A highway for travel and information connected Ulster and Leinster passing through Magheracloone across the bridge at Ballyhoe. Where Breffny joins with kingly Meath at Tobermannon on the Glyde, there Magheracloone is, lying side by side, wrote a local poet in 1957.
Beautiful rolling hills, scenic lakes and a winding river Glyde reflects not Machaire (na) Cluana – the Pasture Plain, but rather it’s historical origin “the meadow or sports ground of Cluain“. Underneath these famous hills and few flat plains, covering 12,952 statute acres lie numerous natural resources such as gypsum, red and blue clay, limestone and small deposits of coal, with their development giving employment to people on the surface.
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“A hardy lot” would be a fair description of the people, known far and wide by their black and white colours, reaching over 9,000 in 1841 and standing today over 1800. The desire to know was the core aspiration of all in the “past” with the three national schools of Ballaghnagearn, Drumgossat and Mullaghrafferty starting the young in their quest for knowledge.
When the Fir Fearnmhaighe overcame their ancestors, the Mugdorn and Fir Rois they gave their name, Farney to the area. They joined O’Neill and O’Donnell in their effort to defend the Gaelic social system in attacking the Pale but lost on the return journey at the Ford of Ballyhoe. The Anglo-Normans though Fleming occupied the castle that was later destroyed and the Farney area granted to Essex by Elizabeth in 1576. Later the tenant lands came under Brownlow, Porter and the larger Shirley estate. In 1826 the absentee Shirley landlords built a permanent residence at Lough Fea in Magheracloone. The inhabitants experienced difficult times during the Penal days and many conflicts occurred during the Tithe wars and agrarian troubles such as the Battle of Magheracloone where a person lost his life. Porridge distribution centres were appreciated and well known in the black 1847’s while resistance to high rents continued in the Plan of Campaign in 1887 with many evictions taking place. 1909 saw the sale of the tenant land leases and freedom cries pierced the air.
As then and now the skills and abilities of this distinct parish community of women and men were varied and diverse. They ranged from builders to software analysts, teachers to plumbers, farmers to scientists, welders to weathermen, carpenters to drivers, gardeners to clergy-persons and all in-between, moving along the highway of life to success at home and abroad.
Meeting their spiritual needs they worshipped in three vibrant Churches, built and maintained by the people of different traditions. When political freedoms were restored, sporting and recreational facilities sprung up and the young ladies and gents of today achieve their victories on the playing fields with great success.
Like the sound of the lark in the clear air echoes the voices of song, music and dance in the locality. Joys and sorrows, emigration and home employment, success and failure, life and death are wafted in the melody of a local singer “Down through the years“.