OMEY

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

OMEY, or UMMA, a parish, in the barony of BALLINAHINCH, county of GALWAY, and province of CONNAUGHT; containing, with the sea-port and post-town of Clifden (which is separately described), 6721 inhabitants. This parish, which is called also Umond, is situated on the coast of Connemara, and forms the extreme western portion of that very extensive and highly interesting district. It comprehends within its limits the islands of Omey, Tarbert, Ennisturk, Cruagh, Ardilane or High island, and Friar island, with the harbour of Ardbear or Clifden; and is 9 miles in length and 3 in breadth, comprising 3553 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act.

The surface is strikingly diversified with numerous mountains, lakes, and bogs; and the coast, which is rugged and abrupt, is deeply indented with bays and creeks, forming excellent harbours. Though extremely wild and but very badly cultivated, it contains many tracts of fertile land, and the substratum is rich in mineral wealth. A great portion of the mountain land and bog might be easily reclaimed, and from the abundance of sea-weed and coralline sand found in the numerous creeks and bays, might soon be brought into a state of profitable cultivation.

The oats grown in this parish and district are of remarkably fine quality, and in the London market obtain higher prices than any others. Copper ore abounds, and on the estate of T. B. Martin, Esq., in this parish, two shafts were sunk from which about 60 tons of very rich ore were raised. Coal has also been found, and there is every probability that, when good roads shall have been opened throughout the district, and its natural advantages fully developed, it will be found rich in agricultural produce and in mineral wealth. The scenery in many parts is boldly and impressively majestic, and in others beautifully picturesque and romantic.

On the High island, which comprises about 50 acres, and which is of very dangerous access except in very fine weather, are the remains of an ancient religious house; the stone cells of the monks are still in a perfect state. The entrance to the bay of Clifden is obstructed by many shoals and rocks; at the distance of five miles to the south of that island are the Carrigarone rocks, always above water. The inlet, a little farther up, divides into two branches, of which the southern or Ardbear has a bar of one fathom at the entrance, but within has deep water; the upper part is rocky and has a good salmon fishery at its head; the northern branch runs up to Clifden and is dry at low water, but the tide rises 12 feet at the quay. Leaving Clifden, there is a channel for small vessels on the north of Carrigarone, between Rualie and Tarbert island; and between Tarbert island and Kingstown is a bar, passable only by small vessels at high water.

The sound between Ennisturk and the mainland is called Kingstown, and forms a good harbour for small vessels, but is difficult of access from the rocks at its mouth. Streamstown bay or river is an inlet navigable for five miles, but almost dry at low water: the channel at Omey island forms a natural harbour at each end. From this place to Aghris Point, in lat. 53° 32' 45" (N.), and lon. 10° 8' 30" (W.), the coast to Cleggan bay is a low granite shore with rocks in the offing, outside of which are the small isles of Cruagh, High, and Friars; between these and the main land is deep water, but with several rocks and breakers. This district, which is regarded as the Irish Highlands, was the strong hold of the celebrated Grana-Uile, or Grace O'Malley, whose heroic exploits by sea procured for her the honour of an interview with Queen Elizabeth. The parish is the nearest point of land in Europe to the continent of America.

The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Tuam, forming part of the union of Ballynakill: the tithes amount to £50. 15. 4 ½. The glebe-house, a very comfortable residence, situated in the town of Clifden, was built in 1823, at an expense of £507, of which £415 was a gift, and £92 a loan, from the late Board of First Fruits, which also granted £554 for the erection of the church, also in the town of Clifden, and which serves for the whole union. The glebe comprises 40 acres, valued at £40 per annum.

In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union, called Clifden, comprising also the parish of Ballindoon, and containing three chapels, two in this parish and one in Ballindoon. About 30 children are taught in the parochial school, under the Tuam Diocesan Society, to which Mr. D'Arcy has given a house and two acres of land; and there are five private schools, in which are about 200 children, and a dispensary. At Errislaneen are the ruins of a church, and within a mile of the town are evident traces of a Druidical station; there are chalybeate springs at Clifden and Kingstown.

« Omey Island | Index | Omullod »


Library Ireland Facebook