My most amazing day in the home of the O’Rourke clan

Creevelea Abbey
Creevelea Abbey

Today was my best day so far in Ireland. For one, it didn’t rain. Well, it didn’t rain significantly. It was windy and cold and a few drops fell from the sky, but I can’t have everything, can I? The other reason is that I finally fulfilled a long-time dream of mine — to travel to Breifne, where the O’Rourke clan originated.

After spending for days in Dingle, I was off by bus to Sligo in northwest Ireland. I woke up Sunday morning in Dingle and it was pouring — really coming down. Since Sunday was a travel day, I wasn’t too disappointed.  I got completely soaked walking to the bus stop because I was too cheap to take a taxi (it was only three or four blocks away). The wind was howling so hard it turned my umbrella inside out and it broke. I deposited in the trash at the SuperValu (that’s how it’s spelled) in Dingle. I can buy another one. There’s no umbrella shortage in Ireland.

The trip on Bus Eireann took 10 hours and I changed buses three times. I had two layovers of 90 minutes — one in Tralee and another in Galway. By the time I got to Galway, it had stopped raining. The last leg — from Galway to Sligo took two and a half hours and we stopped at every one-horse (or one sheep) town along the way. When I arrived in Sligo at 8:20 pm, my hotel was right next door to the bus station.

The O'Rourke seat in Dromahair.
The O’Rourke seat in Dromahair.
Yes, I did sit in it, but I had to take a selfie.
Yes, I did sit in it, but I had to take a selfie.

My journey to O’Rourke country or Breifne

This morning, I finally decided to rent a car, even though I was a little nervous about driving on the wrong side of the road. I’ve decided it’s not such a big deal. What is a big  deal is the narrow roads in Ireland — think Highway 275 from Hopland to Kelseyville — only worse. I stopped at Creevelea Abbey, an abandoned abbey once used my the Franciscans. It was founded by Owen O’Rourke. It’s now used as a graveyard for the neighboring town of Dromahair. I had the place completely to myself. I spent an hour looking around, taking some photos and then walked down a foot path to the River Boyle. It was so peaceful there, I could have spent hours looking around.

After leaving the Abbey, I drove to the town of Dromahair, seat of the O’Rourkes, lords of Breifne. Dromahair was a sleepy little town about four or five blocks square. Not much was happening there, but I heard there was an actual O’Rourke stone seat. I finally found it, and of course, I sat in it. I couldn’t help myself and I started shouting, “Here it is. Here it is.” It just came out, I was so excited.

I'm standing in the O'Rourke portion of Parke's castle.
I’m standing in the O’Rourke portion of Parke’s castle.

After lunch, I headed to Parke’s Castle, a few miles from Dromahair on Lough Gill. Parke’s Castle was originally O’Rourke’s castle, until Brian O’Rourke was hung for treason for giving refuge to a sea captain from the Spanish Armada. King Henry the VIII gave the castle to the Parkes. Again I had the place practically to myself. There were a few French tourists, but they soon left. It really is refreshing not having to fight tourist crowds.

Finally, I went on a walk to visit the Giant’s Grave, also known as Magheraghanrush Court Tomb or Deerpark Court Tomb. It is a megalithic

The prehistoric megalithic site -- Giant's Grave.
The prehistoric megalithic site — Giant’s Grave.

tomb site off of a country road, near Parke’s Castle. I’m fascinated by these prehistoric sites and there’s hundreds of them in Ireland alone. Giant’s Grave is like a mini-  Stonehenge in the middle of nowhere. It was good exercise too, as it was probably a two-mile walk from the car park (parking lot) off the road.

Tomorrow I’m off to County Down, where I will meet with an O’Rourke cousin. I’m looking forward to it.

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7 thoughts on “My most amazing day in the home of the O’Rourke clan

  1. Sounds like a WONDERFUL day indeed, Lois!!!

    Loved County Leitrim and Dromohair. My Mom queried, when we visited Parke’s Castle, if the O’Rourke Clan descendants should consider a lawsuit to claim what was once theirs!?!

    SAFE travels as you head east to County Down. You appear to be traveling many of the roads of our 2007 journey…And, indeed agree it’s the narrowness of the roads which is challenging rather than driving on a different side of the road!

    How VERY (Very, very) exciting to be meeting an O’Rourke Cousin…SO happy for you!!!

  2. Marvelous! Everything looks so wonderful. (I don’t think I could drive on the wrong side of the road though!)

    P.S. Let me know if you find any McGill, MacGill, or Macgill”s! 🙂 (My people:):)

  3. Very cool adventure you are having Lois. Pray tell, what is a stone seat? Did one have to be an O’Rourke to sit in it? Do other clans have their stone seats? I wonder if there’s a Stewart one!

  4. Sharon, the seat was erected in 2005 by the people of Dromahair. I found that out when I got there. I didn’t see it right away so I asked around. One old man said he’d lived there for 52 years and never heard of it. A lady working in a Pub finally directed me to it. She only new it was a stone seat. She had no idea it was the O’Rourke seat.

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