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Boyle, Co. Roscommon

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St Patrick’s visit to the town in the year 435 was the first definite recording of Boyle’s existance. On this visit St Patrick noticed that there was very poor accommodation for travellers and he suggested to St Attracta, the abbess of Kilaraught, that she should provide a hostel. This she did and the town grew up around it. Boyle owes much to the fact that the great [Boyle] abbey was founded beside the town.

If ever there was a county in Ireland – nee – a town I would recommend one visit, Boyle is just that. My college head and nice guy from Kildalton Michael Conlon was from this town. I met his brother driving a Bus Eireann bus once. Long story. Nice guys. I can still hear Micks wry laugh when I told him. Not the reason I went there, but I think he’d be smiling knowing that I was visiting parks on my first ever summer holiday [albeit of 4 days only] as a horticuluralist. 😉

These are the posts I have done so far on the places I visited and can highly recommend:

What I wanted to get to [that I heard of but missed out on] and will return to see:

Necessary supplies and really kind people along my journey were found in:

  • W.J. Sloans [established 1863] hardware store on main street. You can literally find everything there. And I mean everything. I was camping – this shop is a mecca
  • Kellys Gala Express – vittles and culinary supplies. They do free range duck eggs here. The girl serving me on saturday had a smile and a laugh. I liked their window boxes too.
  • John Cryans Pub. erm… necessary supplies 😉 and an absolute gentleman. Also one of the nicest pints of guinness I have ever tasted.
  • Oliver & Peter of Loughkeyboats.com – they really did themselves proud and looked after this tourist. You can’t buy kindness and the stories Peter has in that brain are a million unwritten books combined. Go and say hello. Take a boat out. You’ll thank me for it.

That aside, the village and the peripherals are beautiful and well worth a visit. I’d reckon I spent a good four hours during the day, on each day, just pottering and wandering about and pondering the scenery.

The only thing I didn’t like…. the millenium water feature was turned off. Fix it lads. Doesn’t cost that much. Other than that 5* star rating. Love it. They say its the people that make a place. How very true. See you all again soon.

Anything I have missed out on or places I should visit…? leave a comment below and let me know.

Also, I loved the flowers in the town centre. There’s a chess players stone table and chairs right beside it. Next time I’m there, that’s were I’ll be seated. Happy days.

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View some more random images of Boyle

Boyle Pleasure Grounds, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

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Without any doubt, this is one of the finest public parks I have ever visited in Ireland. It’s not massive. It’s not received too much notoriety, at least that I know of anyway. But for me it was an absolute gem as I searched for a quite spot to picnic.

In the park lies a statue-less monument where once stood King William.

D’Alton Annals of Boyle refer to ‘a statue of King William representing his majesty with a crown of Laurel on his head and the Order of the Garter on his knee’. When the new bridge was built in 1834, Viscount Lorton had the monument moved to the Pleasure Grounds. Later ,during the ‘Troubles’ in the early 1920’s, the statue was beheaded. Subsequently the rest of the statue was removed and now only the pedestal remains.

That aside, the park [n 1 a large area of open land for recreational use by the public] is one that I loved. It is very well laid out. The play ground is brilliant and was being used as were the basketball and soccer all weather pitches. I loved the plant choices, that were slightly unusual for a public park [They are generally of the brutal guaranteed to grow variety].  The layout was amazing. It sits right beside the water, has picnic benches and secluded seating, the layout and overall design. The list goes on….

The bits I didn’t like so much were the missing plants and the littered rubbish dotted around the waters side. That said and as public parks go – it is one of the better ones that I have been to in a long while. I would be really impressed and proud if something like this sat on my doorstep. Surprised it wasn’t used more and best of all – it’s free and it’s yours!

Boyle Abbey, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

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Take a listen….

Whilst I was in Boyle, Boyle Abbey was on my must do list of places to go. The reason is quite simple. This time next year the full restoration of the abbey will have taken place and I don’t want to be looking at pictures of the great work the OPW did – past tense.

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More than that – it was free in. Eugene, the gentleman who works there was an absolute gentleman and gave me a lot of history on the place. Thanks Eugene. I went to the park as you recommended 😉

BTW when it re-opens the entry charge will return. I’m told it should be about 2 or 3 euro’s. I’ll gladly pay it based on what I saw existing, in progress and in drawings for the future.

View more images of Boyle Abbey

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Courtesy Wikipedia

The Cistercian abbey was founded in the 12th century under the patronage of the local ruling family, the MacDermotts and is one of the best preserved in Ireland. It was colonised from Mellifont in 1161. The building of the chancel and the transepts with their side-chapels probably began shortly after this date, though the lancet windows in the east gable were inserted in the 13th century. There is a combination of rounded and pointed arches in the transepts and crossing. The existing large square tower formed part of the church from the beginning, though it was raised in height at a later stage. The five eastern arches of the nave and their supporting pillars were built at the end of the 12th century, and have well-preserved capitals typical of the period. Although built at the same time, the arches of the northern side of the nave are different in type, and have differently shaped columns and capitals. The three westernmost arches in the south arcade which have leafed and figured capitals, were built after 1205, as was the west wall, before the church was finally consecrated in 1218. Nothing remains of the cloister, but on the eastern side there are two doorways of c.1200, now blocked up. On the west side there is a two-storey gatehouse, which acts as an interpretative centre. The rest of the buildings surrounding the cloister are largely 16th or 17th century. The Abbey was one of the most important in Connacht, and was invaded by Richard de Burgo, Maurice Fitzgerald, and Justiciar, in 1235. In 1659, the Cromwelliansoccupied the monastery and did a great deal of destruction. Though mutilated during the 17th and 18th centuries when it was used to accommodate a military garrison, Boyle Abbey is one of the best preserved structures of its type, and attracts many thousands of visitors per year. A restored gatehouse 16th/17th century vintage houses an exhibition. The Abbey is now a national monument in state care and admission is currently free while restoration work is being carried out. There is a Sile na Gig hidden above one of the central Romanesque arches in Boyle Abbey. It can be seen from ground level, just at the top of the column, where the arch begins.

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Trinity Island, Lough Key, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

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The image above is Trinity Island. Doesn’t seem like much and possibly because it’s a little more out of sight than Castle Island, also on Lough key, it maybe doesn’t get the same attention. I didn’t see it on too many of the tourist trails either….[?] I found out about it because I got talking to Oliver and Peter of Lough Key Boats. Nice guys.

This one, in my opinion is a bit too far for me to be rowing to. It’s a motor boat job for sure. Is it worth going out, absolutely.

While I was there I wondered how the monks fed themsleves…. never mind that…. how did they get the stone out there ? How did they build this thing?

Either or, it is one of Irelands hidden gems. I got to get out there because of 2 gentlemen from Boyle.

To you both – thank you. Sincerely.

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View more images of Trinity Island

Courtesy Of Lough Key Boats Website

Trinity Island is the site of one of two religious foundations on Lough Key.

The ranks of Canons were augmented in 1228 by the defection of monks from the Cistercian Abbey of Boyle, which was seen by the Cistercian Council of that year as having become too gaelicized. The monks brought with them their manuscripts and learning, which, under Clarus’ direction, developed eventually into the great manuscripts of the Annals of Lough Key and the Annals of Connacht.

A text in latin records a dispute between the Canons here, and the Monks of Boyle, over the burial of Dermot Mac Gilla Carraig, erenach of Tibohine, in 1229.

The monastery was granted protection by the Justiciar of Connacht, when he and other Anglo-Norman notables visited it to pray, prior to attacking MacDermot’s castle in 1235. After the general suppression of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1536-7, this monastery was granted to the Mac Dermots who allowed the Canons to remain in occupation, and it appears that they continued to occupy the House until it was confiscated by James I in 1608. The Island is the burial place of Sir Conyers Clifford, the Commander of the English forces in the Battle of the Curlews, 1599.

Castle Island, Lough Key, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

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A huge thanks to Peter Walsh [and son in law Oliver] of Lough Key Boats for doing this podcast with me, books are one thing, but a voice tells the story so much better.

How do you get there ? I stayed in Lough Key camping. After that, one can rent a paddle boat to get out – when the weather is slightly calm-er, but I would highly recommend the pleasure cruise tour of the entire lough. That said, I was absolutely honoured to get a personal tour by Oliver of Castle Island and Trinity Island where, his ceremony of marraige to Peter’s daughter took place.

Go to Lough Key and have a chat with the lads. 😉

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View more images of Castle Island.

I’ll do a seperate post on Trinity Island later.

For the moment – thanks again Oliver mate. So very much appreciated.

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Courtesy Lough Key Boats:

Castle Island has passed through the ownership of two famous families the Mc Greevy’s and the Mac Dermots.

The island is sometimes referred to as Mac Dermots Island to this day. We first hear of a castle Island when the Annals of Loch Cé report that it was burned down in 1187 by lightning.

A 1792 print shows the original castle tower (see right)

The castle featured in the final act of the conquest of Connacht in 1235, by Richard de Burgo whose army included 500 mounted knights. The castle came under siege, first by a raft-mounted perrier (catapult), and then by fire ships comprising wood stripped from the nearby town of Ardcarne. The combination of rocks and flames proved too much for the castle garrison, forcing Cormac MacDermot, King of Moylurg to surrender.

The castle is mentioned frequently in the ancient annals, being a focus for both fighting and partying. A poem addressed to Tomaltach-an-einigh MacDermot (King of Moylurg 1421-58) tells the story of the Hag of Loch Ce who used (or abused) Cormac MacDermot’s (1218-44) hospitality by staying on the Rock for a full year, and laid upon the MacDermot family the obligation of perpetual hospitality.

Brian of the Carrick, Chief 1585-92, is the last head of the clan who lived on the island.

A poem by Eochaidh O hEoghusa, written about 1600, laments the castle’s uninhabited and ruinous condition:

…Thy bright fair form has changed, gone are thy gold-rich dwellings from thy fair comfortable long-walled enclosure, nor does the lime-white adorning of thy frontal remain…

Lord Lorton built a folly castle in the early part of the 19th century, as one of the adornments to the estate whose centrepiece was Rockingham House.

Isaac Weld, writing in 1832, describes as part of “the castle proper” 2 rooms, one above the other, each 36 feetby 22 feet, with walls of 7.5 feet thickness. It is not clear whether this refers to part of the original castle, or the later construction. The folly castle, used as a summerhouse, was gutted by fire shortly before the Second World War.