Archaeological and Historical Sites In the Parishes of Ballysakeery, Moygownagh and Kilfian
Tober na Sool: a well in the townland of Cloonshimnagh. O’Donovan says that there was a pattern held here every year at the time of the Ordnance Survey and that large crowds of people came to it. It is still used to supply spring water.
Tober na Molt: site of a former well on the border of Magherabrack and Cloonawillian townlands. This well might be Tober aon Adairc as there is a "siodan" or little horn of a hill beside it. It is beside Mullafarry quarry. There is a well that is supposed to have curative properties for stomach upsets in Ballintane townland. The nearest house is John Carson’s, Ballintane.
Tober Murry: in Rosserk townland, beside Rosserk Abbey. Very well known and documented, stations still performed from 15th August to 8th September. Another site of a well is in Mullaghheasl, a townland. This well is almost forgotten about and as far as I know it is now a watering place for cattle, but up to some time ago it was one of the "garland" wells where the people put rags on a lone bush. There is a local tradition that there are graves in this area so it might be an old graveyard.
St Brid's Well: In Kilfian parish, on the side of the Crossmolina - Ballycastle Road. About a mile nearer Ballycastle there is a well called St. Fian’s Well and the tradition is that a woman washed clothes in it and that it changed from the middle of Kilfian parish down to the border of Doonfeeney parish. I know that a few years ago a local man built a tank to supply water to his house and a short time after the well changed a few yards and left the tank dry.
Siodans are Bronze Age burial mounds containing stone cists or urns. There are a number of them across Ballysakeery parish and Kilfian parish, from the River Moy to Breaffy townland. They are almost in line with the Norman Tower houses although they are 1500 to 2000 years earlier than the tower houses.
One of them is in John Carson’s land in Ballintane townland and the townland gets its name from it (Baile an t-Siodan).
There is another in John Gilvarry’s land in Maherabrack. It can be seen from the Killala - Crossmolina Road as you pass towards Killala at Smyth & McAndrew’s signpost at Farragh crossroads. It is on the left of the road in the corner of a hedge.
The next one is between Bourke’s Pub and Towenrehowen Bridge on the right of the road as you go towards the bridge. It is on Mr. McAndrew’s land (Meedoon, Killala). Another one is in Kincon in Tommie McHale’s farm and there could be a Ring Fort of some kind here also and I would not be so sure about this one being a Siodan but it is called Siodan locally. This is one of the sites that people talk about being unlucky to interfere with. The previous owner told me that he quarried stones here on two occasions and that he lost stock on both occasions. He also told me that he was warned not to interfere with it.
The largest one of these mounds is in Breaffy townland and it is called Queen Maeve’s grave locally. Professor Caulfield said that if it was built with boulders it could be up to 4000 years old but it is at least Bronze Age. There is another Siodan in Ballybrooney townland and it appears that an attempt was made to level it at some stage but it was too stony.
There is a Court Cairn in Lessany townland (Moygownagh). About two hundred metres to the east there is another earthen and stone mound. It has two large Ortostals or Jamb stones and a large amount of boulders that have been bored and blasted or wedge split but it does not appear that any attempt has been made to level the mound.
Beside Moygownagh Church, there are two druid’s altars with very large cap stones and very little sign of the supporting pillar stones. There are a number of court cairns in Kilfian parish but de Valera and O’ Nualain have them listed.
There are a number of sites of Tower Houses in the area and one at Ballinglen, about two miles from Ballycastle on the Crossmolina Road.
Rathroe Tower House: It is in better condition that the one at Ballinglen, but one side is undermined and it could fall if it was struck by lightning.
Farragh Tower House : Only the roots of the foundation are left and only excavation would show its size.
Ballintane Tower House : The foundations of this castle are still visible on the shore of the dried-up Lisglennon Lake. This house might have been built on an island. There is a local tradition that the cellar is still intact.
Ballysakeery Tower House : Beside the site of Ballysakeery Church in Ballysakeery graveyard there is a site of a Tower House or castle where only the roots and mound remain.
Meelick Tower House: On the Ballina side of Killala there is a site of a tower house near Meelick Lough. A farm building has been erected beside it. With one in Castlereagh and a few more in Killala parish, these were the homes of the ruling families of Normans in North Tyrawley until the English planters came.
According to Strafford’s Inquisition, Moyler Barrette Fitz Peirs owned 3 qrs. in Ballysakeery and also one qr. and a castle in Farrow from the last day of June 1625 until May 1631 when he did mortgage it to Martin Darcey Esq. who assigned it to Walter Blake (Fitz Andrew), and his heirs for £40 st. Michael Cormack Esq. - The Castle of Ballinglane and the qr. land belonging called Claddan.
By Jim Gilvarry from North Mayo Historical Journal 1990/1991 Reproduced by kind permission