I came across a road the other day that extends up from Abbeyknockmoy in the Monivea direction for about half a mile. At the far end there is a stone that says 'heritage award winner' or something similar. I can't find any record of it anywhere on the internet.
The road is a narrow little affair with grass down the middle and high hedges on each side. Such roads are referred to as 'boreens' around these here parts. They are a step up from pure cart tracks, but are unlikley to feature on any useful roadmap. Quite what makes this particular road different to any of a host of others ? I simply have no idea.
Still want to find it ? Coming from Galway : go along the N62 Roscommon road to the crossroads before the low railway bridge at Ballyglunin. Turn right, then first left over the railway. Clegg road begin about half a mile further on at another crossroads - turning left. enjoy.
Kelly's bar in Mountbellow retains the name of Captain Thomas Kelly who was born here. To say that he led an eventful life is something of an understatement. He rose in the ranks on the US army - hence the title. He was also involved in what the plaque on the outside wall of the pub rather euphemistically calls the 'organisation' - namely military resistence to British rule in Ireland.
He was arrested in 1867 in Manchester, UK. This brought great delight to Disreali, the British Prime Minister. He certainly feel as delighted when a group of about 30 men managed to spring them ('rescued' as the plaque puts it) from a prison van that was surrounded under a railway bridge near Manchester. The men could not break into the van, but as the Policeman inside with Kelly and another prisoner peered through the keyhole to see what the commotion was - he promptly has his brains blown out. Kelly than managed to unlock the van from the inside and escape. He lived on until the early part to the 20th century. Several of the 'rescuers' were arrested and subsequently executed. They became known as the 'Manchester martyrs'.
This beautiful thoroughbred won the Aintree English Grand National in 1999, the first Irish winner for over 20 years.
There is a statue of him in the village centre of Mountbellow, Co Galway. Only a few miles a way on a quiet country road lies his grave, with an impressive memorial stone to go with it. Only in Ireland would a horse have more spent on him in death than a man (with the possible exception of Wellington - see Phoenix park in Dublin).
Directions would be useless, but ask in Mountbellow, and keep asking - you will find it eventually.
The nearby village of Moylough has little to detain one passing through (hey! can I get a job with Fodors ?) , although there is a very fine life-size bronzed statue of Enda Colleran.
You could be forgiven (unless you live around here) for not recognising the name. Once you realise that he played Gaelic football (GAA) rather than soccer / football then it makes more sense. Round these parts GAA is a kind of religion. Well, actually it is far more important than that. That must make Enda the local prophet.
There is something about this place that I just can't put into words. The 'bog' is an area of peat bog approached on a tiny boreen (irish word for very minor road). I spent one very happy day there in late september loading dozens of sacks of cut turf ready for winter fuel.
The bog is divided into a good number of different plots. In the old days it was dug by hand, but these days you can pay someone to excavate down and let the machine spew out rows of brick shaped pieces of turf. Despite this mechanisation, they still need to be piled up in little pyramids to allow the turf to dry, before you can finally load it up.
The bog 'grows' at about half an inch a century, so looking down the banks of turf that have been cut allows you to look back over thousands and thousands of years.
Such turf has unique preserving qualities. Bodies, bones and bog oak are the most common, but you can also find furkins of butter. I'm not making this up - apparantly you could bury a barrel of the stuff for months at a time and it wouldn't go rancid. I still don't believe that one - but I have it on very good authority !
The gorse, the early autumn sunshine, and the solitude all made the soul feel a bit better - that and a honest day's manual work.
The bog road can be found off the road from abbey to tuam to the left - very much off the beaten track.
There is a long and complex history to the game of handball. It seems it originally developed in Ireland using one wall, but later had other walls added to form the three and four wall version whilst at some point the English Public schools also developed 'fives'.
It terms of playing the game it looks very similar to Squash, but is played with a bloody hard ball and a thin glove.
Outside handball courts can be found in most villages in this area of the country, and Abbey's can be hound on the main road opposite the church and next to the school.