Located on the N60 between Balla and Castlebar, the picturesque rural village of Manulla is steeped in folklore, heritage and history. Dotted with unspoilt lakes and rivers, Manulla is a low-lying area bordered by hills and mountains, with magnificent views of the surrounding countryside.
St Patrick visited Manulla and founded a church there, putting his monk, Bishop Cainneach, in charge. Prior to his coming the area had been pagan and had a well called 'Slán' (also referred to as the Well of Findmagh) which was the centre of Druid worship in the region. The Druids believed that a dead prophet was buried under the stone that covered the well and that he was buried there because he feared fire and also so that the water from the well might wash his bones. St Patrick converted the pagans to Christianity at this well and he asked the locals to lift the stone off the top of it, but they were unable to do so. Patrick and Bishop Cainneach lifted it, after which Patrick said to Cainneach "They seed will be blessed forever". The church founded there became the principal church in the region and the well was later re-named St Patrick's Well.
North of Manulla can be found the ruins of the ancient Manulla Castle, historically owned and inhabited by Walter McEvilly at the time of the Division of Connaught, in the late 1500s. The McEvilly family were closely related to pirate sea-queen Granuaile (Grace O'Malley).
Another historic landmark is the famous Land League Cottage, located about a mile on the Balla side of the village at Lisnolan. The cottage was built on the border of the Dunville, Lynch-Blosse and Kilmaine estates of the time, for a man named Tom Brennan, who was the son of evicted tenants. The cottage was symbolic of the trials and troubles experienced during the Land League Movement in the 1880s. So as to overcome any efforts by the three landlords to oppose it, the cottage was built in one day by a large group of local workers, including Land Leaguers and Cumann na mBan members. By a notable coincidence three of the main men who worked on the building of it had the surnames Earley, Noone and Knight, which greatly added to the tale surrounding this great feat of building a house in the confines of one day.
The Manulla River and a host of smaller lakes make Manulla an interesting destination for the angler. The Manulla River rises in the rich limestone plains of east Mayo and resembles a chalk stream with deep clear pools which hold heavy trout. This river can offer excellent dry fly fishing to the experienced angler, with good trout fishing downstream from Moyhenna Bridge. Some of the smaller loughs on the Manulla river system such as Lakelands, Peenogue Lake and Cuiltybo Lough offer good pike fishing.
Manulla football club was founded in 1976 to promote and develop the game of association football in a small rural area in Central Mayo. Having no official grounds the club played football for a number of years in various fields owned by local people. In 1985 the club purchased over 10 acres of land at Carramore, which they put much time, effort and money into developing. One of their proudest achievements was the official opening of the club house, two playing pitches and spacious car park on Monday, August 3rd, 1992 by the then Republic of Ireland captain, Mick McCarthy.
Built around the 1860’s with the arrival of the railway to the west of Ireland, Manulla Junction was once a bustling and busy station, but it closed down in the 1950’s. Today, the junction is used only as a transfer point, where rail travellers from Foxford and Ballina join the main train from Westport to Dublin.
The Manulla National School held a school reunion in August 2004 and you can download a souvenir brochure on the reunion web page.