Levally Lough At Sunset, Bofeenaun, Co. Mayo, Ireland.
Levally lough is a popular pike fishing lake where 15-20lb fish are regularly caught.
However, along it’s Eastern shore runs a route of major importance in Irish history.
In 1798, Ireland was ruled by Britain with an iron fist. This included a tyrannical aristocratic landlord system in where they owned 95% of the land of Ireland. Catholics were actively excluded from power, though by this stage, most of The Penal Laws (which actively targeted them and Presbyterians) had been removed.
In one of many uprisings down through the centuries, a group that wanted an end to all of this called the United Irishmen (led by people of catholic and protestant faiths) organised a major rebellion.
Revolutionary France had promised support to any country in Europe fighting tyranny. Wolfe Tone, the United Irish leader lobbied the French to invade Ireland. An attempted landing of 15,000 soldiers in 1796 near Bantry, Co. Cork, failed due to very bad weather and the fleet returned home.
In support of the rising in Mayo, in Aug 22nd 1798, French General Humbert and his 1,000 soldiers landed at Kilcummin, Killala in North Mayo. With his force being joined by large nos of Irish, he marched his now 2,000 strong army to Ballina. After capturing that town on August 24th they marched to Castlebar, passing this area on the way. The route is signposted as “The Humbert Way”.
On August 27th, they defeated the British forces (6,000 strong) in Castlebar, the retreat of the latter subsequently being called “The Races Of Castlebar”. This event is commemorated every year with re-enactments in Ballina and Castlebar alternately.
After the battle of Castlebar, a short lived “Republic of Connaught” (the province in which Co. Mayo is located) was proclaimed. However, after a month, the Franco Irish army was defeated on Sept 8th at the battle of Ballinamuck in Co. Leitrim. While the French soldiers were feted in Dublin and sent home, the Irish were hung from the branches of trees.
The subsequent hangings in Castlebar continued for six months.
Image dimensions: 4176 x 2192 pixels