Newtowncashel

View of Lough Ree from Saints Island, Newtowncashel.

Location
Newtowncashel is located in South County Longford, near the shores of Lough Ree, one of the largest lakes on the River Shannon.

Name
The name Newtowncashel is derived from the Irish ‘Cor na Dumhca’ which translates as ‘Round Hill of the Cauldron’.

History & Info
This Tidy Towns National Award winning village has many special features most notably the well maintained stone walls, but also several fine outdoor sculptures by local bog wood sculptor Michael Casey and his son Kevin. The Caseys unique artist studios and shop are located at nearby Barley Harbour, a fine cut-stone harbour, offering safe mooring for boats along the lakeshore.  The harbour provides a wonderfully peaceful setting for viewing Lough Ree and its islands as well as being a picnic area used by locals with their families during the summer months for boating and swimming.

Two of the most important historical sites in the county are located on Lough Ree in the area of Newtowncashel, Inis Clothrann or Quakers Island where St Diarmuid founded an abbey in the year 540 AD and Saints’ Island where St Kevin founded a monastery in 544 AD. ‘Inis Clothran’ was named after Clothra, the sister of Queen Maeve, who is reputed to have owned and lived on the Island. It is on the shores of this Inis Clothran that Queen Maeve apparently loved to bathe and also on this Island that she met her death at the hand of her nephew Furbaide Ferbende in revenge for the murder of his mother. He is reputed to have used a slingshot to fire a lump of cheese at her from Elfeet Castle, one of five castles once recorded in the parish of Cashel – Elfeet, Caltramore, Corool, Portanure and the castle of Baile Nui ( Newtown). The ruins of Elfeet Castle can still be seen today. There are also still some remains to be seen of Corool and Portanure Castles. The landmarks ‘Grianan Meidhbhe’ and ‘Innod Marfe Meidhbhe’ mark those famous spots where Maeve bathe and died. In later years, c540 AD, St Diarmuid founded a monastery on this island and the well preserved ruins are to be seen in the area known as ‘The Moat’. On Saint’s Island can been seen the ruins of an Augustinian Monastery that survived up to the time of the suppression of the monasteries in the reign of Henry the VIII. Its most famous son was Augustine McGradion who compiled the Annals of All Saints here in the 15th century. This historic island can now be approached by a causeway from the mainland. Other Islands on Lough Ree which are part of the parish of Cashel are the Black Islands, Clawinch, and Priests’ Island.

Things to See & Do
There are several great wooded areas around the village of Newtowncashel which are wonderful places for amblers and walkers to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of rural Longford. These include Culnagore Wood, Lough Slawn and Meadows, Carrowmore Wood and Cashel Commons. There is also plenty of opportunity in the area for those who love angling and the beautiful shores of Saints Island provides a perfect spot for a picnic or passing some time enjoying wonderful views of Lough Ree. Barley harbour is another excellent spot for picnicking, swimming or boating and the studios of famous sculptor Michael Casey and his son Kevin can be visited en route. Viewing these artists at work is truly a joy and an experience to be rivalled.

Heritage sites of interest in the area include Lady Well and Mass Rock which is still visited by some people between the two Lady Days of the 15th August and on the 8th September. No one knows how far back the pilgrimage to Our Lady’s Well goes but up to 1887 the 9th of September was a Holy Day of obligation in the parish of Cashel and a famous Pattern Day was frequented by people from near and far. During the dark days of the Penal Times, the people of Cashel had neither church nor chapel, but were compelled to assemble for worship under the broad dome of heaven. It is no accident that one of the Mass rocks is situated very close to Lady Well, where it can still be seen in Derrydarragh. At the other end of the parish, in Derryhaun, there is another Mass Rock close to the edge of the bog.

For more information on the heritage sites of Newtowncashel visit the Explore Longford App available to download here:

 

 

County Longford Tourism Office Market Square, Longford, Ireland    Phone: +353 (0)43 33 42577 +353 (0)85 8888876    Email: info@longfordtourism.ie