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Monivea County Galway Ireland
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Including Abbeyknockmoy
, about 10 km north east of Athenry, is a village noted for the width of its street, with wide greens separating the two rows of buildings from each other. At the eastern end, is the entrance to the former French estate, which still contains the ancient tower house as well as the mausoleum (below right) of this ancient Galway tribal family.
Monivea House home of the Ffrench family at Monivea County Galway The Mausoleum at Monivea County Galway
The Ffenches
The story of the Ffrenches in Ireland began in the 12th Century, when their ancestor came in the company of the Anglo-Norman nobleman Strongbow. Strongbow married the daughter of the King of Leinster, and eventually became king himself. He rewarded his loyal men with lands of their own, the Ffrenches settling in County Wicklow. It was not until the 16th Century that the family moved west and bought the lands of the O'Kelly family, building onto the fortifications of the O'Kelly castle and establishing Monivea House. The village grew out of the dwellings of the estate's farm workers and domestic servants, and of the merchant posts established to serve their needs. Successive generations of the Ffrenches worked hard to reclaim useful land from an estate which was mainly bogland spreading lime and burying sheep's carcasses to encourage the growth of plants, especially trees, which would dry out and stabilise the soil. Oliver Cromwell came and confiscated their lands, but once he was gone, they bought them back again and continued the reclamation process. They were well-respected folk around the county, enough so for Robert Ffrench to have represented Galway in the United Kingdom parliament between 1768 and 1776.
Monivea Wood
The Monivea Wood is widely regarded as being one of the most interesting, diverse and sensitive parts of East County Galway. Apart from the partially completed felling of the Coillte crop, it remains for the moment, largely undisturbed as a quite meditative place. Lady Kathleen Ffrench left Monivea to the people of Monivea and the nation in 1938. She stated the 400 acres of beech woodland would be left "until the trees rot in the ground". The newly-established independent Irish government had decreed that when a landowner died, 90% of their lands should be given to the local people, to break the old English feudal systems. This meant that the size of the Monivea demesne would be reduced from 10,000 acres to just 1000 - not nearly enough to sustain the baronial lifestyle and castle. So it was that the land was left to the fledgling Irish nation, and the mausoleum in the care of the Catholic Church, as it remains today.
The ruins of Monivea Castle County Galway Monivea woods County Galway
Monivea Castle
Monivea Castle (above) was built c1600 by the O'Kelly clan. Patrick Fitzrobert French, purchased Monivea Castle and estate in 1609 from John Crosach O'Kelly. Monivea Castle and the Ffrench Mausoleum within Monivea Demesne are Protected Structures.

Cistercian Abbey at Abbeyknockmoy County Galway

The Cistercian Abbey of Knockmoy
The Cistercian Abbey of Knockmoy (in the village of Abbeyknockmoy) was founded by the King of Connacht (Cathal Crovdearg O'Connor, who was buried there in 1244) in the years 1189-1190. Knockmoy is rare in that it has a fresco still (barely) visible on the wall of the chancel. The monastery was plundered in 1200 (by William De Burgo) and in 1228, and the Abbot was censured in 1240 for having his hair washed by a woman. In 1483, the abbot was accused of setting fire to the abbey.


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