Gort na Manach – Gortnamanagh – The Monks’ Tillage Field.

Gortnamanagh is divided into two separate townlands – Gortnamanagh East (413 acres) and Gortnamanagh West (426 acres). It is situated in the parish of Kilchreest in the barony of Loughrea in the foothills of the Sliabh Aughty Mountains. The whole area is steeped in history and folklore. Joe Cormican, a local man who worked for the Irish Folklore Commission in the late 1930’s, collected a wealth of material in this area. The Tithe Applotment books of 1829 recorded Patrick Hawkins, Sarah Lynch and Robert Power as tithe payers in Gortnamanagh East. Robert Power owned Gortnamanagh East and he purchased Gortnamanagh West through the Encumbered Estates Court in 1851. Folklore claims that Gortnamanagh did not lose any house during The Great Famine but population statistics do not support this claim. Between 1841 and 1851 the number of houses in Gortnamanagh East declined from 25 to 14 while the population dropped from 157 to 73 – a 54% decline. In the same decade the number of dwellings in Gortnamanagh West declined from 10 to 8 while the population reduced from 57 to 37 – a 35% decline. Griffiths’ Valuation of 1856 records Patrick Hawkins, Stephen Hawkins, John Walsh, Patrick Deely, Martin Deely , John Lally Francis Carty, William Carty and Mary Carty as householders in Gortnamanagh East.

Householders in Gortnamanagh West included Bartholomew Buckley, John Dooley and Martin Lally. Robert Power held a position as Recorder for Galway and he was a benevolent landlord.

Raftery, the poet often visited Gortnamanagh in his travels around South Galway in the early 19th century and his attendance at a wake is the subject of an amusing story in Joe Cormican’s  Collection.

This primary source also records a schoolhouse here and folklore strongly supports the existence of a hedge school here.

Gortnamannagh West is in the Electoral Division of Kilchreest, in Civil Parish of Kilchreest, in the old Barony of Loughrea, in the County of Galway

The Irish name for Gortnamannagh West is Gort na Manach Thiar