Rathkip/Shanaghy community celebrate milestone with new book on history of the area

Danny Moyles and Mick Nallen catching up at Rathkip Bridge.

Danny Moyles and Mick Nallen catching up at Rathkip Bridge.

Ballina’s Rathkip/Shanaghy Residents' Association will mark a quarter of a century in existence with the launch of a specially-commissioned book The People of Rathkip/Shanaghy, Ballina – 1855 and Beyond, chronicling hundreds of years of local history on September 28.

The book, written by Residents Association officer, Peter McLoughlin, will be officially launched on Saturday, September 28 at 7.30pm in the Cot & Cobble, by published author, Fr Brendan Hoban. Compiled after a lengthy research process, it is not only a history of place, but a study of people too – and features family histories of the residents of the last century, creating a colourful picture of what life was like in Rathkip/Shanaghy from the mid 1800s, as well as an invaluable genealogical resource.

This project was commissioned by Rathkip/Shanaghy Residents Association in 2019 to commemorate the milestone anniversary. Author, Peter Mc Loughlin said: "A milestone like this reminds us all of the importance of community and the meitheal approach. George Bernard Shaw noted that "Life belongs to the community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can." In researching this work and compiling it, I can say that it was a privilege on my part and I hope that in some way this study will awaken people to their past.”

As a walk through history from the Griffith Valuation to the Census of 1901 and 1911 and beyond, it is a labour of love for Peter and the wider community. “As a History teacher, I hope that this study will serve as a reminder and testament to the people of Rathkip/Shanaghy who lived, laughed and loved just as we do. Their spirit echoes still in the fields of Rathkip and Shanaghy,” he added.

Residents Association Chairperson, John Ferguson, said: “The twenty-fifth anniversary presented an opportunity for our community to explore both the past and present, and we are thrilled with the compilation of history that has come about as a result of this commemorative project. I wish to thank everyone who has played their part, by contacting us with photographs, articles, documents, information and personal records, and in doing so made this book possible.”

Stories include the family roots of world-renowned song-writer Rory M. Bourke dating back to Rathkip in the 1800s; Jack McNulty, the then- Mayor of Green Island, New York visiting his ancestral home in the 1990s; set alongside historical events such as the launch of the Ireland’s biggest drainage scheme, the Moy Drainage Scheme by then-Taoiseach Sean Lemass in 1960 and a devastating fire in Gilmartin’s Flax Mill back in 1918 – and even the more macabre – a murder in Rathkip dating back to 1849.

The book, with artwork courtesy of artist Darragh Bourke - great-grandson of a past Shanaghy resident, Owen Mears - comes on foot of the hard work of the present Residents Association officers, Chairperson - John Ferguson, Secretary - Bernie Ginty, Treasurer - Noel Tighe and PRO Madeline Durcan and all the residents of Rathkip/Shanaghy who have worked ceaselessly to enhance the area.

The committee has also spear-headed the organisation of a host of family-friendly events for a very special Welcome Home Weekend to mark the anniversary including a memory tree planting ceremony at the corner of Breaffy Road and The Bog on Saturday, September 28 at 11am; followed by leisurely loop walk; anniversary Mass in St Muredach’s Cathedral at 4pm; social in the Cot & Cobble at 7pm followed by book launch; and even a fun day in Tumble Jungle on Sunday 29 from 12 to 2pm, to mark the silver anniversary of what has become one of the region’s most vibrant and hard-working residents associations.


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