Places of Interest
The most lasting legacy of the Neolithic people are their tombs, frequently located on high ground. Fairymount Hill is the highest point in Co. Roscommon. A mound covered with earth on the summit is very possibly a passage grave.
At 586 ft. Fairymount Hill commands a great view of the surrounding country and would have made a natural defence. Two large interlinked hill-forts enclose the top of the hill and possibly date from the Iron Age. Such sites were almost certainly tribal. The chief and his followers occupied the hill-fort as a palace in time of place. However, all the tribesmen and their cattle could be accommodated within its defences in time of danger. Roscommon Co. Council have built a water tower on part of it.
Cill i Hooley:
St. Lallocc is said to be associated with the coming of Christianity to Fairymount (Ard Senlis). It seems there was an early ecclesiastical foundation at Cill I Hooley. There are no ruins of the church, but is known as sacred ground and was used as a burial place for unbaptised infants until approx. fifty years ago.
Loughglynn lake was constructed in the early 19th. century by Jerrard Strickland, land agent to Viscount Dillon. It is of ornithological interest and is especially important to wildfowl in dry periods in winter.
The remains of a Normal Castle, said to have belonged to the Fitzgeralds can be seen on the south side of the lake. One tower still stands. This was later the location of the farmyard belonging to Loughglynn House.
Aughurine Stone Circle:
About 2000 years B.C. metal was first used in Ireland and a very gradual transition from stone to bronze working took place. We know very little about the new people who arrived in Ireland with the skill of metal working. They are given the name “Beaker Folk” because of the elaborate pottery vessels they made. They constructed circular monuments on ‘henges’ of stone and wood e.g. the world famous Stonehenge. A fine example of an E.B.A. Stone Circle can be seen at Aughurine. Situated near a hill top it consists of a large circle of 14 upright stones with a cave or pit in the centre. Nearby there is a second smaller stone circle. Various circular earthen formations and the remains of two trackways (possibly ceremonial) are clearly visible. The purpose of such stonehenges is unlcear. Perhaps they had a ritual or astrological significance. Cremated bone has been found at a similar site at Newgrange. Stone Circles are mostly located in the South-West and North of the country adding to the importance of the site in Roscommon.
A cave in the townland of Kiltobranks may well be a pre-historic tomb. It is located on high ground. The entrance is carefully constructed and a lintel can be clearly seen. It is covered by a low mound of stones. O’Donovan 9Letters 1837) says that it was called Umhaidh Phadraig and that stones were held there in the early nineteenth century.
Feigh Lake – Wild Life Sanctuary:
Kilruan (Lisacul) – Ecclesiastical site: Kilrudane – Ecclesiastical site: Tonroe: (a) The Tonroe Mill and Forge: An Oats and Corn mill of the 19th. century. Oats, wheat and barley were transported by farmers to be milled into wholemeal flour and animal feeds, while the corn was being milled, the farmer attended to other tasks such as “shoeing” the horse or repairing farm implements. The mill was operational until the 1950’s.
Raths or ringforts were the typical dwelling places of the nobles and “strong farmers” from around 500 to 1000 A.D. within these enclosures were dwelling houses with walls of stone and clay and roofs of straw or reed thatch. Many Raths contained passages known as souterrains.
Souterrains were stoned lined and usually entered from within a shouse in the Rath. The purpose of these souterrains was mainly storage areas for perishable foods, for concealing valuables and as hiding places during raids. There are six such Raths to be seen in this area:
1: on Jack McDonnell’s land.
2 and 3: on Bishop’s Ecclesiastical lands.
4: located directly behind the Four Altars Monument.
5 and 6: at Edmondstown Crossroads.
The finest examples of souterrains are to be found in Raths 5 and 6 where the chambers are believed to be linked by a series of passage-ways to further souterrains about one mile in Drumacoo.
The Costellos had possession of a large part of Sliabh Lugha. In 1257 the McCostellos (as they were called in Connacht) built a stong Normal castle on the site of the ancient Aileac Mor (or Castlemore), a castle which they held until 1587 when it was captured by Hugh O’Donnell of Ulster. After the Costellos became dispossessed they fanned out: one branch moved to Tallaghan, the famous Una Bhan pined over one of the sons of this household, namely Thomas Laidir. Another branch moved to Cregan-na-Gran and built the Fourt Altars and another branch moved to Kilfree, Gurteen. The Norman castle which they built is in ruins at Castlemore as is Kilfree House and the home of the Costellos of Cregane na Gran. The last residence of the McCostellos is now occupied by the Bishop of Achonry, Dr. Thomas Flynn.
Bishop’s House Edmondstown:
The Palace itself was built in 1864, by Sir Robert Art Costello, and sold to the church about 1895. It is a Scottish Manor House built of cut stone. In later years the House was used as a boarding school for students and was known as “Edmondstown College.” This boarding school was replaced by our present day St. Nathy’s College.
Fuluacht Fiadh on Bishop’s House land:
Fluacht Fiadh, which were the ancient cooking places, were used extensively in the Bronze Age 2000 – 5000 B.C. In these prehistoric times hunting was a favourite sport in Ireland and at the end of the chase it was customary to set up camp and prepare a feast from the day’s kill. The animals – mainly deer and wild boar were cut up and wrapped in straw. A hollow was made in marshy ground or near a stream and a woodlined trough inserted. The meat was placed in the trough and as the water level rose to cover the meat, red hot stones were thrown in. Hot stones continued to be thrown in until the meat was cooked. Fuluacht Fiadh are easily recognised by the mound of burnt stones which were placed in a horse-shoe shape. This horse-shoe shaped piece of land is much greener in colour than surrounding land.
The Four Altars Monument:
The Four Altars, a ruin of penal times is situated about 3 miles from Ballaghaderreen town centre on the main Sligo Road. It was built by the Costellos of Cregan-na-Grant. The priest who read Mass at the famous Mass rock Aiteentaggart also read mass when circumstances permitted at the four Altars as he resided with the Costellos of Cregan an Gran. While speaking on religious matters of much later times, it is well to note that up until 1873 there were 2 catholic churches which served the environs of Ballaghadereen. One was that of St. Mary’s Hall and the other which was located just a few hundred yards from the Four Altars on the Monasteraden Road. No trace of this church remains today, but the Sisters of Charity held class in this church every Sunday after 12 noon mass. This church was replaced by St. Aidan’s Church, Monasteraden.
Cillin (situated directly behind Four Altars): These ancient burial grounds were used for burials of unbaptised children. This fine example is situated in the Rath and stones mark graves. Directly beside this Rath and Cillin are traces of the original village of Edmondstown. Tohers at Creggane and Callow: Two ancient bog trackways or “tohers” were discovered in the early 1960’s. The trackway in Creggane was made of wood and stone and that of the Callow Bog was made of wooden planks only. These trackways were built primarily to permit the movement of people across the boglands of Ireland. These trackways have been radio carbon dated to 1100 B.C. The Creggane trackway can be reached by taking the first turn left after the Float bridge. It is situated approximately 400 yards along this road.
The McDermott clan originally lived in Boyle (Lough Key) but when the planters came, their lands were acquired by the English and they then moved to the shores of Lough Gara, to the townland of Shroof. The remains of the fortress is still to be seen near one of the sites where the crannogs were discovered. The present day Demesne is built on the site of a former *smaller house. The Coolavin House was built in 1880 and in the grounds of this famous house is the ancient Caiseal. * That smaller house was owned by the Holmes Family.
Cashel at Coolavin:
This Caisheal is situated on the McDermott Estate in Coolavin. This round stone fort is about 2000 years old. It is about 10 feet high and 15 feet wide with an entrance at the South East. There are also two souterrains in the enclosure and it is believed by Madame McDermott herself that the timber road at the Float (Creggane) is connected to the Caisheal. Circa 1900 a group of people repaired the Caiseal in an attempt to restore it to its original shape.
Directly opposite the Caiseal at Coolavin is the house of a former Protestant Rector. This house was divided into two parts; one half belonged to the R.I.C. Barracks ( again situated below the gate to Coolavin Estate on left hand side of road) and the other was the Protestant Rector’s House. The old road leading from the Ballaghaderreen side of the Rector’s House was referred to as “The Green Road” which is said to be a further continuation of the timber road at the Coolavin Caiseal. On the left hand side of the Rector’s house is the sit e of a Protestant Graveyard.
St. Attracta’s Well and Crucifixion Plaque:
A few hundred yards beyond the impressive entrance to Coolavin House lies St. Attracta’s well and Crucifixion Plaque. Enclosed on three sides by walls, the centre is comprised of a limestone flag. The figure of Christ as he hung on the cross is sculptured on this with the instruments of the Passion carved on either side of them. Tradition has it that the work was done in the 17th. century by a local artist. The inscription I.H.S. 1662. 21G is imprinted on the Plaque and it’s believed that the 1662 may signify the year of restoration while the I.G. may stand for Iriel O’Gara. On top of the north wall are placed 13 round water worn pebbles. The number 13 seems remarkable, maybe it represents the 12 apostles plus Jesus. At the foot of the wall there is a prominent hollow in one boulder. The water in this was believed to cure children who had rickets.
St. Attracta’s Hospice, Killaraght:
St. Attracta was the daughter of the chieftain of the area called Talan, who was converted to Christianity by St. Patrick. She founded a hospice for travellers at Killaraght which survived to the 15th. century.
Portahard Church & Interpretative Centre
Portahard Church of Ireland was built in 1740 and restored in 1988 by Roscommon County Council. It’s original function was preserved and an Interpretative Centre telling the life story of Dr. Douglas Hyde (1860-1949) was installed. Dr. Hyde’s contribution to modern Ireland is highlighted in the exhibition by the use of informative charts, maps and photographs. Through audio-visual material you can capture the spirit of his dream and celebrate the achievements of one life dedicated to dream and vision. Also on display is the original letter nominating him as first President of Ireland, signed by members of the two main political parties in Dáil Éireann – Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael – along with many other items of historical interest.
From the age of seventeen he began to write prose, poetry and plays in Irish and English. Fearing the imminent demise of the Irish Language and loss of its wealth of oral folktales and songs began collecting this material which he later published in his popular bilingual anthologies such as “Beside the Fire” (1890) and “Love Songs of Connaught” (1893). These works were acknowledged by W.B. Yeats as major sources for the Irish Literary Renaissance.