Co. Monaghan Facts in my 5 Things Friday, Enjoy!
This week I’m taking a look at some interesting facts about Co. Monaghan. From an Irish word meaning ‘the place of the shrubs’ Co. Monaghan is a small but very pretty county with lovely lakes and forests aplenty, as well as great outdoor pursuits especially golfing.
It is famed for being the birthplace of poet Patrick Kavanagh, Carrickmacross Lace, boxer Barry McGuigan and music festivals, amongst other things.
Population of Co. Monaghan: 60,483 (2011 Census)
Area: 1,295 Sq. Km (500 Sq. mi)
I have listed 5 of my favourite facts about Co. Monaghan below. This is not an exclusive list, just things I enjoyed learning or things I think you might find interesting. And don’t worry, there are many more to come in the months ahead…
Clontibret is a small village and parish in Co. Monaghan with a population of 325, according to the 2011 Census. In 2008, the area became the centre of a media spotlight when gold was discovered. Since then, it has been estimated that there could be as much as €150 million worth of gold in the ancient hills of Co. Monaghan in a 50km gold trend. With that in mind, I’m hiring a minibus and buying some sieves. Who’s in?!
Lady Mary Bailey, a 20th Century aviator, was born and raised in Monaghan. Bailey was a mother of five, and the daughter of the fifth Baron Rossmore, of Rossmore Castle, Co. Monaghan. She as known as one of the finest aviators of her time, though has been somewhat overshadowed in popular culture by her contemporary Amelia Earhart. Bailey was the first woman to fly across the Irish Sea and made an 8,000 mile solo flight from Croydon to Cape Town, South Africa and then flew 18,000 miles back. It was the longest solo flight by a woman thus far and she twice won the prize as the world’s greatest female aviator.
Thomas Bracken was a Monaghan native born in Clones in 1843 and emigrated to Australia at age 12 in 1855, before ending up in New Zealand in 1869. He worked in many jobs throughout his life in Australia and New Zealand including as a rancher, gold prospector and shepherd, before becoming acclaimed for his writing. Although little-known in his native country, he is held in high esteem in his adopted New Zealand as a great politician and poet. He was known for his tolerance and he was particularly interested in the well-being of the working classes and the native Maori people. His greatest claim to fame however, is as the author of God Defend New Zealand, its National Anthem. However, Bracken did not retain copyright on the poem unfortunately, and he died penniless in 1898.
Carrickmacross Workhouse is one of the only restored famine workhouses in the country and visitors can enjoy a detailed and interesting tour of the site on weekdays all year round. Originally built around 1843 to house 500 of the county’s poorest, by 1851 over 2,000 men women and children were crammed into the building. The Workhouse featured in the TV show Finding Your Roots when musician Sting traced his maternal great great great grandmother Mary Murphy to the workhouse. She died there, a widow and a pauper, in 1881. Sadly, all Mary’s children had emigrated or died at that stage and she was buried in the grounds in a mass unmarked grave where her remains still lie today along with hundreds of other unfortunate victims Great Famine.
And finally, the famous Hollywood actor Clint Eastwood has been quoted as saying he has a great fondness for Monaghan, as his mother Mary Margaret reportedly has roots in the county. According to the Irish Sun, Eastwood has spent many holidays in Monaghan over the years and particularly enjoys playing golf there!
So there you have it. Some of my favourite ‘interesting things’ about lovely Monaghan. There are many more as I say, but I’ll save those for another day!
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As Always, Happy Irish Travels