02 Oct 2022

Then & Now: Walk through history in Glin

Then & Now:  Walk through history in Glin

The Knight's Walk runs from St Paul's Heritage Centre to the highest point of the Glin Demesne, where a raised platform provides panoramic views of the Shannon

VISITORS WILL be delighted to see the return of the Glin Castle and Garden guided tour on Sunday, August 21 from 12 noon to 6pm. Tickets can be purchased at the entrance gate on the day for €10, refreshments will be available, and a raffle will be held. The Glin Knights Visitor centre in the Square is open daily from 10am to 5pm. All are welcome to call and read about the lives of the 29 Knights of Glin.
The Knight’s Walk is very popular with locals and visitors all year around. It has great views of the surrounding countryside, Shannon Estuary and has a viewing point at the summit of the walk. Glin is most associated with the Knights, a branch of the Munster or Geraldine's, who were already established there by the mid fourteenth century, but it has a lot more history and attractions on offer.
The old Irish name for Glin was Gleann Corbrái, the Glen of the Corbrái, the Corbrái being a Celtic tribe who were settled in ancient times by the shore of the Shannon Estuary. The modern village of Glin is laid out in the shape of a large square which slopes down to the Shannon. It is a pretty little village, and one of the most pleasantly situated in Ireland. Up to comparatively recent times drift-net fishing gave considerable employment in the village and surrounding area. There were numerous weirs on the Shannon, some owned by the knight of Glin, others by various ordinary local people. The place had a thriving fish market, where salmon taken locally, and in Tarbert and Ballylongford, were bought and then sent directly from there to Billingsgate.
Ice was needed to pack the fish to keep them fresh, and this demand was met by the construction in the Glin area of a number of icehouses, large circular structures, partly underground, in which the ice was stored. The bulk of the ice was imported from Norway, in square- rigged , four masted ships that tied up at Glin pier. Only one of the ice houses survives; it has however, been altered and adapted to other uses.
Samuel Lewis in his Topographical Dictionary of Ireland published in 1837, described Glin as being ''beautifully situated on the Southern bank of the lower Shannon, which is here three miles in breadth''. It contained he said about 280 houses, several of which were well built and of handsome appearance, and among more recent improvements was a handsome terrace built by John Hamilton and commanding some fine views of the Shannon. A new line of road from Askeaton to Tarbert , completed at a very great expense, had proved of much benefit to Glin, as had the new road constructed from there through the mountains to Abbeyfeale, a distance of 12 miles
“In the summer” wrote Lewis “the town is much resorted to for the benefit of pure air and the advantages of sea bathing. The place is the great depot of the salmon fishery of the Shannon and its tributary rivers, of which large quantities are annually shipped to England, Oysters of very superior flavour and other fish are also taken in abundance. The manufacture of linen and cotton checks is carried on to some extent, and there is a considerable trade in corn and butter, which are shipped to Cork and Limerick”.
There would appear to have been as yet no village of Glin when the Civil Survey was carried out in the 1650s. Even the name Glin does not appear in the Survey, the area in which the village now stands being then known as Ballygullyhanne. The only objects noted as existing in Ballygullyhanne at that time were, the manor house, an old, ruined castle and bawn, the site of two mills, and a brook running by the side of the castle.
The Glencorbry River is also known as the Glencorbry Stream or the Glin River. It rises on the Kerry border and almost describes a complete circle before pouring into the Shannon at Glin. This river is only a tiny stream until it crosses the Athea road between the Townlands of Ballyguiltenane and Kinard, but by the time it reaches Killeaney wood it has become the Glin River proper. Beyond the wood it flows through a rocky gorge before pouring over Poll an Eas, the hole of the Waterfall. The river passes under the bridge of the Ballyhahill road before it flows past Ballybeg and Killacolla Barker, a tract of land which never reverted to the Knight of Glin's ownership because of a clause in the will of a previous owner William Barker, an English Undertaker who hated the Knights. Before the river reaches Glin, it travels past the ruins of Kilfergus Church and the valley from which Gleann Corbaighe took its name.
Hamilton’s Tower is a large stone structure , resembling a castle on an eminence overlooking Glin pier. This was built as a curiosity or folly by Captain John Hamilton in 1838, and originally had four cannon mounted on its battlements. A field piece was also housed within it. The cannon was used to signal the start or finish of yacht and boat races on the Shannon.

Kilfergus parish derives its name from the old church and town of Cill Fhearghasa, the Cell or Church of Fergus, which is located one mile southeast of Glin, but little remains of the church. The graveyard is still in use and many of the Knights of Glin were buried here from 1400 to 1866, as well as members of the Costelloe family of Killeaney who fostered all of the Knight's from 1500 to 1850.
Timothy Costelloe is buried in the graveyard in Kilfergus, he was a foster brother of the Knight and one of his loyal supporters. His epitaph was composed by his son and namesake who was a poet, sculptor and engraver. Timothy junior carved and erected a tombstone for his father which can still be seen. Its inscription reads as follows:
This is the grave of Tim Costelloe,
Who lived and died a right good fellow,
From his boyhood to his life's end,
He was the poor man's faithful friend.
He fawned before no purse-proud clod,
He feared none but the living God,
And never did he do to others,
But was right to do to brothers.
He loved green Ireland's mountains bold,
Her verdant vales and abbeys old,
He loved her music song and story,
He wept for her departed glory.
And often did I hear him pray
That God would end her spoiler's sway,
To men like him may be peace be given,
In this world and in heaven.
Glin is a very forward-thinking village driven by the Development association, and the benefits from the Shannon Estuary and its waters. It has lovely walks along it and all the usual sporting clubs are based around the village. Good employment is available, and it has a lot to recommend it.

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