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Ballaghmore

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Ireland : East Coast and Midlands : County Laois : Ballaghmore
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Ballaghmore is a village in County Laois.

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The main industry in Ballaghmore is farming. The village has a thriving community, with a hurling club, Kyle GAA and a local church. Family names from this area include Keogh, O'Grady, England, Gilmartin, Rigney, Delaney and Maher.

It is mainly known for Ballaghmore Castle which is situated in a truly beautiful landscape, with excellent walking and mountain climbing opportunities. The caste derived its name from the Bealach Mor, the ancient road to Munster on which the castle is located.

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  • Ballaghmore Castle. Ballaghmore Castle was built in 1480 by the Irish chieftain MacGiollaphadraig, translated as Son of the Servant of Patrick and nowadays conveniently called Fitzpatrick. Like many other castles Ballaghmore Castle was damaged by Cromwellian forces in 1647 during the Laois-Offaly Plantation. A Mr Ely restored the castle in 1836 and found a hoard of gold on the land in the process. Mr Ely was killed by an angry farmer and never lived in the castle. The uninhabited building was used as granary and fell in disrepair until it was bought by its present owner in 1990.  edit
  • Sheela na Gig. A very interesting feature of the Ballaghmore Castle is the Sheela na Gig which is carved in a corner stone of the outer front facing wall. Until the sixteenth century most Irish churches and castles were protected from evil by a statue or carving of Sheela-na-Gig. Sheela-na-Gig is depicted as a plain ugly, half-dead, woman with contorted face and fully exposed vagina. The emphasis on the female reproduction organs in combination with her death-like appearance is associated with the cycle of birth and death. Sheela-na-Gig is known to be a Celtic fertility goddess, but that is about all we know. Scholars assume that Sheela-na-Gig is imported from Mesopotamia where the term nu-gug refers to some sort of sacred prostitutes. Sheela-na-Gig figures were common in Ireland and Britain, but just a few of them survived the Victorian nineteenth century.  edit


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