The uppers and lowers of a Cavan parish

The ancient Parish of Lavey derives its name from the Irish-meaning elm tree. It is situated in East Cavan and was founded by St. Damhnat, Patroness of the Parish.

At present the Parish consists of thirty-five townlands but is easily accessible due to the fact that it is bisected by the main Dublin/Virginia/Cavan Road, locally called the 'Broad Road". Previously there were Sub-Divisions - notable being Carriga, Grellagh and Killygrogan (Garryowen). Lavey runs from South-East to North-West townlands on the Virginia end being Corracarrow, Druminbane, Druminduff, Stravicnabo, Drumestagh, Bogesky and towards the Cavan end Lisanahagh, Lateever, Drumhilla, Gortnakillew. Boundary parishes are Killinkere, Lurgan and Castlerahan on the Virginia side, with Laragh towards its North and Denn South-West. Annagcliff comes in towards the Cavan town end. With so many townlands it is natural that Lavey should have many landmarks.

I shall begin at the 'Upper Lavey' side of the Parish. Travelling from Virginia towards Cavan one encounters New Inn cross-roads. On the traveller's left will be seen a building which until recent times was New Inn Post Office in the townland of Druminbane. In older times this was a stopping place for the mail coach and is now a retail shop. The road which is on the traveller's left at the cross-roads and passes New Inn P.O. leads to Ballyjamesduff. On the opposite side of the main road stands the clearly marked recently developed complex of Lavey GAA Club on the townland of Druminduff. The secondary road on that side of the cross-roads leads to 'Assan Bridge' and Moyleth and on to the Bailieboro area.

A short distance further on the main road one sees where a section of that road was by-passed due to elimination of bend and road-widening. On the part of the old road remaining is a landmark known as 'Nicholas’ Shop', also an entrance to a side-road known as 'The Moher Pass'.

Proceeding towards Cavan at the point where the newly constructed main road meets the by-pass there is an opening on one's left - a landmark known as the 'Corracarrow Pass'. This joins the New Inn - Ballyjamesduff Road near Lacken Lake. Continuing about half a mile further on, one sees on the left a private house formerly well-known as 'Shan's Shop' which served the public from 1956 to 1960. On the same side, although now secluded by a hedge, one may see “Lees' Field" which was the mecca for football and camogie players of several generations. The next landmark is 'Lees Cross', a well-known bus stop. The road to the left leads to Ballyjamesduff via Lattagloghan or one may go to the village of Crosskeys. That to the right leads to another landmark - the cottage of the late Pat McConnon (RIP). Prior to his moving to a new dwelling Mr McConnon decorated the cottage and kept it in pristine condition. From there one may go straight on to other landmarks such as Stravicnabo and Drumnaveigh old National Schools, now in private ownership, or one may take a left turn through what was once 'Moher Bog' and come to Tierlahood famed in song by the late Percy French.

After Lees Cross next landmark is 'St Dympna's Church, Upper Lavey' on the travellers right. This Church was built in 1861. There were several renovations since then and a special Blessing and Mass of Thanksgiving was held in the Church on 20th October, 1996, following the last such. Close to the Church on the same side of the road is a licensed premises and restaurant known as 'The Bent Elbow'. A few hundred years further on, same side of road, is 'Knocknagilla Hall' which was a National School from 1864 to May 1962. Close to the hall is a rocky eminence which was originally known as 'Ferdinads Rock' but later as 'The Raven's Rock' or 'Carraig na bFhiach nDubh.' Less than a half mile further on the opposite side of the road is 'Aughadreena National School' which was built in May 1962. Then there is a turning to one's right known as 'The Mullamagavin Pass' which leads to part of Drumgora and Mullamagavin townlands, and also to another landmark - a house known as 'Carraig na Saoirse' in Drumgora.

'Carraig na Saoirse' is a nice two-storied house and is the centre for the Kilmore Diocesan Youth and Prayer Ministry.

Getting back towards the main road and continuing travelling towards Cavan one sees on the right a two-storey dwelling in the townland of Drum gora which was once the residence of the Conaty Family, fronted by a retail grocery shop. This was a landmark but is now demolished. On the opposite side of the road is the townland of Carricknavedaun once the seat of an old Church. Today 'Floods' Quarry is in operation. For years there was a flat rock-face there on which a tricolour flag was painted by a member of the Coraty family in the twenties. The family suffered as a result of defying the Black and Tans in their effort to remove it. The flag was still there in my school-going days but modern technology has removed it. According to some maps the rock appears to be in 'Carricknavedaun' but it is often referred to as 'Drumgora Rock' and 'Eamon's Rock'.

Continuing the journey towards Cavan one sees on the left a two-storey dwelling which was once the P.P's house and known in my youth as 'Father Galligan's'. Just before that on the left is a secondary road leading to the townland of Aughadrecna and known as 'The Aughadreinee Road'. Records show that there was a road there from ancient times. Further along the main road one sees 'Beaghy Lake' on the right and is now moving into Lower Lavey. On the left is a hardware store which from the turn of the last century to the forties was the landmark known as 'Corraghoe Creamery'. A road to the left leads to Crosskeys village in Denn Parish. Next on the main road one comes to the right turn for the Bailieboro road is the 'Lavey Inn' - licensed premises serving as bar, restaurant, dance hall and catering for all functions such as dances, weddings etc. It's add states 'situated on main Cavan/Dublin road - overlooking 'Lavey Lake'. On the opposite side of the main raid or the 'Lavey Inn' is the landmark 'Lavey Strand' which is the entrance to the lovely 'Lavey Lake' with its two islands and crannógs. It was here that the famous 'Green Walk' celebrating 'Reform' took place on 21st July 1833. A road branching off to the right as one goes towards Cavan at this point leads to Stradone village in Larah Parish. There was once a public house at 'Lavey Strand' known as 'Fitzpatricks'. This is no longer a licensed premises.

Keeping to the broad road the next landmark in one's left is 'Lower Lavey Protestant Church', with a road alongside same known as the 'Lavey Road'. Writing in Lavey's 'Ringfort Annual' 1998, my dear friend Seán F. Murray, Fermoy, says "the Protestant Church at the junction of the broad road and the Lavey road was a useful landmark when directing strangers to particular houses and area in that part of our parish". Taking the 'Lavey Road' one comes to the now ruined 'Lavey A.O.H Hall". Turning left there one can take the 'Lavey Lane' and opposite the original home of the afore-mentioned Seán Murray enter a gateway to 'St Dympna's Shrine' in the townland of Corrawillan. St. Dympna's Shrine continues to be a place of pilgrimage from people from all over Ireland and beyond. The Saint's name had been given to both Parish Churches and 'The Legend of St Dympna' would require a complete article on its own. One such is given by Gerard Tierney in 'Killyconnon National School 1899-1999' published by Killyconnon N.S. Centenary Committee 1999, printed by R&S Printers, The Desmond, Monaghan.

The historian, late Bridie N. Smith Brady wrote in the Anglo Celt, 1928:
"Oh blessed spot where St Dympna rested
Now the wild ash sobs on your chapel floor
Your walls lie low but your faith edureth
In Breffney hearts as in days of yore."

Close to the Shrine is the now disused and once famous 'Cusacks Mill'. By passing the 'AOH Hall' and travelling a little further along the 'Lavey Road' one can also reach the Shrine and Mill through laneway leading to home of Johnnie Cusack, Cavan All-Ireland Football medal holder. Returning to the 'Lavey Road' one may continue to another famous landmark known as 'Leiter Tree' or 'The Big Tree'. This stood for centuries on an elevated patch at the staggered junction of the Lavey/Cuttragh/Killyconnon roads and the Feaugh lane (to the North). When I first saw 'Leiter Tree' in the thirties it certainly was a big leafy tree but the last time I saw it was in February 2006 it was merely a stalwart stump.
At the tree one may turn left to the nearby 'Lavey Community Centre' and the new 'Lower Lavey St Dympna's Church', and continue to 'Killyconnon National School'. Looking South-West one sees 'Slieve Glath' Mountain, most of which is not in Lavey Parish. However, its foothills extend into the townlands of Cuttragh and Derryglen and from Lower Lavey a straight ditch which extends from the summit to the townlands mentioned is clearly visible. This appears to divide the mountain in two between the two townlands. The mountain is visible from almost all parts of Lavey Parish. The mountain is pronounced locally as 'Sliglath' and has association with Oisín and Finn MacCool in local Oisianic tradition. One may go from the 'Big Tree' or indeed, from Corroghoe to 'Corriga Hill' on which there are still traces of Cromwel's batteries.

Returning towards the 'broad road' one may call to the old Cemetery beside the Protestant Church, part of which was reserved for Catholics. This holds grave stones dating back to the 1960's and a crest of the famous Neil Smith, a local fighting hero. Inscription is still clear - "The last Smith", a cousin of the late Francis Murray, Lavey, was buried there in the 1940's.

Leaving the Protestant Church and turning left towards Cavan on to the main road one sees on the right 'Burrowes Lake', surrounded by forest lands.

Then the townlands nearest Cavan - Drumhilla, Lisananagh, Lateeever and Gortnakellew come into view - the last landmark alongside the 'broad road' being 'Cusack's Garage'. In Lateever townland one may see 'Clough a Cinney' on the lands of the late 'Jimmy Ralph Smith - a big flat stone supposed to bear footprints of Fionn Mac Cool. This must have association with 'Latteever', 'Leacht Eibher', 'Leacht' being a big flat stone or gravestone, 'Eibhir' being one of the old names for Ireland. According to the late V. Rev P.A. Sharkey, P.P Author of 'The Heart of Ireland' Ir and Eibhir were our first inhabitants and the poem 'Bán Chnoic Eireann Oighe' says 'Beir beannacht ó mo chroí go tír na hÉireann - chun a mháireann de shíolradh 'Ir's Eibhir' at bhán Chnoic Éireann Oighe'.

I know that I have omitted many previous landmarks such as 'Tirneys Hill', 'Terry the Blacksmith's Forge', 'Bianconis' Stables', 'Moher Hall', 'Lattagolghan Mill' - all no longer in use or not visible today. All the many ringforts are also omitted.

Now, dear readers, especially those from Lavey, I hope you will forgive me because, no doubt, I have omitted some present landmarks which you see in your daily lives. You will appreciate that it was well over half a century since I left Lavey, and while I wish to acknowledge and appreciate the help given to me by Seán F. Murray in preparation of this article my great friend had left four years before I did so. My family maintain that I 'never left it' and I'm sure the same applies to Seán.
Slán go fóill agus go mbeirimid beo ar an am seo áris.

By Joe McManus