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Leitir Fraic
View of Letterfrack and Ballinakill harbour, 2008
View of Letterfrack and Ballinakill harbour, 2008
Letterfrack is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 53°33′N 9°57′W / 53.55°N 9.95°W / 53.55; -9.95Coordinates: 53°33′N 9°57′W / 53.55°N 9.95°W / 53.55; -9.95
Country Ireland
Province Connacht
County County Galway
Elevation 81 m (266 ft)
Irish Grid Reference L697591

Letterfrack or Letterfrac (Irish: Leitir Fraic meaning "The Speckled Hill") is a small village in the Connemara area of County Galway, Ireland. It was founded by Quakers in the mid-19th century. The village is approximately 3 kilometres (2 miles) west of Renvyle and 15 kilometres (9 miles) north-east of Clifden on Barnaderg Bay and lies at the head of Ballinakill harbour. Letterfrack contains the visitors centre for Connemara National Park.


James and Mary Ellis, a Quaker couple from Bradford in England, moved to Letterfrack, during the Great Famine. Ellis became the resident landlord in Letterfrack in 1849.[1] As Quakers, the Ellises wanted to help with the post-famine relief effort. They leased nearly 1,000 acres (405 ha) of rough land and set about farming it and planting it with woodland.[2] They built a schoolhouse, housing for tradesmen, a shop, a dispensary, and a temperance hotel.[3] In 1857 the property was sold to John Hall, a staunch Protestant, and supporter of the Irish Church Mission to Roman Catholics. The ICM used the building with the aim of converting Catholics to Protestantism. After 25 years without much success, Hall sold it in 1882, under the impression he was selling it to a Protestant buyer, for £3000 for 1,000 acres (405 ha).[4]

However, under a false name, the Catholic Archbishop of Tuam, Dr. John McEvilly, bought the former Ellis property in 1882, which at that time was being used by the Protestant Irish Church Missions to Roman Catholics.[5] In 1885, he established St Joseph's Industrial School, Letterfrack[3] which opened in 1887. Letterfrack Industrial School became notorious for neglect and abuse of the children in its charge, and the school closed in 1974.[6][7]

GMIT Campus[edit]

In 1987 the Connemara West began running furniture courses which has become the Furniture College/Campus for the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology.[8]

Marconi Wireless Station[edit]

Letterfrack was selected by Marconi as the location for the transatlantic wireless receiver station for his new duplex transatlantic wireless service. Duplex operation was initially developed by Marconi at Letterfrack and quickly became a standard practice for commercial and military radiotelegraph communication worldwide.

Beginning in 1913, eastbound messages were sent from Marconi Towers, a high power wireless station in Nova Scotia, to Letterfrack; while westbound messages were sent simultaneously from the Clifden high power wireless station to Louisbourg. The Letterfrack station was closed in April 1917 at the direction of the Admiralty, and was never re-opened for commercial traffic. Some experimental work on shortwave and other work, by Marconi engineers Franklin and Witt, was carried out into the early 1920s.


Connemara Community Radio broadcasts from Letterfrack.

See also[edit]


  • Whelan D. (ed.) Founded on Fear; Letterfrack Industrial School, war and exile by Peter Tyrrell. Irish Academic Press 2006. ISBN 978-0-7165-3403-7