The Pilgrim Route, Clogher in Co. Mayo

Clogher History Notes

The village of Clogher takes its name from the great stone of Cloch na hAltora which lies close to the village in what was once part of the demesne of the Fitzgerald Kenny’s.

This ancient monument is a fine example of a dolmen, which is of Druidic origin and was used as a mass rock in Penal times.

Close to here in the village of Killeen is a well known as Tobar Patrick. There was once an old church and a burial place for unbaptised children.

The Tochar Padraig

The ancient pilgrim path from Cruachan to Cruachan Aigle (Croagh Patrick) passes through Clogher.

There are several churches and holy wells associated with the early Christian era in this locality. The most important of these are at Loona, Gweestion and Drum.

The route of The Tochar has recently been researched and developed by Tochar Valley Rural Community Network, a body set up to enhance the wonderful archaeological and historical monuments along The Pilgrim Way thus enhancing the economic and social life of the area.

Patrician Sites

Loona (called after Lughna, the nephew of St.Patrick). Close to Loona lies a stone bearing the resemblance of a footprint said to be that of St.Patrick.

The following description of Loona appeared in O Donovans Letters in the early nineteenth century:

In Looneymore (Lughnaigh Mor) townland, is a graveyard wherein stood a church, near which originally lay the well called Tobar Lughna, the well of St. Lughna, a name still retained but now applied to a well lying at Walshepool Lough, quarter of a mile to the north west of Looneymore village, and said to be the one that was primarily at the church, and bares the same name.

Also at Drum are the remains of a Patrician church surrounded by an enclosure.

Knox in his history of Mayo gives the following account of the archaeological sites at Drum and Loona:

At Drum and Loonamore in the Barony of Carra large cashels of rectangular plan are well marked, but they may seem to have been intended for the accommodation of pilgrims, as the Togher Patrick passes through them.

We cannot say exactly how these enclosures were utilised, but we can say that such large enclosures were usually built around important churches. Such enclosures as those of Drum and Loonamore suggest walled villages, and that they may have been used in various ways.

In some cases churches were built within forts given up for the purpose. The churches of this period which remain are not much more than thirty feet long.

The castle at Gweesdian was occupied by Riocard an Iarainn (Iron Dick), husband of Grainne Uaille and father of Tiobald na Loinge who is buried in Ballintubber Abbey.

By Brian Hoban.