Tample during the 1800s, Charlestown in Co. Mayo

This was once the main town of the area, long before Charlestown was established. The name of the Parish in which Tample and Charlestown are situated is called Kilebeagh. Nearly a thousand people lived there. This town was mainly made up of the families of Kings, Doghertys and Higgins. There was a Church and school in Tample and two Priests, Fr Garvey who lived in Barlagh and Fr O'Donald, who lived where McDonalds of Tample live now.

John Dogherty's house was the centre of the town. This house was the local Public House and the barns on his land were the shops. The road going along by Dogherty's was a private road and along the side there was a Mill. On the other side there was a Forge.

The main Landlords of the area were the Costello's. They lived in almost royalty conditions. All of the family are buried in the family tomb in Tample. Over this grave there is a stone table with all their names carved on it, and the dates of their deaths. In those days, this graveyard was the only one in the area, and bodies were brought from all over to be buried there. There was a very dedicated woman named Mrs King who looked after the graveyard. Each year she cut the grass with a sickle and made hay with it.

Along Tample river there were huge rocks, each one signifying a station of the cross. At the end of these was a big boulder in the shape of a chair. This was where St Attracta used to sit, and each year when the stations of the cross were being said each person would sit on the stone and say a prayer.

The village also became famous for it's yearly Pattern. First the Pattern was held in Hagfield along the road. The Pattern had an annual Mass celebrated at the Well and there were also many sporting events. After some years the local people started to have donkey races in John Doghterty's field. Soon all the events were moved to this field. The Pattern was usually held on the 11th of August each year.

After such humble beginnings the Pattern became one of the big social occasions of the year. Photographers were sent to film the activities of the events, like donkey races, horse races, tug-o-war and bike races. These pictures were shown on the big screen set up in a huge tent. Each night many enthusiastic people turned up to see themselves winning or just taking part in an event.

Still to be seen in Tample are some tunnels. These were used many years ago by the Vikings. They were brilliantly built by stone. The Vikings used the caves to hide all their valuables that they stole from the native Irish and sometimes to hide themselves from the Irish who were afraid to go into them.

Many years ago people came from England to do Ordnance Survey maps of Tample. Some of these maps are still around. The maps were so detailed, that they showed everything from the size of a field to a house. The English map makers would stand on top of Donoghue's hill and mark everything on to paper. They also found out about how many yards above sea level every place was. They used very advanced equipment and many local people wondered what these people were doing. Every few hundred yards they left bench-marks in the shape of a crow's foot. On these were marked the height above sea level.

For about twenty years afterwards people were looking for these bench-marks. They were needed to aid workmen who were widening the Knock road. These people spent many a long day digging up local fields looking for these. At this time St. Attracta's stone chair and the large rocks for the Stations of the Cross were still to be seen, but alas the chair and stones were taken away when the road was widened.

© Cathal Henry 2003

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