Publisher Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII Heritage series 8, Summer 2019)
Format Paperback, 190 mm x 245 mm; 116 pages; maps, line drawings, photos; full colour
What is the book about?
A Moycullen Miscellany is No. 8 in the TII Heritage series, arising from historical, architectural, archaeological and palaeoenvironmental investigations associated with national road schemes. It represents a successful collaboration between TII, Cumann Staire Ruaidhrí Uí Fhlaitheartaigh (Moycullen Heritage), Irish Archaeological Consultancy (IAC) Ltd, the Palaeoenvironmental Research Unit at NUI Galway with Archaeological Management Solutions (AMS) Ltd, and the National Roads Project Office at Galway County Council. The context of the book is the proposed N59 Moycullen Bypass.
This Miscellany weaves together many strands in the story of a village with a colourful history and a pleasing mix of old and new architecture, situated between the fertile limestone basin of Lough Corrib and the upland, granite country of Connemara.
Archaeological excavations on the N59 Bypass route have identified new evidence for prehistoric and early medieval settlement in this landscape, including the first Neolithic farmers. This evidence is corroborated by fossil pollen from a local peat bog, which records the advance and retreat of woodlands as successive human communities cleared the land for tillage and pasture throughout prehistory.
In medieval times Anglo-Norman conquerors built a castle and church near the lake, but their manor of Gnó Beg (an ancient name for Moycullen) was afterwards ceded to the O’Flahertys, the Gaelic medieval lords of Connemara.
By early modern times the choicest land was occupied by big landowners and their mansion houses while their tenants lived in clustered cabins on the rugged hillslopes. Ruins of these houses, great and small, can still be seen around Moycullen.
From the 1830s, the modern village began to converge around a crossroads created by the pioneering Scottish engineer Alexander Nimmo when he engineered a new road from Galway Bay to Lough Corrib. Though the village continues to grow, the crossroads is still at its heart, dominated by the old Co-operative Society building on one side and the new shopping centre on the other.
The book includes a local history gazetteer contributed by Cumann Staire Ruaidhrí Uí Fhlaitheartaigh (Moycullen Heritage), based on the Society’s own signed village heritage trails. The Society is named after an accomplished scholar who was the last Gaelic lord of Moycullen. The tricentenary of his death in 1718 was marked by the Society with a full calendar of lectures and fieldtrips in 2018. This Miscellany is TII’s contribution to the evolving story of Moycullen in the next 300 years.
Who are the authors?
The principal authors are Jerry O’Sullivan, Shane Delaney, Carlos Chique and Karen Molloy, with contributions by archaeologist Hugh Gallagher and local historian Tomás Ó Cadhain.
- Jerry O’Sullivan is a TII Archaeologist based in the National Roads Project Office at Galway County Council. His professional interests are very broad and his previously published work includes books and essays on archaeological conservation, research, regulation and best practice.
- Shane Delaney is a graduate of University College Cork. He is a very experienced archaeological project manager and has directed archaeological investigations all over Ireland and abroad. He is a native of Dublin and now lives in the Burren, County Clare.
- Dr Carlos Chique is a researcher based in the Palaeoenvironmental Research Unit at NUI Galway. His research focuses on the application of palaeoecological indicators (pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs, chironomidae sub-fossils) to discern past environmental conditions.
- Dr Karen Molloy is based in the School of Geography and Archaeology, NUI Galway, where she oversees the pollen laboratory in the Palaeoenvironmental Research Unit. She has published widely on reconstructing past landscape changes from fossil pollen.