The Oughterard region has only recently become my home (1year) having visited the area since I first moved to Galway 20 years ago from Roscommon, the Hill of Doon has always been a beauty spot which has attracted me for walks and just sitting by the lake listening to nature.
On a recent visit I noticed an old ruined building among the forestry plantations near the head of the trail head. This building looked larger than a vernacular house (of which there are many ruins in the area and several old villages with possible L. medieval origins (to be explored further).
This building stands out within the landscape. It is isolated from building to the east and sits on the rise of a hill. It has a large rectangular footprint with an extension on one side, which looks like a porch feature. It was clearly not a home and has more of an industrial feel about it.
A number of finely carved stone pieces are scattered around the site and one large window sill still in place.
The building does not appear on the first ed six inch map or Griffiths valuation but it is on the 2nd 6inch and by the time the 25inch is published it appears the building was without a roof.
This peeked my interest, such a large building not showing up on maps as being active, would indicate that it may have been in use for a very short time. But the material of the building indicated that it was costly to build and must have served a function. Initially I thought maybe it was a hunting lodge but could find no records of that.
My investigations brought me to the Oughterard Heritage page for the townland which is a wealth of information. From the descriptions on the page (https://www.oughterardheritage.org/content/place/townlands_of_oughterard/cappanalaurabaun/cappanalaurabaun) I believe the ruins to that of any old school house known as ‘Franks House’ although this may not be the case.
There was a school in the area during Griffiths valuation – “Andrew Ray & the Irish Church Mission. The School-house & lands held by the Irish Church Mission had an exemption.” and the note about Franks house bring on the right hand side of the road, make it a likely contender. The population were all church of Ireland with one resident coming from Co. Roscommon, just proving that the Hill of Doon has long been an attraction for Roscommon people looking for a bit of piece and quite.
The townland hold many more interesting features and hopefully the next time I return I can explore the village which has some clear hints at an early settlement in the area similar to those seen in Co. Clare.
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