Local History

Creevy, Ballyshannon & Rossnowlagh – Donegal steeped in History & Heritage

A unique Irish vacation experience!

This rural coastal area, Creevy is steeped in history lying halfway between Rossnowlagh Creevy Pier Ballyshannon Co Donegal
“The Heavenly Cove” and Ballyshannon.  Creevy, or Craobhach, means a branchy place or an area covered with branches and we learn from the first Inquisition that there were two divisions of Creevy, one belonging to the monks and named Creevymonach and the other called Creevydartan as a pasture for heifers.  Creevy shows signs of early habitation and have a coastline that would been easily accessible to our ancestors.

In Creevy, there were two ring barrows which are assumed to have been burial sites, there are three cashels and are traces of five ring forts one which is marked Crawford’s fort on OS maps. Creevy Pier was known as Bunatruhan, which means bottom or mouth of the little stream which was built during the Famine period in 1847.

This area provides a unique opportunity for visitors with various preferences to mix their holiday activities, enjoy a full social life and live in the lap of luxury.  Enjoy top class walks, both short routes, e.g. the Creevy Coastal Walk – a coastal walk 10 miles in length running from nearby Rossnowlagh through Creevy to the mouth of the Erne Estuary and convenient long distance walks such as the Blue Stack Way and The Gaeltacht Way.

Numerous archaeological and historical sites of significance abound in the locality, including the Kilbarron 6th Century Church of St. Barron, kinsman of St. Colmcille, after which this parish of Kilbarron is named.  Recently a prehistoric Sand Cemetery dating back to 4000 BC was discovered adjacent to the Shore Walk.  Nearby are the ruins of the Wardtown Castle, home of speaker Connolly of the House of Commons. Wardtown Castle, Creevy, Ballyshannon

The most famous of this clan was Michael O’Cleary born 1575-died 1643, the learned Franciscan Lay Brother who was chief of the Four Masters and oversaw the compilations of the Annals of the Four Masters, a chronicle of Irish history dating way back in 2958 BC, 40 years before the flood, and ending AD 1616 with the death of Hugh O’Neill.  Kilbarron castle This Chief of the four Masters (christened Thady) was born at Kilbarron Castle, (his mother was Hanora McNulty) the strategic O’Cleary Fort on the shore beyond Creevy Pier, accessible from the shore walk towards Rossnowlagh.  With his assistants these Master scribes compiled this magnificent history between 1632 and 1636 and dedicated it to their patron, Fergal O’Garra, prince of Coolavin.  Exactly where they wrote it is uncertain, claims have been made of various locations including Lough Eske and Killymard near Donegal and Mullin-aleck on the road to Kinlough, Co Leitrim.

They are commemorated by a monument/obelisk in The Diamond, Donegal town.  Again only the ruins of the Franciscan Abbey to which these brothers belonged, remain, near the Quay in Donegal,   Donegal Abbey was founded by Nuala, mother of red Hugh O’Donnell and was destroyed by a gunpowder explosion in 1601.  The annals, a 37 volume work covers over 16 centuries of Plagues, Battles, Invasion, Saints and Scholars.  The Roman Catholic Church in Donegal is known as St. Patrick’s Church of the Four Masters.

Adjacent to the main road just past Creevy Cross on the left as you travel from Ballyshannon are the remains of the 6th Century Church of St Barron, founder of this parish of Kilbarron, a kinsman of St Colmkille.  6th Century Church St Barron Rathlin O’Beirne Island off Glencolmcille is in the parish of Kilbarron as the result of a wager, involving St. Barron, local folklore tells us.

As you travel from Ballyshannon to Creevy on the R231, the road passes close to the remains, scant as they are, of the Cistercian Abbey of the Morning Star founded in 1178.  Apart from a few segments of wall held together by ivy only the cemetery has survived. In it with many others is the tomb of the O’Cleary’s, that Scholarly tribe who provided teachers to the O’Donnell’s, who ruled as Chieftains of Tyrconnell for 300 years.   Close by the restored Corn Mill, interpretative centre – the tea-rooms open every Sunday from April – October.

Creevy’s nearest town is Ballyshannon, which claims to be the oldest town in Ireland, where the mighty Erne system empties into the sea.   Long famous for its Salmon fishing, in the past it was a shipping port of some significance.  Ballyshannon became a borough by royal charter in 1613.  Local Poet William Allingham referred to it in song as the “the friendly place, the kindly spot”. William Allingham  Once a thriving Business Centre & shipping port, emigrant ships sailed from here in Famine times.  It boasted a brewery, distillery, tannery, coopers, etc  until a number of ships were wrecked on the bar at the mouth of the estuary.  This along with the impact of rail transport, lead to the death of the port and the subsequent decline of the town.