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|Elevation||47 m (154 ft)|
|Time zone||WET (UTC+0)|
|• Summer (DST)||IST (WEST) (UTC-1)|
|Irish Grid Reference|
Lahardane (Irish: Leathardán) is a small village in the parish of Addergoole, County Mayo, Ireland, adjacent to Lough Conn and to Nephin, and close to the towns of Crossmolina, Castlebar and Ballina. Population in 2011 was 156 .
Historically, the people of Lahardane and the surrounding area helped the French army under General Humbert during the 1798 uprising when the local priest, Fr Andrew Conroy, led French and Irish forces to Castlebar though the Windy Gap, a passage through the Mountains. The British forces had been expecting the French to go to Foxford first, and were caught off-guard. This led to the Races of Castlebar. After the uprising was put down, Fr Conroy was hanged on the Mall in Castlebar, and buried probably in the old abbey in Addergoole cemetery. A Celtic cross now stands proudly in Lahardane as a memorial to his bravery. The cross was erected in 1937 by Michéal Ó Tiomanaidhe, the famous Gaelic scholar, Irish writer and folklore collector who was born in Cartoon in the parish of Addergoole on 20 September 1853.
Addergoole parish suffered the largest proportionate loss for any locality probably in the world when the RMS Titanic sank in 1912. The Addergoole Fourteen boarded the ship at Queenstown (Cobh). Three survived the disaster. There is a plaque in St Patrick's Church, Lahardane to the memory of the fourteen, as well as a memorial garden filled with sculptures to honour their memory.
Lahardane Fair Day on 15 August
The history of the Lahardane Fair goes back to around the turn of the century, that is 1900, so it is a tradition of perhaps 100 years. It was a traditional Harvest Festival, as was practised in the West of Ireland at the time and it was always held on 15 August, a feast day. It is a religious holiday as well.
At that time, it would be noted for its tradition of hiring of the young folk to various farmers and was often known as the ’Hiring Fair’. This tradition, of course died out when Ireland became independent in 1922 and it became a traditional day for the sale of cattle and sheep. This situation prevailed for the following 70 to 80 years but in the seventies, it fell into disrepute because in the streets, there was very little selling going on of the traditional kind, that is sheep and cattle, because the marts had taken over all this business, and it had degenerated into a pitiful gathering of people trying to maintain an old tradition.
The Lahardane Parents Council, that is the parents of those children attending the National School, decided to revive the Fair Day and make it a worthy occasion, when people could be enticed to visit the village for one day of the year. They agreed to continue the traditional day of 15 August and resisted the temptation to move it to the nearest weekend as most other communities have done with their particular festivals throughout the year. Instead, the Lahardane Fair Day always falls on 15 August, regardless of whichever day that is.
2008 was the 18th year of the revived fair and with each and every passing year, it has proved more and more successful. The number of people attending the village for the day is extraordinary. Essentially, the day is used to raise funds for the Lahardane National School. To date, perhaps, over €60,000 has been raised to help support the school. These particular finances have been well spent, in agreement with the Board of Management and the Parents Council with the recent extension of the school, that is the new roof, the new rooms, extra class room and activities room, plus the provision of an enclosed basketball court and the updating of all the surrounds of the school. Within the school, there has been the provision of more modern furniture, fittings for the school, audio-visual equipment, computers and photocopiers and other such appliances, which are now the norm in a progressive school. Finances have also been provided for school tours and recreational activities for all the pupils. Also, as originally promised by the parents when they started off, money was put forward towards the development of the Lahardane Community Centre and approximately €11,000 was given towards the building this year. Other projects have also been funded by the Lahardane Parents Council, that is the Nephin Climb, which is always held on the first Sunday of August, the week after the Reek climb.
When the Fair Day was inaugurated in 1968, Lahardane was the first community in Ireland to use the idea of a Cow Pat Lottery. People of this community were the first community to come up with this idea and use it as a means of raising funds. It attracted amazing attention at the time and for the following number of years. The idea was a brilliant idea for fund raising through selling tickets and it was a most unusual way of doing things, and it certainly caught the public imagination! However, it has been more than well played out at this stage and the Cow Pat Lottery has been dropped.
On the streets of Lahardane on Fair Day, you still have the idea of a sale of animals, as was the case for the last hundred years. The animals may have changed somewhat, in that it is lambs and sheep for sale in the morning, plus all the other associated animals you find in a farmyard, that is chickens, ducks, geese, the odd turkey, puppies, cats, birds of other descriptions and various farm produce. This is as it should be at a traditional fair day in the West of Ireland, and the Lahardane Parents Council are delighted to have revived this tradition and maintain what has been a fashion for the Lahardane Fair Day for over 100 years.
The Lahardane Fair has also been associated with the revival of an old tradition - the Donkey Fair. The Donkey Fair is always held on the Sunday before 15 August, and is now in its third year. It is designed to promote the idea of bringing back the donkey to the street for one day of the year, and it involves the show of donkeys, that is mares, foals, jack donkeys, mules, jennets and in particular a display of donkey carts. The idea of getting the donkey cart back again is because this particular item is practically gone off the face of the earth, so an idea was put forward that they should be brought back and put on display on one day, and that children might get the once-in-a-lifetime chance of a trip in a donkey cart. It is a wondrous sight to see several carts going around a circuit in the field at Lahardane Fair. Hopefully, in time to come, this particular item will gain in popularity, and make Lahardane, perhaps the donkey capital of the country.
Lahardane in fiction
Lahardane is the name of the house in the 2002 novel, The Story of Lucy Gault, by William Trevor. The novel is set on the south coast of Ireland and, other than the name, there is no connection with the Mayo village.
- Census 2011 'Population Classified by Area' Table 5 ,p49
- Gribayedoff, Valerian (1890). The French Invasion of Ireland '98. Chapter 5.
- "1978 Monument Lahardane Co.Mayo". Buildings of Ireland. National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.