Sligo the couple stopped off at a hostelry and Michael asked for two rooms for himself and his “sister”.  There were no rooms available and they secured a room elsewhere as man and wife. Later that day, the couple were observed by the Coastguard as they went for a walk on Saturday evening at 5 pm strolling along the pier.

Enniscrone Pier & Cliff bathhouse – Credit: National Library of Ireland

 

Two hours later, at 7 pm, Michael returned to their accommodation alone and didn’t alert anyone to Sarah been missing. Michael paid the hotel bill and left Enniscrone village and cycled back to the RIC barracks in Aclare in south Sligo, a distance of 19 miles (31 kilometres).
On Sunday morning, the body of Sarah was discovered by two fishermen.  An investigation was quickly launched and it wasn’t long before the woman was traced back to the hotel and walking with a man the previous evening.  When tracked down at Aclare barracks, Michael Gallagher denied being at Enniscrone with a woman. He was allowed to sit at the fire in the dayroom as a search was carried out. Being granted permission to go to his room he “dashed out the back door into the dark night. In a moment all was confusion and alarm. The police abandoned their search and snatching lanterns ran in pursuit of the fugitive. Some jumped on bicycles and rode furiously down the different roads.”
At the Inquest into Sarah`s death, held a few days later, when her brother was being questioned, a jury member remarked

“I suppose he got a fortune when he got married”

“Yes” said witness, “but not all.”

Dowry system in Ireland

Dowry (generally called ‘fortune’ in Ireland; spré in Irish) is money or property brought by a bride to her husband at marriage. It was an important matter in nineteenth-century Ireland.  In the past, many marriages in Ireland were set by financial standing, and by today’s standards it would be nice to think love and compatibility came into the equation, this was not the main reason for marriage in Edwardian times, despite this, in the majority of cases love did grow through companionship and endearment, sadly this wasn’t the case for Sarah and Michael.

Though some brides married without dowries, payment could be substantial for others. The need for dowries helped parents to control their children’s choice of marriage partner. Not surprisingly, dowries were often the cause of disputes, particularly because they were sometimes paid by instalments or full payment was delayed.

The Inquest

The Inquest was opened by Dr J. Flannery and was held at the Enniscrone coastguard building, as the landlady of the hotel was giving evidence, a telegram was received, the fugitive Michael Gallagher, had been found with his throat cut at Harlech’s Lodge in Aclare, Sligo.
“The reading of the wire was received by the Jury with loud applause, which the Coroner promptly suppressed. The Jury found that Sarah Gallagher had been murdered by her husband who drowned her.”

Sarah’s funeral attracted many mourners, “The whole countryside afterwards followed the funeral cortege for miles along the roads home.”, which was in stark contrast to Michael’s funeral.

The funeral of Michael Gallagher took place from Aclare to Bohey near Crossmolina. Practically unanimously all car-owners refused to hire out their vehicles for the occasion. There was vigorous booing as the funeral passed and one woman flung mud at the hearse.  A special force of police from Crossmolina met the cortege as it passed through Sarah Knox`s village. It was quite dark when the body was laid in the grave, and no priest was present.

 

Constable Michael Gallagher was born in Co. Mayo in 1876 and joined the RIC in 1898.

 

Poignantly, on the morning of her murder Sarah had complained to a fellow guest that “she had lost her wedding ring and cried long and bitterly because she thought it was an ill-omen.”
A wedding ring was later found in Michael Gallagher`s possession when he was searched.

An Edwardian lady watches over her children fishing beside the Cliff bathhouse at Enniscrone. Credit: National library of Ireland

 

Possible Motive

The Coroner thought it was money related and Michael had been insane, but it was thought it was premeditated if he took the ring from Sarah in the morning.  Her brother, said Michael had sent 10 shillings on one occasion, that the marriage was known about in Sarah`s parish but he did not know if Michael`s family knew.  Perhaps he married her for money, but did not get all he was expecting, if the marriage became known to his superior’s it would have been a black mark on his career.  He had Sarah coached to call him Tommy at the boardinghouse but she slipped up a couple of times and called him Michael. Her brother said she often complained that Michael did not bring her away, but the excuse about not being long enough in the service was believed by Sarah’s family.

 

 

 

Sarah appears on the 1901 census aged 15 years old, living with her father James, a farmer and her 6 siblings in a house in the townland of Cloonkee, Fortlands, Mayo which is a few miles from the village of Crossmolina.

 

 

Sources:

Newspaper archive - Independent, 14/11/1909
Newspaper archive - The Sligo Champion - 11/1909
Text: Tricia Dillon - Facebook group - Royal Irish Constabulary1816-1922 -A forgotten Irish Police Force
Irish census 1901
RIC rules: http://www.royalirishconstabulary.com/
Dowry System: http://multitext.ucc.ie/d/Dowry_and_Marriage
Dowry endearment quote: http://thewildgeese.irish
Photos: National Library of Ireland

The Secret Scripture walking tour

Book a ticket for the guided Secret Scripture walking tour and discover Sligo town at the turn of the 20th century, from the perspective of one Sligo family, follow in their footsteps and see where they lived, worked and played. The Sligo secret scripture trail, is a local history and literary tour based around Sligo town. The award winning author Sebastian Barry, set his novels in Sligo town and wrote about his family who resided in Sligo at the time. This tour will take you through the streets of Sligo where the characters walked, combining the books and social history of Sligo.

Organiser: Melcoo Tours

Email: melcooireland at gmail dot com or info at melcoo dot com

Walking tour Sligo
Book a local history and literary tour of Sligo

 

Self-guided App Tours

You can also download an app I have created for the Secret Scripture tour.  The walking tour app is available on iOS and Android

Instructions:

Go to the Apple or Play store and search for Guidigo, download this free app, then search for Sligo Secret Scripture trail and sign in with a gmail, facebook or email account.

The app, guides you around several locations, the majority of which, can be reached on foot, the locations further out from the town, have been placed towards the end of the tour. We have suggested an order to explore the places but feel free to take the tour at your own pace, in whatever order suits you best. The map suggests a route of numbered stops but where you start and stop is entirely up to you. Instructions and directions are provided and you can check the map at any time, during the tour.

The tour is based around the books of author Sebastian Barry who set his novels, The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, The Secret Scripture and The Temporary Gentleman in Sligo.

A Rebel’s home

 

Kiltyclogher or Kilty as it is known locally, is a small village situated in north Leitrim, it is right on the border with Fermanagh. It is a quaint little village, laid out neatly with four roads, the village lies on the R281 road.

 

Seán Mac Diarmada's statue in Kiltyclogher, Leitrim Mac Diarmada statue
Seán Mac Diarmada statue which was erected in 1940. It was created by the Irish Sculptor Albert Power (1881-1945)

 

Brief History

The village was originally established in the 1830’s by the local landlord Charles Henry Tottenham, in honour of his daughter Sarah who had died in a riding accident, the village was originally named Sarahville and a crest with this name can still be seen today on the Market house building in the town.

Charles who lived in the nearby Glenfarne Hall, was the son of Nicholas Loftus Tottenham, originally of Loftus Hall on the Hook Head peninsula in Wexford. The Tottenham family arrived in Ireland during the Cromwellian plantation. Nicholas had been a Captain in a British Regiment and a M.P. for Wexford and he was bequeathed land in Leitrim.

Charles Tottenham built the village which consisted of 25 houses and the Market house and by the mid 1830’s, the village had 130 inhabitants.  There was also a constabulary police station in the village and a market was held every Friday in the Market house and a Fair on the 14th of the month. In 1837 the Roman Catholic church, St Patrick’s was built and in 1868, the Church of Ireland Kiltyclogher Parish church was built on the Kilcoo road.

During the Troubles, in 1973 the road into Fermanagh was blown up by the British Army, this had a detrimental affect on the local economy and cut off neighbours and townlands.  Thankfully, since the peace process, the road has reopened, although the village has suffered from problems of rural decline and lack of infrastructure and services. For the 1916-2016 centenary this year, the village has been spruced up and is looking really well, with window art facades on some of the old former pubs and shops.  It is hoped that the village will be designated as a ‘Heritage and Cultural Village’ with a special focus on arts and crafts. I think this will be great for the village as it has a history of music and drama. My grandmother brought my mother to some of the amateur drama plays held in Kilty back in the 1970’s.

McGowans Bar - Kiltyclogher Leitrim

Old Memories

I’m fond of Kilty as my grandparents lived just over the border and Kilty was their nearest village, I spent many summers there and walked in the road and over the old wooden bridge (which at one point resembled something out of an Indiana Jones movie) which crossed the river and up to Kilty for church on Sunday’s, my aunts changing out of their old mucky shoes and hiding them in a bag behind an old wall, before continuing on up into Kilty village in their high heels.

Art work on old tailor's shop
Bredin Tailors shop, Kiltyclogher Leitrim

 

Heritage Centre

We visited the new heritage centre opened in the former Market house building in the village and to do a tour of the home of the 1916 Leader Seán Mac Diarmada. The heritage centre hosts an exhibition about Sean and gives a brief history of Kilty, we met Paul there who was very kind and patient!

Market house in Kilty
The former Market house now the Kiltyclogher Heritage Centre

 

Seán Mac Diarmada

 

Sean Mac Diarmada art portrait
Striking artwork of Seán Mac Diarmada by Sinead Guckian displayed in the Heritage centre.

 

Seán was born in Corranmore townland, just outside the village of Kilty in 1883 and he lived in a three room cottage with his parents and his brothers and sisters. Seán had originally planned on been a teacher and he stayed on, in his local school Corracloon and was a teacher’s assistant there, while studying for teaching exams by correspondence. Around this time, he learnt Irish and became involved in the Gaelic League. After failing an exam, he moved to Belfast and worked as a Tram conductor and was sworn into the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). In 1908, he moved to Dublin and was working as an organiser for Sinn Fein and by 1910 he was working as the editor of the Irish Freedom newspaper. He also became good friends with Tom Clarke and was considered to be Clarke’s protegé.

Irish cottage of Sean Mac Diarmada
The 19th century thatched cottage of Seán Mac Diarmada – 1916 Rising Leader

 

In 1964, Seán’s bachelor brother was approached by the Office of Public works, they wanted to make the cottage a national monument and asked Seán’s brother, not to make any alternations to the cottage, in return he received an allowance and continued to live in the cottage until his death in 1976. Walking into the 19th century white washed thatched cottage, you see the big open hearth and get the smell of turf, old furniture is dotted about the cottage, some of which was made by Seán’s father, who was a farmer and carpenter, it really brings you back in time, it is as if Seán and his family have just stepped out and will return at any minute. My mother came along with us and she loved it, as she grew up in a similar cottage in the 50’s and 60’s, with the big open hearth and hooks for hanging a kettle and saucepans.

Old hearth in traditional irish cottage
The old hearth, put on the kettle and throw some boxty on the pan

 

Inside Seán Mac Diarmada's cottage
Old dresser built by Seán’s father, on display at the family cottage in Kiltyclogher, Leitrim

 

It’s worth booking a tour with the heritage centre as they will meet you outside and open up the cottage, otherwise you can drive up to the cottage and view it from the outside, but it will really make your visit worthwhile to go into the cottage, we really enjoyed our visit to the village and the cottage. You can check out the heritage website for opening times and directions.

 

 

Sources:
1. kiltyclogherheritagecentre.com
2. Seán Mac Diarmada Summer School - seanmacdiarmada.ie/sean-mac-diarmada
3. Seán Mac Diarmada - 16 Lives biography book by Author Brian Feeney 
4. Tottenham Genealogy - tottenham.name/Tree/SectionC9.pdf
5. Wikipedia.org/wiki/Se%C3%A1n_Mac_Diarmada
6. Irish Century - www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufLoFB3Jx3E
7. forebears.io/ireland/connaught/leitrim/clonclare/kiltyclogher
8. kilmorediocese.ie/diocese/parishes/113
9. leitrimobserver.ie/news/home/206963/This-is-our-last-chance-to.html
10. visual-arts-cork.com/irish-sculpture/albert-power.htm

 

1916 Rising Exhibition in Tipperary

 

Some photos from a recent visit to the Tipperary County Museum located in Mick Delahunty Square in Clonmel, Tipperary, where a 1916 Easter Rising exhibition is currently been held.

You can find out more about the exhibition and the County museum opening days/hours here.

 

GPO 1916 Rising Exhibition

You can read about the Tipperary Volunteers and see an original copy of the Irish Proclamation at the Tipperary – Road to the Rising Exhibition.