Lisheenaheltia (Lisheen) 2

Lisheenaheltia (Leagan Gaeilge – Lisín na hEilte): Lisheenaheltia is situated five kilometres west of  the town of Glenamaddy in north-east County Galway. Lisheenaheltia incorporates Ballynagrally (Leagan Gaeilge – Baile na Greallaighe – baile meaning town and greallach meaning a bare, moist, trampled place, or a draught-horse) and Anure which translates as The Ford of the Yew Tree. (Leagan Gaeilge – Áth an Iúir – áth is the Irish for ford and iúr is the Irish for a Yew tree). Other forms of the townland name are Lisheen, Lisennaheltia, Lisheenahelta, Lissanahellkey and Lysseneheltha. The name translates as the little fort of the doe –  Lisín means ‘little fort’ and ‘eilit’ is the Irish for ‘doe’.

Distinctive Features:

  • Lisherenaheltia is the second largest townland in old parish of Glenamaddy.
  • Two Enclosures, three Ringforts, a Holy Well and two Quarries situated in the townland are registered with the National Monuments Service and feature in the National Monuments Service Archaeological Survey Database.
  • A Penal Mass Station called Log an Aifrinn is not registered with the National Monuments Service and is not mapped.
  • The Sinking River flows westward in the south of Lisheenaheltia where it joins the Yellow River which flows south along the boundary with Woodfield.
  • The last native Irish speakers in the parish of Boyounagh Glenamaddy resided in Lisheenaheltia which was designated a Breac-Ghaeltacht. There was a vibrant ‘Scoil Éigse’ in the townland whose President was Robert Canny. In the early 1970s they won Drámaíocht na Gaeilge competitions in Taibhdearc na Gaillimhe and the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. In 1930 Labhrás Ó Ciaráin (Larry Comer) from Lisheenaheltia, a distinguished Irish speaker and storyteller, was recorded in University College, Galway, by Karl Tempel as part of the Doegen Project under the auspices of the Royal Irish Academy. Labhrás also wrote a weekly column for the Connacht Tribune. 
  • Lisheenaheltia Golden Mile Walk, starting at Boyounagh Bridge and ending in the centre at of the townland at Log an Aifrinn where Mass was secretly celebrated during the Penal Days, won the Galway Golden Mile competition in 2015.
  • The 1840 Historic Ordnance Survey Map shows two distinct clusters of houses fitting the defintion of clachans in the centre of the townland. One cluster called Lisheenaheltia consisted approximately sixty houses and the other called Ballynagrallagh comprised about twenty five dwellings.
  • Lisheenaheltia in olden times was home to a great variety of tradesmen such as blacksmiths, weavers, thatchers, carpenters, stone masons and cartwrights.
  • Declan Ganley, entrepreneur, businessman, political activist and social affairs commentator, was raised on the family farm in Lisheenaheltia.

1656-58 Down Survey: The owner of ‘Lissanahellkey’ townland at the time of the Down Survey is listed as the Protestant Archbishop of Tuam. The Protestant Archbishop had been granted vast tracts of land across numerous townlands, primarily in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon. John Parker, a Royalist imprisoned by the Cromwellian authorities, was appointed Protestant Archbishop of Tuam following the restoration and went on to become Primate of Ireland. He was succeeded some years layer by John Vesey.

1834 Tithe Applotment Books: Surveying documentation on 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 landholders in Lisheenaheiltia paid the tithe (tax) levied to support the Established Church (Church of Ireland) – Mannion, Ward, Collins, Bradon, Connelly, Brennan, and other unidentifiable occupiers. Protestant occupiers of agricultural holdings were exempt from this tax. 

1838 O’Donovan’s Field Name Books: O’Donovan describes the townland as follows – “There is a portion of bog in the South portion and along the West boundary of this townland. There are small portions of plantations in the N. portion. There are two villages not named. Centre of river forms a part of the S. boundary after which it crosses the South corner of the townland. The remainder of the land is tillage and pasture.”

1856 Griffith’s Valuation: The townland covers an area of 1,090 acres, 0 roads, and 37 perches. 50 householders live in  Lisheenaheltia – Ganly (5), Brennan (4), Collins (4), Mulkerrin (4), Donnellan (3), Mannion (3), Reilly (2), Joyce (2), Hughes (2), Keely (2), Slattery (2), Canny 2), Freney (2), Burke (2), Bredin, Conneely, Tighe, Ward, Goulding, Horan, Cullinane, Brien, Fahy, McDermott and Gilmore. Edgar Robert Bredin of Retreat, near Cootehill, Co. Cavan, held claim to the townland of Lisheenaheiltia. The townland of over a thousand acres, held in fee simple, was advertised for sale in 1856. 

Adjoining Townlands: The following townlands share a border with Lisheenaheltia – Cashel, Castle (Dunmore Parish), Cloonmore (Dunmore Parish), Cloonacat (Clonberne Parish), Gortaganny, Parkbaun (Clonberne Parish), Patch (Clonberne Parish), Slieve (Dunmore Parish) and Woodfield. 

The Lios from which Lisheenaheltia derives its name was located in Martin Joe Mannion’s land on the road to Áth an Iúir. Lisheenaheltia has many important features including Ringforts, a holy well which is close to the East bank and a Mass tree, ‘Log An Aifrinn’, where Mass was celebrated during the penal days (1695 – 1778).  A Mass is celebrated each year at this spot in memory of all those who suffered during that difficult time in Irish history. Many priests and nuns came from the village also. Lisheenaheltia had lots of rich soil where deer from which it derives its name roamed freely in ancient times. It also has lime kilns.

Boyounagh (Buí Aibhneach) means yellow marshy or place by a river.  The Sinking River which rises at Gilmore’s Mill in Leitra flows through the south of the townland of Lisheenaheltia and is bridged at a place called Áth an Iúir (the ford of the yew tree). The Yellow River flows south from Meelick townland via Boyounagh and later joins the Sinking River. This then flows on to join the Dalgan River, later forming the Clare River which flows onwards to Lough Corrib.

The topography of Lisheenaheltia is undulating with a number of gravel eskers which are the deposits left from glacial meltwater at the end of the last ice age which occurred 10,000 years ago. Peat bogs are situated to the north and south of the farmland area. It would have been covered with a canopy of trees in pre-Christian times. The Early Christian period from about 500 AD onwards saw much clearing of woodland. Oak and Hazel were particularly used for the building of early ‘post and wattle ‘homes. Although little of the woods remain today there are still Oak, Holly, Ash and Whitethorn trees growing in the hedgerows.

There were clusters of ringforts in Lisheenaheltia during the early medieval period, dating 550 to 900 AD. It was said that if you stood in any one fort you could see another two.

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

Census Years 1841 1851 1861 1871   1881 1891 1901 1911 2011
Population 384 322 311 341   337 308 314 270 81
Households 82 62 71 72   68 64 68 60 30

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:-

Authors: Mary Brosnan and Pat Keaveny

For related townland website posts click on the following links:-  

A Clachan Village in Lisheenaheltia 

The Black and Tans 

Irish in Lisheenaheltia

Log an Aifrinn

The Blessed Well in Lisheenaheltia

The Round Woodeen

Lisheen Golden Mile

Garda Michael Canney

Lisheenaheltia School

The Missioners


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

Lisheen Golden Mile – Its History and Hidden Treasures. 2015