Heritage Council

Loughrea Medieval Festival future boosted by heritage grant

This August, thanks to funding from The Heritage Council, Loughrea’s 1st Medieval Festival will take place on the weekend of the 30th & 31st. A wide range of free events will take place over the course of the weekend.

“This is fantastic news from the Heritage Council and great news for Loughrea,” said a committee organiser.

The festival committee will post information relating to events closer to the date.

The Heritage Council: www.heritagecouncil.ie

Loughrea. Architectural Walking Tour

Loughrea Architectural Walking Tour

Loughrea, Baile Locha Riach in Irish, meaning ‘the settlement of the grey or speckled lake’, is a fine town standing on the ridge that rises above the shores of the lake that gives the place its name. It is located on the ancient route between the County’s two largest towns – Ballinasloe to the east and Galway City to the west.

The town was founded in 1236, as a strategic feudal settlement. Following the pattern of conquerors almost everywhere in Europe during this period, Richard De Burgo, the Norman lord of Connacht, established a castle here.

The shores of the lake run all along the town’s southern border, giving Loughrea a well-defined shape. The town’s plan is roughly an east to west rectangle with Main Street running through it lengthwise and with Castle, Kelly’s, Kings, Church and Piggott’s Streets running southwards down from Main Street towards the thoroughfare at the lake’s edge. Abbey Street then runs north off this mid-point in Main Street.

Get to know Loughrea, its past, and its present, with a self guided walking tour showcasing Loughrea’s built heritage. A brochure with illustrated map, and an audio narrative by Dr. Peter Harbison, are available to download for free from the Galway East Wayfinding website.

The walk will guide you along the remains of the only functioning medieval town moat in Ireland. At the beginning of The Walk is St. Mary’s, an historic religious site dating back to about the year 1300 and containing the ruins of a Carmelite Church and Priory, with its Gothic lancet windows. The tower and other enlargements are believed to date from 1437.

Loughrea’s medieval pattern of long, narrow ‘burgage’ plots, stretching back from their frontages on Main Street, often enclose land all the way out to the northern and southern boundaries of the town.

Loughrea town gate, originally a castellated structure, is the only remaining gate through which the medieval town was entered. View of the gate from St. Brendan’s Cathedral, Barrack Street, Loughrea.

Galway East Wayfinding is a project developed by Galway County Council, with funding from Failte Ireland, and in association with Galway East Tourism.

Medieval Town Gate

Fortified Loughrea our Medieval Town core

Fortified Loughrea our Medieval Town core

Loughrea has a rich medieval past, but many people may not know this, until now. Over the coming weeks and months in the build up to Loughrea’s 1st medieval Festival, we, the Loughrea Medieval Festival committee hope to bring you in little insight into our medieval past. We begin with an overview:

Loughrea is regarded as dating from 1236, when Loughrea Castle was reputed to have been built by the Anglo-Norman, Richard de Burgo. The town was fortified due to its strategic location on the approach to Galway city.

This fortification consisted of a town wall and a moat to the north, east and west, with the lake acting as a natural defence to the south.

The medieval town centre is within the area enclosed by the “Walk” to the north, by the St. Cleran’s River to the east, by the lake to the south and by the Fairgreen to the west.

The only remaining buildings from medieval times are St. Brigids Church in Caherwalter, the Town Gate and the Carmelite Abbey and Graveyard.

A strong ecclesiastical presence is still evident within the town.

Medieval town core – the area within the town walls on the flatter, northern shore of the lake which contains the original street pattern with a single main street connecting the east and west gates, a secondary parallel street the south, a number of occasional lanes perpendicular to the main streets and properties of the ‘burgage’ type running from the main street to the north wall and the lake to the south.

(Source: Loughrea Draft Local Area Plan 2012 – 2018 www.galway.ie)