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The village of Quinaltagh is situated north east of the village of Garrafrauns on the lower slopes of main upland area in the locality, Sliabh Dart. The village has an area of  721 acres with the underlying rock being sandstone. “Ultach” is the Gaelic name for an Ulster person and name Quinultach may have come from Cinne Ultach (Tribe of Ulster), Cíung Ultach (Swingle of the Ulsterman), Cíung-altach (Knotty swingle) or  Caoin na nUltach,(Lament of the Ulster people).

The sites of ring forts  in the area suggest that people settled in this locality  in ancient times. These forts on the raised slopes of the village are known locally as Hernons Lios and Glynn’s  Lios. 

Many new settlers arrived in the locality in the late 1700’s. They were descendants of Irish Catholics who were dispossessed of their farms and homesteads in Ulster and took up their residence on this heather-growing range, which reminded them of their native homes amid the dark mountains of Tyrone and Donegal. Some of the later  Quinaltagh  tenants were relocated from the Gore estate in Sligo as a result of mass evictions in  the 1840’s .They were later joined by families relocated from the Millar estates of Blindwell and Deerpark in the parish of Kilconly. These families included names such as Glynns,  Hernons, Mullins and Flanagans.  In later times Mullarkeys and Rushes acquired vacant holdings and other families married into the area.

          The early settlers of Quinaltagh came  to a place of wilderness , mostly rock strewn ,covered with briars and blackthorn.  The  land in general was poor and large areas were covered with pine forests. The forests extended from Cloondalgan into Quinaltagh.  An area of Quinaltagh is known as Laughill  (leath-choill)meaning “half wood”. A survey at the time identified 210 acres of bogland, 27 acres of rock and 2.5 acres of water.

On arrival the  tenants erected a cluster of rough dwellings close to the existing ringforts of  the area and proceeded in the back breaking work of clearing the rock strewn  hillside. Farms were courageously established from this stoney land and soil for the sowing of their staple diet of potatoes was in very short supply in the area. Such was the huge amount of unearthed stones; the only way they could be disposed of was in the construction of walls up to 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide. The larger flag stones were placed on the outside with the smaller stones in the centre. Many of these massive stone structures can still be found in the area.

An interesting ruin of a Sweat house exists in Laughill. These were beehive shaped structures constructed of local stone and were used by the local people to “sweat out” an ailment of the body.


The great famine of 1845 had a devastating effect on people west of the Shannon with many families evicted from their holdings and forced to emigrate or move to more barren lands. In 1841 the census shows 19 households existing in Quinaltagh with a population of 121.  By 1851 ten other families were moved from the Millar Estate in Blindwell into the  already overcrowded village, thus increasing the population to173 , 96 males and 77 females.  Incidentally the Kirwans and Millars were related through marriage.


Walter Bourke purchased the lands at Quinaltagh from Richard Kirwan in 1857 and almost immediately increased the rent.  After the famine corn prices which was the main currency of the people had plummeted so many landlords increased the rent or cleared their estates for cattle.


In 1879 14 of the 22 tenants of Quinaltagh were threatened with eviction  as they were in arrears with their rent.  Walter Bourke died before the evictions were carried out. Canon Geoffrey Burke, PP of Kilvine  and resident of Oldtown in Irishtown was executor of the will and threatened to carry out the evictions. The tenants met with Michael Davitt at a pig ``fair in Claremorris. This set off a train of events starting with a monster meeting in Irishtown, attended   by over 7000 people and the subsequent establishment of the Land League.  As a result of the agitation the eviction notices were withdrawn and the rents were reduced by 25%. 


In olden times it is reputed that a “póirse” ran from Cloonkeen through  Shanballymore, through Quinaltagh and exited at the Bridge at Addrigoole. It then continued through Darrary and on to Gortnagoyne.This roadway may have been part of this thoroughfare known as “Bothar Ban”.