Craughwell National School

Craughwell NS, SN Chreachmhaoil,

Our Historical Mural

We have a wonderful mural in our school hall which depicts scenes from the history of Craughwell.




Each scene is shown separately below with an explanation of its significance. You can scroll through them all or jump directly to the one you wish to view

1 Rahasane Turlough
2 Craughwell Bridge
3 Skehill’s Tree
4 Kenny’s Forge
5 Craughwell Flour Mills
6 Strongford Castle
7 Raifteirí an File
8 The Callanan Poets
9 Moyode House
10 Aggard House
11 Seefin Castle
12 St Cleran’s
13 Craughwell Churches
14 Hedge Schools
15 Mannin Castle
16 The Blazers

1st scene

Rahasane Turlough

1 Rahasane Turlough Mural

The Dunkellin river rises near Ballinasloe and flows through Stongford on through Craughwell and into the Rahasane Turlough. The turlough gets its name from the Irish “Rath Oisín” the fort of Oisín. There are a number of references to Fionn MacCumhail and the Fianna in the Craughwell area and this name refers to the fort of Fionn’s son, Oisín. This is the same Oisín who travelled with Niamh Cinn Óir to Tír na nÓg. It covers 257 hectares (635 acres). A GAA pitch is between 1 and 1.3 hectares. This means you could fit between 200 and 250 GAA pitches in the turlough.

It is the largest turlough in Ireland. “Tuar” means dry so it is a dry or disappearing lake. The porus limestone underneath allows the water to drain away. There are also “swallow holes” which drain the water away.

Here is how the turlough looks when dry

1 Rahasane Turlough dry

 And here is how it looks when flooded

1 Rahasane Turlough flooded


The Rahasane Turlough is a habitat for a wide variety of birds such as the White-Fronted Goose, the Eurasian Wigeon, the American Wigeon and the Black Tern as well as ducks, swans, lapwings and other birds. Bird watchers (ornithologists) have lots to see in this area.

There is evidence of crannog dwelling in the turlough. The stepping stones used to get to a crannog are still visible in the turlough.

A reconstruction of a crannog in Craggaunowen, Co Clare

1 Rahasane Turlough crannog

Crannógs were built in Ireland from 1200 BC during the Bronze age. When the turlough was dry, the people lived in a ringfort in Grenage, as it was safer. The water was a defence for the crannóg when the lake was flooded. The word crannóg means “young tree”.

 Craughwell Bridge

2 Craughwell bridge mural

The Dunkellin river flows under the Craughwell Bridge near Cawleys. This is a very sturdy bridge built with arches and is around 300 years old.

2 Craughwell bridge photo

The parish of Craughwell is divided into more than 60 townlands. Examples are Shanbally, Parkroe, Rockfield, Cahercrin, Moyode, Ballymore, Ganty, Strongford, Roo and Killora. What is your townland?

3 Townlands mural


Skehill’s Tree

4 Skehills tree mural

This photo from 1920 shows a large tree beside what was Skehill’s public house. This was a meeting place and a place where politicians would make speeches. Michael Davitt spoke to the local people here when the Land League was organising its protests and boycotts.

4 Skehills tree 1920

The tree eventually had to be cut down to widen the road through Craughwell.

 Kenny’s Forge

5 Kenny's forge mural

Tom Kenny was the blacksmith in Craughwell and his forge in the village was central to the life of the people. Horses were very important in rural life and it was here that horseshoes were made and fitted to the horses.

5 Tom Kenny

Tom Kenny was one of the leaders of the 1916 rising in Galway along with Liam Mellows. He was also a great hurler and was one of trainers of the first Galway team to win the All-Ireland in 1923. The team trained in Rockfield. The GAA grounds in Athenry is named Kenny Park after Tom Kenny of Craughwell.

5 Galway 1923 Tom Kenny

Can you find Tom Kenny in the team photo above?


Flour Mills

6 Flour mills mural

There were 2 flour mills in Craughwell: Rowlands of Strongford and Donoghues of Aggard. The mills were powered by the river as a water wheel turned the millstone and ground the corn into flour.

6 Flour mills water wheel

6 Flour mills grinding stone


The miller was a very important person in a village.

Each house would have a quernstone for grinding smaller amounts of oats or corn to make porridge or bread.

Strongford Castle

7 Strongford Castle mural

7 Strongford Castle

This castle is around 400 years old and is much younger than the other castles in the parish which are around 600 years old. This castle is lived in and can even be rented if you would like to sleep in a castle!

Raifteirí an File

8 Raifteirí an File mural

The Irish word “file” means a poet and song-writer. Antoine Ó Raifteirí (Anthony Raftery) was born in Cill Aodán near Kiltimagh in Co Mayo in 1779. There were 9 children in his family. When he was only 9 years old an outbreak of smallpox hit his household. In a short space of time his 8 brothers and sisters were dead and he was left blind. It is said that the last thing he saw was his 8 siblings laid out for burial. His father was a weaver for the local landlord, Frank Taaffe. It is said the Taaffe took Raftery in and had him educated in the local hedge school and had music lessons on the violin. He had great talent. Raftery, although blind, worked a messenger for Taaffe. He rode a horse to deliver and collect messages. On one sad day he jumped the horse across a drain and the horse was fatally injured. Raftery was outcast by Taaffe and he took to the roads as a travelling “file”

8 Raifteirí an File

He travelled to Galway and was very popular in Craughwell where he was made welcome and stayed at the homes of the local farmers. He entertained his hosts and would compose poems and songs praising those who were kind to him. He wrote Úna Ní Chatháin to praise the Keanes who were very good to him in Craughwell.

8 Raifteirí an File statue

Raftery wrote the song Anach Cuain (Annaghdown) to tell the sad story of a boating tragedy. On Thursday, 4 September 1828, a group of people from Annaghdown were travelling to Galway on the boat “Caisleán Nua”. They were heading to Fair Hill near the Claddagh to sell turf, sheep and other goods. The boat was in an unsound condition and one of the sheep put its foot through the floor of the boat. They were at Bushypark on the Corrib at this time. An attempt to stamp a coat into the hole caused a much larger hole and the boat began to sink. It was overloaded and capsized quickly drowning 20 people. Raftery, in error, mentions 19 dead in his song. The inquest into the tragedy was held by the Mayor of Galway, James Hardiman-Burke of Craughwell.

One of Raftery’s poems, “Mise Raifteirí an file”, was on the old £5 note

8 Raifteirí an File 5 pounds


In 1835 Raftery was staying with the Keanes in Craughwell. He left and went to stay with Diarmuid Cloonan. He stayed in his shed, despite being invited to stay in the house with the family. He was very sick at the time and the local priest came to give him the last rights. They tried to keep him comfortable, heating stones in the fire and putting them at his feet. He died on Christmas Eve 1835. Mr Cloonan bought a coffin for him and he was buried in the Killeeneen graveyard.

8 Raifteirí an File grave

Raftery’s poems and songs were not written down, but learned and passed on by reciting them. It wasn’t until much later that his compositions were written down. This was during the Gaelic Revival in the late 1800s. In 1901 Lady Gregory and Douglas Hyde erected a gravestone to mark where he was buried

In 1978 the Office of Public Works (OPW) erected plaques beside the grave.

The Callanan Poets

9 Callanan poets mural


Patsy and Mark (Peatsaí agus Marcus) Callanan were Craughwell poets at the time of Antaine Ó Raifteirí. Unlike Raifteirí, they were educated and spoke both English and Gaeilge. They were poetic rivals to Raifteirí and they wrote about each other in less than complimentary terms. There are many Callanans and Lambs in Craughwell today who are descendant from these great poets. While rivals in their time they are buried close to Raifteirí in the Killeeneen graveyard.

9 Callanan poets grave

“Na Fataí Bána” (The White Potatoes) is one of the Callanan’s famous poems.

Moyode House

10 Moyode House mural

This stately house was built by Burton de Burgh Persse in 1820. Lady Gregory was from this family. They were landlords of the locality renting to the local people. There were 3 gate houses to their estate and one is lived in today as a private residence. Moyode House was home to the Galway Blazers at that time.

10 Moyode House

In 1916 the rising in Galway centred around Athenry and Moyode house was occupied and used as the rebel headquarters. During the Irish War of Independence Moyode House was burned down in 1920 by the IRA.

10 Moyode House ruins


Aggard House

11 Aggard house mural

11 Aggard house photo

This was the home of the Lambert Landlord family. The house is around 250 years old and is owned and lived in today as a private residence.

Seefin Castle

12 Seefin Castle mural

Seefin gets its name, like the Rahasane Turlough, from a reference to Fionn MacCumhail and the Fianna – Suí Fionn (the seat of Fionn the leader of the Fianna). Seefin hill is the highest point in Craughwell and 5 counties are visible from this point – Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Clare and Tipperary.

12 Seefin Castle 2015

The Anthony Daly Monument on Seefin hill commemorates the hanging of a local carpenter who was a member of the “whiteboy” or “ribbonmen” group. These groups were involved in violence against landlords in the early 1800s.

12 Seefin Anthony Daly

Daly was arrested and convicted in Galway in 1820 for a crime of which he is believed to be innocent. He was sentenced to be hanged and was seated on his coffin and paraded through the villages on the way to Seefin Hill. He was used as an example to deter others from such violence against the landlords. Antaine Ó Raifteirí wrote a poem “Na Buachaillí Bána” condemning those involved in Daly’s hanging. It is said that following his execution Daly’s mother drew some blood from the corpse. She went to St Cleran’s and daubed the blood on the pillars there to curse the Hardiman Burke family who provided the Mayor of Galway (James Hardiman-Burke) at the time. It is said that the curse was that no crow would nest there again and that no landlord would have a peaceful death there again.

St Cleran’s

13 St Clerans mural

It was built in 1784 and was the home of the Hardiman-Burke landlord family. In the 1950s St Cleran’s was bought by John Heuston the Hollywood film director. It later was used by the Griffin group as a luxury hotel. It is now a privately owned residence.

13 St Clerans

A famous son of the James Hardiman-Burke family was Robert O’Hara-Burke. He was the leader of the Burke-Wills expedition. This was the first successful crossing of Australia from north to south. In 1861 they reached Coopers Creek completing the crossing but they were starving. Both Wills and Burke died. A third member of the expedition survived with the help of Aboriginal people. Burketown, Burke River and O’Hara’s gap in Australia are named after him. Is Burke’s death related to the curse of Anthony Daly’s mother?

St Cleran’s was not burned down during the War of Independence and it is believed that a £5 donation to the IRA by a Mrs Stubbs who was living in St Cleran’s at the time saved it from the same fate as Moyode House.

Craughwell Churches

14 Craughwell Churches

14 Craughwell Church 1920

14 Craughwell Church interior

Craughwell Church was built in 1854, shortly after the famine. The photo from 1920 shows the interior of the church with the benches where the aisle is today and railings near the altar. The altar has been moved since this photo was taken. St Coleman McDuagh of Kiltartan gives his name to the church.

14 Craughwell Church 2015

The Church in Ballymana dates from the 1870s.

14 Ballymana Church 2015


Hedge Schools

15 Hedge School mural

Following the conquest of William of Orange in 1691 a series of laws known as the Penal Laws were enacted to keep Irish Catholics weak and poor. Catholics were not allowed to own a gun or a horse of military standard (worth more than €5). They could not hold jobs with any power and Catholics could not set up a school. During the Penal Law times Irish Catholic children could only get an education in locally run Hedge Schools. The teacher and children would sit on stones near a wall, bush or hedge for shelter from the weather. The teacher would get a penny a week from the children so that he could earn his living. The famine relief works paid eight pennies a day for a man’s labour. This gives an idea of how the Irish valued education.

There were 5 hedge schools in the parish of Craughwell and among the múinteoirí were Gilligans and Cloonans. After Daniel O’Connell was elected to parliament in the Clare bye-election in 1828, the Penal Laws began to be relaxed and not prosecuted as vigorously. This was the beginning of Catholic Emancipation. The hedge schools were now able to move indoors as they didn’t need to be able to make a quick escape if discovered. The first Primary School in Craughwell dates from the 1850s and Patrick Gilligan who was the last Hedge School master became the first Primary School Principal in Craughwell. It seems that the last hedge school in Ireland was in Killeeneen.

Mannin Castle

16 Mannin Castle mural

16 Mannin Castle 1920

16 Mannin Castle 2015

This is around 600 years old. Photo from 1920s shows St Cronan’s well, Tobar Crónáin.

16 St Cronans well

This is reputed to have healing powers.

Tobar Crónáin today

16 Tobar Crónáín 2015


Galway Blazers

17 The Hunt mural

The home of the Blazers is now Ballymore House.

18The Hunt Ballymore house

There are 52 hounds in the hunt pack and the Master of the Hunt knows them all by name. Today they hunt for foxes but in the past they hunted for deer and wolves. The Blazers bring Santa to St Michael’s hall each year!

18 The Galway Blazers

We hope you know a bit more about Craughwell than you did before reading this page!