The History of Oughterard

  The very first people to set foot upon the land surrounding Oughterard were most likely hunter gatherers of the middle stone or Mesolithic age around 4,000- 3,000BC. Little is known about these early people's way of life but there are some megalithic tombs still surviving just North of Oughterard. A court tomb remains just outside Cong (north corner of Lough Corrib) in a cleared pasture.

Approaching Oughterard Village from Galway
Circa 1880's
Kindly provided by Oughterard Culture & Heritage Group

Early Christianity left its mark, as well, in the form of monastic building ruins. The oldest remains are on the island of Inchagoill where two churches, one surviving since the 12th century, is still visible.

The O'Fflahertie (O'Flaherty) tribe, one of the first groups to settle and thrive in the area, was very powerful and owned a sizeable area from Galway city to Clifden on the west coast of Ireland. During the Norman invasion, their stronghold was taken over by Walter de Burgo who built the original "castle" in the Oughterard area.

The O'Fflaherties re-conquered their land by the end of the 13th century and in the 16th century, on the same site as de Burgo, built their "castle" or tower house. The "castle" has been well restored and is located within two miles of the village in a townland named Aughnanure. Find out more about Aughnanure Castle.

View up Main Street toward Square (in Galway direction)
Kindly provided by Oughterard Culture & Heritage Group

  The O'Fflaherties also built a 15th century castle on Ross Lake, just outside Oughterard. The Martin family, which was one of the 14 tribes of Galway City, took over a large portion of the land formerly occupied by the O'Fflaherties and built a 17th century mansion on the former castle foundation. This mansion is known as Ross Castle.

With the English conquest came forced suppression of all Norman and Gaelic culture and the destruction of many of the mansions and castles (many have since been restored). Over this time the prevalence of the native Irish (Gaelic) language had declined. There were then several "landlord" dwellings built and the locals began the first settlement of modern Oughterard as a few thatched cottages, many of which still exist today.

The 1845 Famine brought about the collapse of the landlord system and tenants regained possession of their land. To find Irish being spoken across the country by this time was rare but it survived in Oughterard and the surrounding Connemara area and is still an integral part of life.

Oughterard Village over the Bridge at the Church (toward Clifden)
Kindly provided by Oughterard Culture & Heritage Group

  Oughterard exists today as a thriving village of over 2,000 people, many whose families have lived in the area for over a century. Farming is still a large part of the culture with its prevalent sheep and cattle but with Galway's ever-expanding borders many people have done well in the building industry. Galway was one of the fastest growing cities in Europe in the early part of 21st century. There is also a fine trade done in the town centre in its many shops.


View of Catholic Church (far right) at Clifden end of town
Kindly provided by Oughterard Culture & Heritage Group

Tourism is very popular in the area, as well, and the town and people are well prepared for visitors from all over the world to appreciate the fantastic fishing, scenery and culture.               

Further images and memories can be seen on the internet, courtesy of the Oughterard Culture & Heritage Group, by viewing their photo archive.

Oughterard Tourism. Com would like to acknowledge past contributions to this site from the many books about the Oughterard area, kindly allowed, by the late Maurice Semple. His depictions of the area, showing the rich history and enduring people, amount to an admirable legacy. They may be purchased at Easons of Galway or in the Fuchsia shop in Oughterard.

Where the River Corrib Flows
By the Corribside (currently out of print)
Reflections on Lough Corrib
Memories: Corribwise and Otherwise (pictures from here)
Some Galway Memories
Around and About Galway