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BACK LANDS

CHRISTINE MACKEY


WALK 1 Stand outside the main gates of St. Nathy’s College. Face Cathedral Street. Walk towards the sign MEET YOU HERE. Stop. Turn. View college grounds.

LOG 1 The Ballaghaderreen Military Barracks has a possible build date of (c.1830) though the presumed date is sometime after (c.1798). An original map sourced from the Military Archives in Dublin date the deeds of this site from 1805. Capt. Wilkinson R.E surveyed the site under the direction of Capt. C.W Wilson R.E. in 1872. The barracks was part funded and organized by the British Board of Ordnance (1414 -1855) with assistance from local landlords Barons de Freyne (Frenchpark) and Viscount Dillon (Loughglynn). Both families had held large tracts of land and property in Roscommon, Sligo, Galway and Meath (1622 -1952). The Dillon’s (absentee landlords) owned the land on which the barracks was built. Between the years (1837 - 39), the barracks became the Centre of the Ordnance Survey. The Board of Ordnance was responsible for the management and distribution of all military supplies, builds and personnel both in Ireland and England. They also produced maps for military purposes. Many factors led to the construction of this and other barracks in the country. For example, the 1798 Rebellion (United Irishmen Rebellion) was an uprising against the British dominated Irish government with the intention of creating an independent Republic. The Act of Union in 1801, constituted an integration of Ireland under British rule brought security issues in Ireland with many landlords requesting an increase in protective measures for their lands and welfare. The first organized police force came through the Peace Preservation Act (1814) by Sir Robert Peel (1798 -1850). In 1822, the Irish Constabulary Act formed the provincial constabularies in each province controlled by UK civil administration for Ireland at Dublin Castle with additional sub-districts developed through The Constabulary (Ireland) Act in 1836. This led to a trend to relocate military installations outside of the main towns and cities. The Royal Irish Constabulary was in action from early nineteenth century until 1921 (Anglo-Irish Treaty). Cathedral Street, during military times named as the ‘War Department Road of Approach’, re-named Chapel Road before it became known today as Cathedral Street. In 1893, St. Nathy’s College purchased the Ballaghaderreen Military Barracks from the War Office, and has occupied this site since 1896.


WALK 2 At the corner of the café, take a sharp left. Enter the cathedral car park. Keep to the footpath.

LOG 2 The Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Nathy was commissioned by the Catholic bishopric of Achonry, which comprises parts of Counties Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo in 1855. The plan to build the Cathedral came from Bishop Patrick Durcan (1852 - 75). Nobody knows why he gave the commission to Weightman, Hadfield and Goldie of Sheffield in 1855. It is thought that Hadfield was probably the main architect involved in this commission because of his knowledge of the Irish architectural scene through his correspondence with Agustus Welby Pugin in 1849 - 50, who was the designer of Enniscorthy Cathedral and Killarney Cathedral. Within five years Ballaghderreen had a Gothic church emulating medieval English and French models. The main builder was Mr. John Clarence of Ballisodare, Co. Sligo. The build was partly funded by land agent (Viscount Dillon estate) and main town planner Charles Strickland (c.1818 -1892) amongst others. W. H. Byrne designed the Belfry and Tower, which was erected in 1912. The cathedral, noted for its beautiful and rare stain glass windows such as The Saint John and Saint Anne windows (1907) by Beatrice Elvery. Elvery was a member of An Túr Gloine [Tower of Glass] a cooperative studio for stained glass founded by Sarah Purser and Edward Martyn in 1903. They revived the medieval art of stained glass in Ireland and beyond. The way to follow the story of a stained-glass window is to read from bottom to top, rather than from left to right (as you would when reading a book). The aisles have large two-light windows by Franz Mayer & Co. of Munich. The other large windows commemorate Charles Dillon (14th Viscount Dillon 1810-1865), and Charles Strickland (1818 -1892, local agent and town planner in County Mayo for Lord Dillon). These windows are in a small chapel on the south side of the sanctuary. Saint Nathy and Saint Bridget are among the subjects illustrated in the large 6-light east windows. Stainedglass windows were originally used to explain the stories of the Bible at a time when most people were unable to read and write. The story always begins with the image in the bottom of the left hand windowpane. Ballaghaderreen’s trade families such as Reid’s, Gordon’s, Beirne’s Gallagher’s, Flynn’s and Duffs sponsored many of the windows in the cathedral.


WALK 3 Proceed down the left side of the cathedral. Pass a regulated line of evergreen trees. The main pathway breaks off to a short narrow track, near the tree with the square bench. Follow the track towards the gate.

LOG 3 The sources of the Kissing Gate are unclear. There function simple in use. They create a passageway to allow one person at a time to pass in and out of the space and to prevent animals from being able to use the same gate. Kissing gates are found on farms and churchyards. The forms of the kissing gate may be rectangular, V-shaped or half-round, depending on the actual design. The name derives from its mechanism. The hinged part touches or ‘kisses’ both sides of the enclosure rather than locked like a standard gate. Though a more fanciful idea refers to a game associated with using the gate. Since one person at a time can go through the gate, the first person emerging from the gate can block the second person from proceeding. Passage granted upon the reception of a kiss! This kissing gate is missing part of its structure. Rumored that a cyclist rode into the gate, breaking off one side.


WALK 4 Walk by the gate entrance. Continue to the end of this path. Take a right onto Boherbui Road. Pass Park View to the left and Oak Grove further up on the right. Approach the entrance of two lanes that run either side of the Boherbui Road. Turn into the lane on the left.

LOG 4 In front of the hedge, stand the remains of a cast iron vent pipe (c.1880) with a decorative fluted base. Vent pipes were part of towns and villages sewage systems laid down during the latter half of the nineteenth century. As the name suggests, they allowed for the release or venting of smells and gases from the sewage system. Acclaimed designers, the Victorians excess of ornamentation applied to even the most commonplace object. There are several examples of vent pipes found in the town (See LOG 13,14). The lane-ways to the left and right of Boherbui Road run parallel to Pound Street. An interesting land feature of this area are the remains of garden allotments that were made available to home owners/renters who had houses on Pound Street and Market Square (See LOG 9). The lane on the right of Boherbui Road has a revived allotment in place.


WALK 5 Advance towards the end of Boherbui Road. Arrive on Pound Street. Pound Street - named after the animal pound that was once situated on this street. Turn left on Pound Street. Continue pass three houses. Stop by the fourth house.

LOG 5 Tucked behind a black drainpipe is an Edwardian post box made of cast iron (c.1905). There is a very good example found on Cathedral Street. Introduced to Ireland in 1852 by Britain. They comprise of a range of designs and insignia, marker’s name relative to their time of production. This post box shows the initials ‘ER’. The box on Cathedral Street includes ‘ER’ with VII incorporated, meaning Edward Rex. This royal cypher is from the Edwardian period. Following Irish independence in 1922, existing pillar-boxes remained but painted green. The post box on Cathedral Street carries the embossed initial ‘SE’ stamped on the door. A raised circular line headed by a harp surrounds the design. The initials ‘SE’ stand for Saorstát Èireann (1922 - 1937). This is the Irish Free State emblem, with the harp serving as the official emblem of Ireland. The harp represents the Trinity College harp thought to belong to Brian Boru (c.941 - 1014).


WALK 6 Keep to the left path down Pound Street. On the way, pass a terrace of Art Deco houses (c.1930) set in from the road. By the end house is a large garden. Fixed to the wall is a sign for Pound Street. Turn. Face wall.

LOG 6 The Libeen is a tributary stream of the River Lung (Abhainn na Loige). It passes under Pound Street towards where the railway line used to be - on its way to join the Lung. It got its name because it was usually full of libeens, small minnow fish, which children once collected in jam jars. The River Lung had been an important site to the local economy. A corn mill operated on it in the early part of the nineteenth century at Castlemore (one mile west of Ballaghaderreen). The chimney and sheds at Castlemore are still in reasonable condition. At some stage, the Lung was redirected and shortened to relieve flooding. The local people built a dam on the river in 1906. This was to generate an electricity supply. The evidence of which is the Power House on Chapel Lane. Another noted water infrastructure for the town is the abandoned outdoor swimming pool located a few miles outside of the town on the main Dublin road. It was in use right up until the 1980’s.


WALK 7 Continue on Pound Street. Pass the entrance of Dalton Terrace and further up the Abbey Field Hotel. Built in 2008, this expansive site was the setting of the Bishop’s Palace, known as ‘The Abbey’. Pound Street leads out to the Sligo Road where two graveyards – Kilcolman New Graveyard on the left and Kilcolman Graveyard on the right are located. Turn into the old graveyard on the right. Follow the main path. Turn right. Walk a few steps on. Turn left between two graves. This path leads to a well-worn grassy track. Continue in the direction of the back-end of the graveyard. Protruding above ground are small un-marked gravestones. The ground elevates slightly ahead. Climb over a low-lying bank. Continue forward on uneven terrain. The land fall’s to reveal a grave plot on the left.

LOG 7 William Patrick Partridge (1874 -1917) along with Jim Larkin and James Connolly was one of the leaders during the Great Lockout of 1913 (industrial dispute between workers and employers). Trade unionist and a skillful orator, Partridge, served both as a Dublin City Councilor, and leader of the Irish Citizen Army. Born in Sligo in 1874, his family lived in Ballaghaderreen. Employed at the Inchicore Railway Works, trade unionist and member of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, he was involved in the ASE led strikes in 1887 and 1902. Partridge was treasurer of the Conradh na Gaeilge (the Gaelic League) Inchicore branch. He worked with Jim Larkin in setting up branches of the union outside Dublin. Partridge took a role in the Irish Citizen Army from its foundation in November 1913. He was active during the Easter Rising in 1916, and subsequently arrested. Sentenced to ten years’ to Dartmoor and afterwards to Lewes Prison. Released in April 1917 due to ill health, Partridge returned to Ballaghaderreen. Documents described his funeral procession, as the largest ever seen in the town. Members of the Citizen Army including leaders of the labour and trade union movement were there. In Constance Markievicz funeral oration of Partridge, she described him having “the purest-soul and noblest patriot Ireland ever had”. She fired a salute over his grave with her own pistol.


WALK 8 Return to the main entrance of the graveyard. Turn left. Head back towards Pound Street. En-route the entrance to the River Oak Estate. Turn into the road.

LOG 8 George R. Collins in ‘Unbuilt America’ defines three major categories of “unbuiltness” (1) not carried out as planned; (2) not really intended by its instigator to be “done”’ and (3) begun but never completed. The first would be considered to be a negative situation (although the intention was positive), the second to be a positive situation (although the intention would appear quite negative), and the third to be half-and-half. The River Oak Estate sits quite well in the third assessment ‘half-and-half’. Established during Ireland’s property boom, this estate is an example of a ‘ghost estate’. Found throughout Ireland, with a high percentage in the north and northwest. Collapse of the Celtic Tiger led to the abandonment of many estates. Although some estates are inhabited many of the houses remain uncompleted. There is a current estimate of 1,770 developments, which are incomplete and approximately 1,100 developments are said to be in a “seriously problematic condition” with a total number of 16, 881 vacant houses. Ghost estates are defined as having a development of ten or more houses with fifty per cent occupied or completed. http://www.thejournal.ie/ghost-estates/news/


WALK 9 Return to Pound Street. Turn left. On the way, pass by a large field over-run with rushes. Further up walk by a number of residential houses. Take the second lane to the left at the corner of the unoccupied blue house. At the end of this lane is a narrow soft track covered in a blanket of fallen leaves. Proceed down.

LOG 9 This expansive area was part of the Garden Quarters or the Plots for the town. The path (of which there are two other adjacent walkways) all lead to a circular meeting-point with a well. Mrs. Ann Deane (cousin of John Dillon - see LOG 18) donated the well for the benefit of the townsfolk. There is a wildflower meadow behind the well. This important habitat houses a diverse population of plants such as Horsetail, Yellow Flag Iris, Clover, Silverweed, Cow-parsley and Meadowsweet amongst others. The lands (north-east side of Market Square and south side of Pound Street) was divided up into triangles with pathways between, to allow each house to have its own plot linked by a precise radial pattern of footpaths with led to the circular well. The three-storey terraced buildings in Market Square were developed on leases from the landlord and each terraced house on the northeast side dating from (c.1834) also had an allotment to the rear, 2 acres of bog, and gaming rights on their land. This unusual piece of town planning is presumed to be the work of the agent Jerrard Strickland (1782 -1844). In England, as far back as 200 hundred years ago, patches of land were divided from ‘commonage’ and allocated to the poor under the General Enclosure Act. Commonage in England is where the land is the common property of all, whereas in Ireland it means private property held jointly by a number of owners, usually farmers. The General Enclosure Act encouraged the proliferation of allotments throughout rural areas. Allotments eventually materialized in cities from around the nineteenth century. The population was at an increase in towns compared to the countryside. However, poverty was rife. As a distraction the poor were offered small plots of land to allow them grow their own fruits and vegetables. It wasn’t until 1916/17 that the allotment movement started to grow in Irish cities as a war measure to help increase food supplies during World War I. The introduction of the Local Authorities (Allotment) Act (1926) highlighted the importance of allotments in the city. The act identified an allotment as “a piece of land intended to be cultivated by an individual for the production of vegetables, mainly for consumption by himself and his family”. Charles Strickland (1818 -1892) was involved in the planning of the town including nearby town of Charlestown, which was named in honor of him. Charlestown carries design elements similar to Ballaghaderreen, such as the main square, built in the form of a triangle. Charles developed the town in Charlestown because tenant farmers in Mayo were prevented from trading goods at the market in Bellaghy, Co. Sligo. http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/1926/en/act/pub/0008/


WALK 10 Face a large open site planted with some tall street lamps. Walk towards the gate. Enter the car park. Keep on the left path. Arrive at Barrack Street. Take an immediate left. Walk a few steps ahead. Cross over to the footpath that runs by the garage on Marion Road. Continue down by the garage.

LOG 10 The next building up is the Co-operative Creamery (c.1906). Sir Horace Plunkett was the son of a County Meath landowner Lord Dunsanny, who as a young man traveled to America where he engaged in ranching in the mid west returning to Ireland in 1889. Plunkett embarked on a campaign urging farmers to form themselves into cooperatives, to process and sell their produce and jointly buy in bulk the many things farmers required. If his proposals were implemented they would eliminated the middleman at both ends of the market and leave the farmer with a significantly improved profit margin. Farmers are a notoriously conservative bunch, and initially his proposals met with little support, as a landlord he was distrusted by the people. Being a Protestant the Catholic Church distrusted him and shopkeepers feared losing their trade. However by 1914 many of these fears were overcome and in that year there were there were over 1,000 ‘co-ops’ under the umbrella of ‘The Irish Agricultural Organizations Society’ founded in 1884 and renamed the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society Limited. The Farmers themselves built the creameries. Dairy farming was the most successful sector of the movement, previously each farmer made and sold their own butter and quality varied enormously, this was largely the cause of the demise of the famous Cork butter market. The co-ops established creameries made the butter in hygienic conditions, and packed it in convenient one lb. blocks, it was not long before creamery butter replaced farm butter in the shop. Every district in Ireland during the first two decades of the 20th century had a co-operative creamery and many probably owed their origins to Plunkett, although the ownership of most has passed from the farmers to the hands of large business. President Theodore Roosevelt thanked Sir Horace Plunkett, in his last published public letter for his great services to agricultural practice in the United States. In 1924, The Plunkett Foundation organised the first global conference of agricultural co-operatives. This foundation continues to promote and develop agricultural co-operatives and rural community enterprise trade. Their slogan - “Better Farming, Better Business, Better Living” is still active today. Plunkett returned to England, where he died in 1932 at the age of 78.


WALK 11 Carry on Marion Road. Reach a T-junction. The road on the left leads to Crunaun Bridge under which the River Lung flows. Cross to the opposite side of the road. Turn right onto Station Road. The path ends at a wide entrance. Turn in and walk ahead towards a gate. Climb. Enter the dis-used grounds of the railway station.

LOG 11 In 1862 the Sligo and Ballaghaderreen Junction Railway was established with the intention of building a railway line from Kilfee junction to Ballaghaderreen, connecting the town with the Longford to Sligo train line. In 1862, the ‘Bill application’ was presented and agreed to by Westminster. Insufficient share capital amongst other problems prevented the project in going ahead. In 1869, Strickland, Viscount Dillon and members of Sligo Corporation raised the necessary fifty thousand pounds. The Ballaghaderreen Terminus opened in 1874. The company ran at a loss, resulted in a take-over by the North Western and Great Union of Ireland Railway Company. The first engine to work the branch was the ‘Wren’ built in 1854, driven by Ben Partridge (father of William Partridge - see LOG 7). Agricultural produce was the main traffic carried on these lines with local businesses flourishing. The Railway Terminus Station - a Victorian style ticket office is all that remains of this once great enterprise. It closed for business on Saturday 2nd February 1963. The railway tracks have all but disappeared since then, including the Station Masters house. The Goods Store, located further up from the terminus converted to a dance hall in the late sixties.


WALK 12 Turn left at Station Road. Walk ahead. Stop at the first lane on the left by the corner of the shed. Turn into a back-lane. This lane leads to a mixed development of lock-up sheds with an eclectic display of doors, dis-used back yards and over-grown gardens. Walk straight ahead. Look out for the ‘singing tree’ where a large number of birds gather daily at the end of this lane. Arrive at a T-junction. Cross to the opposite side of the main road. Turn right. Pass by the District Court House (c.1880). Continue on the left path that leads onto Convent Road. Listen for the sound of a small tributary stream. This stream is the Convent River hidden behind an old stonewall just before the tennis courts on your right. The wall bends into the entrance of the convent.

LOG 12 The Convent of Sisters of Charity, designed in a Gothic style complex by J. J. O’ Callaghan (c.1876). In a state of disrepair, notable features include a large ornate rose window on the chapel wall. The main buildings that formed part of this complex no longer exist. The convent and chapel buildings and the gatehouse are all that remains. Friarshill Close a recent housing estate separates and splits the mains ground of the complex. The nun’s graves (of which there were 19) moved to the burial site at the New Kilcolman Cemetery. The Sisters of Charity set up several enterprises such as a shirt and collar making industry, and laundry service. They also prepared for export harps and shamrock for St. Patrick’s Day. In 1886, they opened an ‘Industrial School’. Industrial Schools, (Irish: Scoileanna Saothair) were established in Ireland under the Industrial Schools Act of 1868 to care for “neglected, orphaned and abandoned children”. By 1884, there were 5,049 children in such institutions throughout the country. Unfortunately, the history of many industrial schools housed systemic abuse and torture of children. The Sisters of Charity left the town in 1969 replaced by the Sisters of Mercy.


WALK 13 Turn right onto Convent Road. Follow the path as it curves round a bend protected by steel railings. Cross to the other side of the road by the end off the railings. This road leads into New Street. Pass a boarded up school building (St. John’s National School c.1890) encircled by cast-iron railing’s. There is a terrace of houses set back from the road further down. Find the house with original timber sash windows and stone sills. Turn left into laneway at end of last house. There is an intact cast-iron vent pipe positioned at the side of the building. Follow the lane as it leads towards the main entrance of Maddens Building Suppliers.

LOG 13 The Mill Chimney built (c.1860) with its unusual squared profile is located on the site of an old sawmill. At the base of the chimney is an iron door, which opens onto a fire grate. The chimney was possibly used to burn ‘haulms’ - woody bark and straw of flax fibers. Simple in design, it appears somewhat shorter than the original structure was intended compared to an impressive Mill Chimney located a few miles outside the town in Castlemore.


WALK 14 Follow the road pass Maddens. Arrive at a crossroad. Walk straight ahead. This road was once the main street of the town. It’s through passageway halted by a pair of large solid gates positioned at the end of the lane. On your right, an L shaped twostorey building (Lough Gara Hotel) – its windows long since boarded up. Opposite is an entrance into a private yard (Cuniffee’s Bacon Factory c.1914). Retreat to main crossroads and turn right. Follow the path as it bends right (entrance to super-value car park on left). Cross over to the footpath on the opposite road. Turn right. Continue a few steps ahead. Up from the bungalow on the left, there is a narrow gate entrance. Stop. Turn. Face the laneway on the opposite side of the road. Look for a small stone shed with a curved roof. Locate third example of a vent pipe. Go through gate entrance.

LOG 14 The Shambles - funded by Charles Strickland, became an important market place for the town and further afield. In its heyday traded barrels of oats, firkins of butter and eggs. “A Various Country, Essays in Mayo History,” outlines Viscount Dillon application for a patent in 1786 to hold 8 fairs. In the Statistical Survey of Mayo of 1802, the number of fairs had dropped to 7. According to this survey fairs took place on February 2, May 1, June 24, August 2, September 8, November 1 and December 22. The Shambles currently hosts weekly Farmers Markets as well as housing an enterprise and job-centre. Before 1898, the town and parish of Ballaghaderreen were in the eastern part of County Mayo. The town transferred to County Roscommon under the Local Government Act 1898. John Dillon (unrelated to Viscount Dillon), MP for East Mayo, pushed the re-drawing of the boundaries. Local business people backed the move because rates at that time were lower in Roscommon. Official bodies and organizations assimilated themselves with one exception - the local GAA footballers. They decided to continue their allegiance to Mayo Co. Board.


WALK 15 Leave the Shambles by the pedestrian entrance on the right. Look left.

LOG 15 The Tower House, in former times was the Rent Collectors Office for the Dillon’s. Other notable occupiers included William P. Partridge and his family. Market Street referred to as ‘Tea or Tay Street’. Trading merchants, such as Duff and Flannery’s gave bags of loose tea to people who lived on this street for them to pack into 1 lb. bags, to be sold in their shops. Opposite side of the Tower house is a wasteland site that fronts St. Nathy’s, which is the original location of the old ‘Fair-green’. This space held open-air meetings, fairs and public celebrations such as May Day festivities.


WALK 16 Turn right onto Market Street. Cross over to St. Mary’s Chapel Graveyard (c.1820) on your left. Proceed to end of Market Street. Turn left at Flannery’s Corner.

LOG 16 This large corner-sited two-storey shop (c.1890) is situated on the junction of Market Square and Market Street. B. Mulligan and Co., formerly John Flannery and Co Ltd, (c.1922-3). The original premises destroyed by the Black and Tans in September 1920. It was a reprisal for an ambush by the IRA on a RIC patrol at Ratra Crossroads the night before. Around the same time they burned to the ground the town of Ballinagar 10 miles from Ballaghaderreen. The Black and Tans were a temporary force of constables recruited to assist the Royal Irish Academy (RIC) during the Irish War of Independence (1919 -1921). The British Government financed the re-build. Flannery’s name depicted in mosaic marble lies at the threshold to the shop. By the pavement, there are some bronze vent grills that are set into a marble or polished stone plinth. The shop has retained its original form and proportion. The display windows curve into the entrance. Stained glass detailing, adds a colorful and interesting addition to the building - typical of high-class Edwardian shop fronts.


WALK 17 From Mulligans on Main Street, cross to the opposite road. Turn right. Continue ahead. Turn left down Station Road. Approach entrance to ‘back-way’ on the left at the corner of the solicitor’s office. There is an empty apartment complex to the right. Once the site of the Western Hotel, and in later times a refugee center. Further up, is a two-storey outbuilding with stone steps leading by the side to the top floor. The windows covered with black wooden shutters. Just up from the stone shed is a narrow lane. Turn in left. Arrive on Main Street. To the immediate right M. Solan’s publican house and left M. Gallagher’s.

LOG 17 Gallagher’s built by Michael Gallagher (c.1830) served both as a butcher’s and publican house – the license of which remains in the Gallagher family. At the front of this building the original timber sash windows with stone sills and timber lettering, with scroll-shaped butcher brackets survive intact. Meat hung from these brackets before days of refrigeration. Inside the shop, there are small wooden barrels - containers from which whiskey was sold, drank and bottled. Gallagher’s is now a clothes shop, run by Mary and Michael Gallagher. It was recorded that at one time, there were up to 40 to 50 licensed premises in Ballaghaderreen. Some of the pubs held fair-day licenses. This meant that they could open early in the morning on fair days. It was very usual for publican houses or pubs to have another business in their premises. Many pubs carried groceries and dry goods; others operated as hardware stores. One such example can be found further up on Main Street on the same side of Gallagher’s - pub and hardware store J. Mulligans (c.1944). There are now about 13 pubs operating in town.


WALK 18 From Gallagher’s cross to the opposite side of the road. Locate the cream-painted residential house with original sash windows, and black front door. Next to this building is an empty shop. It has an eye catching still-life display of various domestic objects with the flag of Mayo hanging in the background. Continue on Main Street towards Market Square in the direction of the bus sign.

LOG 18 The main building on the left was the original trading premise for Monica Duff & Co. Luke Dillon had moved his family to Ballaghaderreen in 1812, because he was unable to pay for the renewal of the land lease on the property the family rented. Thomas, his eldest son, started a shop, trading as Monica Duff & Co (Monica was the daughter of Luke Dillon). By the 1880’s, the firm had its own MONDUF brand label on almost every grocery and household product on the market and became one of the largest employers in Ballaghaderreen. It also housed the town’s Post Office. Renowned for its ‘MONDUF’ unsliced and unwrapped pan loaves. This bread had been the town’s favorite for more than a 100 years. It closed its doors for the last time in 1986. The next building up from the gates is a detached five-bay three-storey former detached house, (built c.1780), home to the Dillon Family. Not only a successful business family, they were also accomplished parliamentarians. In 1814, John Blake Dillon son of Luke Dillon was born in this house. John founded ‘The Nation’ newspaper along with Thomas Davis and Charles Gavan Duffy in 1842. This house was also home of John Blake Dillon, founder of the Young Irelanders and James Dillon, Leader of Fine Gael (1951 -1963), also lived there. It was a meeting place for Éamon De Valera (1882-1975) dominant political figures in twentiethcentury Ireland; Michael Davitt (1846 -1906) Irish republican and nationalist agrarian agitator, Labour leader, journalist, Home Rule constitutional politician and Member of Parliament (MP) who founded the Irish National Land League; and Charles Stewart Parnell (1846 -1891) nationalist political leader, land reform agitator and the founder and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party. Currently, the Western Development Commission and the Ballaghaderreen Branch of Roscommon County Library occupy the house.


WALK 19 At the entrance to the library, face Market Square. Follow the pedestrian crossing. Continue in the direction of second pedestrian crossing. Turn. Face P. Mulligans on the opposite side of the road. Cross over. Proceed into Mulligans shop.

LOG 19 Market Square in former times was Barrack’s Street. P. Mulligan’s (c.1830) was originally a private home. The present owner’s grandmother set up a small sweet shop in 1924. There is a section of the original cobblestone grounds and walls of the town, in the backyard of the shop.


WALK 20 Leave Mulligans. Turn left into the alleyway by Fiddlers Elbow. Follow the paved path. Turn left, at the end of the path. Walk by an assortment of shed doors. Approach wall painted sign for the Secret Village on the left. Count two pairs of brown shed doors and at the corner of this building, stop. Look up. Continue ahead. Opposite the shed with the no parking sign (garage) is one of the entrances into the Secret Village.

LOG 20 Two local entrepreneurs - Barry Flannery and Mick Roddy created the ‘Secret Garden’ to establish a usable social space for public gatherings on the site of the ‘plots’, hosting the first art festival in 2011. Invited musicians, bands, artists and crafts people entertained people from Roscommon and further afield. The long-term vision for this space is to build a sustainable and multipurpose public amenity for all people to enjoy.


WALK 21 Walk a few steps ahead. Pass a series of sheds and white washed stonewalls hosting a prolific growth of ivy. Turn into the narrow laneway on the left. Coming into view - the cathedral spire. Arrive on Pound Street. Immediate left is a cast-iron drinking fountain. Cross over to the entrance of cathedral car park. Turn left. Walk towards the end of Pound Street. Turn right onto Cathedral Street. Look down.

LOG 21 Positioned at the side of the building is a small limestone sculptural object with an arched top. This is a ‘bench marker’ (c.1830). A protected structure, the benchmark originates from the chiseled horizontal marks that surveyors made in stone structures. Into which, an angle iron is placed to form a ‘bench’ for a levelling rod. This ensures that a levelling rod could be repositioned in the same place at all times. These marks consisted of a chiseled arrow with a horizontal line. Bench markers record the height above sea level from a specific location. Surveyed against the Mean Sea Level data taken at Clarendon Dock, Belfast, for Northern Ireland data; Newlyn in Cornwall for data in Great Britain and Portmoor Pier and Malin Head, for data relating to the Republic of Ireland. In previous times, Soldiers on sentry duty marched up and down from the barracks to these markers. They maintained a watchful eye on the street. Walk a few steps on. Look across the road where the other bench marker, similar in appearance is sited.


WALK 22 Continue up Cathedral Street. Near the end of the last house, is the second green letterbox. Walk towards the café. Follow the pathway, which leads onto Chapel Lane. Cross over the road to St. Mary’s Hall at the end of the path. Turn right. Enter the lane next to the building with boarded up windows.

LOG 22 The ‘Power House’ or (Electric Generating Station) supplied electricity and lights to Ballaghaderreen from (1906 -7). Electricity generated by two suction Gas Engines ran on Welsh Anthracite. Due to the increase of population and trade in the town, waterpower replaced the anthracite. Energy was harnessed from the Lung River. The first Water Turbine installed (1912 -13), with a later addition of a new turbine controlled from the Power House by a two-way electric motor. The Power House continued to operate well until 1933. The arrival of the E.S.B ended this unique operation lasting over a century. In recent times this building functioned as a science lab for the school, and later a museum and art center.


WALK 23 Face the green painted wooden fence with gate. Unlock. Enter the grounds of St. Mary’s Chapel Graveyard on the left.

LOG 23 This small small-enclosed rectangular graveyard to your left houses two burial chambers. They have large pitched slate roofs. Charles Strickland’s mother Ann who died in 1844 at Loughglynn house is buried in this vault amongst other family members. The Strickland family arrived in Ireland in 1814. The family descended from the Strickland’s, an old north of England catholic family connected by property and military services to Sizergh Castle, Cumbria. Jerrard Edward Strickland managed the Dillon estate for 26 years. Charles obtained agency after his father’s death in 1844. Charles was also a Magistrate, a Grand-juror and justice of the peace. He died in in 1892. Descendants of the Strickland family now live in Malta. Behind the first burial chamber is a free standing stone cross. Absence of markings makes it impossible to determine its age, it may, however, suggest the earlier presence of an ecclesiastical foundation.


WALK 24 Return onto Chapel Lane. Turn right. End at cafĂŠ.

MEET YOU HERE


i. Art Walks: Logging Speculative Journeys Walking as a method of artistic practice has been well documented across a range of 20th century art movements1. Adapted from ethnographic and geographical fieldwork, ‘art walking’ is widely acknowledged as an increasingly important artistic research tool. It forms part of a perceptible shift away from ‘object-orientated’ practice, towards more participatory methods of engaging with ‘place’. In short, the walk becomes the artwork. While much of this activity has previously focused on cities and urban space, there is also a growing curiosity about suburban, rural, periphery, border and other contested landscapes. This renewed interest in local scenarios is pitched in opposition to an increasingly globalised view of the world. The grounded act of walking reveals alternative routes which reach beyond the logical confines of Ordinance Survey, Google Earth or GPS navigation software. In relinquishing existing maps, the act of being present in an unfamiliar location requires other, more intuitive methods of orientation. Through a series of inventive strategies for exploring the town of Ballaghaderreen, ‘Backlands’ participants embarked on numerous walks, discovering pathways, climbing gates, navigating rivers, following byroads and waste-grounds, interacting with locals and getting lost. These journeys led to objects, landmarks and stories that indicate recent or distant history. Relying on their senses, participants became responsive to what they could hear, smell and see. These sensorial events were documented through note-taking, photographs, diagrams, sketches, observations of plant-life and descriptions of architecture, constructing unique and intimate readings of this place. The information was compiled and presented using a ‘log’ format, most commonly associated with official records of vessels’ journeys. A log is an accumulated account (either in rough or finished form) of the conditions, events and particulars of navigation, while also denoting distance or time covered. Logs are also employed in film production to annotate certain scenes for future editing. As a parallel to walking, this narrative process encompassed local oral history, folklore, family and place names. From the lesser-known edges, ‘Backlands’ aimed to construct a set of relations particular to the ‘centre’.


ii. Deep Mapping: Ecologies of Place ‘Deep mapping’ references a complex array of physical, social and emotional structures – something academic researcher Dr. Iain Biggs describes as ‘an essaying of place’.1 This process highlights a range of inter-connected ecological, historical, mythical, visual, archaeological, scientific, cultural, linguistic, and intuitive elements which may be suggested within the physical landscape. Whether as an image map, temporary intervention or open-ended archive, the material products of deep mapping aim to implicate the viewer in a wider conversation. Local concerns become relevant at a national level, not least in terms of human relationships with the native landscape – a topic which has been subject to centuries of debate in Ireland. The west of Ireland, in particular, has been portrayed as “an imaginary, mystical and timeless landscape”.2 The process of deep mapping is particularly well-placed to side-step such well-worn stereotypes. In Ballaghaderreen, seemingly insignificant spaces revealed remnants of history concealed below the surface. Compiled as a ‘user-guide’, ‘Backlands’ directs the walker through the town’s laneways and cul-de-sacs, (Walk 4), overgrown green spaces (Walk 9), derelict factories (Walk 15) and lesser-known landmarks. Architectural features, such as the tall chimney stack of an old saw mill (Walk 16) and a former railway station (Walk 18) collectively attest to the town’s industrial heritage as a hub for transport and trade. Locations known only to locals, such as the ‘kissing gate’ (Walk 3) and the ‘secret garden’ (Walk 24), are juxtaposed alongside artefacts of national significance like the Royal Mail post boxes (Walk 8) - painted green following Irish independence. Shrines, holy statues, and the commanding architecture of St. Nathy’s Cathedral (Walk 2) seem to memorialise the influence of Catholicism in rural Ireland, while an unusual free-standing cross in St. Mary’s Chapel Graveyard (Walk 24) suggests an earlier ecclesiastical presence, indicative of past empires. Local stories are affectionately relayed, while historical and archival information rigorously supports each stage of the journey. Such site-specific dialogue generates insights into intertwining industrial, religious, social and militarised pasts, and prompts reflection on how multiple layers of human history might co-exist, and be viewed from the vantage-point of today.

(Footnotes) 1. Iain Biggs ‘All Flesh is Grass: Deep mapping as an ‘essaying’ of place’ (Illustrated talk given at the Writing seminar at the Bartlett School of Architecture, Friday 9th July, 2010) 2. Joe Cleary, ‘Into Which West? Irish Modernity and the Maternal Supernatural’, in Literature and the Supernatural: Essays for the Maynooth Bicentenary, ed. Brian Cosgrove, (Blackrock, Ireland: The Columba Press, 1995), p.p. 147-73 155.


iii. The Commons, Ruin & (re-)Building Just as the ‘local’ has been revived in opposition to a globalised view of the world, a growing curiosity about systems which support a localised mindset have also resurfaced as part of this conversation. Discourse surrounding ‘the commons’, aims to revive historical models for communal, cooperative, self-sufficient and sustainable living, as counter-cultures to the erosion of social space resulting from privatisation and enclosure – imperial processes which have transformed common land into commodities, measurable only in economic terms. This is all too apparent in county Roscommon, which has one of the highest numbers of ghost estates in post-Celtic Tiger Ireland, comprising over 300,000 partially-built, vacant or semi-derelict houses.2 Commonage discourse takes a critical view of this current situation – not least in ecological, ethical and social terms – where economic growth at any cost has resulted in greed, wastefulness and ruin. Ultimately ‘Backlands’ facilitates a close re-reading of the immediate physical landscape, generating insights into human habitation, through a process of ‘making visible’ past civilisations. From this vantage-point we can imagine the once bustling ‘Shambles’ market square (Walk 13), the allotments ‘plots’ (Walk 23), the village green (Walk 11) and the former outdoor swimming pool (Walk 6) as epicentres of communal life. We can also appreciate the value of the early 20th century electricitygenerating water turbine (Walk 22) and the sewerage systems (Walk 14) which worked sustainably with the natural elements. Such insights allow us to scrutinise the present situation, by identifying flawed aspects of modern civic life, and what contributions our civilisation might make to history’s long trajectory. Now largely devoid of indigenous industry and with a surplus of vacant commercial premises and uninhabitable houses, Ballaghaderreen is a metaphor for many rural and provincial towns, nationally and further afield, which now require ‘re-investment’ in community and sustainable approaches to ‘re-building’, offering these landlocked territories a sense of horizon. As a log of past journeys and a tool-box for orientation, ‘Backlands’ is a fresh invitation to wander. Armed with local knowledge, new participants are encouraged to adopt ‘art walking’ or ‘deep mapping’ principals, to carry out their own speculative drifts and active discoveries. In this way, citizens might stumble upon forgotten artefacts or partially concealed pathways, forging new routes, while looking to history for clues on how to proceed at a humanly pace towards a more poetic future.

Joanne Laws


iii. The Commons, Ruin & (re-)Building Just as the ‘local’ has been revived in opposition to a globalised view of the world, a growing curiosity about systems which support a localised mindset have also resurfaced as part of this conversation. Discourse surrounding ‘the commons’, aims to revive historical models for communal, cooperative, self-sufficient and sustainable living, as counter-cultures to the erosion of social space resulting from privatisation and enclosure – imperial processes which have transformed common land into commodities, measurable only in economic terms. This is all too apparent in county Roscommon, which has one of the highest numbers of ghost estates in post-Celtic Tiger Ireland, comprising over 300,000 partially-built, vacant or semi-derelict houses.2 Commonage discourse takes a critical view of this current situation – not least in ecological, ethical and social terms – where economic growth at any cost has resulted in greed, wastefulness and ruin. Ultimately ‘Backlands’ facilitates a close re-reading of the immediate physical landscape, generating insights into human habitation, through a process of ‘making visible’ past civilisations. From this vantage-point we can imagine the once bustling ‘Shambles’ market square (Walk 13), the allotments ‘plots’ (Walk 23), the village green (Walk 11) and the former outdoor swimming pool (Walk 6) as epicentres of communal life. We can also appreciate the value of the early 20th century electricitygenerating water turbine (Walk 22) and the sewerage systems (Walk 14) which worked sustainably with the natural elements. Such insights allow us to scrutinise the present situation, by identifying flawed aspects of modern civic life, and what contributions our civilisation might make to history’s long trajectory. Now largely devoid of indigenous industry and with a surplus of vacant commercial premises and uninhabitable houses, Ballaghaderreen is a metaphor for many rural and provincial towns, nationally and further afield, which now require ‘re-investment’ in community and sustainable approaches to ‘re-building’, offering these landlocked territories a sense of horizon. As a log of past journeys and a tool-box for orientation, ‘Backlands’ is a fresh invitation to wander. Armed with local knowledge, new participants are encouraged to adopt ‘art walking’ or ‘deep mapping’ principals, to carry out their own speculative drifts and active discoveries. In this way, citizens might stumble upon forgotten artefacts or partially concealed pathways, forging new routes, while looking to history for clues on how to proceed at a humanly pace towards a more poetic future.

Joanne Laws


Introduction: Walking Dramas V1 Transition Year Students, led by artist Christine Mackey, who devised and supervised BACKLANDS - based on walking, gathering and observing this town Ballaghaderreen and its districts. As a sculptor sees in a piece of wood or marble and as yet unrevealed promising shapes. Transition Year Students (2013-2014), accompanied by Christine, are looking at buildings, spaces, towers, mills, the skeleton of a disused railway, rivers that once generated electricity, and houses with historic associations. To enrich these meanderings stories are told by citizens of the town, especially the elderly. Fifty years down the line what piece or fragment of this project visual or verbal, will leap from the pasts’ shadows and give a real sense of continuity? Will the memory be exercised by austerity, financial complexity and the depopulation of areas that contributed beyond their size to music, drama, commerce and the art of living and enduring? Can the Transition Year Students imagine a street fair when cattle, horses, pigs and donkeys sold and traded in the town? The sellers mingled, heard music, talked and spent some of the market money in the small shops. The Health & Safety industry put an end to that. The singer once sang, “She moved through the fair�, now she moves through a giant superstore and parks in a multi-sensory car park! There is hope in fresh-faced youth observing varied landscapes and the infusing of same with matchless enthusiasm. In time will there be a collapsed LEGO TOWN, devoid of soul and history, or will a new panorama emerges, energized by the experience and recall of the young. As Heaney made Hope and History rhyme, perhaps this project will make Hope and Renewal rhyme. With art and the gathering of the fragments all is possible.

Mary Gallagher March 2014.


BACK LANDS CHRISTINE MACKEY

BACKLANDS produced by artist Christine Mackey with transition year students from St. Nathy’s College is developed as an alternative guide with which to explore the town of Ballaghaderreen, based on keen observations made by the students following paths, trails, lane-ways and back-ways that criss-cross through the town. These intersecting pathways opened up a new way of re-discovering the built environment, its associated social history and topographical features. Accompanying this published guide is a be-spoke portable exhibition held in a carry-on case. This case contains twenty-four folders specific to the WALKS /LOGS 1-24. There is an instruction manual on how to display the archival material that was collated (on-going) during the research and production phase of this work. The material includes drawings, maps, photographs, student’s work and texts. The work will be launched at the headquarters of the Property Registration Department in Roscommon town and in a public venue in Ballaghaderreen this summer (2014).

Artist publication produced & edited by Christine Mackey Designed by Pure Designs Published by Drift-Editions 2013 ISBN 978-0-9928880-0-8 Developed through a public art commission awarded from the Property Registration Authority, Roscommon and faciltated by the Office of Public Works Edition 500, 1000 x 930 mm folded to 125 x 222.5 mm


Acknowledgements With thanks to the Property Registration Authority Arts Committee, Roscommon; Office of Public Works, Dublin; staff and students at St. Nathy’s College in particular Oliver Lennon and the Transition Year Students (2013-2014); Michael Mulligan for an engaging walk through the town; Mary and Michael Gallagher for their time in allowing us to explore their shop and for Mary’s inspiring introductory text, reading material from Michael Frain; Patsy McGary for his personal insight in the comings and goings of his youth in Ballaghaderreen; Jennifer Collins who provided the vector map for this work, Roscommon County Council; Nollaig Feeney for research material on the mapping of various habitats through the town, Heritage Officer, Roscommon County Council; articles from Mary Devine O’ Callaghan; Margaret Garvey; Mrs. Philips; and as ever helpful staff from Roscommon County Library and Ballaghaderreen Library; Bobby Flynn; Eithne Gallagher for sharing images of the convent grounds (amongst others); Angela Clarke who provided an insight into the swimming pool; John Coleman for drawing attention to the map of the military barracks; Brian and Padraig Mulligan for an insight into past and current trade; the Ballagh Art Group – Jolande van Herk, Rosanna Ryan, Mary Caulfield; Chris Bainbridge James and Ann Cafferky and Liam Byrne, Jimmy Finn and Hugh Lynn from Roscommon Collectibles; Linda Shevlin, curator in residence at Roscommon Arts Centre and Teresa Duffy and family; writer and artist Joanna Laws; Sean O’ Reilly, Leitrim Sculpture Centre; Duty Archivist, Military Archives, Dublin and The National Trust, England. Special thanks to students Cathal Madigan, Michelle Casey, Erin O’ Grady, Jennifer Kelly, Molly Quinlan, Elaine Murrary, Niamh Flannery, Caoimhe Towey, Katie Roddy and Vicky Young.

Biog Christine Mackey is an independent studio-based artist at the Leitrim Sculpture Centre, whose research-based practice is rooted in environmental concerns and the development of meaningful participation. Mackey works across a range of disciplines and site-specific contexts, graduating with a practice-based PhD at the University of Ulster, Belfast (2012). She has traveled and exhibited extensively in the last number of years participating on a range of international and national residency programmes including: Killruddery House and Gardens/Mermaid Arts Centre, Wicklow (2014); Art & Sustainability, Cambridge School of Art (2013) and ArtLink, Fort, Donegal (20132014). Upcoming projects include: AIR Rejmyre Art Lab, Sweden; Utopiana Genève, Switzerland; Delfina Foundation, London and the Santa Fe Residency Programme, New Mexico. Recent awards include: Leitrim County Council Individual Artists Bursary (2014/13) and the Arts Council of Ireland Artists Bursary (2013/12/10). In 2013, Mackey completed a three-year project SEED MATTER (2010-2013) with a solo exhibition and publication held at Limerick City Gallery, Ireland. www.christinemackey.com


(Endnotes) 1 An interest in walking as a leisure pursuit emerged during Romanticism, accumulating in mid 19th century France with discourse surrounding the ‘flâneur’ as a figure of literary and philosophical significance. 20th century movements such as The Surrealists and The Situationists further probed walking as a revolutionary act. The concept of Psychogeography was developed by the Lettrist International movement, with Guy Debord defining urban wandering as a ‘speculative drift’ and ‘renovated cartography’ in 1955. Aligning with the history of protest walks, the conceptual and symbolic significance of walking was explored by avant-garde and Fluxus movements, and Land Art practices of the late 1960’s. Contemporary approaches to urban and rural walking have further expanded the tradition of psychogeography, to encompass memory studies, counter-tourism, digital technologies and virtual landscapes, occurring at the interface between art, architecture, and social practice. 2 Rob Kitchin, Justin Gleeson, Karen Keaveney and Cian O’Callaghan (July 2010) ‘A Haunted Landscape: Housing and Ghost Estates in Post-Celtic Tiger Ireland’ , National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis, NUI Maynooth & School of Spatial Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Queens University Belfast, NIRSA Working Paper 59.

Joanne Laws is an Arts writer based in Leitrim. She is a member of AICA and a regular contributor to The Visual Artist’s News Sheet, where she serves on a panel of exhibition reviewers for the Critique section. Laws has previously written for publications such as Art Papers (U.S), Art Monthly (U.K), Cabinet (U.S) and Variant (U.K).

Profile for Christine Mackey

BACKLANDS  

BACKLANDS  

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