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Thursday, 20 May 2021

5 Heritage sites to Discover in Carrick-on-Shannon

The Dock Theatre Carrick on Shanon, the

Take a stroll from The Landmark Hotel and discover some local heritage in Carrick-on-Shannon..

Here are 5 sites for you to explore as you wander through our beautiful town.

 

Our charming and welcoming riverside town is well known for its music, pubs and dining. But there much history to our town and many historic and heritage sites for you to discover and they are all within a short stroll of The Landmark. As you wander through the streets you will be surprised by the quirky shop fronts, historic buildings and remnants of long ago.

 

Here is a list of 5 buildings of note to be found along the main thoroughfares of Carrick-on-Shannon…


 1.    The Costello Chapel

There is still some light hearted dispute as to whether this tiny chapel is actually the smallest or second smallest chapel in the world. But whether it holds the record or not, it is well worth a visit, as this pretty chapel tells the story of one man’s devotion for his wife. Squeezed between two much taller structures, the chapel is located at the bend in the road as the Main St. turns into Bridge St.  Consecrated in 1879, it was built as the final resting place of Mary Josephine Costello by her devoted husband Edward. Now, both husband and wife are laid to rest there, their coffins visible through thick panes of glass. Adding to the poignancy is the metal coat hook in the wall, on the right of the door, where perhaps Edward hung his hat and coat, when he visited his wife’s grave side.


 2. St. George’s Church, Heritage Centre

St. George’s Church of Ireland is a recently restored 200 year old church, set on a hill just off the Main St. The church’s airy interior is lit by the glowing colours of beautiful stained glass windows. Its organ which is still played today, was built in Dublin by William Telford in 1896. The church also houses a small historical exhibition that includes artefacts and interpretive material depicting the ‘Twin Traditions’ of Leitrim that mingle ancient Gaelic roots with Plantation culture.

The history enthusiast can call in to the Heritage Centre right next door where there a number of intriguing displays of papers and log books from local landlords of former times. Here the story of Leitrim, its landscape, its history and the hardships faced by its people during the 1800s is introduced in an audio-visual presentation.


3. The Famine Workhouse

From the Heritage Centre, you can plan your visit to the local Workhouse, one of hundreds of similar buildings around the country which share the same bleak history.  Follow the brass plaques on the footpath that lead you from St. George’s to the Workhouse, where you can find out more about the role of the Workhouse in Ireland during famine times and experience the place in its original state.  A famine graveyard is also located close by.


4.    Geraghty’s Shop

An intriguing sight as you walk along the Main St., is this mosaic covered shop front, and its large window crammed with musical instruments and curiosities for sale.  An excellent example of the ‘Roscommon Mosaic Tradition’ – yes indeed ! – Geraghty’s shop made it into a recently published account of the work of four Italian mosaic craftsmen who moved to Roscommon in the 1940s at the request of local man John Crean.  A fascinating story, these Italian men arrived in Ireland without a word of English, with the last of them retiring from his work in Roscommon as recently as 2017! Their legacy is to be seen in many towns around Leitrim and Roscommon – indeed you will find some more examples of their mosaic work on Main St., and Bridge St. in the town. ( In case you are interested the publication is ‘Roscommon’s Mosaic Tradition – Geometric and Artistic Mosaics in the North West’ by Laura Earley.)


 5.    The Dock

The former Court House, now housing a theatre, art galleries and the wonderful Leitrim Design House, The Dock will be of interest for anyone who likes art, craft and a bit of history. Designed in by William Farrell in the popular classical style of the time, the building was completed in the early nineteenth century and has been a significant building in the town as the centre for justice and local government. Pigot & Co’s Provincial Directory of Ireland of 1824 called it ‘a handsome Courthouse built upwards of two years ago of fine black stone, with four Doric pillars in front’ adjacent to the county jail. In fact the secret underground tunnels through which prisoners were lead from the building to the former jail house still remains and can still be seen if you know where to look!

As a Courthouse the building also housed the Grand Jury, which administered local government in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. For almost a century from 1898 to 1994 it housed the chamber and offices of Leitrim County Council. Over time the building structure was neglected and it deteriorated to an extent. The courts service in particular was very dissatisfied with the poor facilities and decaying condition of the fabric of the building. Demolition was even raised as a possible option. In 1994, the courts service and the local authority moved out and the building was left vacant until refurbished as “The Dock” Arts Centre which opened its doors to the public on the 20thAugust, 2005.

 

So whether you fancy a little bit of sightseeing, an afternoon stroll or is you enjoy a little history and fact finding, this is just a taste of what Carrick on Shannon has to offer.