Irish: Baile Uí Bheoláin
Mountshannon is a village in south-east County Galway and a Catholic parish by the same name. The village is on the western shore of Lough Derg, north of Killaloe. The Irish language name Baile Uí Bheoláin means townland of Ó Beoláin.
The village was designed and built from scratch by Alexander Woods, a Limerick merchant, who intended it as a purely Protestant settlement from which the surrounding Catholic population would be so impressed by the thrift and industry of the settlers that they would quickly convert to the Reformed Church; even as late as the 1830s there was not a single Catholic resident in the village. In fact the reverse happened - it was the Catholics who colonised the village, and the picturesque Protestant church in a wooded churchyard bears mute testimony to Woods and his scheme.
Mountshannon was home to the last manually operated telephone exchange in Ireland. The exchange was finally converted to automatic service at noon on May 28, 1987.
Mountshannon is an attractive village with four pubs, one of which is a hotel, a corner shop/cafe, a restaurant, a garage/shop and a pizzeria.
It is a starting point for visiting the nearby Inis Cealtra, or Holy Island. Now uninhabited, it was once a monastic settlement. It has a fine round tower, and the ruins of several small churches, as well as part of four high crosses and a holy well. The cemetery on this island is still in use, the coffins being transported from the Clare side in small boats. There is a stone with a hole in it, through which lovers held hands and promised to be true. Boat trips can be taken from the harbour to the island.
A recent addition to Mountshannon is the maze built in the centre of town in a small park with views of Lough Derg. The maze features information about the development of the Irish spiritual tradition. Alongside is a picnic area made out of wood carved by local artists, encircled by willow hedging. In the entrance is a stone with a hole facing toward Holy Island. The Island can only be viewed by the most penitent by kneeling on a stone in order to view the through the hole. To the rear of the maze is a fine labyrinth consisting of the lawn being cut at different heights, flower beds and Hornbeam hedging. It is modelled on the pavement labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France. Mountshannon is a regular winner in the Tidy Towns having won the national prize in 1981, Silver in 2004 and numerous Bronze over the years. It most recently took Bronze in its population category (2010).
A breeding pair of White-tailed Eagles nested on a nearby island in Lough Derg in 2012. This marked a great success for the Irish reintroduction programme which started in County Kerry in the summer of 2007.
Mountshannon Harbour, is a sheltered south-facing harbour, very popular in the summer months with cruisers, who pull up for the night and head into the village for a couple of pints and some traditional music. A separate bathing area is very popular with local families.
The village of Mountshannon lies in the civil parish of Inishcaltra. Together with Clonrush they make up the Catholic parish of Mountshannon (Clonrush) in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Killaloe. Churches are St Caimin in Mountshannon and St Flannan in Whitegate.
From the Annals of Inisfallen
- AI922.2 Tomrair son of Elgi, a Jarl of the foreigners, on Luimnech (the Lower Shannon), and he proceeded and plundered Inis Celtra and Muicinis, and burned Cluain Moccu Nóis; and he went on Loch Rí and plundered all its islands, and he ravaged Mide.
- "Sea eagles return to Irish nest". The Irish Times. 2012-04-30. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2012/0430/breaking36.html. Retrieved 2012-04-30.
- RTÉ: Rare eagle reintroduced to Ireland
- White-tailed Eagle
- Parliamentary Gazeteer of Ireland 1845.
- "Mountshannon (Clonrush)". Diocese of Killaloe. http://www.killaloediocese.ie/parish/mountshannon-clonrush/church.html. Retrieved 2014-04-01.