“Thiar le hais an droichid ceathrughadh míle as so – bhí an chéad Béal an Átha suidhte. Is fuirist tuiscint conus a fuair an áit a hainm. Tá rían an Átha le hais an droichid fós ann. Agus an “béal”, tá sé soiléir go leor mar oscluigheann an abha amach i bhfuirm béil ag an bpoinnte seo. Sin bunús na h-ainmne ‘Béal an Átha’”
“Back beside the bridge, a quarter of a mile from here, the first Béal an Átha was located. It is easy to understand how the place got it’s name. A trace of the ford beside the bridge still exists. And the ‘mouth’ – it is obvious enough because the river opens out into the shape of a mouth at this point. That is the origin of the name ‘Béal an Átha.’”
Séamus Ó Gruagáin, Principal Teacher, Broadford National School, The above is taken from ‘The Schools Manuscript Collection, 1937/1938’
The Ordnance Survey map of 1841 shows a newer village running from the old road to Tullylease as far as the quarry (arboretum) and as far as the Church on the opposite side. The map shows a much older village running from Broadford bridge to Pierce’s fort. 5 limestone quarries were being worked near the village at that time and the Mohilly family were famous stonemasons. Their craftsmanship is to be seen in many of the nearby cemeteries.
The 5 conjoined houses which centre on the Post Office and contribute so much to the architecture of the village were built by Henry Dean Spread in the early 1880s. In 1954, eight new houses, (St. Mary’s Terrace), were constructed by Limerick Co. Council. The next development began in 1979/80 with the construction of John Paul Terrace. The development of the village on the Newcastle West road continued with the construction of community housing named Curramore in the year 2000.
The sculpture, beside this storyboard, was erected in 1998, dedicated to the memory of Dáibhí Ó Bruadair, the 17th century bardic poet to the Fitzgeralds of Springfield Castle.
The first post Reformation Catholic Church was built in 1819/20 on the Newcastle West road where Ó’Suilleabháin’s corner house now stands. This was replaced by the present day church Our Lady of the Snows in 1844.( Fr. Patrick Quaid, P.P.) It measured 90 feet by 30 feet. The belfry was added in 1856. The porch, front wall and gates were added by Canon O’Connor, P.P. in the 1950s. Extensive renovations were carried out in 1983/84.
The first National School was opened in 1837 and in the first year had 129 pupils. It was replaced in 1870 on the same site. When a new school, Scoil Mhuire, was opened in 1963 the old school was renovated and opened as the present Community Centre.
Trades & Business In The Past
According to the 1901 census there were 10 shops, 2 bakeries, 2 victuallers, 2 tailors, 2 dressmakers, 2 blacksmiths, 1 shoemaker, 4 coach builders, 1 draftsman/surveyor, 1 carman, 4 teachers, 1 road contractor, 2 coopers, 1 milliner and 1 creamery manager in Broadford. By this time the village had also acquired a Post Office, a Dispensary and a Constabulary Station. A creamery was established in 1889 and was the main source of industrial employment following the demise of the quarries. The creamery ceased milk intake in 1992. The creamery store continued in business until 1997. The original handball alley which dated back to the 1880s was located where the Millennium Garden now stands. The new handball complex is situated on the western end of the village. By 1950 there were 2 drapers, 5 grocery shops, 2 bakeries, 1 grocery/hardware shop, 4 grocery/wine and spirit merchants, 1 bicycle shop, 2 blacksmiths, 2 harness makers, 2 shoemakers, 2 tailors, 4 dressmakers, 3 coopers, 2 carpenters, 1 coachbuilder and a Post Office in Broadford village.
Today Broadford village has grown into a thriving community with a number of businesses, voluntary community organisations and sports clubs.
These lands of Killagholehane were granted in 1586 under the terms of the Plantation of Munster to an English family with the name of Anketell. The old era had come to an end and a new one would enfold. Diarmuid O’Sullivan (Dermot Sullivan) acquired these lands from John Anketell through a Deed of Mortgage in 1685. Brothers Jeremiah Sullivan and Francis Sullivan descendants of Dermot came to live here in the early 1800s, Jeremiah in Banemore and Francis in Glenview Lodge. Jeremiah’s son John J. built Curramore House in the mid 19th century and the estate was laid out with beautiful avenues and ornamental gardens. John J’s son Herbert known as the Minor Sullivan resided in Curramore House . Herbert was the resident magistrate and chairman of Broadford Co-operative Creamery. Curramore House was occupied by a small force of Republicans during the Civil War. At the approach of the Free State soldiers into County Limerick around August, 1922 they burned the beautiful mansion. Previous to this Herbert Sullivan had retired to Devonshire in England from whence his wife hailed. The estate was purchased by the Free State Government and divided into a number of smaller holdings.
This district suffered severely from the famine of the 1840s An Gorta Mór. Many people died from hunger and fever. The following account was handed down to us and recorded in The Schools’ Manuscript Collection 1937/1938 which was initiated by the Irish Folklore Commission. A local man counted seven funerals on the one day going to this cemetery of Killagholehane. “It was the hinged coffins that were used to bring the corpses so that the coffins could be used again, the people could not afford to buy coffins.” The funeral procession came from the Knockacraig direction and the coffins were borne on shoulders along the old road and boreens to the Churchyard. The bodies were interred in the same grave.
As you walk these trails you will be using some of the footpaths that were used by families each Sunday to get to Mass in Broadford. These paths were the shortest route by foot across hills and valleys to get to the village. The routes were used in the 19th century and late into the 20th century.
The Church of Killagholehane
Legend tells us that a woman of the Ui Liathain family wished to honour God by building a Church and prayed for a sign that would indicate where the church should be built. Her prayer was answered….. One summer night the surrounding countryside was covered with snow…. except for one small field. The woman took this as a sign and there the church was built. It was dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows. The present church dates from the 15th century. Within the burial ground adjacent to the Church is a Republican Plot and the headstone commemorates local men who died in the War of Independence and are interred there.
Gleann na gCapall
This glen dates from The Ice Age when a glacier gorged out this valley. However in folklore, a woman out saving hay one very warm day grew thirsty and went into Killagholehane church and drank some of the consecrated wine. For this sacrilege she was turned into a horse and as such continues to haunt Gleann na gCapall.
TEN THINGS TO DO IN THE BROADFORD ASHFORD AREA.
- Walk the Broadford Ashford Walking Trails and discover this majestic landscape of rolling hills, open farmland and forest paths. Enjoy the flora and fauna and historical points of interest.
- Visit the historical Mass Rock in Ashford and the nearby Glenquin Castle
- Broadford arboretum is not to be missed which includes twenty six native species of trees.
- Experience Seisún a great traditional night of music, song and dance during July and August. Let your holiday coincide with a local festival.
- Visit the 15th century Killagholehane church ruins and be intrigued by its history.
- Extend your visit and walk or cycle the Great Southern Trail Greenway with access point at Newcastle West. Climb Knockfierna and pass the deserted famine cottages as you ascend.
- Call to the pubs in Ashford, Broadford and Ratheenagh and enjoy the ‘craic’
- During your holiday explore West Limerick, visit Newcastle West, Limerick’s largest town with its Desmond Castle, boutiques and restaurants.Discover the Irish Palatine (German) museum, visit Adare village with its thatched cottages and restaurants and don’t forget Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum.
- Fit in a local Gaelic hurling or football match or play your own game of golf in Adare, Charleville or Newcastle West.
- The children will love the new playground in Broadford.
The above list is just a sample, discover many more. Enjoy!
Directions Limerick to Ashford:Take N21 from Limerick signposted Tralee/ Killarney. Enter Adare. Entering Newcastle West at the first roundabout take 1st exit, at the second roundabout take 2nd exit onto R522 signposted Dromcollogher. After 7km turn right signposted for Broadford. Enter Broadford.Turn right on entering Broadford and go to the end of the village and take the Abbeyfeale road R515. Enter Ashford after 6km.
Cork to Ashford:Take N20 from Cork signposted Mallow. Approaching Mallow at roundabout take 1st exit onto N72 signposted Killarney. After 13km turn right onto R576 signposted Kanturk. Enter Kanturk and take R579 road signposted Newcastlewest . Continue for 23km and enter Broadford.Turn left on entering Broadford and take the Abbeyfeale road R515. Enter Ashford after 6km.
Limerick to Broadford :Take N21 from Limerick signposted Tralee/ Killarney. Enter Adare. Entering Newcastle West at the first roundabout take 1st exit, at the second roundabout take 2nd exit onto R522 signposted Dromcollogher. After 7km turn right signposted for Broadford. Enter Broadford.
Cork to Broadford :Take N20 from Cork signposted Mallow. Approaching Mallow at roundabout take 1st exit onto N72 signposted Killarney. After 13km turn right onto R576 signposted Kanturk. Enter Kanturk and take R579 road signposted Newcastlewest . Continue for 23km and enter Broadford
Accomodation/Restaurants in the Broadford/Ashford area