Cnoc an Chrocaire
|• Total||1 km2 (0.4 sq mi)|
|Elevation||82 m (269 ft)|
|• Density||160/km2 (410/sq mi)|
|Time zone||WET (UTC+0)|
|• Summer (DST)||IST (WEST) (UTC-1)|
|Irish Grid Reference||M934574|
Knockcroghery (Irish: Cnoc an Chrocaire) is a village in County Roscommon, Ireland. It is located between Athlone and Roscommon town, near Lough Ree on the River Shannon. It is one of the closest populations centres to the geographical centre of Ireland.
The village nestles at the foot of a stony ridge, which protects it from the east wind that sweeps in from Galey Bay. This accounts for the original name of the village, "Creggan" (Irish: Creagán, meaning "Stony Hill"). In Cromwellian times (17th century), Sir Charles Coote laid siege to Galey Castle; the garrison (O’ Kelly / Ó Ceallaigh chief and clan) resisted and for their defiance were taken to Creggan and hanged on the stepped hill just north of the village, now commonly known as Hangman's Hill. To mark this, the name of the village was changed to ‘Cnoc na Crocaire,’ the Hill of the Hangings, now Anglicised as ‘Knockcroghery’.
The Burning of Knockcroghery
In the early hours of 19 June 1921, the Black and Tans set Knockcroghery village alight. It was an act of vengeance for the killing of a British general in Glassan two days previously by the Westmeath Volunteers. British intelligence agents mistakenly believed that the killers had come from Knockcroghery. The Black and Tans arrived in four lorries and parked at St. Patrick's Church. Reportedly drunk, they fired shots into the air and ordered the people out of their homes. They easily set fire to the thatched roofs of the cottages, using petrol. They were less successful in setting Murray's, Flanagan's and the priest's houses alight, due to their slated roofs. Having no time to take their possessions with them, the people rushed from their houses onto the street, still in their nightshirts. Unable to set Murray's roof alight, the Black and Tans set fire to the back door. John Murray reacted quickly to put the fire out, saving the house. The occupants of the thatched houses did not have this opportunity, and their houses burned to the ground very quickly. Michael O' Callaghan described the scene: "the raiding forces drove up and down the village, firing shots at random, cursing loudly, and laughing at the plight of the people of Knockcroghery. The people were terrified, particularly the children, whose cries of fear added to the terrible scene." The flames above Knockcroghery alerted the people for miles around to what had happened, and by daylight, the street was full of people. Jamesie Murray remembered the assistance given to the now homeless people of Knockcroghery: "They came from all over to help. People brought clothes, and a fund was soon set up. The families who were now homeless were accommodated in the vicinity, many staying with relatives who lived nearby. Farm sheds were converted into temporary dwellings. Later, three or four new cottages were built on the Shrah road and given to bachelors, who then took people in." The village was rebuilt over the next few years, with help from government grants. The rebuilding provided employment locally, at a time when it was needed.
For over 250 years the village was famous for the production of the tobacco clay pipe, or "Dúidín". By the late 1800s there were up to 100 people involved in the manufacture and distribution of the village’s clay pipes. Production ceased abruptly on 19 June 1921 when the village was burned down by the Black and Tans during the Irish War of Independence. Today, a visitor centre and workshop are located on the original site of Andrew and P.J. Curley’s pipe factory, where pipes are handcrafted using the original methods of production. The clay-pipe visitors centre is located in the middle of the village and sells clay-pipes and other hand-crafted souvenirs.
Places of interest
- Nearby at Gailey Bay on the shore of Lough Ree, stands Gailey Castle, built in the 14th century. Out in the lake is the island of Inishcleraun named after a sister of Queen Maeve, Clothra. Queen Maeve is said to have been killed here by an enemy while she was bathing.
- Portrun is the local lakeside resort, and is popular with tourists and locals alike in the Summer months.
- Also in the area stands Scregg House, seat of the Kelly family. On the grounds of the house are some excellent examples of Sheela na Gigs. The building itself is an example of a 3-storey 5-bay mid-18th-century country house.
- Culleen Hall is located 1 km south of Knockcroghery, and is used as a venue for concerts and local events, as well as a local pre-school.
- Hangman's Hill, the site of the hangings of the O'Kelly clan in the 16th century, is located at the northern end of the village, opposite the Post Office.
- Beside the Post Office at the northern end of the village is a picnic area on the bank of a stream.
- St. Patrick's Catholic Church was built circa. 1870, and is an example of late nineteenth-century ecclesiastical design. It features a two-stage bell tower with pinnacles and a more recently added copper spire.
- Most of the architecture of the village centre dates from the 1920s, when the village was rebuilt after the burning by the Black and Tans. Some buildings, such as the church, the community centre, the parochial house, Murray's and the Widow Pat's, predate this however.
Knockcroghery is known by many as the home of Roscommon's famous All-Ireland winning captain Jimmy Murray (5 May 1917 - 23 January 2007). He captained Roscommon to their only two All-Ireland Senior Football title wins in 1943 and 1944. He was also captain in their 1946 final and replay against Kerry. As the 1943 final also went to a replay, he is the only man to have captained a team in five All-Ireland senior football finals. His public house is a well-known landmark and revered by lovers of Gaelic football from all parts of Ireland.
Events & popular culture
- The Knockcroghery Fair is a festival held annually, generally on the third weekend in September, which attracts people from all over Ireland.
- Peadar Kearney, writer of The Soldier's Song (Amhrán na bhFiann), also penned the song "Knockcroghery", when he was challenged to find a word to rhyme with the village's name. His success in rhyming "Molly Doherty" with "Knockcroghery" is open to debate.
- Knockcroghery railway station opened on 13 February 1860 and finally closed on 17 June 1963.
- Roscommon railway station is located 10 km from Knockcroghery village and is on the Westport-Dublin line, also serving indirect routes to Ballina, Galway and Ennis.
- Knockcroghery is served by Bus Éireann's Route 21 (Westport-Athlone), with indirect routes to Galway, Dublin and other towns.
- Knockcroghery is situated on the main N61 road between Athlone and Roscommon towns, and near the M6 Galway-Dublin motorway.
- "Knockcroghery Village Design Statement 2008" (PDF). p. 3.
- Cronin, Denis A; Gilligan, Jim (2001). Karina Holton, ed. Irish fairs and markets: studies in local history. Four Courts Press. p. 104. ISBN 978-1-85182-525-7. Retrieved 2010-06-26.
- Healy, P., God Save All Here (1999) at p.21.
- O' Callaghan, M., For Ireland and Freedom.
- Healy, P. God Save All Here (1999) at p.21.
- Ballagh Montessori Pre-School
- St Patrick's Church Building
- "Knockcroghery". National Library of Ireland. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
- "Knockcroghery station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Retrieved 2007-10-28.
- Sheela na Gigs at Scregg
- Clay Pipe Visitors Centre
- Galey Bay Caravan & Camping Park, Knockcroghery.
- Roscommon.ie - Online Resource for Visitors and Locals alike.
- St. Dominics GAA club - Local Gaelic Athletic Association club.
- Discover Ireland - For Tourists.