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1 Glennan, Donagh & Glaslough

Local Knowledge

Directions

From your starting point at Drumlin Trails base set off in the direction of Glaslough. The loop begins as you turn right at your first right junction at Glennan less than a half mile away. If you take the next left junction and continue round this circuit bearing left all the time until you arrive back at Glennan and to your original starting point then you will have completed the route. This is also known locally as the Motor bike circuit ‘an easy to cycle’ trail for family or aspiring cyclists. It is frequently used by joggers and walkers from the locality as a daily work-out.

Main Points of interest

Focal points of interest along the loop are:

  1. Remnants of of an old lime-kiln on the left at the bend beyond Glendun Sales factory
  2. St Patrick’s well (no longer visible to your right before you cross the river at Glennan.
  3. Here at Glennan was once the workplace of over 100 carpenters engaged in the manufacture of household furniture sold at markets throughout the County  and beyond.
  4. Opposite the Presbyterian Church was the quarry owned by McKay family from where most of the headstones in Donagh old graveyard were excavated. One of the McKays was a sculptor and chiselled out many of the fine memorial engravings to be found in Donagh.
  5. Soccer pitch (a reminder that Honest John McKenna who founded the Liverpool F.C., came from this parish.
  6. Donagh old graveyard contains remnants of an old monastic settlement, the McKenna or Donagh cross, burial plot of the last of the McKenna chiefs etc.,.
  7. Glaslough Rail station
  8. Drumbanagher Viking fort and last battle stand of the McKenna chief Major John McKenna.
  9. Glennan R.C. church and site of the Classical school taught by Rev John Keenan CC and attended by William Carleton the famous 19th century novelist.

From Drumlin Trails base set off towards Glaslough direction taking the first turn to the right where you will find Glennan Presbyterian Church on your left hand side. This  church was built in 1874 and most recently completely refurbished. The origins of the Glennan Presbyterian congregation go back to the 17th Century when the Revd. Thomas Gowan ministered there. Opposite the church runs Mountain stream river which flows from Sliebh Beagh mountain passing through Emyvale village en route. Across the river barely discernible is what remains of Glennan quarry. From this quarry many stone memorials were carved out and erected in Donagh old graveyard which can be viewed later on this route. The owners of this quarry were a family by the name of McKay. Further too beyond this quarry to the right at the bend on the opposite side of the river was the site of St Patrick’s well, now since covered over. In bye gone years pilgrims visited the well and prayed hoping for cures etc. Sometimes a piece of wearing apparel was torn off by devotees and left on a nearby bush as part of the ritual.

Take the next left after Glennan church and proceed along this road until you come to  the football pitch of Glaslough Villa soccer club. A native of this area John McKenna from the townland of Drumcaw was one of the founders of the now famous premiership club Liverpool. He was known affectionately as “Honest” John McKenna. A plaque was unveiled to his honour in the Diamond in Glaslough village in 2011 by David Mohan an ardent Liverpool fan. Click on link link below:-

Looking behind this field you can catch a glimpse of St. Mary’s R.C. church which you will see in greater detail on your return route.

Continuing forward you can be reminded that this loop is also the famous circuit of the North Monaghan Motor Cycle club. Annual road races were held here for several years preceding 2007 when after road fatalities the decision to continue with this circuit as a venue came to an end.

Following along this road will lead to a crossroads junction at the bottom of a hill. Cycling straight through this junction leads onto a laneway which brings you eventually to Donagh Old graveyard and church ruins. A noticeboard at the entrance will give you most of the information that you will need.

McKenna's Cross

Among the memorials stands out this High cross which is larger than most. This is known as the Donagh or the McKenna cross, information about which can be read from the noticeboard. Among the stone memorials are a group of 17th century headstones many of which have their coats of arms carved thereon. The McKenna chief’s  grave is covered with a raised flat stone and chain link surround. Among the many tombstones can be found a memorial to a penal days priest Fr Terence McVead (variant of McQuaid) who died at the age of 31 in the year 1731. One other interesting feature among the combined Christian burial plots in this graveyard is a headstone bearing a skull and crossed bones. There are no other markings on this stone. It has been suggested that such a memorial may have marked the death of a young child who had not been baptised.

Pagan burial plot

Inside the church ruins are a few memorials. One of these slabs was placed on the grave of a local landlord called Johnston. Prior to his death he had evicted an elderly lady from her home for non-payment of her rent. The story goes that she put a curse on him that he would not have the breadth of his back once he died. That is why a slab stone memorial visible at the entrance of this ruin appears to  be incorrectly erected, as it is lying on its edge completely at right angles to its original position.

Heading away from the graveyard turning right at the bottom of the hill towards Glaslough proceed towards Glaslough village to the point where the railway crossing once was. This railway station came into existence in 1858 and lasted until just a century later closing down in October 1957. The original waiting rooms and passenger platform have been carefully mothballed in time by its private owner since.

Glaslough Railway Station

There are a number of small finger posts indicating points of interest throughout the length and breadth of the village. If you have an android application with you, you can download “Glaslough Village Heritage Trail” One Village 2 voices. This app. (above) highlights the historic and heritage aspects of our village as seen through the eyes of Landlord on the one hand and the tenant on the other. You can listen to this app. on your phone at the Station stop while you are here.

Mourners at the arrival of Sir John Leslie’s remains at the entrance to Glaslough Rail Station c. 1910. (Note signal box on extreme right and Drumbanagher fort to the right of picture in background, also gentleman on pavement immediately in front of carriage with top hat is Revd. Fr Felix McKenna).

Turning your back on the Railway station, but before heading back out the Emyvale road you will notice to the right hand side on the hill-top a circle of trees.

Drumbanagher Fort

This is Drumbanagher fort (a very old Viking fort) where on the 13th of March 1688 the final influence of the McKenna clan was wiped aside in a battle which took place here. Major John Kenna had been appointed High Sheriff of Monaghan under King James 2nd. Upon hearing of the plans of Lord Blayney Governor of Monaghan to send a force of armed infantry and cavalry to Antrim, McKenna mustered a small force of badly armed infantry. McKennas men lay in wait  nearby until the Williamite force led by Richard Anketell arrived. McKennas men soon wasted most of  their ammunition having taken on Anketells men from too great a distance with weapons which did not have the range. They were pursued by Anketells cavalry and defeated. Richard Anketell was killed in battle and in revenge for his death McKenna was slain and his decapitated head was presented to his wife at McKennas residence in Monmurry about a mile away.

Before leaving Drumbanagher it is worth noting that in recent years while the Office of Public Works were engaged in drainage work on the Blackwater river separating Monaghan from Co Tyrone that they unearthed a “longboat”. This artefact was excavated by the Public Works men in the townland of Drumnolan in a tributary of the Blackwater river and examined by the Curator of Monaghan County Museum. Drumnolan is to the rear (north side) of Drumbanagher. In the best interests of preservation it was decided to re-inter the longboat in its original place beneath the tributary river.

Over the brow of the hill proceeding in the direction of Emyvale you will next see on your left off this road St Mary’s R.C., Church and old Cloncaw National school now used by a pre-school playgroup.

St Marys Church Glennan

St Marys Church Glennan

It was here to the front right hand side of the church in a house then owned by a family called Treanor that the nineteenth century novelist William Carleton studied the Classics under his cousin Revd Fr John Sproule Keenan, Curate. A plaque is erected on the grass near the entrance to the grotto to mark this important link. 

Treanors house

Treanors house

Treanors House where William Carleton studied the Classics tutored by his relative the Revd Fr John Sproule Keenan C.C. House was later demolished to make way for the new grotto behind after the death of its last occupant Cassie Simpson.

Heading back to base at Drumlin Trails Bike Hire from here is an area generally known as Glennan, but less well known are the townlands which converge here. These include Letloonigan, Aghaboy, Desert and Streanduff. Once there was a thriving furniture industry in Glennan employing upwards of a of hundred workers. This may have spawned the growth of furniture factories in the North Monaghan area in modern times. There was a cornmill in Glennan, and in the adjoining townland of Anagap there was a flaxmill. Between Glennan and Knockafubble there are the fragments of a limekiln on your right in the townland of Aghaboy. The furze bushes visible on the summit of Aghaboy provided some of the fuel ingredients together with turf from Donagh, or the Cor bog for generating the necessary heat required to power this manual 18th century lime producing facility. Another similar limekiln existed in the nearby townland of Portinaghy.

That completes your Glennan trail.

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