Eskeromullacaun (Esker)

Eskeromullacaun (Leagan Gaeilge – Eiscir Uí Mhaolacháín): The townland of Eskeromullacaun is situated about two kilometres west of Glenamaddy Town in north-east County Galway. The townland is better known as Esker.  Other forms of the name are Eiscir O’Mhaolacáin and Eskeromeelaghan. O’Donovan in his Field Name Books translates the townland name as “O’Mullagan’s esker or ridge”. The Irish for esker is ‘eiscir’ and ‘omullacaun’ is the anglicised form of the Irish surname ‘Ó Maolacháin’ which means the son, or, descendant of an individual whose surname was Mulligan. The name is derived from the range of sand hills called Eskers which run from north to south bisecting the townland. The greater part of the townland lies north of the Glenamaddy to Tuam road with a small portion to the south.

Distinctive Features:

  • An Enclosure, a Monumental Structure (Cloch an Bhreithiúnais) and a Children’s Burial Ground are registered with the National Monuments Service and feature in the National Monuments Service Archaeological Survey Database.
  • Two other monuments, a Penal Mass Station called Gleann an Aifrinn and Sceach na gCloigeann where a priest found guilty of celebrating Mass and members of his flock are reputed to have been hanged are not registered with the National Monuments Service. The location of the tree which has not survived is known locally.
  • The Esker hills constitute a prominent physical feature which dominate the landscape.
  • A river flows westward in the northern portion of the townland and a turlough appears in winter in the most southerly point adjacent to the Glenamaddy to Tuam Road
  • A small lough called Pollagarraun is a permanent fixture in the centre of the townland as is a portion of Loughnashask in the south west.
  • The 1840 Historic Ordnance Survey Map shows three distinct clusters of houses fitting the definition of clachans on either side of the Esker hills. Old Town (Sean Bhaile) situated west of the hills contained twenty three houses in two separate but adjacent groupings while Newtown (Baile Nua) to the east comprised fifteen houses.     

1656-58 Down Survey: There is no information available for the townland of Eskeromullacaun in this survey.

1823 – 1838 Tithe Applotment Books: Surviving documentation of the Tithe Applotment Books is in poor condition making it difficult, and in some cases impossible, to decipher the names of landholders. In so far as it can be ascertained the following Catholic landholders in the townland of Eskeromullacaun paid the tithe (tax) levied to support the Established Church (Church of Ireland). Geraghty (2), Mannion, Canniff, Cunny (2), Cuniff. Protestant occupiers of agricultural holdings were exempt from this tax.

1838 O’Donovan’s Field Name Books: O’Donovan’s townland describes the townland as follows – “About 3/4 of this townland is bog interspersed through various parts of the townland. There are two small Loughs namely Esker Lough 51/2 chains N. of the T. boundary and Wind Hill Lough nearly in the centre of the townland in a bog. There are two villages called Old Town and Newtown. Esker Poulegarane is at the South end of Oldham [Unable to read.]. Esker village a portion of Lough na Shask which is on the N. boundary belongs to the townland. There is also a Turlough. A road crosses the [Unable to read.]. The remainder of the land is tillage and pasture. Eskeromullacaun is situated at the South boundary of this parish joining the parishes of Clonbern and Kilkerrin the former in the Barony of Ballymoe and the latter in the Barony of Tiaquin”.

1856 Griffith’s Valuation: The townland covers an area of 864 acres 3 roods and 20 perches and the total rateable valuation of the land and buildings combined amounted to £135 15s 0d. At the time of Griffith’s Valuation there were twenty three occupiers in Eskeromullacaun  –  Corneely, Mannion, McDonnell (Landlord), Burke, Cunniff (3), Donnellan (2), Giblin, Gannon (2), Connors, Keavany (2), Haverty, Geraghty (3), Comer, Hussey and Coghlan. The landlord was Martin McDonnell.

Adjoining Townlands: The following townlands share a border with Eskeromullacaun – Boyounagh More (Middletown), Cashel, Patch,(Clonberne Parish), Bushtown,  Clooncon West, Loughpark and Shannagh More (Parkroe – Kilkerrin Parish).

Water Features:

Whereas much of the townland has been reclaimed from cut-away bog and converted into productive grassland in the 20th century, there is still a portion of good quality bogland on the northern perimeter of the townland which keeps the home fires burning throughout the winter months. A number of Loughs appear on the Griffith Valuation Ordnance Survey map of Eskeromullacaun – Pollagarraun, so called after a gelding (gearrán) is reputed to have drowned there in olden times, retains water throughout the year. An overflow pipe was installed in recent years to take surplus water from the lough to a small river that disappears underground a stone’s throw from the townland boundary in a swallow-hole located in Boyounagh More (Middletown).

Esker Lough no longer exists. It was drained in the early part of the 20th century when the owner of the land in which the lough was situated, excavated a hole on its verge causing the water to soak into the depression. As the water receded great numbers of fish and eels could be seen wriggling in the thick black mud which had sealed the bottom of the lough. Windhill Lough which was located on the eastern side of the Esker hills no longer exists. Pollnashask is partly in Eskerromullacaun. It is called Loughnashask by O’Donovan in the 1834 Field Name Books and translated as Sedge Lough. It is located on the south side of the Dunmore Road. It retains water all year round and traditionally was a haven for otters and a safe nesting place for swans.  When the water table rises in winter it merges with Cashel turlough (Turlough Boyounagh) from whence it flows via a subterranean passage to Gilmore’s mill in Leitra.The mill depended on a good flow of water to turn the mill wheel and could only operate at optimum efficiency when the water reached a certain level in Glenamaddy Turlough and Cashel Lake.

A small river which has its primary source in Loughpark meanders through the northern part of Esker before disappearing into the aforementioned swallow-hole in Middletown.

In the latter half of the 19th century Martin McDonnell, local Landlord, had the bright idea that he could divert the water from this river, before it reached the swallow-hole, to the Yellow River in Boyounagh with a view to increasing the flow of water that operated the mills he constructed at Boyounagh Bridge.Having excavated a trench thirty metres long he discovered that the water soaked into the ground, forcing him to abandon the project. The outline of the abandoned trench can still be observed in the landscape adjacent to the small river which maintained its traditional course. 

Census Records:  Population and Household data for the townland of Eskeromullacaun: 

Census Years 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 2011
Population 166 139 151 169 170 142 132 132 41
Households 30 19 24 28 28 29 27 26 13

Glenamaddy and the Irish Folklore Collections:

The article posted on this website under the ‘Heritage > Folklore’ tab provides an overview of the folklore material submitted by Glenamaddy parishioners to the National Folklore Commission, now known as the Irish Folklore Collections. It also explains the background to the 1937 Schools’ Collection (Bailiúchán na Scol) project which has good representation from a parish perspective

The Irish Folklore Collections housed in the Folklore Department of University College Dublin contain a treasure trove of folklore material, some of which is accessible online. Both the Main Manuscript Collection and the Schools’ Collection contain a considerable number of submissions from collectors and informants who resided in the parish of Glenamaddy. The quick reference directories featured in the ‘Parish > Townlands’ section of this website complement the user-friendly search features of the dú website and are helpful in tracking Schools’ Collection submissions associated with townlands. Submissions are categorised under – School, Teacher, Language, Volume Number, Page Number, Collector, Collector’s Townland, Informant and Informant’s Townland. Where applicable, Schools’ Collection directories showing online townland-related submissions appear at the end of the following townland posts on this website – Ballinapeaka, Ballinastack, Barna, Boyounagh More (Middletown), Bushtwon, Cashel, Classaghroe, Cloonacross, Clooncon East, Clooncon West, Cloonkeen, Cultiafadda, Eskeromullacaun (Esker), Felimspark, Glenamaddy, Gortaganny, Gortnagier, Kiltullagh, Knockauns, Lisheenaheltia, Loughpark, Meelick, Scotland, Shannagh More, Stonetown and Woodfield.

Schools’ Collection Townland-Related Quick Reference Directory:

Parish folklore submissions contained in the Schools’ Collection are also accessible online via the following links:-

Árd Aoibhinn National School – Part 1 –

Árd Aoibhinn National School – Part 2 

Glenamaddy Girls’ National School

Glenamaddy Boys’ National School – Part 1

Glenamaddy Boys’ National School – Part 2 

Gort na Léime National School – Part 1   

Gort na Léime National School – Part 2 

Lisheenaheltia Girls’ National School 

Lisheenaheltia Boys’ National School    

Glenamaddy submissions which form part of the Main Manuscript Collection are not posted online but may be examined in the reading room of the Folklore Department in U.C.D., Belfield, Dublin 4. Typed versions of some of the parish contributions contained in the Main Manuscript Collection are published under the ‘Heritage > Folklore’ tab on this website.   

Quick Reference Directory of Glenamaddy folklore submissions in the Main Manuscript Collection:-

Author: Pat Keaveny

For related townland website posts click on the following links: 

Esker Penal Law Monuments 

Esker Children’s Burial Ground 

The Big Roundup 


Fair Day


Townlands in County Galway

1840 Historic Ordnance Survey Map

Place Name Books of Galway

The Down Survey of Ireland

The Tithe Applotment Books, 1823-1837

Griffith Valuation – Ask About Ireland

Central Statistics Office

National Archives: Census Reports 1901/1911

Essex University: Historic Population Census Reports

Historic Environment Viewfinder

Absorbing Ireland. John Malachy Raftery (Ed.)