Shanagolden! Such a beautiful place-name. I recall when I first heard it some four decades ago and I still think it is one of Ireland’s most beautiful place names. It is an anglicization of the Irish name Seanghualainn, with the much less romantic translation of ‘Old Shoulder’, I presume referring from the hills behind the village which act as a broad shelter.
The sun came out today, so I took a 10 minute trip down the road to have a stroll there, as it is just off the Newcastle West to Foynes road. The most striking thing about Shanagolden is the very wide street, with former shops set well back.
The village is set in beautiful pastureland
The Roman Catholic Church of St Sennans is on high ground on the edge of the village.
Around the church
The Church interior has lovely plain leaded windows and a beautiful old floor.
The most surprising thing about the church is the cross – normally catholic churches are dominated by a crucified Christ or an empty traditional shaped Cross. This church however has a most beautiful Celtic Cross as its focal point, high above the altar. If anyone knows more about it,I would love to know who the artist is.
On the way back to the main street of the village there are several interesting features.
Shanagolden is very proud of Tim Madigan who lost his life as a result of having been shot by the Black and Tans “As Timothy Madigan continued to run, we called on him to halt once again and as he paid no attention one more shot was fired at a distance of about 400 yards which caused him to fall”
The local Gaelic Ground is named after him.
From the car park at the Gaelic grounds there is a wonderful view of the old church tower which is I believe early 19th century, when it was part of the Church of Ireland, although I am not certain about this.
Shanagolden Creamery was once the nerve centre of this community. Every day local farmers would bring fresh milk from their cows to the Cooperative Society in the village where it would be turned into butter – not just any butter, but award-winning butter than was sought after even in London’s most prestigious stores. In later years milk collected here was transported to the famous Cleeves Toffee factory in Limerick city.
The old creamery with its brick chimney stack stands testament to more prosperous times in Shanagolden.
Across the road is a very nice old stone building which was once a forge, in the wall of which is an inscribed stone commemorating James Clarence Mangan (1803 – 1849). He was a poet, who penned ‘My Dark Rosaleen’, (Rosaleen being a poetic symbol of an oppressed Ireland ) familiar to thousands of Irish schoolchildren. His family apparently came from Shanagolden.
Nearby in total contrast is a very beautiful drinking fountain erected and installed to the memory of the eldest son of the local landlord, Lord Monteagle,who lived at Mount Trenchard in Foynes.
Press report of the funeral can be seen here
Shanagolden is a gem set in the Limerick countryside, well worth a visit if you are passing by!