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Built


A coastal county with strong cultural ties to the sea has ensured that Co. Mayo is endowed with rich coastal architecture and significant archaeological heritage. This wealth is reflected in the number of protected structures, national monuments and infrastructure such as lighthouses, piers, bridges etc. There are many fine examples of historic engineering projects that are worthy of national importance including rare examples of rail viaducts, canals, signal towers and coastal defences. We wish to share some of this heritage in the following pages. 

Lighthouses 

An area that is renowned for its excellent fishing grounds Co. Mayo is also infamous for its jagged coastline and treacherous stormy waters. Testament to this there were 6 working lighthouses established in the 1800’s to assist with the safe navigation of commercial freight, fishing and leisure vessels. Remote Islands and rocks served as homes to four of these beacons, Eagle Island and Blackrock in open water west of the mullet peninsula, Clare Island and Inishgort at the outer and inner boundaries of Clew Bay respectively. Two land-based beacons one at the entrance to Blacksod Bay and the other at Broadhaven Bay, north and south of the mullet peninsula. All but one remain in operation today, Clare Island lighthouse which was established in 1818 was decommissioned in 1965 and replaced with Achillbeg lighthouse, also in the outer boundary of Clew Bay, in 1965. 

https://www.irishlights.ie/ 

  • Inishgort est. 1806 
  • Clare Island est. 1818 decommissioned in 1965 now privately owned. 
  • Eagle Island est.1835 
  • Ballyglass / Broadhaven est.1855 
  • Blackrock est.1864 
  • Blacksod est.1866 
  • Achillbeg est.1965 

The Coast Watch Service 

In the uncertain early days of the Second World War the Irish government sought to act to protect the neutrality it had declared in September 1939.  It was decided that a series of lookout posts ["LOPs"] would be built at strategic points along the Irish coastline to monitor belligerent activity at sea. Built by the OPW and Department of Defence with help from local volunteers and contractors, this was a considerable logistical task. The LOPs were manned by coast watchers and the institution they formed was named the Coast Watching Service.  

Eighty-two LOPs were built or reconditioned stretching the entire coastline between 1939 and 1942 and each was built in situ to an identical design using 137 pre-cast concrete blocks.  Their construction was one of the most widely spread engineering exercises undertaken by the Irish Defence Forces during the Second World War, located at intervals of five to fifteen miles, from Ballagan Point in County Louth to Inishowen Head in County Donegal. From a heritage perspective, much of Ireland’s built heritage was under foreign influence, these unique buildings (LOP’S) represent the first building project of national importance by the Irish State. Basic and unchallenging architecturally, these precast structures formed an integral part of the defences of the State. 

There were nine LOP’s along the coast of Co. Mayo between Roonagh, (LOP 57) and Kilcummin Head (LOP 65). Many of these posts are still in existence in varying degrees of disintegration. Downpatrick head (LOP 64) is the best preserved of the Co. Mayo posts, located at a Signature Discovery Point on the Wild Atlantic Way, this LOP is ideally placed to inform members of the public and visiting foreign nationals of the important role these unique buildings played in Ireland’s neutrality during WWII. For futher information please follow the link http://www.lookoutpost.com/geo/lop64/ 

 

Locations of Lookout Posts in Co. Mayo 

LOP 57 

Roonagh 

LOP 58 

Corraun 

LOP 59 

Achill Head 

LOP 60 

Blacksod 

LOP 61 

Annagh Head 

LOP 62 

Erris Head 

LOP 63 

Benwee Head 

LOP 64 

Downpatrick Head 

LOP 65 

Kilcummin Head 

 

 

Fortresses, Towers & Abbeys  

Rockfleet Castle  

Rockfleet or Carraigahowley Castle is a tower house near Newport in County Mayo. It was built in the mid-sixteenth century and is most famously associated with Gráinne Ní Mháille (Granuaile), the 'pirate queen' and chieftain of the Clan O’Malley.  

Kildavnet Tower 

The Tower at Kildavnet, in the south-east corner of Achill Island, is a perfect example of a 15th century Irish tower house. The Gaelic Chiefs of the time copied a Norman design and constructed many such tower houses. The tower at Kildavnet is thought to have been constructed by the Clan O’Malley in about 1429 but is associated locally with a descendant of the original builders, Grace O’Malley or Granuaile.  

Clare Island Castle 

Built on Clare Island by the O’Malleys in the 16th century, this castle is a fine example of a tower house. Tower houses were often designed to a standard plan, three or four storeys high with a vault over the ground floor. The roof was pitched slate or thatched roof and was protected by a parapet over the entrance so that stones or other objects could be dropped directly onto attackers. Within the thick walls were staircase passages. 

Killala Round Tower 

A monastic settlement tower which is composed of limestone, many of the stones being quite large. The doorway is devoid of decoration; however, the three stone arch of the doorway is composed of a light brown sandstone, contrasting with the grey of the rest of the doorway and tower. These sandstone blocks carry through the entire depth of the doorway. About halfway up the drum of the tower, is a noticeable bulge in the stonework. Reports in 1779 mention a damaged roof and damage midway up the tower from lightning. The OPW did some repair work in 1841. Though reports are not specific, the cap and wall were repaired at this time. 

Glosh Napoleonic Signal Tower 

The Napoleonic signal tower at Glosh on the Mullet Peninsula is one of approximately 80 similar towers built by the British between 1804-1806 as part of an extensive program of coastal defences commissioned in response to the repeated attempts by French forces to invade Ireland most notably those that occurred in 1796 and 1798. There were 8 of these signal towers in Co. Mayo, most are in ruins, the Glosh tower being the best remaining example. https://irishsignalstations.wordpress.com/the-irish-signal-stations/ 

Rosserk Friary 

Rosserk Friary is a friary located in County Mayo, Ireland and a National Monument. located along the river Moy the friary was set up by the third order of Franciscans cicca. 1440. 

Moyne Abbey 

Moyne Abbey is one of the most impressive ecclesiastical ruins in Mayo and a National Monument. It was founded before the year (1455) by McWilliam Bourke family as a Franciscan friary and consecrated in 1462. 

Burrishoole Friary 

Situated close to Newport Burrishoole Friary was founded by Sir Richard de Burgo for the Dominican order in 1469. http://www.megalithicireland.com/Burrishoole%20Friary,%20Mayo.html 

Murrisk Abbey 

Murrisk Abbey is situated on the southern shore of Clew Bay close to Westport below the sacred mountain Croagh Patrick. It was founded in c.1456 by a local chieftain Hugh O'Malley who granted the lands to the Augustinian friars. http://www.megalithicireland.com/index.html 

Clare Island Abbey 

The medieval church from the 12th century (rebuilt around 1460), known as the Abbey, is unique in Ireland because of the extent of its surviving medieval wall paintings. Only four other such paintwork examples still exist in Ireland & Clare Island’s is the most intriguing and best preserved. The abbey gives one of the best opportunities to experience what a medieval painted interior would have looked like. http://www.megalithicireland.com/Clare%20Island%20Abbey,%20Mayo.html 

St. Deirbhile’s Church 

Located near Blacksod are the ruins of St. Deirbhile’s Church, a National monument which dates from two periods the original church in 6th century and the ruin visible today in the 12th Century.  

Cross Abbey 

Located close to Binghamstown the ruins of an Early Christian medieval Church of Cross situated in a graveyard. It is thought that the monastic settlement on Inishglora was moved to Cross in the 10th century retaining the alais Inishglora or Saint Brendan's throughout the medieval period. From the 14th century onwards it became a priory dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and a dependant on the Abbey of Ballintubber, from which it received its revenue. 

Major sites of archaeological importance in Co. Mayo 

 State Ownership (O) or Guardianship (G) 

Monument  

Townland  

Status  

Castle  

Carrickkildavnet          

Guardianship  

Burrishoole Abbey (Dom.)  

Carrowkeel  

State Ownership  

Murrisk Abbey (Aus. Fr.)        

Carrowkeel  

State Ownership  

St. Bridget's Church  

Clare Island (Lecarrow)  

State Ownership  

St. Deirbhile's Church  

Fallmore  

State Ownership  

Granuaile's Castle,       

Clare Island (Glen)  

Guardianship  

Early Monastery           

Inishglora         

State Ownership  

Early Monastery  

Inishkea            

State Ownership  

Killala Round Tower  

Killala (Townplots West)  

State Ownership  

Moyne Abbey  

Moyne (Abbeylands)  

State Ownership  

Castle  

Rockfleet  

Guardianship  

Abbey (Fran.)  

Rosserk                        

State Ownership  

  

Coastal Geological Sites of interest in Mayo 

Feature Name 

IGH Theme - Secondary 

IGH Theme – Primary 

Clew Bay 

Quaternary 

  

Inishkea Islands 

Precambrian Geology 

  

Pontoon Woods 

Precambrian Geology 

  

Annagh Head Scotchport 

Precambrian Geology 

  

Finny Bridle Path 

Precam-Dev Palaeontology 

  

Lough Mask Shoreline 

Camb-Sil Stratigraphy 

  

Cong Area 

Karst 

  

Mweelrea 

Camb-Sil Stratigraphy 

Carboniferous 

Belderg Harbour 

Precambrian Geology 

  

Creevagh Head 

Carboniferous 

  

Croaghmoyle 

Devonian 

Carboniferous 

Downpatrick Head 

Carboniferous 

Coastal Geomorphology 

Kilcummin Head 

Carb-Pilo Palaeontology 

Quaternary 

Port-Glenloss Point 

Precambrian 

Quaternary 

Ross Strand 

Igneous Intrusions 

  

Shangort 

Camb-Silo Stratigraghy 

Igneous Intrusions 

Stella Maris 

Carboniferous 

  

Ballynew Outcrop 

Carboniferous 

  

Benwee Head 

Precambrian Geology 

  

Derrycraff 

Carboniferous 

  

Killala Esker 

Quaternary 

  

Rockfleet Bay 

Carboniferous 

  

Tawnagh More 

Precambrian Geology 

Carboniferous 

Bollinglanna, Nth Clew Bay 

Carb-Pilo Palaeontology 

  

Townplots, Killala 

Carb-Pilo Palaeontology 

  

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