BALLYVAUGHAN BAY in the south-eastern
corner of Galway Bay is a popular boating area. Ballyvaughan itself
is almost enclosed by rocky lagoon-type barriers of land and rock:
the Rinn, to the west and a farther, more broken extension from Bishops
Quarter to the east. There are also several small islands such as
Black Island, Gall Island, Green Island and several nameless lumps
of land and rock encompassed by this Ballyvaughan reef. The bay extends
eastwards from Finvarra Point, past Scanlans Island, Muckinish
Island, Muckinish Bay and the Pouldoody oyster beds before turning
south through Poulnaclogh Bay, into Pouldoody Bay and finishing at
one of the oldest in Ireland, is open to the public and is well worth
DRUMCREEHY CHURCH is called after
"Druimcriche" as the original church here was situated on
a hillside in the territory of Crioch Maille. This ancient medieval
parish church is now surrounded by a large graveyard. The Blake-Forster
Monument of 1912 and the small mausoleum of Henry Comerford can be
seen here. It is also the burial ground of the Comyn family, where
Peter Comyn was buried in 1830.
BISHOPS QUARTER once contained a
religious house. The most prominent feature of the landscape in this
area is an attractive little beach backing onto some sandhills and
a sandy pool almost totally enclosed by sand to the rear of the hills.
Seaweed is still harvested here and left to dry out of the tides
reach until collected. The beach is a good place at which to
bathe or collect sea shells. Access is by a surfaced road and there
is a car park close to the shore.
LOUGHRASK, the pond of the fight,
lies between Drumcreehy church and Ballyvaughan. Before meeting his
cousins forces in combat Donogh OBrien and his army arrived
at Loughrask to discover a hideous hag employed in washing the blood
off a pile of limbs and carcasses of dead men. She told Donogh this
was a symbol of his and his followers deaths. He ignored this
omen only to perish with most of his men in the ensuing Battle of
Corcomroe in 1317. This battle decided the chieftaincy of Thomond
and led to the annihilation of de Clare and the expulsion of the English
from the county.
CORKSCREW HILL, the steep and winding
zig-zag roadway up the hill between Ballyvaughan and Lisdoonvarna,
is aptly named. This terraced climb was designed as a famine relief
scheme and has been included in many cycle and motor competitions.
GREGANS CASTLE-HOTEL generally
refers to the nineteenth century L-shaped house at the foot of the
Corkscrew. Once the property of the Martyn family, it now operates
as a hotel.
THE ORIGINAL GREGANS CASTLE,
an L-shaped tower house somewhat similar in outer design to that at
Gleninagh, still stands among the trees, opposite and across the road,
from its more modern namesake. It was the former residence of the
chief of the OLoghlens and his territory was listed in 1580
as the Barony of Gragans (probably meaning mountain bog) rather than
Burren. The Cromwellians dispossessed Owney More OLoghlen in
1654 and under the Act of Settlement in 1677 George Martyn was confirmed
as the new owner. Turlough OLoghlen married Alice Martyn and
this may have led the Martyn family, at a later date, to build their
nearby seventeenth-century strong house as the OLoghlens may
have continued to live in the older tower house. This low squat tower
is almost lost within the trees. The ground floor may have been a
store or stable and it contains a long straight staircase rather than
the more familiar spiral type.
THE VALLEY in which Ballyvaughan
is situated contains many ring forts.
CAHERMORE RING FORT, sometimes Cathair
Mhor, the big fort, still guards the pass down to the Ballyvaughan
valley. The walls are up to nine feet thick and nine feet high and
are built of two faces of large well-fitted blocks. The lintelled
doorway and the remains of the interior buildings appear to be medieval
BALLYALLABAN RING FORT is an earth
fort, simply because earth was the nearest available building material.
This type of building is probably the most common type of ancient
monument in the country. The rampart was built up from the fosse or
moat and may have had a palisade or fence of pointed wooden stakes
to protect the inhabitants from any intruders who managed to cross
the generally flooded fosse. It is marked as "An Rath" in
the Burren maps.
BALLYALLABAN HOUSE is an early nineteenth
century house built to replace a nearby but long vanished seventeenth-century
house. It is also the possible site of an early monastic church. A
gymkhana is held in the grounds each year by the people of the district.