Local archaeologist's new heritage guide will help boost visitor interest in Ballinasloe's hidden past
“Declan Kelly`s latest book brings a welcome grounding and is a work of extraordinary historic significance
With much hope that the route to be chosen for the Athlone to Galway cycleway will favour Ballinasloe and so increase visitor numbers to the district, a new heritage guide is set to be launched at the end of this year which would perfectly complement that outcome.
Created by Creagh native and landscape archaeologist Declan Kelly, the guide is the fruit of more than 10 years of work and includes over 100 points of interest for visitors to the area. Though he has lived in Portumna for almost 10 years now, Declan has retained an abiding interest in his home town.
“Some of my first lessons in history were taken in Creagh cemetery” he says “from reading the inscriptions on the older headstones and then trying to find out what the stories were of the people buried there. Back in the 1980s you had to go to a library and seek out what information there was. Much of this research can now be done online”.
Painstaking research has gone into the stories behind those same memorials in Creagh and among the numerous features the guide highlights is the memorial to the family of William Bermingham Costello (1800-1867) who was a renowned surgeon in his day. One of the other interesting tombs mentioned is that of Thomas Cuffe who died in 1814 and whose hotel was reputedly visited on one occasion by Theobald Wolfe Tone. Declan believes him to have been a son of the famous ‘Sir’ Thomas Cuffe of Kilbeggan. “The annual Knighthood Festival in Kilbeggan is built about Cuffe”, says Declan, “He was an innkeeper who was knighted by Lord Townshend, the Viceroy of Ireland, while Townshend was three sheets in the wind with claret. When Townshend sobered up, he tried to withdraw the honour, but Cuffe protested because he said his wife was delighted at the prospect of being called Lady Mary”.
Filled with numerous photographs, the book is to be launched by Gerry Devlin with a foreword written by Cllr Dr Evelyn Parsons who is an enthusiastic supporter of local heritage. “In an everchanging world of cultural fusion, online influences and social isolation” said Cllr Dr Parsons, “Declan Kelly`s latest book brings a welcome grounding and is a work of extraordinary historic significance”.
‘Rediscovering Ballinasloe’ will be published locally and available in late 2021.
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