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bridge wall

Easky

Easkey or Easky is a village situated in County Sligo, Ireland. It is located on the Atlantic coast, 26 miles from Sligo and 15 miles from Ballina, County Mayo. The village name derives from the Gaelic term for fish ('iasc') and 'Iascaigh' literally means "abounding in fish," due to the Easkey River that lies adjacent to the village itself. Easkey, as a parish, was originally called "Imleach Iseal." The area is popular in terms of its highly attractive scenery and the village has attracted a wide variety of tourists interested in water sports such as surfing, kayaking and fishing. The village boasts many attractive walking routes around the river estuary and coastline (with splendid views of the Slieve League and Benbulbin mountains) and through the local woods situated in the townland of Fortland. Archaeologists have become increasingly interested with the rugged coastline around Easkey, as it holds fossil structures that date back for millions of years.

History

The village and surrounding area are steeped in history.

O'Dowd Castle

Built in 1207, the castle became home to the O'Dowd chieftains of Tireragh (the barony of much of West Sligo). The castle was originally built for Oliver McDonnell who came to the area to marry an O'Dowd widow. A dominant landmark in West Sligo, the castle is situated adjacent to Easkey pier. Much of the original structure of the castle has been lost over time, yet the main body of the castle remains. It is 63 feet in height, the highest part is known as the "Sailor's Bed."

The Split Rock

On the R297, heading towards Sligo in the townland of Kileenduff lies the Ice Age boulder known locally as the "Split Rock." Local legend holds that the rock was split as a result of an argument between two giants on the Slieve Gamph mountains (Ox Mountains), one of whom was Fionn MacCumhaill. It is said that the rock will close if one walks through the rock 3 times.

A fast food take away in the village is named after The Split Rock.

Easkey Abbey

Unusually, the centre of the village is dominated by the structure of the Old Abbey and graveyard which dates back to Medieval times. The graveyard was in use up until Roslea cemetery opened in 1888 and holds some uniquely designed tombstones.

Easkey Bridge

The bridge provides access to the main village from the Sligo side of the area. It was built in 1847 after the old bridge was washed away in a storm in 1844. It contains the Bullance stone, which is built into the bridge wall and is a symbolic drinking trough, which qualified the village to hold a "Fair Day". The water is reputedly a cure for skin infections. Hangings took place at the bridge in the 19th century. A similar type bridge is located south of the village in the local woods. This is known as "Fortland Bridge."

The parish of Easkey, including the townlands of Rathlee, Killeenduff and Owenbeg are littered with numerous forts and mounts which date back to ancient times.

Water Sports

Surfing

Surfing is an extremely popular attraction in Easkey. The village is widely known as one of the finest surfing areas in the world. What makes Easkey renowned is that it has two reef breaks, the left just by the river mouth (known as "Easkey left"), and the right to the east of the castle (known as "Easkey right"). The waves in Easkey break over rocks rather than on sand which makes the waves more attractive to surfers because they are hollowed and faster than beach breaks. The surfing area in Easkey faces in such a way that the prevailing winds, which are south-westerly, are offshore.

In 1979, the Pro/Am Surfing World Championships came to Easkey. Various national surfing events continue to be held here.

In 1995 the Irish Surfing Association established its headquarters in the Easkey Surf and Information Centre on Main Street. The building, now known as "Easkey House" is located in the centre of Easkey village. It houses the headquarters of the Irish Surfing Association and there is also a restaurant in the building.

Kayaking

The Easkey River has proven to be a popular river for kayaking and canoeing. In 2003, Easkey hosted the World Surf Kayaking Championships, which firmly put the area on the international circuit as a premier Surf Kayaking location. Inexperienced kayakers are not advised to enter the waters at Easkey as this can prove to be a danger to other water users, due to the powerful waves at these breaks.

Fishing

The Easkey River is a highly attractive river for fishing of salmon and trout. The river rises in Lough Easkey in the Ox Mountains and moves through bogland and various terrains before flowing past the village. Anglers from many parts of the West and North-West of Ireland are attracted to fishing there. Notable for fishing on the river is the former Republic of Ireland football manager Jack Charlton. The acclaimed actor Sean Connery has also been noted fishing on the river.

The Pulitzer Prize winning American poet William Morris Meredith, Jr. resided in the area during his visit to County Sligo in the summer of 2006, for the W. B. Yeats International Summer School.

Local Amenities

The village itself has a restaurant, take-away, local pubs, shops, a post-office, Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland churches, butchers, a newly designed community centre, family and resource centre, physiotherapists and a hairdressers.

To the east of the village is the local vocational school, Colaiste Iascaigh The parish of Easkey has 3 primary schools situated in the townlands of Rathlee, Killeenduff and Owenbeg. The main national school situated in the village was controversially closed due to lack of numbers due to the erection of a telephone mast beside the local Garda barracks. Ironically, the building is now used as a pre-school.

Gaelic Football

The parish holds a very strong tradition in Gaelic football with Easkey G.A.A. club being founded in 1886, just two years after the formation of the Gaelic Athletic Association. The club is generally regarded as one of the strongest in County Sligo. They hold 5 Sligo Senior Football Championship titles, the last arriving back in 1966, building on previous wins in 1935, 1936, 1937 and 1941. They reached the 1999 Championship final but were defeated by Tourlestrane. The club holds a strong tradition of club players representing the Senior Sligo G.A.A. team down through the decades. The captain of the 2007 Sligo team that won their first provincial Senior Connacht Championship for 32 years is Noel McGuire, a native of the parish and long-serving player on the Easkey team.

See also

External links

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