Ballyconneely has been to the forefront in many historic projects and events. As early as 1854 the first Salmon farming operation in either Britain or Ireland was carried out on the Dohulla Fishery. William Young and J.K. Boswell built a dam at the western outlet at Barrowen Lough reversing the flow of water into Maumeen Lough via a man-made river known as the New Cut. Spawling beds and rearing ponds for salmon were built along its banks and with the help of a scientist a Mr. Ramsbottom from Clitheroe in Lancashire, the locally reared fish were tagged and released to sea, and were documented returning to the fishery up to 1863.
Alcock and Arthur
On Sunday June 14th 1919, the first non-stop transatlantic flight ended in the Derrygimbla Bog just two miles from Ballyconneely, Capt. John Alcock and Lieutentant Arthur Whitten Brown had flown their twin-engined Bickers Vimy plane from St. Johns Harbour, Newfoundland, Canada, in sixteen hours and twenty seven minutes.
They landed virtually within yards of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Station, set up by Guiglielmo Marconi, the Italian pioneer of wireless telegraphy in 1905 and from where the first transatlantic wireless message was sent to Cape Breton in Nova Scotia in 1907.
On the 3rd of July 2005, the intrepid Steve Fossett together with Mark Reboltz co-pilot navigator flew a replica Vickers Vimy Atlantic bi-plane from Newfoundland to Clifden along the same flight path, landing on the 8th Fairway at Connemara Championship Golf Links course, Ballyconneely. A massive crowd were gathered at Connemara Championship Links to greet the two pilots on their landing. It took them over 17 hours to complete the historic journey and they felt very relieved when they landed safely on the 8th fairway. Watch out for the commemorative plaque located close to the famous 8th fairway in tribute to remarkable and unique event. It also visited again in 2009 for the Connemara Air Show.
Connemara Championship Golf Course
Nestled between the scenic splendor of the Twelve Bens mountain range and the rugged Atlantic ocean, lies the 27 hole Connemara Championship Golf Links. From the testing dog leg opening hole through to the breathtaking back 9, which have been acknowledged as the “equal to any in the world”, Connemara is an enduring monument to its designer Eddie Hackett.
To the West is Doon Hill the derelict 1939-45 coast-watching post is on the side of a folly which was built in 1780 by Richard Geoghegan to commemorate the winning of freedom of trade by Grattan’s volunteers. There 53 number visible above a very indistinct on top of Doonhill. During the war years, a number of coastal look out points were built around Ireland to monitor shipping and air traffic. Ireland had declared itself neutral. In total, 84 of these lookout points were constructed. They consisted of what can best be described as a little concrete bunker. About 50 of those structures have left footprints or are still standing. They are built of concrete, and most of them are in a state of disrepair. There was a tiny fire place in it, and otherwise it was pretty much open to the elements. Volunteers were assigned to each of the look out posts on eight hour shifts, Part of this was linked to the risk of an invasion of Ireland, a neutral country. An interesting read on the Plan W.
Less than 1km West, near the road to Bunowen Quay, in Aillebrack is the Well of the Seven Daughters. The holy well of St. Caillin is situated in Keeraunmore in Ballyconneely. It is associated with St. Caillin who was a local saint and, like St. MacDara, has had a long affinity with seafarers. The well has been a popular place of pilgrimage for centuries, and is mentioned in O Flaherty’s history of 1684. Around the well are a number of penitential stations, one of which is known as St. Caillin’s Bed. The Holy well and Penitential Stations is now only visited on the Saints day, November 13th.
Also associated with St. Caillin is Chapel Island not far offshore from this well. This island contains the ruins of an early Christian chapel. On the outskirts of Ballyconneely there is a vast expanse of Moors, Lakes and streams, teeming with undisturbed wildlife and rare plants, an area which is almost haunting in it’s serene tranquility, especially in the early morning and late Summer evenings.