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Tuam County Galway Ireland
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Includes Barnaderg, Cortoon, Kilbannon, Kilconly

Tuam lies 32km north of Galway City on the N17 major route. It owes its origin according to legend, to the broken chariot wheel which St. Jarlath took as a sign to found his monastic settlement here in the 5th century. Tuam, the probable capital of Ireland during the 12th century, when the High King Rory O'Connor was in residence. During this period the O'Connors endowed Tuam with the processional Cross of Cong (now in the National Museum), and are associated with the ornamental High Crosses (now in St. Mary's Cathedral). Tuam's location on the N17 makes it a natural dormitory town of Galway city, but it also has many fine local industries.

St Jarlaths wheel Tuam County Galway Ireland Tuam Town Square Tuam County Galway Ireland
Tuam is best known as a centre of church affairs, ancient and modern and has two cathedrals. The town owes its foundation to a monastery established here in the 6th century by St. Jarlath; ruins of Temple Jarlath, in the centre of the city, date from around 1360. The 14' 12 century High Cross of Tuam, a decorated sandstone piece, was once broken in three, with each piece in different ownership. It is now situated in the rebuilt (1878) Church of Ireland cathedral, which has a magnificent red sandstone chancel arch in laboured Romanesque, erected certainly between 1128 and 1152.
St Jarlath's Cathedral Tuam County Galway Ireland The ruins of St Benin at Kilbannon near Tuam County Galway
        The ruins of St Benin at Kilbannon
Saint Jarlath of Tuam
Saint Jarlath of Tuam (c. 445-c. 550) was Tuam's first bishop, and a disciple of Saint Enda. He founded a monastery in Tuam and was both abbot and bishop there. His feast day is celebrated on June 6, the date on which his relics are moved to a church built in his honour adjoining the cathedral of Tuam. Jarlath came from a wealthy family. He studied under St. Enda at Arran around 495. He was a renowned scholar, founding a college attached to the monastery at Cluain Fois (now Cloonfush). According to the writings of Saint Brendan of Clonfert, when St. Jarlath's chariot wheel broke, it showed him the place at which he would meet his death; he founded his monastic community there. The town of Tuam still uses the chariot wheel as its symbol.
The parish of Kilbannon owes its name to St. Benen, or Benignus, signifying the Church of Benen. He was the son of Sescan, a chief who dwelt near the modern Duleek in Meath. The church of Benen was the mother church of the Archdiocese of Tuam, older than Tuam itself, as Benignus was older the St. Jarlath. Its importance was attested by the fact that a round tower was erected there about 1000 A.D., For the round tower usually marked the residence of an important chief or king, and served to guard the church that was built in its shadows. Nor is it unlikely that Kilbannon would have become the seat of the Archbishop if the O'Connor kings had not made Tuam their chief residence in the eleventh century. This was done by Aedh O'Connor who defeated O'Flaherty in 1047, and who then selected Tuam as a convenient place for attacking these powerful O'Flaherty chiefs.

Knockma Hill
Knockma the great 'Hill of Maeve' is situated 5 miles west of Tuam. Maeve the legendary Queen of Connacht is reputed to be buried in the Cairns on the summit of the hill from which one of the greatest panoramic views in Ireland may be obtained. Tradition also points to Knockma as the home of fairy legend. For here Finvarra, King of Connacht fairies, is reputed to have held his court. This partially wooded hill contains examples of the famous Burren flora, the Spring Gentian and the Purple Helleborine to name but two species. The limestone flags on its summit and sides contain all of our rarest plants that are otherwise only found in the Burren! A fine path to the summit of this hill has been created through a FÁS project.
View from top of Knockma near Tuam County Galway


Towns & Localities in County Galway

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Connemara | Corrandulla | Dunmore | Galway City | Glenamaddy | Gort | Headford | Kinvara | Leenane | Loughrea | Milltown | Monivea
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