Maam Valley History

The first decisive evidence of human habitation in Connemara dates back to about 7,000 years ago, when small bands of late Mesolithic hunter-gatherers seem to have arrived.

Maam is a small community nestled between the mountains dominated by the Maumturk Mountains. Many years ago it was the road between Galway and Clifden until the new road that now exists was opened.

One of Maams most famous residents was Alexander Nimmo who stayed in A house beside the Beanlanabrack River formally known as Corrib Lodge but today it is known as Keanes Bar On the way to Leenane you will see a signpost for 'Leaba Phairic' (Patrick's bed), a rock recess and 'Tobar Pharaic' (Patrick's well) which mark a place of pilgrimage, they were traditionally visited on the Sunday in July, but less so nowadays. The well was believed to cure cattle as well as some human ills. The annual pilgrimage to Mám Éan was revived after having been closed down in the early 20th century because of the heavy drinking, carousing and occasional fighting that went hand in hand with the day. It has, however, been transformed into a pious, restrained affair, far from its pagan roots.

On Saturday April 23 1921, the Maum Valley was the scene of a famous ambush by the IRA during the War of Independence, a patrol of fourteen policemen under the command of Detective Inspector Sugrue travelled from Oughterard at 3 am in the morning, their mission was to search the house of Padraic O'Maine, MP for Galway and Connemara where it was suspected members of the IRA were hiding. It was during this operation that they came under fire from members of the Connemara Flying Column, the battle lasted several hours until further police and auxiliaries arrived around 1.30pm.

Excerpts taken from Michael Gibbons' recent book 'Connemara - Visions of Jar Chonnacht' Beyond the Twelve Bens Kathleen Villiers-Tuthill