I didn’t have much more than an hour available to explore Achill Island, but I did drive from one end to the other, see Keel beach, and Slievemore Deserted Village which I was curious about.
Having parked the car and followed the dirt path towards the Slievemore Village, I was amazed at the beauty of the area. Towering over me was the Slievemore Mountain, and on the other side was a beautiful view of the landscape towards the sea.
Looking up from the road towards Slievemore Village, I had a bit of an eery feeling of forlornness. Such a beautiful place with lots of cottages that were left in ruins.
I followed the dirt road a bit further up and it lead me higher up the hill and up to the cottages. From that point on, I could wonder around amongst the cottages and explore.
The first question one might ask yourself, why did everyone leave such a beautiful place? What happened?
the history of slievemore deserted village
The occupation of the area of Slievemore dates back much further than these cottages. The earliest history we know of the area dates back to around 5000 years ago where megalithic tombs and other archeological artefacts have been found.
During the history of Slievemore, there were approximately 100 stone cottages built, with the families living and sustaining themselves from the land.
The exodus of people from Slievemore Village started during Sr Richard O’Donnell’s landlordship, where families were unable to pay the rent, followed by the 1845-1849 famine when potato farming became impossible.
Up till recently, there were a few of the cottages which were used for summer ‘booley’ homes (A booley home refers to living in different areas for parts of the year to allow livestock to graze in different places during the summer and winter seasons). Booley homes were used up to the 1940’s and Slievemore further abandoned again with the practice of booley homes no longer needed.
While visiting Slievemore Deserted Village, you can find lazy bed ridges and furrows. Having to give “lazy beds” a Google, I discovered they were used in the agriculture of potatoes. Especially in areas where there was very little top soil, the ground was covered in rocks and there was poor drainage, this method of agriculture was very successful. Farmers would dig out furrows in the ground, pile seaweed and crushed sea shells into the furrows to fertilise the soil, plant the potato seeds on the highest point of the ridges and cover the seeds with the fertilised soil. You can take a look at https://www.irishamericanmom.com/furrowed-fields/ which shows photographs and further explanation.