Tourmakeady in Co. Mayo
Tourmakeady is a beautiful Gaelic speaking rural community in the heart of Mayo, with a population of approx 1,000 people. Tourmakeady, (Tuar Mhic Éadaigh), means the Bleach Field of MacCeadaigh (Keady).
Historically, there was a tradition of growing flax in Tourmakeady and the Bleach Field was an area where the flax was laid out in the sun, bleached and dyed prior to spinning.
Parts of Tourmakeady were originally in the neighbouring county of Galway, but came under the administration of County Mayo in 1898.
Tourmakeady is a stretch of land that would almost resembles an Island. On its east side is Lough Mask, Lough Na Fuaithe to the south, the beautiful Partry Mountains to the west and Anach Mor Bog to the north. Tourmakeady was the birthplace of the renowned Irish actor, Mick Lally.
This community is part of three parishes, Finney to the south, Partry in the centre and Carnacon to the north. Tourmakeady is blessed with two Catholic churches, one in Tourmakeady which was built in 1833 and the other in Finney, built in 1836.
The most breathtaking scenery can be discovered in the walks through the heart of Tourmakeady forestry, and one feature so often seen in wedding albums and magazines is that of the beautiful and much renowned waterfall.
Check out the Tourmakeady Loop Walk here.
Tourmakeady is famous for its sweaters and knitwear, available in many of the world's best known fashion stores. In the early 1900's the Archbishop of Tuam gave a house in Tourmakeady to The Gaelic League to use as an Irish Summer College.
This college flourished up to 1950 and scholars came from all over Ireland and from many European Universities to learn Irish.
In 1950 Gaeltarra Éireann, (a state sponsored body), took over the College and started a knitwear industry which had a major impact on employment and prosperity in Tourmakeady.
More recently Gaeltarra Knitwear has become a private company and have built a new modern factory, with their garments still much sought after among the world famous fashion houses.
Local employment is also provided by the Killateeaun Perfume factory and Fior Uisce natural rock filtered water.
Colaiste Mhuire is an all Irish speaking secondary school for boys and girls, which was originally run by the Sisters of Mercy, but in 1990 due to a drop in vocations the school was taken over by the community.
It is still in operation today and has an excellent tradition of learning with very high academic standards and results for its students.
The English actor Robert Shaw, best known for his work in 'Jaws', 'The Sting', 'A Man for All Seasons' and 'From Russia with Love', lived for seven years in Tourmakeady, until his death in 1978.
In 2008, a stone memorial was erected in his honour. The memorial, overlooking Lough Mask, bears an inscription to the actor whose love for his adopted Gaeltacht village was evident to all.