The Burren Lowlands Group was among the winners at this year’s Golden Mile of Galway Awards, receiving the Built Heritage Award for a mile extending from Ballylee Cross to the Ballyaneen lios/fort. This is one of the most historic roads in the county as it includes Thoor Ballylee, an old mill and miller’s house, Yeats’ cottage, ring forts, a blessed well, and 19th century farmhouses.
The mile was traversed by such famous people as the poet WB Yeats, Lady Gregory, the blind poet Raftery, and the local beauty Mary Hynes, who was immortalised by all three.
The natural heritage of the mile includes the Ballylee River which runs underground at Raftery’s Cellar, two turloughs, and a rich variety of flora and fauna.
The awards were presented by Cllr Peter Roche, Cathaoirleach of Galway County Council, and Delia Colahan, CEO of Galway Rural Development. Dr Christy Cunniffe, Galway field monument advisor, gave an insightful speech on the merits of the Yeats Mile.
Other awards were presented to various groups for community effort, litter management, natural heritage, and best school award. The overall winner in a highly competitive event was Lisheenaheilta, Glenamaddy.
The Burren Lowlands Golden Mile entry was coordinated by Adrian Feeney, Galway Rural Development, Sr de Lourdes Fahy of Kiltartan Gregory Cultural Society, pupils of Peterswell NS, and the Nolan children, Ballyaneen, pupils of Kiltartan NS.
The Burren Lowlands group of south Galway has gone from strength to strength since its inception last year. It has received a Rural Economic Development Zone grant of €47,000, which will ensure that local tourist projects are well supported. The Ballylee Mile is included in the Finding Yeats 21k cycle route initiated this year by members of the Burren Lowlands group. It is set to become widely used by locals and tourists.
Thoor Ballylee has attracted thousands of visitors since it opened last June. The historic tower has been affected by the recent floods but the hard-working and enthusiastic Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society will ensure that it is open for business next spring.