Mom and the Girls' Trip to Ireland - 2016

Beyond the Pale



May 19, continued

Molly steadies the leaning tower at Kilmacduagh

Molly steadies the Round Tower at Kilmacduagh

With hearty thanks to Brenda and Micheal for all their consideration and treating us like family, off we rolled down the driveway of Clareview House and toward our goal of Kilmacduagh, site of a medieval monastery and possible resting place of St. Colman Macduagh. It has an enormous tall round tower -- the tallest in Ireland -- and it is only about six miles outside of Gort. I climbed over the stone fence through a style and did lots of photographing, Annis retrieved an informational booklet from a resident across the street, and Sara guided the car to spots where Mom could watch all the action but not have to actually get out of the car. The name of the place – Kilmacduagh -- translates as "church of Duagh's son." It was reportedly the 7th century Saint Colman, son of Duagh who established a monastery here on land given to him by his cousin King Guaire Aidne mac Colmáin of Connacht, who had a fortified dwelling near what is today Dunguaire Castle (the ancient stone tower on the banks of “Argument Bay.”)


Kilmacduagh claims the tallest round tower in Ireland

From Kilmacduagh, we went to Gort and made only a brief stop. Gort takes its full Irish name (Gort Inse Guaire – “field of the island of Guaire”) from Guaire, a 7th-century chieftain famed for his hosptality and generosity, whose right (giving) arm was said to be longer than his left. “An Gort” means “the field.”

Georges Street, Gort

Georges Street, Gort


formerly Glynn's Hotel

Formerly Glynn's Hotel



I wanted a few photos of the main street (particularly since my only photos are from scanned prints of 35 mm film photos taken on other trips.) Sister DeLourdes had pointed out a hardware store, Keane's, as the oldest commercial establishment in Gort, so we decided to park the car and go inside to ask if they might perhaps have postcards of Gort (they did not.) But while we were in there, it was convenient for Mom and Sara to use the restroom, so we accomplished that and were heading back out when Mom struck up a conversation with a man who owned the store -- Colman Keane. When we explained our reason for being in Gort, he pointed out a framed document on the wall which was a page from a book of the 1848 famine relief lists. It contained hundreds of names, and the list was only for the parish of Kilthomas. Believe me, it was a sobering thing to read, particularly when Mr. Keane pointed to the names listed under a subheading of “in the workhouse” and said, “I shudder to read those names because no one ever came out of there.”

Famine relief document

Famine Relief document for Kilthomas, 1848

On the list were a couple of Swift households, though not names that I can immediately connect to the family tree. Nevertheless, I made a digital image of the whole thing to further investigate later. We chatted more and asked about his store, mentioning that Sister had commented on the longevity of the business. He told us that, several years back, his father had been interviewed by the national radio (probably RTE) about the store, and the reported asked how long Keanes had been operating in Gort. His father answered, "When Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo, we were attacking Gort!" I have since found an interesting article from a Co Clare newspaper about the Keane establishment. Click here to read it.

We mentioned to Mr. Keane that Mother was celebrating her birthday today, and his face lit up, as did the face of the fellow standing behind him. They both practically jumped forward to shake Mother's hand and congratulate her. I was touched by the sincerity of their actions. Colman handed us his business card, gave us compliments for our ties in Gort and very best wishes for our travels.

The birthday celebrations continue at Ballylee. Click here to continue reading.


View a map of the places we visited in County Galway
Other stuff and 2023 trip

This page was last edited on 09-Apr-2023

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