Kiltimagh History

The correct name in Gaelic is Coillte Maghach (or Coillte Mach) – The Woods of Maghach.

Maghach was a chieftain of the Fir Bolg, the earliest Celtic people to colonize Bronze Age Ireland. The Celts were an Iron Age race and Irish mythology tells of three Celtic invasions – effectively replacing a Bronze Age culture with that of the superior Iron Age.

The Fir Bolg were defeated by the Tuatha e Danaan (the second wave of Iron Age Celts) at the Battle of Moytura, southwest of present Kiltimagh. Maghach, one of the defeated chieftains sought refuge on Sliabh Cairn mountain which was then wooded, i.e. Coillte Maghach. Subsequently, after his death he was buried on the mountain, and the area came to be called after him.

This legend is typical of invasion myths. The story locates the burials of a celtic chieftain in an area that would have been ritually important to the previous culture – i.e. a Bronze Age cemetery. In this way, the ancient sacred site was subsumed into the new and dominant culture.

Kiltimagh, a picturesque town in the heart of the county is centrally located for touring the West. Kiltimagh is much admired by visitors for its beautiful 19th century artisan village theme evident in the shop facades and the Market Square, as well as for the many wonderful attractions and amenities it offers to visitors.

Kiltimagh, with its central location, excellent accommodation sector, wonderful attractions and amenities, provides an ideal base for touring the West. Just one hour from Sligo, Galway, Westport and Achill, 20 minutes from Ireland West Airport Knock and Foxford Woollen Mills and just 10 minutes from Knock Marian Shrine.

Kiltimagh is rich in history and was the birthplace of Raifteirí – the blind poet. There are many historical sites and places of interest to visit, traditional pubs, ceol agus craic, excellent food and accommodation in hotels, bed & breakfast and self catering.

There are many holiday activities on offer also, – country walks with maps supplied, that will satisfy everyone from the Sunday stroller to the experienced hiker, mountain biking, fishing, pitch & putt, a fully supervised children’s venture fun park, fishing, golf, walking, cycling, horse-riding/trekking.

You don’t want an activity holiday? Avail of a relaxing break, enjoying the breathtaking landscapes and the rich cultural heritage.

So, what are you waiting for? Come to Kiltimagh and experience for yourself all that is wonderful about Irish tradition and culture.

Visitor attractions include, the Town Museum, Station Master’s Exhibition Centre and Sculpture Park, all located in the tastefully restored area of the Old Railway Station.

The high quality and personal service in our excellent accommodation bases will assure you of Irish friendship and hospitality at their best. Kiltimagh with its central location boasts an excellent accommodation sector (B&Bs, hotel, self-catering and camper park) angling facilities, trekking tours, mapped walking routes museums, sculpture park, Venture Fun Park for children, cosy pubs, restaurants and much more.

The town hosts two major festivals each year – St. Patrick’s Day Pageant and Parade in Kiltimagh is a weekend celebration of Irish tradition and culture and The Coillte Come Home Festival  which provides entertainment  for all the family with main events being the Race 2 Glory adventure race on the Saturday attracting over 500 participants and the star entertainment in the Big Red Barn on the Saturday night together with the family day on the Sunday providing loads of fun and games for the children.

Kiltimagh as it is today is the product of the hard work, initiative and imagination of Fr. Denis O’Hara, Parish Priest. His first task was building a new Church and 8 national schools in the area. Then, with the help of the St. Louis Sisters, primary and technical schools were set up to provide instruction in household management, sewing, carpentry and horticulture, to foster a sense of self-sufficiency and well being. He was responsible for the town’s comprehensive circular roads, the town sewage and gas system, the Town Hall, the Cottage Hospital, ‘People’s Park’ and Factory Field.

Killedan Churchyard

The name derives from Cill Liadain, the Church of Liadan, and not, as Douglas Hyde translated it, Cill Aodain. (O Donovans Letters: 1838). At some time in the 19th century, Franciscan monks, known as the Grey friars, were said to have used this church.

Further Reading

Timeline of events back to 1239

1981 – 2000


Kiltimagh Community Radio (KCR) on the air for summer months


Official opening of Town Hall Theatre


Farah Manufacturing Company announce plans to set up in Kiltimagh

1961 – 1980


Diamond Ballroom opens
Treenagleragh National School opens


Opening of new Fire Station


Ballinamore House handed over to Western Care
Liam McDonagh provides multi-channel television to the area


Official opening of Gilmartin GAA Park


Tom Jordan chosen as Mayo Man of the Year

1941 – 1960


William Walsh, the Labour candidate, defeated in General Election


Opening of Savoy Cinema


Woman killed by a train at the level crossing


Catherine Clarke, Aiden St leads INTO during national teachers strike as president


Irish Spinners factory opened


Kiltimagh Fire Brigade formed


Sean Lavan – medical officer for Irish Olympic team.

1921 – 1940


Town terrorised by Black and Tans
Sean Corcoran shot dead by RIC
British troops surround church during mass but local activists escape
Auxiliaries occupy business premises on Main St


Free State Officers Lt. Jack Benson, Capt. Jim Ruane and Serg. John Byrne (picture below).Benson, Ruane, Byrne
Death of fr Denis O’Hara
Comdt. Tomas Ruane shot dead by republicans
Republican ambush at Ballinamore results in 26 being captured by Free State Army


One innocent man killed in ambush at Kinaffe that goes wrong
A second ambush at Glore leaves an innocent girl seriously injured along with one Free State soldier dead, three injured and six republicans injured
Kiltimagh railway station burned down
(January 15th) – Death takes place of Captain James Higgins, National Army, Kiltimagh, after a period of illness in the Military Hospital, Claremorris.


Sean Lavan represents Ireland at the Olympic Games in Paris (picture lest).


Collage Hospital becomes permanent Garda barracks


Gene Tunney, whose parents came from Kiltimagh becomes World Heavyweight Champion


Sean Lavan captains Irish Olympic team in Amsterdam


Street violence follows results of General Election


First radio broadcast from Mayo is a concert from St Louis Convent


Sisters of St John of God purchase Ballinamore House

1901 – 1920


7,000 attend big nationalist meeting in Market Square


Convent National School opens


Jim Kelly is World Handball Champion


Company of Irish Volunteers formed in Kiltimagh
Kiltimagh GAA Club win their first con c’ship beating Ballina in the Junior final


Five men are killed in train crash outside Kiltimagh
Following Easter Rising Sean Corcoran arrested and deported to prison in England


Ruane and Corcoran Two Volunteers from Kiltimagh arrested for drilling, charged with illegal assembly and with being members of an illegal organisation. They are Seán Corcoran (Brigade O/C) and Thomas Ruane (Vice Brigadier).

1914 – 1918

Eight Kiltimagh men known to have died in World War 1


Bohola RIC Barracks burned down by Kiltimagh Battallion of the IRA

1891 – 1900


First train officially stops at Kiltimagh station
Names selected for streets of the town


Arrival of St Louis sisters


Branch of Gaelic League formed

1881 – 1890


Local woman Kate Byrne shot by RIC during during riot at Treenaglersgh


First pig fair


Kiltimagh GAA Club formed
Many injured when police attack peaceful land march in the town
Newtownbrowne school opened


Church of The Holy Family is dedicated Railway Station


Land League hut erected by local committee for Tom Kelly, Pollagh who was evicted

1851 – 1880


Census shows devastation of famine results in population drop of 20% in 10 years


20,000 attend land agitation meeting in Kiltimagh. Land League has 700 members in Kiltimagh


2,500 in danger of starvation due to famine

1831 – 1850


Population of parish recorded at 6,162


Death of Raftery
Five schools recorded in the parish with enrolment of 532


First Ordnance Survey map of Kiltimagh published


Kiltimagh suffers damage in ‘Night of the Big Wind’


Formation of Swinford Poor Law Union to which Kiltimagh will have two elected members

1846 -47

From October ’46 to April ’47 400 deaths occur in parish due to the famine


145 people evicted in Treenagleragh by Earl of Lucan

1800 – 1830


Handball Court built in Kiltimagh


Only three Kiltimagh people qualify to vote – Richard NcNicholas, John Mimey, and Patrick Dillon.



“Report on the state of Popery in Ireland” records one priest ministering in Killedan and there is one mass house.


Two local men, Browne and Gill of Garryroe join French forces and are captured aster defeat at Ballinamuck, Co Longford.


Thomas Ormsby, Ballinamore compensated for losses suffered during 1798 disturbances


Raftery born at Killedan


1608 – Franciscan Friary at Killedan has its lands seized 1646 – Franciscans return to Killedan 1650’s – Ormsby family arrive


Parish church at Killedan is destroyed by fire and rebuilt


Kiltimagh part of the Barony of Gallen