The Rugged Beauty of Glenree, Bonniconlon in Co. Mayo

This sub division of Carranaglough town land is located north - east of Bonniconlon village and gets its name from the river that flows through it to join the Brusna River that flows into the Moy.

The area had its own school - Carranaglough - from 1886 to 1968. The area has come to the attention of a number of travel writers including Donall Faughnan of the Irish Tourist Association during the survey of 1944 in the parish. He has left a clear pen picture of the area. The Reverend James Greer also included a chapter in his book 'The Windings of the Moy' called Glenree Amid Mountains.

Let us now turn to some of the natural features of the area; Faughnan refers to the Glenree River as a rocky - bedded stream that flows into the Brusna River. Another feature on the river that he refers to there is the scalps - he wrote that they rise 200 feet over the river and they give a good view of The Windy Gap. Another feature on the scalp and the river is the pool or Poll na h - eascann - the pool of the eels in English. This was also a popular place for swimming and Faughnan observed that the people from the area swam there and Rev James Greer had to hold up his tour of the area so that some of the tourists could go for a swim in the pool.

The Windy Gap is two miles away from this spot and the slopes of the Ox Mountains rise to over 1,000 feet above the purple and brown slopes of the hills of the Gap. He then goes on to name the lakes or lakelets as he terms them, Lough Faussagh and Lough Illeu and Oull. From this height it is possible to see as far as the ocean at Enniscrone and over to Lough Conn and the Nephin Range. All this is well described in the Irish Tourist Association’s Survey for Kilgarvan 1944.

The author describes the route at this point as "The winding ribbon of road through the Gap".

As Glenree is the upper part of Carranaglough townland, the population changes and the changes in the household numbers do not all refer to that area. Today Glenree is a sparsely populated area. One of its best known inhabitants from former times was John Tommy Moran, a poet who was a farmer and also worked as a builder. He composed a poem about the valley of Glenree that Reverend Greer, who met him on his travels, included in his book. He was also a regular contributor to The Western People and to Ireland’s Own.

The population in 1841 was 471 and there were 84 households - this figure would rise and fall for the next 30 years and was 438 in 1871 with 74 houses. In 1881 there were 457 persons with 81 houses and in 1911 346 persons lived in 76 houses but these figures related to Upper and Lower Carranaglough.

A journey up along the valley of the Glenree River either from The Windy Gap or from the Cross on the Bonniconlon to Enniscrone road is well worth while as is a stop along the way to view the Scalp with its slopes, trees and pool. It is no wonder it has attracted the attention of writers over the years.

© James Reddiough

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