Finding McAuliffe Footprints in Ireland
This page is the result of a request I had for information from a McAuliffe family in the United States. They were travelling to Ireland for the first time and asked for suggestions on how they could give the children a sense of the McAuliffes once they got to County Cork. I realised that there are probably other families who will wonder the same thing so I've put this page together. Basically, it's a summary of information that can be found on other pages but put together in one place and in a way that is designed to be useful for someone arriving in Cork and wanting to find the McAuliffe footprints. There will be others too who have already made the pilgrimage - how did they go about it? I'd welcome suggestions and advice from anyone who might have something to contribute to this page.
The question was a good one; without guidance it would be possible to visit County Cork, where the clann was based for centuries, and come away without seeing anything reminiscent of the McAuliffes. Unless you are there when a clann rally is on where can you take your children and what can you show them to give them a sense of being 'McAuliffe'? There is no standing castle and there are no clann lands; is there ANYTHING still to be seen? Well, yes, there is - you just have to know where to look and this page offers some suggestions.
Click on an image for a larger view
Newmarket is a small market town in the north of Cook. This was a market town long before the English changed its name to Newmarket. It's in what was once Clanawley, a vast tract of land owned by the MacAuliffes, and later confiscated from them.
While you're in Newmarket call into Scully's Pub. Your host and probably some of the patrons will be happy to talk about the McAuliffes. You'll find McAuliffes in the sports team photos around the walls. If you're there in the evening you may hear some authentic traditional music. It's safe for children too.
LEFT: In Newmarket there is this McAuliffe monument erected by the business community. It acknowledges the town's ties with the MacAuliffe clann, who were rulers of this land for centuries.
RIGHT: The James O'Keeffe Memorial Institute in Newmarket is a place you can go for public information. This depiction of the McAuliffe coat of arms hangs in the lobby, another acknowledgment of the clann's importance in this area.
A short distance from Newmarket and within easy sight of it is Clonfert Cemetery. This is the ancient cemetery of the MacAuliffes, being close to Newmarket and not far from two of the McAuliffe castles that stood in these parts. There are many other names here as well, but you'll find a lot of McAuliffe headstones as you look around, especially in the older part of the cemetery. The newer part of the cemetery is still in use today. Some of the older graves are in a poor state of repair but some old McAuliffe headstones that can be seen with dates from around 1700. More cemetery photos here.
A view of Clonfert Cemetery. Newmarket can be seen in background.
This cave on a rough walking track just outside Newmarket is the cave that features in the Legend of Mealane (Meelan, Mealane, Moylan are various spellings). Moderate fitness and good walking shoes are required as the track winds through forest along a hillside above the river and has some steep sections. The track only takes a few minutes to walk and children can manage it if closely supervised. The track is NOT recommended in bad weather as it can become very slippery. The cave itself is not spectacular but worth visiting because of the legend attached to it. You'll need to seek local advice on how to find it.
Part-way along the track you'll come to the cave. There are no signs to mark it and if you come from a place where a cave is a cave you could walk past it, as I did until someone asked me "What did you think of the cave?"
A DRIVE THROUGH CLANAWLEY
This ancient land of the MacAuliffes is a vast area and there's a lot more to it than just the area around Newmarket. The hinterland is spectacularly beautiful. As one drives north from Newmarket the land changes and becomes much more hilly, from gently rolling hills to more precipitous heights. Taur is a town that was important to the MacAuliffes and as you drive north out of the town the mountain of the same name can be seen on the right. From the top of Taur McAuliffe sentries watched for invading armies. Driving further north takes you higher into the Mullaghareirk Mountains with some spectacular views over the surrounding countryside. Once over the top, the road drops down into Limerick.
A section of the view from the top of Taur
You can do a more or less round trip into the north, while still staying in Clanawley, taking in places such as Rockchapel and Meelin on the way. The cemeteries in these towns are worth checking out as they all have some McAuliffe graves.
More photos of Clanawley here
That part of County Cork that was home to the MacAuliffe clann is a very beautiful place but it can have an added dimension if you take the trouble to learn about the history of the clann before you get there. Look at this land and know that around the year 1400 the poet O'Heeran wrote about it:
"Far beyond the bountiful Allo,
and westward of Glen Celsian
of the stately trees,
in a fair land of great prosperity,
it is the the domain of the
For centuries our ancestors thrived in this place. For most of it they lived in peace and the land provided well for them. At other times they had to fight to defend their homes. When I visited here I did not just see a beautiful land but I also felt a sense of history. I looked at the countryside and thought of the times that McAuliffe warriors gathered here when called on to defend Clanawley or to fight for Ireland. In about 1600 the English Lord President of Munster estimated that the McAuliffes could field 80 cavalry (more than any other clann in the area) as well as a force of foot-soldiers if they decided to support Hugh O'Neill in his march south against the English army. The McAuliffes did join O'Neill and paid a heavy price for it.
As I looked at the countryside I imagined that horses were probably very useful in such hilly terrain which possibly explained why the McAuliffes were able to muster so many horsemen.
A combination of war, land confiscations and famine were responsible for the disintegration and dispersal of many of the Irish clanns, including the MacAuliffes. For those visiting Ireland from the countries to which their MacAuliffe ancestors emigrated there is that extra dimension to be considered - questions about why they left and where they departed from. Cobh Harbour near Cork City was the place of departure for many emigrants, especially those going to America. If you know that your ancestor left from there you may like to visit; it's not too far from the city.
Famine cross at Clonfert Cemetery, the ancient burial ground of the McAuliffes.
For an understanding of the famine and the effect it had I highly recommend a visit to the Famine Museum at Skibbereen. Be prepared to be moved to tears. Skibbereen today is an enchantingly beautiful town that today gives no hint that 10,000 people died there during the famine. We may not be able to identify individual McAuliffes who died here or elsewhere in Ireland but we know that the famine had a huge effect, as it did on all.
Skibbereen Heritage Centre
MacAULIFFE ON THE MAP
About a mile from Newmarket is the site where Castle MacAuliffe stood. This is not a place you can visit as it is quite a distance from the road and is on private farmland. If you could visit the site you'd be disappointed at the total destruction of the castle. Although the castle no longer stands, if you look at a map that shows the townlands you will notice that the memory of the castle is still preserved in the name of the townland here - Castlemacauliffe. Another nearby townland also preserves the McAuliffe name - Tooreenmacauliffe.
This section of a Google map shows Newmarket near the top and Castlemacauliffe at bottom left. The other townland, Tooreenmacauliffe, can not be picked up by Google. I don't know if that's because the name has been changed or just not listed on the map.
The Clonfert Cemetery (see above) is near where the name Clonfert appears on the map, just below Newmarket.
Click anywhere on the map to see an interactive Google map of this area.
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Hit counter started 28 January 2008
Finding McAuliffe Foorprints
Site designed and maintained by Bob McAuliffe, New Zealand.
This page last updated 11 July 2009
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