As part of the Seosamh Mac Gabhann Summer School 2016, a Heritage Tour will take place on Sunday July 3rd. The event which is open to the public and free to attend will commence at the Cois Tine Heritage Centre in Kilmovee at 2pm. A bus will be provided to transport everyone to the various stops along the route. This year’s tour will focus on events in East Mayo pre and post the 1916 Rising with our tour guide, local historian James Reddiough. He is a writer and researcher and has written for a wide range of publications. The author of seven books, he wrote ‘The History of the East Mayo Brigade’ in 2005 and this is a particular area of interest to James.
He will start the tour with some background information on ‘The East Mayo Brigade’. Members of the Brigade included people from the parishes of Kilmovee and Kilkelly and the memorial monument to the East Mayo brigade is located in Cloonturk, Kilkelly on the N17. This monument was designed by Yan Goulet and remembers and names those killed in action 1921–1923. Each name has a story behind it. General Tom Barry unveiled the monument on the 4th June 1972. The East Mayo Brigade was founded in September 1920 and there were four battalions in the brigade: Swinford, Ballaghaderreen, Kiltimagh and Ballyhaunis.
There were three actions in the Kilmovee–Kilkelly areas – Ballaghaderreen Barracks in February 1921 and again in May 1921, Sraheens Barracks in April 1921 and the ambush at Derrylahan on 6th September 1922. Sraheens was a sniping attack and the ‘Tans’ left shortly after this and the barracks was burned by the local volunteers. The ambush at Derrylahan was an attempt to release Comdt. James Groarke from the Free Staters. The planned attack on Ballaghaderreen Barracks was the largest joint operation undertaken in the East Mayo area, but it failed to materialise and the attackers were forced to withdraw.
Kilmovee was a company in the 2nd Battalion of the East Mayo brigade which comprised of Glann and Sinolane and Michael Moffat was the Officer Commanding the area during 1921.
The Route will look at the following sites:
- Sraheens Barracks
- Yan Goulet Monument at Kilkelly
- Derrylahan Ambush site
We will then continue on to Urlaur Community Centre where Paul & Tomás Phillips with Peter Nyland will have on display a copy of the letters written by the schoolmaster Pat McNamara in Urlaur over 100 years ago and so fondly commemorated in the ballad ‘Kilkelly Ireland’. They will outline how these letters written by Pat McNamara on behalf of a father who sees his sons emigrate from Mayo to America in the late 1800s, never to return, led to the writing of the now world famous ‘Kilkelly Ireland’ song when the letters were discovered in the late 1970s. After we examine these fascinating and moving letters, we will continue on to Urlaur Abbey and the grave of Pat and Catherine McNamara in the Abbey cemetery.
The tour will return to the Cois Tine Heritage Centre in Kilmovee where a cup of tea and some home baking will be provided for all participants with a few tunes and songs to round off what promises to be a unique and insightful tour covering historical events in East Mayo pre and post the 1916 Rising. Bígí Linn!