Thursday 27th July 2017. Rain.
An early start. Left Belfast on 3am coach to Dublin Airport. Had to get into Dubliin City to catch the 7am coach (Route 22) to Ballina in County Mayo. My wife, son, daughter in law and their baby were spending a week in nearby Enniscrone and I joined them for two days.
The coach travelled thru west Dublin and towns including Maynooth (County Kildare), Mullingar (County Westmeath), Edgeworthstown and Longford (County Longford), Strokestown, Frenchpark and Ballaghderreen (County Roscommon) and Charlestown, Swinford and Foxford (County Mayo).
Although the journey was long, it was informative for planning future trips this summer. I can certainly visit some of the towns mentioned above.
I arrived in Ballina at 11.15am.
Ballina is 235 kilometres (146 miles) west of Dublin. It has a population of 10,700.
The River Moy flows thru the town and many tourists come for the salmon fishing. It is a common sight to see anglers wading in the river.
The Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Killala is on the quay by the River Moy.
Ballina was a major centre for the western theatre of the 1798 Rebellion. With the United Irishmen already defeated in the northern theatre (Antrim/Down) and the southern theatre (Wexford/Wicklow/Kildare), the French landed near the village of Killala and took Ballina and recruited Irish rebels. They would win a battle at Castlebar but were crushed and massacred at Ballinamuck in County Longford.
The novel “The Year of the French” (Thomas Flanagan) fictionalises the landing of General Humbert.
I tend to believe that the 1798 Rebellion had three distinct characteristics. The northern rising was inspired by Presbyterian Enlightenment, the southern rising was a mix of Enlightenment and peasant revolt, a jacquerie….but the western rising was distinctly Catholic in character. The irony is that Humbert and his troops had previously violently suppressed Catholicism in the Vendée region of France.
The memorial to General Humbert and the 1798 Rebellion was unveiled by Maud Gonne in 1898. The Gaelic Revival….culture, language, sport, literature and nationalism of the late 19th century tapped into the folk memory of the 1798 Rebellion…specifically with ballads and monuments.
I note that the Ballina monument references local rebel leaders including Fr Andrew Conroy.
Having met up with my family in Ballina, I was driven to Enniscrone.