This part of our journey to Westport in County Mayo tells of one of the most poignant and tragic periods in Irish history - the famine years of 1845-1849. The journey also brings us through some of the most magnificent scenery on God's earth.Westport is the largest coastal town in County Mayo and one of my favourite places. It has a character all of its own and is a very cosmopolitan place, being a popular spot for visitors and the many non-nationals who came and decided to stay. Its environs were host to Prince Charles and it is the homeplace now of Brian Keenan, former Beirut hostage and author of "An Evil Cradling" (an excellent book for those who haven't read it)
Leaving the town of Westport and travelling westwards we pass the beautiful Clew Bay. Achill Island can be seen in the background. About 4 miles from Westport town lies the majestic Croagh Patrick.
This mountain is a place of pilgrimage and once a year, on the last Sunday in July, thousands climb to its summit, many barefoot..The climb is tough and surely tests the mettle. (I did it just once about 20 years ago.) But with a hearty group for support the arduous climb can be fun. The view from the summit spans most of Connaught, but most striking is that of Clew Bay itself.
At the foot of Croagh Patrick is the National Famine Memorial - a brilliantly sculpted 'famine ship'. Incorporated within the rigging are depictions of skeletons. The famine touched all parts of Ireland but nowhere was its effects more devastating then here in the west. Over 1 million people died in that three year period and a further 1 million emigrated.
I often wonder who were the strong ones - those who left, braving the famine ships, to make new lives for themselves, or those who stayed and survived and whose descendants now live and work in this thriving, free and independent country.
It is estimated that the Irish diaspora number approximately 100 million worldwide. The huge drain on the West of Ireland during the famine years and through emigration in the various times of recession has certainly left its mark.
Although it must be said that the late 1980's and the 90's has seen the return of many recent emigrants, as Ireland enjoys a period of prosperity, as well as industrial harmony, over the last 20 years or more.
I could fill this page with photographs and still show only a tiny fraction of the scenery that awaits the traveller to this area, particularly the 40 mile drive from Croagh Patrick through Louisburg to Leenane in County Galway. So, with the addition of only a few, I shall endeavour to use words to help build an image for you.
Our journey brings us through valleys of such indescribable beauty. Every turn in this twisting road opens up a new vista of valleys, lakes, rivers, forests and mountains, more breathtaking in their beauty than the last.
In late May and June the whole valley is aflame with golden gorse, tempered with the white mayblossom of the hawthorn and awash with cerise-coloured wild rhododendrons.
In the Autumn months the place is a carpet of fuschias, so nature keeps this place a kaleidoscope of colours almost all year round. It is indeed a place of unimaginable beauty.
As it nears the sea we find Killary Harbour, one of the deepest inlets in Europe, and it is said that British submarines sheltered here during WWW2.
Mountain sheep roam nonchalantly along the roadside grazing off whatever grass they can find and totally heedless of the tourist traffic which travels this road.
Once again we are reminded of the famine as we journey for about 3 miles into the valley. In an area called Doolough, we come across two stone cross memorials. The first is located on the left hand bend in the photograph and was erected in 1994 by AFRI - (Aid From Ireland - a third world agency and one which my brother had the privilege of serving for a year in the 1970's).
The Valley at Doolough
The east facing base of the monument is inscribed as follows:
To commemorate the hungry poor who walked here in 1849 and walk the third world today."
The northfacing base has the following words inscribed:
"How can men feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow beings?"
Mahatma Ghandi in South Africa
The west facing base has inscribed:
"In 1991 we walked AFRI's great famine walk at Doolough
and soon afterwards we walked the road to freedom in South Africa"
Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The people of Doolough and its surrounds, almost 200 souls in all, walked into Louisburg for food and were turned away with nothing - they all perished on the walk back. These monuments were erected in this valley in their honour.
An interesting event at the time was one initiated by the Choctaw Indian Nation in America on hearing of the Irish tragedy. They fundraised for the starving in Ireland, raising US $170, a considerable sum of money at that time. Their own history is one of sadness too and they named the journey from their own lands to the reservations 'The Trail of Tears'. In 1997, commemorating 150 years since the famine, the Chief of the Choctaw Nation walked the 'Famine Walk' along with hundreds of others, thus forging further the links between our two peoples, both with tragic histories.
Just a half mile further on is the second cross bearing the following inscription:
"Doolough Tragedy1849, erected in the memory of those who died
in the famine of 1845-1849"
The road through the valley twists and turns for another 20 miles bringing us to the village of Leenane and back into County Galway. John B. Keane's "The Field" was filmed here and this sleepy little village has been recorded on celluloid for posterity. The village offers welcome sustenance to the tired traveller after their long drive.
For those of you who have never spent a while with us in the West of Ireland, I hope I have given you a taste of what I think is a place of such beauty, magnificence and grandeur in its sparse loneliness, not to be equalled anywhere.
Those of you who have travelled this journey already know of what I speak. Although I drive this way at least twice a year and drag every unsuspecting visitor we have with me, I never cease to be amazed at the wonder and beauty of the place, whether in rain or shine.
If you have enjoyed this page please drop a comment into our Guestbook- and Don't Forget.......!
the Rest of the Journey
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 journey to my own parish of Lackagh - a small village just 12 miles from Galway with a mighty big history. Learn all about the Battle of Knockdoe - one of Ireland's bloodiest of conflicts in the 16th century.
We 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 to 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 1000 year old Yew Walk and the Bishop's Palace.
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.
Join me on my 'Famine Journey' which starts in here 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 from 1845 - 1849 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 places 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.
Finally, join me on my pilgrimage to a peaceful haven in a war-torn country in Medugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovinia. The other areas of my Web site can be found in the drop-down box below.
If you are interested in Irish history or anything to do with Ireland why not visit our new additions where you will find a large selection of genuine Irish goods as well as Irish reading, music & viewing material!:
Moytura's Irish Store, Moytura's Irish Bookshop, Moytura's Irish Music Store, and Moytura's Irish Video Store
I have added links pages of other places related to the places we visit, links to leisure activities in Ireland i.e. golf, fishing, horse riding, sailing in Ireland, festivals, entertainment etc. and some of my friends' home pages.
Go raith míle maith agat - thanks a million
Beannacht Dé Ort - bain taitneamh as do thuras.
God Bless and Enjoy Your 'Journey'
Oh, I nearly forgot......come and meet me and mine HERE
See some of the awards received for this site HERE.
For those of you who are interested in tracing you family ancestry these pages might help, just hit the banners to go directly to each site or check out our Trace Your Ancestry pages first where you can see some of the vast numbers of data base lists and try out an on-line search for yourself.
Every now and then people send me stories, poems, or URLs to other Home Pages that I find very touching or uplifting, they can be found at the links below. Some will make you smile, maybe even laugh, some may make you cry or a little sad - but all will leave a little bit of a mark, if only for the few minutes you spend reading or listening to them. Enjoy - I call this section:
"PRAYERFUL THOUGHTS & THOUGHTFUL PRAYERS"
CIRCLE THE WORLD WITH PRAYER
Could you DONATE just 10 minutes of your time a day?? If Yes then- GIVE IT TO GOD! Great rewards and long-term benefits! Invitation open to ANYONE, ANYWHERE, ANY RELIGION & NONE!!
Check out the WHY, WHERE, WHEN & HOW here: Circle of Prayer Then ask yourself the question - WHY NOT?!?!
Celtic Women International
Celtic Women International is a young and vibrant organisation founded by Jean Bills, a woman with Irish roots living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is now in growth phase and expanding membership throughout the whole world for ANYONE (yes, even the guys!) with Celtic roots. It's purpose is to honour, celebrate and promote our Celtic Heritage. In the near future we hope to be a resource for all things Celtic with databases of other Celtic Organisations, Support Bodies, Music & the Arts etc. Membership, for only $25!!, incorporates a quarterly newsletter with the finest of articles related all things Celtic.
Our annual conference brings together some of the best advocates of Celtic Traditions as well as musicians and artists representing the recognised Celtic Nations of Ireland, Cornwall, Scotland, Wales, The Isle of Man, Brittany and Galicia and Asturia in Spain. 2002 sees the conference on the move and will be held in New Orleans, 2003 in Toronto, 2004 in Pheonix and 2005 in GALWAY, IRELAND! Please help us to grow this wonderful organisation by joining us as a member. All are very welcome and your presence can only enrich us. Learn all about us at:
Celtic Women International
Moytura's web site currently has 12 definite and individual sections which can be found below:.Choose a Location
WEB DESIGN & HOSTING
Moytura Graphic Design offers the complete Internet solution for your company or business. We design, host and market your site, regardless of how small or large it needs to be.
You can learn more about our service by following the link to:
IT'S JUST THE IRISH IN YOU!
If you are Irish or have an affinity with Ireland, Moytura also has an Irish Book Shop, Irish Video Store and Irish Music Store, stocked with all things Irish or Irish-related. Just hit the buttons below:
Here are hints and tips about all aspects of marketing your business on the Internet.
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Get a Free Family Coat of ArmsAncestry.com has the greatest databases in the world for those in North America who are trying to trace their ancestry. Hit the banner to the right to see the some of the extensive lists available and while there why not do a search from their own database search engine?
Just hit the banner to the left.
Are You Drawing Up Your Family Tree?
Moytura now has a brand new Irish shopping site online, so why not go and have a mooch by hitting the logo!
Here you will find a vast selection of Irish products in the following categories: Ancestry, Art, Books, Collectors items, Crafts, Crystal, Dancing, Fashion, Foodhall, Fragrances, Gifts, Heraldry, Houseware, Jewellery, Maps, Music, Names, Sportswear, Travel and Videos. All our goods are from genuine Irish suppliers.
Email addresses are used for one purpose only - to send on your newsletter.
They are given to NO OTHER third party.
HOME-BASED BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY
Moytura Graphic Design has expanded enormously since it's humble beginnings just a few years ago and has taken a new business venture which can be operated from home on a full or part-time basis. You can learn about this work-from-home opportunity here.
The telecommunications industry goes from strength to strength world wide, especially with de-regulation opening up most countries to healthy and cost-cutting competition. The company, for which we are Independent Consultants, has been so successful since its European start-up in 1998 that it has now expanded from the UK to Ireland Belgium, and the Netherlands, with the USA opening in Feb 2002. It plans to expand even further in the very near future - to:
If you, or anyone you know, living in any of these countries would like to start a home-based business, the opportunities are enormous as this company is only just beginning and, as Independent Consultants, everyone will be in at the very ground level. E-MAIL for details or check out the WEBPAGE.
Contact Mary Mullins, Moytura Graphic Design, Cregmore, Claregalway, Co. Galway, Ireland. Ph: +353 91 798407
© 2000 Moytura Graphic Design