John Towey Unearths Moylough Belt Shrine
John Towey of Moylough, Co Sligo, unearthed one of Ireland’s finest treasures, now named the Moylough Belt Shrine, while digging turf in 1945 on the family’s piece of turbary bog. The bog is not far from an early monastery at Carrowntemple, so there may be a connection to this holy place.
- The eighth-century Moylough Belt Shrine is one of a quartet of Ireland National Museum’s most famous exhibits that represent the finest of metal craftsmanship. The others are the Ardagh Chalice, the Tara Brooch and the Derrynaflan Hoard (a chalice and paten)
- The Moylough Belt Shrine is made up of four hinged copper-alloy plates in form of a belt, each enclosing a fragment of a simple leather belt, hence naming it as a belt shrine. Two front plates form a false “buckle” whose frames are decorated with bird and animal heads and end in elaborate glass pieces. Archaeologists suggest that richness of the ornamentation indicates it was made for ceremonial purposes, or was to contain a sacred relic.
- There is no record how the belt shrine ended up four feet down in the bog. There were no wrappings around the hinged bronze object. Speculation therefore is it was dropped and lost then sank down into the bog over time, rather than deliberately buried.
Derrinacartha School, 1826 to 1985
Historical information about Derrinacartha School was written in a booklet titled Derrinacartha National School Centenary, written in Summer 1985, . The first school in 1826 was reportedly a stone structure with thatched roof, replaced by a successor school about 1885. Several Toweys taught at and principled the school. The article may be seen at link Derrinacartha School 1885. In closing, the article acknowledges replacement of Derrinacarha School with a new school in 1985 at nearby Dernabruck.
Another Derrinacartha School article that appeared in the same booklet identifies Derrinacartha School children that later fought in World War II, including Major Hugh Towey.
Six of 14 Stations of the Cross in Derrinacartha Church were donated by Towey’s, so says an item from the Derrinacartha N.S. Centenary 1885-1985, by Jackie Henry and Mary T. Geever.
Donors were: 1 and 2: Mary Towey NT (National Teacher); 3 – deceased friends of Mary Towey; 4 – Pat and Mrs. Towey NT; 5 – Mary Towey of Ardcul; 6 – Pray for John Towey. Mary Towey NT was principal of the girls part of Derrnacartha School from 1890-1915. Station 4’s Mrs Towey might be Ellen Moran Towey who taught the school for 50 years before retiring in 1925. One of her 6 children, daughter Mary Towey O’Connor, also taught at the school from 1916-1949.
Siobhan Regan, a teenager in Castlemore, wrote an article in December 1990 about Castlemore history, particularly its Castlemore Mills flax mill (latter 18th Century) that was later replaced by a corn mill (mid 19th century). She describes the need, operation, ownership and closure of both. They were water powered and labour intensive.
Thomas Finn wrote about Cloontia, a townland about 5.1 miles (8 kilometers) northwest of Ballaghaderreen. He grew up and lived there, along with hundreds of families he personally knew. Thomas Finn was born in 1920 and wrote his chronicle in 1999, up to 80 years about Cloontia families. He names husbands and wives, their children including spouses and often the grandchildren. For spouses, Tom also identifies the townland he/she migrated from.
- Tom estimated there were 131 homes around Cloontia in the 1920s. Given about 6 people per house (father, mother + 4 children), there could have been approximately 786 people. In 1999, he says there were only about 60 homes and given an average of 4 in every house that is approximately 240 people. What a decline in population!
- Beyond names of the families, most interesting is Tom’s summary of Irish living from the 1920s through entry of Ireland to the European Union. Therefore, his chronicle is presented in two parts. Most interesting is Tom’s summary of Cloontia Life. Second is his chronicle of Cloontia Families.
- Among the hundreds of family names, he identifies 38 Toweys that lived in Cloontia homesteads, including original homestead of the Towey spouses. Cloontia and a couple of villages are on the general map of roads and towns surrounding the Ballaghaderreen area, and may be viewed at Ballaghaderreen Area Map.
Townland or Village Total Families Towey Families
- Dernabruck Townland
Crowhill Village 4
Slievemore Village 6 2
Islandmore Village 7 2
Ballahere Village 19 3
Shanwalla Village 13 11
Derryaraune Village 18 5
- Cloonmeen Townland 14 8
- Killgarriff Townland 32 5
- Tavnaghbeg Townland
Tavnaghbeg Village 12 1
Cullgeragaurn Village 6 1
- Totals 131 38