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Lackagh - A Fast-growing and Thriving Community
If you're travelling to Ireland, why not take a peek and see how the weather's behaving here in the West.
My village is Cregmore in the parish of Lackagh, County Galway, Ireland. Lackagh lies just 10 miles north east of Galway City and is a fast-growing and thriving community. It has a rich heritage and a history going back for centuries. As with most parishes in Ireland its centre is the church and the church records in this village show a list of Pastor's names going back 550 years to the year 1419.

Our Lady of Knock Parish Church, LackaghThe New Housing Development in Lackagh
Our Lady of Knock Parish Church and.the New Housing Development in Lackagh

The parish church of Lackagh stands in the middle of this little village and close by is a housing development of 24 new houses. This reflects the current Irish Celtic Tiger economy and the fact that small towns and villages are now becoming attractive to families wishing to move from urban centres.

The Battle of Knockdoe

Each corner of Ireland carries its own little bit of history and Knockdoe in the parish of Lackagh has an interesting history of battles long ago. The Battle of Knockdoe, (Cnoc Tua meaning the "The Hill of Axes") was fought in 1504 and although it had no real political significance it was one of the bloodiest conflicts in Irish history. You can learn more about this famous battle from the link below.

Turloughmore Fair

Turloughmore, in the parish, is an area famed for both its fair and its hurlers. The hurlers continue to make history and now the fair, once long gone, has been revived. 1998 saw its re-birth and most successfully so and the Turloughmore Fair Committee aims to make the annual event even more successful.

In years gone by farmers sold their livestock, their produce and their wool at this fair, which was one of only three large fairs at the time in the County of Galway. Fair day was very much a social occasion, where marriage matchmaking was the norm of the day, and even old scores could be settled in bouts of pugilism as bloody as any battlefield.

Home brewed beverages helped warm the blood and fuel the fires of revenge and manys the battle broke out at the fair of Turlough. But the regular fighting was to be brought to a halt with the passing of the Constabulary Act in 1836. This provided for a more efficient police force to keep order during fair days and I'm sure the boys in blue were seen as an unwelcome intrusion at the time.

A Parish of Scholars

Lackagh parish has always had a reputation of producing "well educated young men" and there are records of an institutional school going back as far as 1831 in the grounds of Carnoneen Castle. This was thought to be one of 4 private schools in the parish. In the past 50 years alone this parish has seen 19 young men ordained to the priesthood and since the start of this century over 35 young women have entered the religious life. Not a bad record for a small corner of Ireland.

Time brings many changes and none more so than from the 1960's to date. Prior to this time we would have seen children crossing fields and travelling along 'Mass paths' barefoot on their way to school, each child carrying a sod of turf for the classroom fire. Nowadays we see the children dropped off to school in the second family car and returning home to centrally heated homes with all the mod cons.

In Cregmore, my village, there was a famous hedge school until the mid 1800's. Then Mr. Murphy, the local teacher, gathered the children and brought them into an old house in the area, teaching them reading and writing at a cost of 1 penny each - a private college by all accounts!

The Spailpín, or migrant farm worker from Connemara, was a common resident of this parish up until the 1960's and 70's. They were employed by local farmers to help out on the land and brought with them the richness of their native Irish language, their colourful expressions and the crafted homespun waistcoats and gansies (pullovers/sweaters).

A Rich Historical Heritage

This parish, as with many in Ireland, is rich in archaeological sites. Sadly many of these have disappeared or were destroyed. Those that still remain are ring forts which were the outer surrounds of the farmsteads of our early stone age ancestors and some can be dated back many thousands of years. They survived through to medieval times and within these walls were the circular, one-roomed crannogs or homes as well as the quarters for the cattle and other livestock.

Cahernashilleeny, Carheenlea, Cloughaun, Knockdoemore and Grange all have ring forts and to the trained eye can be recognised as circular mounds in fields. Some measured a mere 50 feet diameter while others spread over 200 feet.

Our parish also has enclosures found as circular, oval or rectangular earthen banks or stone walls, to be found in 6 areas of the parish - Caherateemore North, Carheenlea, Caraun, Caraunkeelwy, Kiltrogue and Kilskea. A megalithic tomb is to be found in Carheenlea and a dolman in Grange and these are probably the only evidence of ancient burial grounds left in the parish.

Here beside us in Cregmore is a famous well, Tobermor or Toberglass, which supplied water to residents of the area for centuries. It is no longer in use as we now have piped water flowing from Lough Corrib. It is interesting the way language can be similar the world over. In Ontario, Canada near Georgian Bay is a harbour town called Tobermory. The name is taken from a Scottish village and means 'Well of the Virgin Mary'. Further details can be found about Tobermory in the link below to Ontario.

Dotted around the parish are cashels, similar in shape to ring forts but built where stones are plentiful - and this area surely has plenty of stones. My own village - Craig Mór (or in English Cregmore) - means large stone.

Cregmore Bridge

Cregmore Bridge

The Clare River in Cregmore

The Clare River in Cregmore

The bridge in Cregmore crosses the river Clare and links the parish from north to south. Fishing in this river is good and the fast flowing water allows an annual river run in June called the Amphicat. Some of Galway's charities have benefitted year after year from the brave canoeists who race the 20 miles stretch each year for fun as well as funds.

Castles in the Parish of Lackagh

Ancient castles had their moats and there are 2 to be found in the parish - at Carheeny and Coolarne. Visitors to the parish in the 16th. century would have seen 7 fine castles, four built near the river Clare and 3 built on high ground. Each castle was owned by various members of the de Burgo family and, when in residence, housed between 20 and 100 soldiers as well as their families. Each castle had a 'murdering hole' in the roof - built as a means of defence. In times of invasion and war the soldiers showered rocks and stones down on the unwelcome visitors.

It is hard to picture it now but the inhabitants of these magnificent castles were earls and powerful men in their own right and the lands around were hives of industry and agriculture, as well as the play grounds of the many children of the clans.

Kiltrogue Castle still has its outer walls intact - it was owned by John Blake FitzRicard in the 14th. century and later in 1574 by Tirlagh Caragh McSwine.

In Grange, two miles from me, stands the remains of Grange Castle probably built in the late 16th. century and belonging to Walter Buí, another de Burgo. This castle, as with most of those dotted around Ireland, sits on private land and unavailable to visitors, sadly.

Grange Castle

Grange Castle

Kilskeagh Castle, known locally as Witches Castle, belonged to another member of the McSwine family. Murrough McSwine was a captain of the Gallowglasses at the famous Battle of Knockdoe in 1504.

Derrymacloughna is another of the castles owned by the Burke clan and its outer walls still stand sixty feet high. Lackagh Castle sits near the Clare river and the outer walls still stand at forty feet. It was owned by Henry FitzEdmund circa 1574. It is said to have been built by two of the Burkes in the 14th. century.

The remaining two castles are unrecognisable now but must have stood proud in the 15th and 16th century. Thomas Balve owned Caranoween Castle in the late 16th. century and Tybot Burke owned Liscananaun Castle.

The 17th. century is famous for the 'Flight of the Earls' when they fled their lands leaving the tenants to face the onslaught of the oncoming Cromwellian forces. It was a time of wars and battles, the most famous being the battle of Kinsale in Cork. Cromwell arrived in 1649 starting the transfer of land from Catholics to Protestants. Most of it was handed over to soldiers who were rewarded with the confiscated lands instead of money for their part in helping to evict the Catholic landowners. Those landowners in the North and East of the country who rebelled were forced to flee to Connacht, where the land was poor and rocky.

Lackagh's Famine History

Moving forward in time we come to the Famine years when the population of the parish was halved from approximately 4,000 souls. There is very little evidence of emigration so it is possible that famine deaths caused the drop in population.

Apart from the ancient historical links of ring forts, cashels, castles and fairs what other link does the parish of Lackagh have with its past? On the Eastern corner of the parish stands Coolarne House. This was once the home of landowner and Justice of the Peace, Mr. James Dillon Meldon. Although a Catholic, he and his family were not seen as Nationalist but associated with the English Ascendency. This beautiful house has seen many interesting residents in recent years.

In 1927 the land around Coolarne was divided up amongst local farmers and the house and its surrounds were bought by the Daughters of Charity, a religious order. Later it was bought by the Ursuline order and used as a domestic science school for young ladies. Then it was owned by the Sacred Heart Missionaries in the 1970's and 80's and was a novitiate for young men entering for the priesthood in the missions. It is now owned by a charity group run by Sr, Consillio of the Mercy Order and run as a residential centre for those with addictions.

I'd like to acknowledge the contributors and committee of the Lackagh Parish History in putting together this page.

A New Historical Journey

Over the past four years a group called The Turloughmore History Project have been working in the parish on a local history project and the culmination of their work is to be found in a fine book all about the parish history of Lackagh, Turloughmore.

This is now available as a beautiful publication called "In Their Own Words"

Ms. Bríd Higgins is co-ordinator of the project and can be found at: The Turloughmore History Project, Lackagh, County Galway. Ph: +353+91+ 797049.

Replies please to Bríd at: or visit their web site.

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the Rest of the Journey

Learn all about the Battle of Knockdoe in Lackagh - one of Ireland's bloodiest of conflicts in the 16th century.

For those who have just joined me on this page why not go to the beginning of our travels and see some of the places in The Start of Our Journey through the West of Ireland.

My Place Amongst the Stones gives the history of my company name, Moytura - a celtic heritage going back thousands of years.

We then move on to take a quick jaunt around Galway City; and then to the heart of Connemara - with its wild and wonderful beauty.

From there we journey south into County Clare and see The Burren - a place that has lain undisturbed since the Ice-age and of immense botanical, ecological and archaeological importance.

Visit Ireland's finest early monastic heritage centre in Clonmacnoise, County Offaly; and to my favourite of all the early Christian Church locations - Clonfert, South County Galway, with its beautiful tiny 12th century Cathedral of Saint Brendan. Come with me around the grounds and see the Bishop's Palace and the 1000 year old Yew Walk.

While on the Clonfert pages, you can learn a potted history of Saint Brendan the Navigator, possibly the first European to set foot in North America in the 6th. century. And join me in the celebrations when this tiny cathedral was listed in the World Monuments Watch 2000 most endangered monuments.

Come with me on my 'Famine Journey' which starts in Westport, and moves to Sligo, my Dad's County and the departure port for many of the 'Coffin Ships'. This part of my journey ends in Grosse-Île on a tiny island east of Quebec City.

On this page you will learn some of the history of our Famine Refugees and find the final resting place of over 6,000 of my country folk who died within sight of their first freedom in over 300 years. This is where many of the Irish roots in North America started.

Our Journey moves on to other plces on that visit to Canada where we see Quebec City and some of Ontario's lovely places and then to two of Canada's famous Catholic Shrines - Saint Anne de Beaupré and to Cap-de-la-Madeleine.

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