SCHOOL: Dún an Ochta (Buachaillí) | ADDRESS: Eyrecourt, Co. Galway
About sixty years ago Eyrecourt was well populated. To-day, the many old ruins of houses to be seen in the village show this. Some of these have been built up recently, but quite a lot still remain.
Market Square has now but a few houses on either side, and within the memory of a few old people there were two rows of fine houses in it. Some of the people who lived in this area alone are:-Mrs. Moran, Richard Gavin, Sgt McLoughlin, two families of “Banks”, Nicholas Topping, Davis, Larkin (a nailer by trade), Mitchell, Ryan, Madden, O’Meara, Michael Gibbons, Tim Fallon, Watson.
There was a dispensary where Bouchiers now reside and the Corner House was occupied by two Curates. After some time the P. Priest bought the present parochial house from Kennys, cousins of the original owner of it, and then the Curates took up residence in the old Parochial, where they still reside. The house they vacated was then converted into a school and remained to be a school until the Girls’ National Schools were built.
Before the Nuns came from Ballinasloe Convent to teach here (pending the erection of the new schools) the teacher was a Miss Bunyan.
Every Saturday there was a great market in the Square where vegetables, fowl, etc were bought and sold. Loads of turf were there from early morning, and on account of the close proximity of the bogs was sold at the low price of 6-8 shillings per loads.
There was a very fine mill some years ago (70 or 80) where the ruin of it now stands. It was originally owned by “Horsmans”, who left and sold it to the present owner, J. Howard. Flour, bran and every other grain were ground here and on account of the scarcity of mills at the time people used come from places as far distant as Athenry.
For the past 60 years the mill has not been worked. The present owner did not understand it, and so let it fall into ruin.
The present “Chapel Lane” was so called on account of a Chapel being here at one time. To-day no trace of it remains but a few walls which were made a dwelling of by ancestors of it’s present occupier – a Peter Coen. On this account it is rent free.
There was also a cemetary at the back, but the fairly level field of to-day shows little of this. There was another Chapel down in the field attached to the domain. Traces of it can be traced today – quite a number of grassy mounds, and crumbled heaps of stones.
In this same place is a Holy Well, where an odd person still comes to look at the water deep down in the trunk of the tree which never dries up. The little offerings – brooches, pins, buttons, etc., are still there.
The present Church was built by a Jas Martin (former owner of the present Parochial). He (sold) left his house to a family of Kennys from who Fr. Leahy the present P.P. is supposed to have purchased it. It is an unusual style of house and has the very unusual feature of “hanging gardens”, which are still in perfect condition.
There was a hospital in Eyrecourt years ago in the present “Paradise Row”. About 70 years ago it became a bit wrecked and became a tenement house for a number of families. The patients were removed to Portumna hospital. All of it is in ruins to-day. It was a large three-storey building.
A family of “Moores” once lived in the present Convent. They were Protestants, as were most of the people in Eyrecourt and around it.
From Manoking’s? corner to Niells there were a number of families living, in which area there are now but a few houses. The names of the people who lived in this stretch mentioned opposite the Boy’s School were:- Patrick Killeen, Thos. Madden, Augustine Concannon, Ml. Madden, John Madden, Jn Donohue, John Connor, John Summers, Thos. Conroy, Patrick Tierney, John Curley, John Duffy, Jas. Sweeney, Tom McEvoy.
On the school side (where no house is now but 2) lived Thos. Gavin, James Barnot, Patrick Kelly, and the present school-house. At this time the English Government gave free emigration to Canada, and an offer of £2 per head to all those who went.
The people took the offer right away, as their prospects seemed anything but first rate, and left their little homes, which by degrees fell into wreck and ruin. Shop-keepers of the town completed the knocking down of these houses, and took over the gardens attached.
“Silver St” was the name given to the length of Street between Chapel Lane Corner to the Barrack Corner. “Main St” from the Barrack Corner to the “Market Square”. “Mall St” was a continuation of the Main St. This area is now called “The Mall”, but there are only a few houses there now.
“Soldiers Row”, was a side street from “Mall Street”, and here there was at this time a lot of houses. None of them remain to-day.
The names of some of the Priests of this time were Fr. Derry, Doctor Derry (who afterwards became a Bishop), Fr. Mullins, Fr. Burns, Fr. Furlong. While Fr. Furlong was curate there were two contesting for the Parliament Election – a man called “Trench” from Tipp and a man called “Nolan” from Galway.
Fr. Furlong was on Nolan’s side, which was much resented by some of the opposite party- one of which – a girl – put a lump of fat meat into his poor-box in Meelick Church. However, it is said the girl died shortly afterwards, and her feelings towards the Priest were much commented on.
The P. Office was in the present “Dalys Shop”. There were a lot of shops. No other industry was carried on but “weaving”. This was carried on extensively. A man called “Cunane” (whose wife and family are still here) was a very good weaver. He got a lot of work to do, and people used come to him from Aughrim and Mullagh, and other distant places. This man had also a finer loom for linen. People in the village remember him weaving a lovely linen towel with much coloured embroidery for a lady going to America.
There wree also “Nailers” in Eyrecourt at this time. A family of Larkins did most of this trade. Mrs. Lindsay, River St, has still a basin mended by one of these “nailers”.
There was a distillery in olden days where the Catholic Church is to-day.
It is said that why Priests are not buried up neared to the altar is – the great depth in that particular area since time of distillery.
The man was helped so much towards the erection of the C. Church was a Jas. Martin (called Kit Martin). He was a Captain and spent much of his time in foreign countries – hence the unique style of architecture he has shown in the arches, shape of windows, and quaint hanging gardens all of which now belong to Fr. Leahy P.P. It is not parochial property, being purchased by him from friends of this J. Martin.
During the course of building tradesmen engaged were paid at the rate of 10 per day and labourers of 2 1/2 per day. Today these hanging gardens are much admired.
There was another distillery where Duffys shop stands to-day.
John Cotton was a very good tin smith who lived here some years ago.
Eyrecourt is called after the family of “Eyre” who have been living in the old ancestral home since Cromwell’s time. After the death of Gregory Eyre his wife sold the house and estate and went to England with the family.
The man who purchased all has let the house fall into ruin, but has the adjoining lawns well stocked.
The land around Eyrecourt is good, especially along the Shannon banks only a few mils distant.
There are plenty of woods around in every direction, most of which were connected with big houses in former days.
The land is mostly used for grazing.
About a mile from the village there is a high hill called Redmount Hill which commands a fine view of the flat country around through which the Lordly Shannon can be discerned like a silver ribbon in the distance. Apart from this hill there is little to break the flat monotony of the surrounding plains.