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|Elevation||60 m (200 ft)|
|Time zone||UTC+0 (WET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-1 (IST (WEST))|
|Irish Grid Reference|
Tulsk (Irish: Tuilsce, meaning "wet hill (Tullaigh uisce)") is a village in County Roscommon, Ireland. It lies on the N5 national primary road between Strokestown and Bellanagare. It is 19 km north of Roscommon town.
Cruachan may be one of the most important and best preserved Celtic Royal Sites in Europe, and Tulsk is the setting for the interpretative centre which explores this complex and mysterious landscape. Cruachan was an Iron Age (Gaelic) royal palace, the home of the Irish warrior Queen Medb (or Meave), who was responsible for launching the Cattle raid of Cooley, as recounted in one of the best known works of early Irish literature, the Táin Bó Cuailnge.
Modern science is shedding new light on the significance of this ancient landscape and the meaning of the 60 National Monuments to be found here. The results of Archaeological Surveys carried out by Prof. John Waddell, from National University of Ireland, Galway, are incorporated into the exhibition rooms at Cruachan Aí Heritage Centre. The book "Rathcroghan, Co Roscommon: archaeological and geophysical survey in a ritual landscape", by John Waddell, Joe Fenwick, and Kevin Barton, details significant and previously unknown features and information about the Celtic Royal Site of Connacht.
The Discovery Programme has based its primary archaeological excavations and survey in the medieval village of Tulsk, and surrounding areas, from 2003 to 2009.
Archaeological research conducted by the Discovery Programme, Ireland’s archaeological research institute funded by the Heritage Council, has been examining the nature of Gaelic lordship and settlement in north Roscommon during the later medieval period, c. 1170-1650 AD. Since 2003, elements of this work have focussed on the history and development of Tulsk, as the principal residence of the O’Conor Roe (Rua) lords. Excavation on the ringfort in Tulsk village continues to reveal a sequence of unexpected and complex settlement horizons, which include a medieval castle-building phase and an Elizabethan-period (c. 1560-90s) occupation, when the mound was included as part of the works associated with the garrisoning of Tulsk by Sir Richard Bingham, the ‘Flail of Connacht’.
In 2009, the archaeological team has focused on a series of critical strata that explain the dating and development of the site. This year’s work considers the ringfort that underlies the medieval tower. The work shows the impressive boulder clay bank and ditch. It also shows the levels of soil introduced at a later date to build up the rignfort into a ‘platform’ of ‘raised rath’ form, sometime before the building of the medieval tower. The recent excavation has also revealed prehistoric levels, that extend back into the Mesolithic period, before the time of farming and when hunting and gathering prevailed. The sequence of levels reveals the degree to which the medieval lords attached value to returning to known sites of habitation.
Student volunteers from Ireland and from around the world have continued to contribute to the excavation project. Information on finds are presented in the Cruachan Aí Heritage Centre.
Parliamentary borough Tulsk was previously a parliamentary borough, one of three in County Roscommon from the period 1663 to 1800 and was a constituency represented in the Irish House of Commons. Under the co-monarchs William III of England and Mary II of England Tulsk was first represented in the Commons by William Caulfeild and William Neave in 1692. The year marked what was to be the beginning of an extended period of dominance for the Protestant Ascendancy. One of the two seats was effectively hereditary in the Caulfeild family.
Visit of Gabriel Beranger 1779 In 1779 the artist Gabriel Beranger travelled throughout Ireland to paint the 'antiquities’ of Ireland for the Hibernian Antiquarian Society. On his travels he passed through Tulsk and Rathcroghan. He noted that on May Day he witnessed a scene ‘peculiar to this locality’: It was that of ‘driving in all the black cattle from the surrounding plains to the great fort [Rathcroghan Mound], and bleeding them for the benefit of their health, while crowds of country people, having brought turf for firing, sat around and cooked the blood mixed with oaten meal, and when they could be procured, onions or scallions.’
Visit of Samuel Lewis 1837 In 1837, Samuel Lewis published a topographical dictionary which included the following contemporary description of Tulsk:
"TULSK, a post-town (formerly an incorporated market-town and parliamentary borongh), in the parish of OGULLA, barony and county of ROSCOMMON, province of CONNAUGHT, 8 miles (N.) from Roscommon, and 79 ¾ (W. N. W.) from Dublin: the population is returned with the parish. O'Conor Roe erected a castle here in 1406, and during the same century a Dominican monastery was founded either by MacDuil or O'Dowell, or by Phelim, son of Phelim Cleary O'Conor, who was interred here in 1448. The castle was for a long time one of the strongest in the province, and was garrisoned by the Earl of Kildare when he led his forces into this province in 1499.
The monastery continued to flourish till the reign of Elizabeth, but for some time prior to the dissolution its possessions were usurped by the Corporation of Galway. A Dominican abbey was also founded at Toemonia, near the town, by O'Conor Roe which in the reign of Elizabeth was found to be in the occupation of Franciscans of the third order, on whose suppression it was granted by the Queen to Richard Kyndelinshe. The inhabitants were incorporated by Charles II., in the fourteenth year of his reign, by the designation of the "Portreeve, Free Burgesses, and Commonalty of the Borough of Tulsk:" the charter also conferred the elective franchise, with power to hold a court of record and a weekly market.
Under this charter the corporation consisted of a portreeve, 15 free burgesses, and an indefinite number of freemen, assisted by two serjeants-at-mace and other officers appointed in the usual manner. The portreeve and free burgesses continued to return two members to the Irish parliament till the Union, when the borough was disfranchised. The court of record, which had jurisdiction to the amount of £5, has been long discontinued, and the corporation has become extinct.
The town has dwindled into an insignificant village, consisting only of a few straggling cottages and one shop. Fairs are held on Easter-Monday and the first Monday in November (O. S.); a constabulary police force is stationed in the village, and petty sessions are held weekly. There are some remains of the ancient abbey, situated in a large cemetery which is still used as a burial-place; and also of the conventual buildings; but the chief feature is a double-arched doorway, divided in the centre by a round pillar, which is of elegant design and in good preservation. The surrounding district is extremely rich and affords luxuriant pasturage".
'''Bianconi system''' Started in 1815 by the Italian immigrant Charles Bianconi the system of horse-drawn Bians grew from one initial route in Munster to daily travel of over 3,000 miles of road in Leinster, Munster and Connacht. Tulsk was one stop on a route from Ballina to Longford and vice versa. Leaving Ballina each morning at 10 a.m. (circa 1842) a mail coach with passengers would arrive in Tulsk at approx. 6 p.m, taking on average a further hour to reach Strokestown, and reaching Longford at 9 p.m. In the opposite direction a Bianconi car passed through Tulsk at approx. 8.50 each morning. It would then be due to arrive in Ballinagare one hour later. What travelers may have seen is open to question, but this was at a time when Tulsk was particularly ravaged by poverty, and suffered death and emigration on a large scale in subsequent years. For instance, as recorded by Maynooth University Population Change Atlas, what we now know as Tulsk parish had a population of 11,101 in 1841. Ten years later that figure dropped to 6,955. In 1861 Tulsk's population had more than halved from that of the eve of the Famine, with 5,539 persons. The Bianconi system grew less popular in the 1850s when rail service began, but many routes such as this one, continued for some time.
Outdoor Rallies Closer in time - at the start of the 20th century - in October 1903 the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party John Redmond held a mass outdoor rally or "National Meeting" in Tulsk, for the people of County Roscommon. The party's dominant ideology was legislative independence for the country (Home Rule), with land reform also central to their mandate. On this particular inclement October Sunday, held in a field beside the village; Redmond addressed thousands on these two issues, both on local level and national level agendas. Tulsk was decided as the venue as it was geographically central to the county. Redmond arrived in the afternoon on horse-drawn side car from Roscommon town, where he had spent the previous night, after a train journey from Dublin. The culture of mass meetings in 19th century Ireland had begun with Daniel O'Connell's quest for Catholic emancipation, and between 1880 and 1920 there had been (at least, as recorded) eight to 10 such meetings in Tulsk. At this time (1903) Tulsk parish's population has been recorded at 3,275, having dropped further from the 5,539 recorded in 1861.
World War 1 Tulsk was no different from most other British and Irish villages and towns during World War One, in that it contributed to the Allied effort of resisting the Central Powers' threat to European stability. John McGrath, from Tulsk, as published in Ireland's Memorial Records, is registered as a Private in the North Staffordshire Regiment - 12th Battalion - and was killed in action in France on 28 July 1918. His grave, amongst 370, can be viewed at Borre British Cemetery in northern France (grave number 11.F.6). Another WW1 soldier is Mark Phibbs of Corbally, Tulsk. He served in the Leinster Regiment, died of post traumatic stress disorder injuries sustained during battle while in France, and is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin. Both McGrath and Phibbs are some of between 30,000 and 35,000 Irish who perished in the Great War. Two other men, Henry Armitage and William Garry, were RIC officers in Tulsk during that same war, and went to the front after an outdoor send-off in the village (from contemporaneous newspaper reports). Their fate is unknown, like that of half of the men who died in World War I (over 9 million), scattered as they are beneath the green fields of mainland Europe. The Cenotaph memorial, erected mostly in England and France - out of the ashes of the first global catastrophe of the 20th century - goes some way to remembering these dead. (re. Jay Winter, Lecture 18 - Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning - from Yale Open Courses, European Civilisation, available online).
On Saturday 29 August 1914 an article appeared in the Leitrim Observer newspaper reporting on spies appearing in the districts of Roscommon. Along with two suspected Germans arrested on suspicion of "some evil design", over Tarmonbarry bridge, the following was also printed:
- "The Tulsk police arrested a foreigner, supposed to be a German, convenient to the royal ground at Rathcroghan on Wednesday last. He had a sketch book and a box of water colours in his possession but stated that he was only on a holiday, and was sketching for pleasure. We understand he was detained pending inquiries."
War of Independence During the Irish War of Independence, on 14 November 1920 George Kelly, who was a shop keeper in Tulsk, drove to Roscommon town in his truck to collect goods for his store. His vehicle was apprehended and Kelly was arrested and held in Roscommon. Later that night the same truck made its way to Four Mile House in the possession of RIC officers and members of the Black and Tans. Here, in the townland of Rathconnor, John Conry was marched from his house and shot twice in the head, twice in the chest and once in the stomach. The killing was in reprisal for the Four Mile House ambush, which had occurred three weeks previously. His death was just one in a total of 58 fatalities associated with the Irish revolution in county Roscommon from the years 1917 - 1921 (from 'Counting Terror' by Eunan O'Halpin in 'Terror in Ireland 1916-1923' ed. David Fitzpatrick).
Thomas Brady, Intelligence Officer of 2nd Battalion, North Roscommon Brigade stated in the Bureau of Military History that while the RIC barracks in Tulsk had been evacuated in Autumn 1919 - Spring 1920, it wasn't burned to the ground until after Easter 1920, without any trouble; "We had no trouble in destroying [it]." The barracks had been a busy one for a rural outpost, and in 1911 had no fewer than 10 RIC officers stationed - this at a time of particular agrarian unrest in the area (albeit with a population of 784 in Tulsk DED at the time, as opposed to 215 in 2002 for instance - NUI Maynooth Irish Population Change Atlas (available online)).
Tulsk GAA club was founded in 1970 when St. Brendans, Killina merged with St. Marys, Kilmurray to form one club for the whole parish. A new clubhouse and grounds were opened in 1985 and the playing area extended in 1997. The club has one pitch, a stand and a small training pitch. A second training pitch is located in Lisalway just outside Castleplunket. There is also a handball alley on the grounds.
A camogie team was founded in 2009 and won the Roscommon B final several times since its establishment.
Facilities in the village and surrounding areas include the Tulsk Macra na Feirme hall. This club was established originally in 1948 but in its present incarnation was re-established in 1987 after a lapse of ten years. The hall is also used for the Foroige Club, indoor camogie training, and Tidy Towns meetings. The hall has a stage, bathrooms and a kitchenette. Up until 2009 it was used as the play school. The hall is located on the N5 approximately 200 meters east of the crossroads.
In popular culture
Irish folk singer Christy Moore, in the title track of his Welcome to the Cabaret album, describes Tulsk as being like "hell". It is widely held that this refers to a gig he played there that ended up with a large brawl. However, the area around Tulsk, within the complex of sites known as Cruachan/Rathcroghan, has long association with Hell, due to the Christian Monks fearful notations on a known entrance to the Celtic 'Otherworld', through the Cave at Cruachan - Oweynagat (Irish: Uaimh na gCat, the Cave of the Cats).
- Joe Cunnane, footballer
- Percy French, poet, songwriter, engineer
- John O'Connor Power, Member for Mayo (1874-1885), was born in Clashaganny, Tulsk on Friday 13 February 1846
- "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: Settlements Tulsk". Central Statistics Office (Ireland). Retrieved 13 August 2018.
- A Memoir of Gabriel Beranger https://archive.org/details/memoirgabrielbe01wildgoog
- 'Bianconi's Car and Coach Lists, Throughout Leinster, Munster and Connaught. 1842' reprinted 1982
- https://www.irishtimes.com/blogs/best-place/2012/04/25/tulsk-co-roscommon/[dead link]