Turlough in Co. Mayo
The name Turlough comes from the Gaelic 'tur loch', meaning 'dry lake'. Turlough village, in County Mayo, derives its name from the lake below the village (now in the grounds of the Museum of Country Life), which used to dry up for part of the year - in other words a seasonal lake.
Located just off the N5 road, 6km north east of Castlebar, Turlough is one of the ancient places associated with St Patrick. In 441, St Patrick's Church was built here but the Cromwellians destroyed it in 1654. The ruins of the old church, with its interesting stone sculpture, are still to be seen in Turlough.
The village has other historical links going back as far as the days of George Robert Fitzgerald, better known as 'Fighting Fitzgerald'. George was renowned for his equestrian skills and he had some of the finest horses competing in the races in the Towerfield, adjacent to the Round Tower. The racecourse was considered to be one of the finest west of the Shannon. Eventually it was taken over by the Land Commission and subsequent races were held on Vinegar Hill on the south side of the river.
The Museum of Country Life
The Museum of Country Life (part of the National Museum of Ireland) is located in Turlough's 'big house', former home to the Fitzgerald Family. The Museum incorporates the estates original house, which is in the High Victorian Gothic style and has been fully restored. There is a purpose-built Exhibition Gallery, which houses the National Folklife Collection, representative of traditional life in Ireland during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Féile Na Tuaithe - a free family event - is held annually here in May, as well as many other interesting and informative exhibitions, demonstrations and celebrations.
Turlough is rich in history and the surrounding countryside is dotted with standing stones, a holy well, fulachtaí fia and cillíní. The Turlough 9th century Round Tower is one of the most complete and best-preserved round towers in Ireland.