The first potatoes were brought from the Americas to Europe in 1573 and Ireland about 1590; by 1780 it was the staple of the Irish diet. The traditional Irish method of planting the potato was in lazy beds. Low trenches were dug at about three foot intervals. The sod and dirt were piled in between the trenches. The beds were enriched with manure, rooted straw and in Achill sea weed. Seed potatoes were usually put into the ground in May and it was important that the ridges were tended to ensure that weeds could not choke the potato plants.
Basking Shark Fishing
Iascaireacht Siorcanna Basking
For almost 40 years a unique fishery operated in Achill waters, where basking sharks were hunted for the oil content of their vast livers. The fishery took place primarily in Keem Bay where the sharks came into the bay to feed on the zooplankton carried in by the currents.
The Coffin Trail
Conair an Chónra
The coffin trail begins from the village of Dookinella, rising along a steep mountain path towards the upper edge of the Minaun Cliffs, along which are several stone funeral mounds known as ‘Leachtaí’.
Fishing & Maritime Trade
Gráinne Mhaol Agus A Caisleán
Fishing and Maritime trade have long been an important part of Achill’s way of life. Each of the seasons of the year brought an importance to various types of fishing activity.
Heinrich Böll and Achill
Heinrich Böll agus Acaill
Heinrich Böll, one of the foremost of Germany’s post World War II writers was born in 1917 into a liberal, Catholic family in Cologne. He was conscripted into the German army in 1939 and was wounded on three occasions before being taken prisoner by the Americans in September 1945. Following his release, he and his wife Annemarie returned to rebuild their lives in the rubble of Cologne. Annemarie, a teacher supported their young family until Böll became established as a writer, his short stories being published with “Group 47”, followed by his first novel, The Train was on Time in 1949.
On Monday, 8th November, 1847, at the height of the Great Famine, a group of fishermen left the village of Keel for the Boatport, situated halfway between Keel and Purteen Harbour. Six currachs with crews comprising nineteen men, were launched. They headed out on the calm seas for the herring grounds. Other crews in Boatport, also intent on the herring grounds, were delayed, mending their damaged nets. Fortunately for them, they never got to launch their currachs that day.
Bealach Glas Stair
The Westport to Achill railway line ran from 1894 to 1937 and was of its time considered to be one of the most scenic railway journeys in Ireland.
Achill & Cleveland
Acla Agus Cleveland
It is hard to imagine how the parish of Achill and the city of Cleveland could be twinned and have such a vibrant connection – but it is correct.
Gráinne Uaile And Kildownet Castle
Gráinne Mhaol Agus A Caisleán
Gráinne Uaile (Grace O’Malley) was born around 1530 and died in approximately 1603, she earned herself a reputation not only as a strong, independent woman but also an astute politician, who interpreted the turbulent changing times of 16th century Ireland and used her contacts to secure her family’s lands, possessions and wealth.
Achill Pipe Bands
Bannaí Píob Acla
Achill is immensely proud of its musical heritage and this pride is manifestly exhibited in the prevalence and endurance of piping and drumming in Achill. This Achill phenomenon dates back to the latter part of the 1800s and the formation of the village fife and drum bands, a 1400s Swiss military tradition brought to Ireland in the late 1700s by the British Military.
Achill’s Deserted Village
Baile Tréigthe Acla
The Achill Deserted Village is broken up into two smaller sections, made up of Tuar & Tuar Riabhach of which there were approximately 80 homes that were deserted and key to this story is the neighbouring village of Faiche to the East made up of 30 homes where the residents were evicted.
The Spanish Armada
Armáid na Spáinne
One of the many points of interest located on the Corraun Penninsula, along the Wild Atlantic Way, in the area known as Taobh Claidí, is the Spanish Armada Viewpoint. The viewpoint offers spectacular views to the south, across Clew Bay, and south-west, across to Clare Island.
The Achill Quarry Lines
During the 1910s the London based Irish Mineral Company operated quarry sites in Achill, one at Cloughmore and the other at Slievemore. The extracted quartz from both sites was transported to the company’s processing plant in Westport by boat, crushed and exported to England for use in the manufacture of pottery.
Kirkintilloch Tragedy 1937
Of the various disasters that have occurred in Scotland over the years, few have left such a haunting legacy as the Kirkintilloch tragedy of 1937. The circumstances of the fatal fire, including the apparent helplessness of the Irish victims, their youthfulness, and the anguish of the young women who witnessed the terrible fate of brothers and other relatives, all gave it special poignancy.
The Achill Mission
In 1833, Canon Edward Nangle established the Achill Mission in Dugort, whose purpose was the spiritual salvation of the local population, through their conversion to the Protestant faith.
Nestled at the butt off the mountain in Keem Bay are the ruins of a house built by Captain Charles Boycott, who came to Achill in 1857. Leasing the townland of Keel West, he was all accounts a tyrannical landlord, fining his tenants for the least breach of contract.
The foundation of Conradh na Gaeilge by Douglas Hyde at the turn of the 20th century echoed the reawakening of an Irish national spirit. Achill played its part in this revival, culminating in the foundation in 1910 of the now famous Scoil Acla. Set up by a group of like-minded people, its purpose was the promotion of Irish culture and the Irish language.