Lusmagh Fields so Green

Click on the picture to hear Johnny McEvoy sing "The Lusmagh Fields so Green."

Krunchie's Week-end in Lusmagh

I stayed, part of a group of 4 couples, all with one partner a child of a Lusmaghite, in Charlotte's Way, named after Charlotte Bronté, who visited here and whose husband was born here and returned to live here after Charlotte's death.

Nicola, our hostess, welcomed us with a pot of tea. We asked for a brief history of the house and soon lapsed into an ancient Lusmagh tradition: ghost stories

We assembled at Flynn's Bar and Restaurant before proceeding to Charlotte's Way. The arrow to the left of Flynn's points down Queen Street, which leads to Lusmagh Church (3 Miles). 

Looking west from Flynn's, downhill towards the Shannon.

Looking uphill  from Flynn's, towards St Jame's Church, at the top of the hill, beside Charlotte's Way, neither visible from this point. To the left a car-park. There are several off-street car-parks and no need, really, for parking at the roadside.

Inside Flynn's

One of several beautiful works of art in Flynn's dining room

Flynn's extensive dining room.

Good food in Flynn's

Eliza Fort, built in the 19th century to protect against French invasion. Since the river is navigable, they could invade this way as the Vikings did centuries ago.

24 Pounder canons were sited here on swivels, one pointed to by Sean. They could strike a boat on the Shannon from here.

The magazine building, within the fort, which held a fair stock of guns and ammunition.

Door to the magazine building, re-vamped by the  Board of Works. When I came to Lusmagh as a child, there was no access to this site, which was fenced off, no doubt a dangerous site, since improved.

The roof of the magazine building is partially collapsed.

Here we see the original brick corballing of the roof.

Good solid construction.

The fort was surrounded by a moat.

Rifle slots

Farewell, Eliza fort.

We visit Mahon's house, vacant since 2003 when the last occupant died at age 93. The house and contents are as they were the day he died.

The original house consisted of 3 rooms, the upper bedroom, the kitchen, and the lower bedroom. Originally thatched, it was slated in the 50s or 60s, when the porch was added, as well as an extension at the rear. The present intention is to restore it to its original design, but retaining the slates. Thatched, white-washed houses were a charming feature of the Lusmagh landscape I knew as a child, but thatch would not pass our current fire regulations. A spark from the chimney could set fire to the thatch, and, then to the whole house.

Inside the kitchen. Jerry, in whitish shirt stands in the door of the lower room. The dresser is to the right of the door, where it always was, and the floor is flagged, but pointed.

The traditional sash window. Note the deep wall.

Looking into the new dining room.

The original fire-place.

The dining room, (extension) as the last occupant left it, dust added.

Before 1950, there was no internal toilet and occupants went outside when nature called, but used chamber pots for night-time calls. When the dining room was added, they stuck in a flush toilet, which was the coming technology, but not fully understood yet.

Our group of 8 with one addition, Sean on the camera.

Old technology found in the barn: these carts were home-made. Small farmers had carpentry and engineering skills, as well as complex farming skills, entailing dairy, tillage, pig rearing, forestry and vegetable growing, with minimum book learning.

My own family's Lusmagh home is gone, and Lusmagh Marina is found on the land.
Privately owned, birthages rented, lovely and peaceful.

Only one of the Gortnacallow Killeen buildings remain

The road bends to the right around the former Killeen house. The Corrclough Road joins at the bend (top centre of picture). Next, off-camera, it will bend at right angle to  the left towards Victoria Lock, while a branch road continues straight on, across Gortachallow Bridge,(which was referred to as Rody's Bridge, first after my grandfather and later after my uncle Rody). In the 1930s they tried having a dance on Rody's Bridge, but it was too small, so next time they organised a Bridge Dance (our version of the Cross-roads Dance), they held it on the Black Bridge. Rody's Bridge crosses the old canal and leads to Gortachallow Island and a further 200 yards you come to the Black Bridge, which crosses the New Cut of the Shannon (finished in 1844). The dances at the Black Bridge were very successful, people coming by boat as well as on foot, and from Meelick and Eyercourt in Galway, as well as from Lusmagh.

The old canal  was open and maintained, and a walkway existed beside the canal when I was a child. Now it is completely overgrown and neglected. It is, of course, redundant since 1844. 

O, the hedge rows; overgrown in this corner of the world

A short walk in the direction of Victoria Locke brings you to Shaughnessy's Bridge, constructed around 1924, with sluice gates to control water levels in the  river for the power-station at Ardnacrusha.

View of the Shannon from Shaughnessy's Bridge. Frothy water at left is caused by open Sluice gates to let the water down-stream.

Not quite a beach, an access point for young swimmers at Shaughnessy's Bridge.

The fish here are similar to those in the Little Brosna, which joins the Shannon a few miles further on, just below Victoria Lock.

Another bridge between Shaughnessy's and Victoria Lock. I can't recall its name at the moment.

The New Cut looking downriver from here, navigable

Continuing down the road towards Victoria Lock.

The overgrown canal bank.

Approaching Victoria Lock

The Lock-master's house, as well as the lock itself are preserved and listed as architectural gems.

A boat waits for the lock to fill

Victoria Regina: Shannon Commission: Thomas Rhodes Engineer: 1845: Manufactured by Fenton Murray and Jackson: Engineers: Leeds. Originally the Lock Gates were opened by manual crank-handle, but are now electronically controlled.

Below the lock; the Little Brosna joins from the left and the old, non-navigable Shannon joins from the right. Galway in the province of Connaught to the right, Offaly in the province of Leinster to the left and Tipperary, in the province of Munster straight on.

The boat passes through the lock.

We join the rest of our party, who have cruised down. We exchange places, and I take the cruise back.

The way in to Lusmagh Marina is seen at the top right.

Safely back in harbour, we join our captain in a drink on board.

Boat tied up and voyage completed.
Where would we head for at night, but Hough's pub, for an old-fashioned ballad session.

One of those we meet is Joachim Kelly (right), famous Offaly hurler who helped the parish overcome St Cronan's curse (that Lusmagh hurlers would never win a Championship).

Music in Hough's

Mass in Lusmagh

Lusmagh Church (St Cronan's)

Kilmochunna Cemetery, where my father's people are buried.

Old headstone

Kilmochunna: the church of Mochunna, in the cemetery.

My family (Killeen of Gortacallow/ Corclogh) tall headstone.

Walking towards the bog, we pass the house where a couple of old  spinsters, Tess and Julia Killeen, lived when I was a  child. Uncle Rody cut their hay, as neighbours do. There was a rich scent of Lusmagh herbs in the mown hay, and an abundance of frogs.

We proceed along the bog road from Julia and Tess Killeen's.

Turf neatly footed and ready, i suppose, for clamping.

The bog.

We visit Shannon Harbour. When the canal trade fell away, the Grand Canal Hotel closed down. The taxation system called Rates caused the decay of the building. Rates were payable on buildings, so, to avoid the tax, owners took off the roof and allowed the buildings to decay. County Offaly is littered with very fine old  buildings which have received a similar fate. We often hear complaint of how our building heritage was decimated by the War of Independence and the Civil War, but, in fact, more historic buildings have been lost by Rates than in both wars put together.

Bridge over the Royal Canal at Shannon Harbour. There is a pleasant canal walk from here: in fact you can walk all the way to Dublin.

Picnic tables and boats. The new traffic on the River and Canals is pleasure craft. Boaters support cafés and restaurants, but not hotels, since they sleep aboard.

The Grand Canal Hotel

The Harbour Master's Bead and Breakfast.

Another de-roofed building at Shannon Harbour

Evening draws in and we head back to Banagher

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