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Inver Lodge, Loch Inbhir,
Turlough, Connemara

The search

The search for Inver Lodge started when Mary Anne Conneely, my great grandmother, quoted it as her parents' address when she married my great grandfather Joseph Mortimer, in the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin in 1861. She described it as Inver Lodge, Oughterard, which threw me a bit. While it is in the Oughterard Union area, it is really well southwest of Oughterard itself.

I came across a reference to Inver Lodge in the London Times (online) as a favourite place of the Lord Dudley, though this was much later than the period I was interested in. Wally Kirwan alerted me to the Fisheries angle. There is a reference to Lord Dudley's estate, called Inver Lodge, and just across the road from Pearse's Cottage on the Carna website. A very recent Google search came up with it on a Google map but the coordinates put it on the lakeshore rather than on the island.

The librarian and staff of the Galway County Library on Nun's Island were very helpful over two few weeks recently, at the end of which I not only had the location of Inver Lodge securely pinpointed, I had determined that Thomas Conneely's holdings were not on the island but about a mile south west of this and on the southern rather than the northern side of the road west from Screeb.

Meanwhile searches on the recently opened Irish Times digital archive came up with material on Inver Lodge, though this all dates from the twentieth century.

Inver Lodge

Inver Lodge, built in 1840, was the principal house on the 68 acre Inverbeg estate. It is situated on an island in Loch Inver (Lough Invernagleragh), in the townland of Turlough and (civil) parish of Kilcummin. In Mary Anne's time access was by boat only.

A fairly detailed description was given in an advertisement letting the house for the 1924 season.

Further information on the estate was contained in an article (Irish Times, 22/5/1997) when the property came on the market. The estate was developed by the Guinness Family in the mid nineteenth century and by 1997, when it came on the market, it had four houses, several trout lakes and shooting rights over 9,600 acres.

At the time of the Griffiths survey the location was a salmon fishery run by Mr. O'Hara. It was recently the location of Inver Hatcheries Ltd. but I am told it is now simply a guest house.

Thomas Conneely

According to Griffith's Valuation, Thomas Conneely, Mary Anne's father, leased a herd's house, office and land from the Law Life Assurance Company, which was at least acting for the owners, if not owning the land itself. At the time of the first ordnance survey maps this was part of the Martin estate. The precise acreage relating to Thomas is not specified. His holding is valued at 11, comprising 10 in land and 1 in buildings. These latter are specified as a "Herd's house and offices".

The Griffiths maps indicate his holding on the north shore of Turlough Bay, about a mile south west of Inver Lodge. I will try and check if Thomas had any particular functions in relation to the estate other than looking after the herd.

The Natives

Before you look at the maps and photos you might like to absorb a little of the relationship between the natives and their betters which prevailed at the turn of the 19/20th century in this godforesaken part of the country. The material is taken from a report by the Irish Times reporter in that paper on 17 July 1906 on the Viceregal Tour of Connemara by the Lord Lieutenant and Lord Dudley.

In general the atmosphere was constructive and benign. Money had been invested in the area and the role of the Dudley nurses was much appreciated. There are however a few snippets worth retailing.

At the Lough Connemara National School, their Excellencies engaged in conversation with the teacher and children, speaking some kindly words to them. The journey was then resumed.

At Carna Convent school, Lady Aberdeen presented a prize in each class to the boy or girl who had the best attendance record during the next [sic] year. The prizes were gratefully accepted by the Rev. Mother, and it was intimated that a holiday would be granted to the children in honour of the visit. [Now where did I hear that one in more modern times?]

Next on the list were the sports at Mweenish Island. On reaching the Island Their Excellencies witnessed an immense crowd of Irish-speaking peasants engaged in various contests, under the direction of Rev. Father Lavelle, C.C. ... The people, amongst whom were many picturesquely-dressed woman and girls, then gathered in a field, where racing and jumping contests took place. The people having been assembled in a crowd, Father McHugh [PP] asked them to pass a hearty vote of thanks to Their Excellencies for having honoured their sports by their presence. (A voice - "They are welcome," and cheers.) He felf himself personally under a great compliment to Their Excellencies for having come to witness their sports.

The Maps

Some relevant maps are set out below. The Google map is interactive. You can change type between satellite, terrain, and roadmap, move the map around and zoom in and out. It loads as a satellite map as this is the clearest rendering of the actual landscape. If you get lost, reload the page and you will be back where you started.

From Google Maps (2008)

Name of person under cursor:  

The standard Google marker shows the island on which Inver Lodge is located. The lake is Loch Inver (Lough Invernagleragh). Access to the island is now by pontoon but in the nineteenth century was by boat only. This can be seen from the 1840s Griffiths map below.

I have now established that Thomas did not live on, or have his holding on, the island. Rather he lived a little to the southwest on the northern shore of Turlough Bay and I have put a blue ancestral marker on the spot.

From the Griffiths Map (1840s)

Griffiths map - Inver Lodge

The image above shows Loch Inbhir (Lough Invernagleragh) with Inver Lodge clearly visible on the Island.

While this was the address given by Mary Anne in her marriage cert I am taking it that she was referring to the area rather than the Lodge itself.

Griffiths Map - Conneely Holding

The image above shows the settlement on the north shore of Turlough Bay. All of this property was worked by Thomas Conneely. The lake in the top right hand corner is Inverbeg.

The Photos

Having pinned down the location of Thomas Conneely's holding, thanks to tremendous help and cooperation from the Galway County Library headquarters on Nun's Island, I set out with camera to check out the location. It was a bit tricky to find the entrance off the main road but I eventually hit on the house of the present owner of the property. It had been worked by his father since after the 2nd World War, and he had only recently come back himself, following the death of his father, to work the property, having spent many years in England, Wales and the USA.

He very kindly showed me round the area and pointed out where houses had been. All the houses in the map above are now gone, except for one which serves as a shed. He pointed out the locations of the earlier houses, where remnants of walls remain in some cases and nothing at all in others. These locations corresponded with those on the Ordnance Survey/Griffiths maps when I checked them on my return to Galway.

The house above is located in the cluster at position 1 on the Griffiths map. It is possibly Thomas Conneely's old house. It was converted to a shed by the current owner's father after the 2nd World War. The thatch roof has been replaced with corrugation and the central internal wall which had the chimney stack and fireplace has been taken out. The door has been widened to allow easy entry for wider bales of hay. The photo is looking south.

This is the interior looking west.

This is the view from the house looking east to where
the other houses etc. on the holding were in Thomas's time.

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